Sardines from Singapore, Taipei to Tennoji

What’s the first thing we do after checking into our hotel in Japan? The washing!

Unlike those hordes of tourists at Kansai Airport wheeling around their giant cases,  we only brought enough clothes to last until today. 
Pity the hotel didn’t have the coin laundry advertised on their website. Now I’m stuck in a dingy laundromat in the back streets of Tennōji,  part of Osaka. Welcome to Japan! 
I had a rotten sleep last night. Too alert for the alarm,  too alarmed about the flights. So when the alarm rang at 4am I had no wish to get up.

Forty minutes later we all piled I to a taxi driving through the amber lit canopy of trees lining the road to Changi Airport. I tried to study the sky but the darkness gave no hints.

We checked into the Jetstar desk at terminal one and made our way through immigration. Alex was immediately attracted by the giant Pikachu statue and game. Then the Social Tree, which lets you compete against others in an arm waving competition.

My guts churned. While the others went to buy some breakfast I fell asleep on one of the almost comfortable lounges in front of a television screen.

Time to go to the bathroom, no the gate,

Alex proved a useful travel accessory once more as Jetstar called for families with children to board first. Our seats were over the wing and on the right hand side of the older Airbus A320.

Our flights today would be in two parts, a four and three quarter hour flight up to Taipei and a two and a half hour continuation on to Osaka. The A320 is a “narrowbody” and Jetstar’s have no entertainment of any sort on board and far less legroom than the A380 we flew up in. Supposedly it is a nightmare of being trapped in a sardine can.

We’ve done this flight once before, in reverse. Then is was a bit tough, with the other two running out of things to do and a bumpy last stretch, though I do remember the relief of collapsing into bed at the Grand Mercure Roxy, thereby cementing my love for the place.

Now there were various entertainment devices of our own, including books, so boredom should not be a problem. I actually found the seats really comfortable too. Yay for short legs!

One of the things causing me terror was the forecast for morning storms over this area of Singapore. But outside the skies were blue with the storm clouds only having around the far edges of the island.

Captain Chua promised a smooth flight, though with bumps around Taipei due to the wind.

We took off as the Sun rose, shimmering orange gold across the waters.  We climbed above the scattered clouds into what were, for most of the trip, smooth skies. Though at one point we were skirting big cumulonimbus clouds, a spectacular sight.

Soon after we reached cruise were we offered both snacks of blueberry muffins and fruit cups and hot meals. The Jetstar Asia food selection is very confusing for Starter Max fares on this route. We declined the hot food and I could barely stomach the others.

Instead I spent virtually the whole trip listening to Adrift by Christopher Lloyd Clarke, relaxation music that really seems to work. I drifted off several times during the flight and really coped well while it played.

The bit I’d been dreading arrived and we began our descent down through the clouds and wind into Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport. Actually, it wasn’t that bad, with the slow ground speed of the aircraft nullifying the discomfort of most of the bumps.

We had to leave the aircraft at Taipei, go out and around through security before we could board again. A bit of a pain, but it was good to walk and use the facilities.

The aircraft took off into the same winds, but this time attempting to maximise it’s speed, which felt worse. Then we were above the cloud layers and into the sunshine.

Although the flight time was only two hours this leg felt worse. There were niggling bumps the entire way, like we were fighting the wind (which, perhaps, we were).

We were served hot meals again. My sweet and sour fish was not great, though I couldn’t really stomach that kind of food anyway. B and Alex said their chicken rice was good.

The southern islands of Japan came into view and we soon began our descent. This was even bumpier, with more clouds and rain (or was it snow?) as we flew down towards the artificial island of Kansai Airport. There were strong crosswinds as we came in to land.

It was a huge relief to be on the ground and to not worry about flying for almost two weeks. It was also cold, and once out of immigration and having collected our luggage we all changed into warmer gear.

While immigration appears to have sped up, the real delay was in converting our Japan Rail Pass vouchers into actual passes. The queue was snaking out the door and around the corner. I long for the older times when Japan was much less of a tourist destination.

And so I eventually got the passes and we caught the Haruka Express into Tennōji to wash our clothes. We were all starving once they were in the machine. Though there are lots of eating options around we chose Saizeriya, a “Western food” family diner as it was very close to the laundromat and cheap.

To Alex’s delight that left us no time for shopping. Though I think he wants some gloves now!

Winter has come!

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