Saturday, February 26, 2011

Japan

My flight out of Dallas got delayed over and over until we finally left at 4:30pm (original departure 10:30). It gave me time to talk to family and a dear friend who just had her baby. That made me smile, her in a hospital bed a day after giving birth to her 2nd, me in a Dallas airport on my way to Japan. We certainly did not discuss this eventuality in high school!

In the end it all worked out for the best, the flight was half full. I had the middle section all to myself - FOUR SEATS to stretch out on! Watched one movie and slept the remainder of the flight.

Arrived in Japan at 8:30pm local time. Got routed to rebooking station where they had already reprinted my boarding pass giving me a direct flight to Vietnam rather than a trip to Hong Kong and then Vietnam as was previously scheduled. This is wonderful news. I simply wake up tomorrow and actually get to Vietnam at the exact same time as my co-worker coming in from Hong Kong who I was supposed to meet and fly with. Hope that makes sense, I am rather jet lagged.

Being stuck in a country "out of schedule" means American's band together. I found myself standing in a circle with other Texans - some Air Force guys, one contractor who I call Big Tex because he was the tallest and loudest and some guys going on vacation. Almost all had T-shirts and it's like 30 degrees outside. We were waiting for our hotel bus for almost 30 minutes. Glad I had the foresight to pack a wool sweater and hat!

We finally got on the bus and they really crammed us in. Once all the seats are taken, they have center seats that fold out into the aisle so literally we are squished in like sardines. The only sound on the bus is Big Tex discussing his chewing tobacco habit with seat mate. That made me laugh as they discussed tobacco prices from South Korea to New Mexico. I asked Air Force guy why he wasn't in uniform and he said only the newbies travel in uniform. A guy passed us in a shiny new uniform and he says "see?".

Twenty minutes later (they must have really scrounged for this hotel) we arrive at our hotel. It's a tall non-branded building, this means it's likely for locals meaning less familiar accommodations. I get to the room and see my suspicion are correct, no water, nothing in the mini bar, bathroom soap is in a pump bottle - very basic room, it took me 5 minutes to figure out how to flush the toilet (why is the handle on the sink???). Fortunately I bring my own chocolate so no need for mini bar snacks.

I go to dinner with my free coupon and find Big Tex and the Texas crew. We eat together and trade stories. Turns out Big Tex has a law degree, runs an asphalt business and is going to Vietnam to build roads which they truly need. The boys are going to Vietnam for a vacation.

Dinner is hamburger patties with gravy, over cooked broccoli, fries and rice. No choice, it's been prepared especially for flight 175 (so says the sign). It's already 10:30pm so not likely to get anything from the kitchen so I plow through until I'm full enough. As interesting as these fellows are, I'd rather access the internet and let friends/family know where I'm at. Plus I'm behind on breast pumping from sleeping on the plane.

I get back to the room and there is no water to be found. Call room service, no answer. Call front desk and she tells me to use the vending machine, I have no money I reply. Was not planning to spend the night in Japan. I just want room service to send me some water. Use the tap water she replies. Um, no. Send room service please. So they finally arrive with one tiny 8oz bottle! So I send her back for a 2nd bottle.

Japan's not as glamorous as the movies make it seem - at least not in these circumstances.

4 comments:

expatbostonians said...

Yikes!

Unfortunately airlines often go with the crappiest rooms they can get away with. Glad you made productive use of your delay...the last two times I was delayed, it was awful.

Toilet flush by the sink? While that makes for good blog fodder, I can easily see how frustrating it is. While western hotels are admittedly a way to escape the "authentic" local experience, I find it a necessity to sanity, especially in Asia.

Rachel M. said...

I couldn't even figure out where the heat was so I slept in my wool sweater. The shower is one of those hideous hoses. The only saving grace is the internet worked perfectly!

crazywildberry said...

Sounds like an "adventure" at the hotel! I would not have fared as well though. I am glad she brought you bottled water. I would not trust the water elsewhere to be honest with you. Or, the staff after needing to almost demand water. Ugh! What a frustration!

Cat said...

I agree with the water thing. I would not have been to keen on using bathroom water...because, well, you just never know.