The trek back to the States is frustrating and long no matter how I go about it, but I have tried a few different techniques to make it slightly more bearable. There’s the “all in one go” technique, the “let’s see how long we can spend at each airport without going crazy” technique, and the “sleeping in an overpriced airport hotel to break up the trip a bit in Tokyo and make the flight a little cheaper.” For this trip, I employed technique number three.
Technique number three is a bit of an advanced maneuver because it requires precision timing and a vast knowledge of train schedules. I went to work as per normal and had a full day. After that, I even managed to get to the gym before taking a shower and lugging my suitcase downstairs to my entryway. I had already arranged for my amazing Japanese mom, Tomoko, to pick me up and take me to the train station.
It was strange when she dropped me off; though I would only be gone a month, I think to both of us it felt more like we were saying goodbye for good. The train ride itself wasn’t bad, but lugging my enormous suitcase around was a pain in the butt. Hopefully when I leave Miyazaki, I can have a friend drive me to the airport just to avoid all the hassle. I’ll also probably have three suitcases with me (unless I ship one or two) so I’ll need all the help I can get.
I managed to successfully get off the train at the airport and struggle my way to the check in counter. Finally relieved of my giant suitcase, I could wander a bit more freely in our incredibly
small and empty of interesting things majestic airport.
By the time I got to Tokyo, boarded the bus to the international terminal, I was dreaming of my room. Thankfully, I had already stayed at this hotel, because it’s not particularly easy to find. Check in always goes quickly there and, after dropping my stuff in the room and grabbing some food from the airport convenience store, I was soon ready for a shower and bed.
The next morning I had plenty of time to get stuff together and head out. I was smart enough to bring myself a packet of my favorite instant oatmeal, but was not smart enough to pack a disposable spoon. I made do, instead, with the tiny coffee stirrer provided by the hotel.
I did not even have to change airports this time. I just went from my room straight to the check in area at the other end of the terminal. It was my first time flying internationally out of Haneda and I was not a huge fan. Whereas Narita’s international terminal has a lot of places to get cheap souvenirs and snacks for a longhaul flight, Haneda’s focus is more on high-end goods that international tourists from neighboring Asian countries would be interested in buying duty-free.
Still, I managed to get a few water bottles and fill up my own, just as I always do. On the plane I settled into my four person row and got to enjoy having no one else in the row with me. I even stretched out from time to time, though I wasn’t able to get any real sleep as it was the middle of the day for me. I don’t even think I slept on the flight to Tampa or during my 7 hour layover in Chicago.
By the time I was greeted at the airport by my awesome aunt and the older of my two cousins, I was exhausted, but happy. They took me to a great burger place for dinner.
Followed by a stop at the cupcake place, featuring a cupcake ATM (which I would use at a later date).
After that and another shower (had to get rid of the plane smell and feel), I went right to sleep.