We’ve arrived home and it’s hotter than a Japanese hotel room. The scary thing is that it’s not even that hot for Sydney this summer and is forecast to be 38 degrees Celsius in a couple of days.
It was a typical final day in Japan, which is to say a bit miserable and a bit boring. We checked out of the hotel right on the 11 AM limit, returned to Sakura Sushi across the road for “breakfast”. I wasn’t hungry for seafood, but the others continued last night’s sushi feeding frenzy.
The Marunouchi subway line carried us to Ginza where Sony’s showroom is, or rather was. The Sony Building is about to be redeveloped and all that remained was a showcase of old products. The shop, where I hoped to get parts for my Xperia Z4 tablet, was now above the Nissan showroom up the street. And naturally nothing for my older system, but at least Alex got to see some cool concept cars.
There was hunting for snacks from the basement of Ginza’s Mitsukoshi. Well dressed ladies prowled the little stalls for bargains as the big tourists blundered around.
With anxiety about the upcoming flights I wasn’t hungry but was and B insisted that I eat. We returned to Shinjuku close to the Isetan and Marui department stores. The Aaliyah cafe, stairs taking you down from the street level to a tiny underground dive, was a favourite from previous years, advertising Tokyo’s best French toast. It could be the world’s best French toast as far as we know. So soft, so creamy, so delicious.
I felt too full as we walked back to the hotel and retrieved our bags. It was time to go.
I slept a little on the Narita Express as we headed off into the sunset. As always, I just wanted a teleport to take me home.
After dragging our luggage half a kilometre to Terminal 3 we joined the huge queues at the Jetstar check in desks. Flights to the Gold Coast and Cairns were both departing at about the same time, along with intra-Asian flights.
B and Alex ordered dinner at the food court. The smell of food made me feel sick, but I tried an iced chocolate and slice of pound cake, could barely swallow. I felt so nervous about the flight, despite the Fear of Flying course.
Boarding our Jetstar Boeing 787-8 I just wanted to curl up. Last time we flew out of here, same airline, same route, there was turbulence soon after take-off and an hour into the flight. Then our pilot announces over the PA that “We can expect a few bumps on our climb and around the tropics.” As expected. And here I was trapped.
I had a bit of a meltdown, cuddled a cushion tightly, curled up as much as I could.
It was better than expected. Last year I could barely tell the difference between the 787 and other aircraft in turbulence, but this time it was back. Yes there were bumps, a lot of bumps, but we would go up and then drop only slowly. There were periods with no movement, then it would return.
The jet stream effects were marginal, but our path through the tropics was a sinusoidal line as we dodged the clouds. Not as smoothly as previously, with lots of little bumps, and no lightning shows anywhere. Nothing except aircraft strobe lights in cloud and the stars in the sky. The Pleiades and the constellation of Orion accompanying us for much of the journey.
As this was a points redemption flight I hadn’t paid for any entertainment and food. I swiped my card on Alex’s screen for $10 worth of entertainment because he wanted to watch Trolls, but he slept most of the time. I left my screen on the free flight map and listened to relaxation music. It worked well.
Despite feeling better about the flight, it was a relief to finally land in Cairns. A fire alarm in the terminal delayed our exit, then it took ages for Alex’s bag to arrive on the luggage belt. Customs didn’t bother to check our bags, but did chat with us and other passengers a few times.
Cairns presented a beautiful dawn scene as we did the long walk between the International and Domestic terminals. The humidity of the air was the biggest change.
The delays meant we only had a short time in the Qantas Club lounge, time enough for a very quick shower and breakfast. I was feeling a lot better, despite the storm clouds gradually approaching.
The Jetstar A320 flight back to Sydney was perfect. We were seated on the right for once and there were beautiful views of the Queensland coast as we rose into the air, missing all the clouds with nary a bump.
We crossed the coast again over Townsville and then flew inland to Sydney. Lots of microsleeps, lots of staring out the window. It felt so good to enjoy a flight.
Our descent into Sydney took us right over the CBD before we turned out across Botany Bay for a landing from the south. The best flight for a long time.
Naturally there was trackwork on this final weekend of the school holidays, so we caught a taxi back rather than deal with a very roundabout route home.
So I’m confused. There were many moments on this trip when I wondered if this could be my last overseas trip. But then I get flights like this, survive and even thrive.
Three weeks is a long time on the road and there were stresses along the way with our busy schedule. Alex missed time just playing around, but then spent too long watching videos on the iPad.
There were times when I just felt like travelling alone in Japan, free to go to quiet railways and quiet destinations away from the big cities and big tourist crowds. My happiest moments were again on the rural lines and small nowhere places.
One thing we all agreed was that the snow was fun and that Japan in winter is beautiful. Cold, but oh so pretty.
But here we are back in Sydney. I put extra water in the swimming pool before we left, but it was at the lower working limit when we returned. The heat is hard to bear, but then sleep is so welcoming.
Next week, back to school, back to work. And Gong Xi Fa Cai! May in not be all about big roosters.