Rinku-town to Cairns

One last day in Japan. Not a particularly remarkable day. The skies are grey and spit rain.

There’s no wish to see Tama the cat stationmaster today. Instead we catch the Nankai private line to Izumo-Sano where we change to the local to Tarui. A walk past factories to the Aeon shopping mall. It’s nothing flash, but there are some interesting shops.

We finally eat okonomiyake at a Fugetsu chain store, the cabbage pancakes cooked in front of us. Instead of the train we catch the bus direct to the Rinku-town Outlets, getting a view of the beach.

The outlets are full of big brand shops and we can’t find anything. Next door is Nitori, a furniture and homewares chain. We buy a couple of foam pillows from there.

While Alex and B eat sushi, I head back to the hotel by the waterside and beneath the causeway, watch aircraft ascend.

When we are all back at the hotel we have another spa bath and a nap, while relaxation music plays over the projector. Then it is time to go, one last long walk dragging the luggage up to Rinku-town station.

Across the causeway bridge to the station. We have already checked in line, allowing us to skip the queue to the bag drop.

Kansai Airport’s renovations have seen big changes since October. The food area on level 2 is now open, now a food court, allowing us to order different meals but still dine together.

I just have sandwiches, Alex udon and B ramen. I want to eat Japanese, but don’t trust the strong flavours while flying. There is still a pit of anxiety in my stomach and I half want to throw up.

There is also a duty free maze airside, making it look a lot classier than before. There are even a couple more dining options, including an onigiri burger.

We board our Jetstar 787 in zones. This time we are seated on the right of the aircraft.

I choose the James Horner collection to take us out. We taxi to the runway, parents admonished for not buckling their children in, a couple of infants screaming.

We take off towards the north, retracing our inbound route. Despite the cloud cover, the light rain, our ascent is fairly smooth, the city lights disappearing beneath the clouds.

As with our descent, the contrails of other aircraft are visible in the sky above us. Then we appear alone in the high cloud off the Japanese coast.

It isn’t the smoothest ride back to Cairns. The first officer says it should be, except south of Guam and over Papua New Guinea, where the storms lie in wait. There is high cloud and a jetstream across Japan. But there are smooth patches. The almost full moon illuminates the scene outside, the cloud casting moon shadows over the water, the tendrils of high cloud reaching up.

Unlike the other two, I cannot sleep, despite being utterly exhausted. I watch a couple of episodes of Our Flag Means Death and The Amazing Spider-Man movie, mainly for its James Horner soundtrack for which I’m in the mood. The rest of the time I listen to other soundtracks on the entertainment system. I’ll miss it when it is replaced by internet and streaming in the next couple of years.

There is high cloud around Guam, then a gap of calm. The north of Papua New Guinea is actually clear, then some dramatic flashing of storms in the distance far below.

With an hour left to go the lights turn on and we use our credit on a wrap, some banana bread and cake, juice and a can of Pringles for later.

We begin our descent over the Coral Sea. Down through the clouds, keeping an eye on the Moon. It’s not so bad, there are lots of gaps in cloud.

It’s raining over Cairns, the volume of water visible only once we touch down.

It wasn’t the best of flights nor the worst of them. I survived, even enjoyed bits of it, less so others.

Baggage return is slow, our dried scallops are checked and passed by quarantine. We push our baggage cart to the domestic terminal, getting wet from gaps in the shelter.

Cairns time runs differently to Sydney. The Budget car rental counter opens sometimes after 7 am. We get our Hyundai i30 and B drives us to the hotel. She got sleep, I didn’t.

Shower, then sleep. Delicious sleep. Until housekeeping knocks on the door.

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