We were more than a little giddy when we saw where Lisa’s student’s mother had put us. She had given us the row behind the emergency exit! On the downside there was no window. On the upside, all the leg room one could wish for. It was a covetous place to be.
For the most part the flight was uneventful. (The best kind.) I read quite a bit having loaded books and papers galore on the iPad, I napped a little bit and killed zombies.
Lisa plowed through her stack of grades getting most of them done. I now know how to keep her on target the next time she’s got a pile of papers that big. I’ll put her on a 10+ hour flight with nothing else to do.
Across from us was the jump seat for flight attendants so we got to chat with them while we were taking off and landing. One of them had been flying since the early 70s so she was fun to talk to regarding the changes.
“People used to dress up real nice,” she said. “They used to also be able to smoke everywhere and that wasn’t as nice.” She told us how the over head bins used to be open and people mostly put their hats and coats up…how security had gone from NO security to where it is now. Really fascinating stuff.
The sun was finally setting as the plane touched down in Narita. Over 16 hours of sunlight made for a very, very long day. We went through customs and searched bewilderingly through the crowd and I got tackled to my left by Annette who was more than a little excited to see us.
We found an abandoned cart and since the bus wasn’t leaving for Camp Zama for another hour she took us on a nickel tour of the little mall inside the airport.
Things I did not know about Japan:
A yen is not the equivalent of a dollar…it is more akin to a penny. Yes the exchange rate does NOT work in our favor but it helps when you realize what is going on with the comma.
Japanese like Kit Kats. And not just regular ones. They have all sorts of different flavors. They had lemon and cheese and coke and red pepper and green tea and dark chocolate and wasabi. Kind of crazy.
Hello Kitty really IS everywhere. We saw a store full of nothing but Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty dressed up in Sesame Street character outfits, Hello Kitty pink ninja…
Speaking of pink. I see that color everywhere.
There is a squat toilet for women in the airport. I decided I was there for adventure and used it. It’s like going in the woods but really nice.
The bus ride to Camp Zama was really nice. When Annette said bus ride I assumed school bus type of affair but it was one of those really tall ones with super nice seats. We went to the very back and after talking for a little bit more Lisa and I zonked out.
It’s about a two hour ride so there was a little rest stop. Lisa continued to sleep (she hadn’t slept on the plane) but I wanted to see a Japanese rest stop.
It is unlike any American rest stop. It was ridiculously clean, smelled nice, had big round unbroken mirrors in the room that was nothing but sinks and had vending machines galore out front. All sorts of stuff… hot soups, weird drinks, a gazillion different types of coffee… cigarettes… DUDE, I haven’t seen a cigarette in a vending machine since I was a little kid!
We piled back on the bus and this time there was little pretense of talking… I completely zonked out.
There was a little bit of back and forth checking us in. The policy had changed that you could check in only one person per household member so Lawrence came to the front to help get the both of us in.
The guards were Japanese with fake rubber shotguns and knew very, very little English.
We got an overnight pass and promised we would be back in the morning for a day pass. We would be unable to get an extended pass until Monday.
The rest of the evening really was a blur. It is *always* fun to see Lawrence. The military has made him massive and he could be really imposing except for his perpetual megawatt smile.
They gave us a little nickel tour of their place… really cute to have one in real life instead of Annette wandering around the house with her computer on showing it to us via Skype.
Lawrence had spent some time cleaning out his “man cave” which ostensibly doubles as the guest bedroom but since we are the first guests who have stayed longer than one sleep we were pretty much breaking it in. There was a single bed but fortunately they had filled up an air mattress.
I’m not sure what happened after all that. I tumbled unconscious into the air mattress and didn’t wake up until the next morning.