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Transitting in Japan (part 5): Another drama in Narita

My flight to the US was scheduled to be 10.40am but I seemed to forget that the boarding started at 9.50am. That’s when I realized that requesting 9.30am might be too late for me since I planned to buy the stamp for my postcard and all. I should’ve requested the earlier shuttle when I checked in the night before. But it’s too late, I could do nothing else then. After strolling around Narita-san park, I rushed back to the hotel, my backpack was ready already. I checked out and waited for the shuttle to depart for the airport. Dang, it might be the first time I felt anxious with Japanese punctuality. Like, they can’t be late but also can’t be earlier either. At that time, the driver checked my name to make sure that I requested the shuttle and that I boarded. I saw on the list that he was holding that there were only four people including me. Soon after I got on the bus, the three other guests got on but the driver didn’t start driving, apparently because it wasn’t 9.30am yet. Dang, you know I was in a hurry since I really wanted to get to the airport as soon as possible, right? And, normally, people would just depart if all passengers (those who requested the shuttle) were already on board, right? But it’s Japan. Things were different. The driver stayed at his seat and literally waited until 9.30am sharp to start driving, to start moving the steering wheel. Jeez, that kind of punctuality can be exasperating sometimes. Haha Well, I didn’t blame the driver, though. I understood that it’s my own fault for not requesting the 8.30am shuttle instead. Stupid me.

In front of my hotel, Hedistar hotel.

But I kept trying to calm myself. Japan was punctual. The shuttle to the airport was only 20ish minutes. I’d arrive at the airport right around 9.50am. I’d already got the boarding pass, so I could just go straight to my gate. I wouldn’t miss my flight. But I had promised my classmate in Japanese 101 class that I’d send him a postcard from Japan and I hadn’t got a stamp yet so I needed to go to the post office in the airport first and I started feeling terrible for that. I wouldn’t have enough time. I really wanted to cry, and nobody was to blame except me. Earlier in the hotel I asked about the nearby post office but they said they wouldn’t open until 10am, so I really got no choice. Dang.

I couldn’t stay still when I was on the bus. I knew I could do nothing but I couldn’t help stressing out. However, I tried my best to stay composed – while I kept looking at the clock and wished and prayed and it would arrive long before 9.50am. It did. It arrived around 9.45ish am. I rushed inside and luckily there was a counter that seemed to be a post office. There were not so many people in line, but it felt so long. I asked the person in front of me, who was also in line, if it was indeed a post office and she said yes. I was happy. But I was also torn between directly going to the check-in counter or waited a bit more in line to get the stamps for my postcards. It was frustrating. I really wished I could cut the line and leave my postcards and some money for the stamps. But I knew I couldn’t do that. Gosh, I was hating myself but at the same time forgiving myself for my mistake. LoL I mean, what else could I do? It was really a gamble. The only thing that calmed me down was the fact that I’d already got the boarding pass so at least I didn’t need to queue to check in since I was already checked in.

My Muslim meal from Japan to USA.

The people at the counter really took so long I wonder what they were doing. There were only two officers and both were serving a customer. I was the second person in line. I decided to stay and wait a bit more. When the couple in front of me were served, I worried again that they’d take a long time. Fortunately, they didn’t. I guess it wasn’t the counter they were supposed to go to. So it came my turn. I told the lady in charge that I wanted two international stamps to send my postcard. She told me the price, it was 70 yen each (cheaper than the postcard!). I handed the money, and she gave me the change. But I was in a hurry so I just left my postcards there and requested her to stamp them for me. I apologized a lot and said “ごめんなさい” and “おねがいします” and then I rushed half-running to JAL check-in counter just to find anyone in charge there so I could show them my boarding pass and ask them what I should do. The JAL lady that I found was really nice and friendly. When I showed her my boarding pass and told her that my flight was 10.40am, she rushed with me and took me to the security-screening counter. She asked if I knew my gate. I said that it was 75 (Thanks, Google! T_T ) She checked the screen and I was right. And later I realized that I wasn’t using Japanese when I was telling her my gate. I used English. So I guess my Japanese wasn’t as automatic yet. But no wonder, because I was still in the elementary level.

The second meal. Omelette? I love Omelette.

I was really glad that the JAL lady (I guess she was a flight attendant) came with me to the counter. She even monitored how I was doing after I passed the screening counter. She told me which way to go to the immigration center and how to get to my gate. She was really nice and kind I really loved her. I really wished she would always be blessed with joy in her lifetime T_T

And when I arrived at my gate, I immediately felt a sense of relief since everyone was still lining up to get on board; i.e. I just needed to stand in line behind them without waiting much more. I wasn’t late. But yeah, it’s still a drama.

And by the way, my flight to US was operated by American Airlines (instead of JAL), and the service was really different. When I was flying with JAL, as soon as I got to my seat, a flight attendant would come to me with a smile to confirm that I requested a special meal. They would ask my last name and what kind of meal I requested nicely. With American Airlines? Nope, no such thing. They just gave me the meal when it’s time. It’s Muslim meal as I have requested but they didn’t bother to confirm first. I had no problem with it, though. It just made me realize that the JAL’s service was quite extraordinary and exceptional. I loved Japanese people even more. Haha

A window-seat view from my flight back to USA.

And, I guess that’s it. My flights to US (both from Philippines to Japan and from Japan to USA) were not really crowded. There were some empty seats. I got my favorite seats, window seats and nobody else sat beside me. (Except that a passenger moved to sit at the end of my row when I was flying to the US from Japan). I had no problem with it, I still had an empty seat next to me. Then I flew back to the US and it was kinda funny. I left Japan on June 5 at 10.40 am, flew for 12ish hours and I arrived in Dallas FW, USA on the same day, June 5, at 7.40 a.m. I felt like traveling to the past. LoL But then that’s it. The entrance to the US was not really hard, not as I feared it would be (you know how US is nowadays). I showed my documents and the immigration officer asked how long I have been away from the states and if I brought any food. I misunderstood at first, I thought she was asking how long I was gonna stay in the US. LoL And I forgot about the apple I had in my backpack so I just said I brought the leftover from my flight, which she said was fine. Surprisingly, they still asked for my fingerprints and photo, probably because I was using my new passport. Then, I was let in. I went to get my boarding pass to Tucson at American Airlines counter. I went to the security screening again, took the skyline, got to my gatew, waited a little more, and boarded. I arrived in Tucson and went home by bus. I was so exhausted that I almost fell asleep several times in the bus. And when I arrived at my apartment, I just dropped my body on my bed and immediately went to sleep. It was amazing how my body could survey all the trip, all the walk, and everything else during my time away but wouldn’t compromise to stay strong for a little bit more once I was home. I am thankful for my body.

Aaaaand, that really concluded my US-Japan-Philippines-Japan-US trip. There were some dramas but I had fun. I feel so blessed 😊

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