Wednesday 26 April 2017
A slightly tiring journey, I didn’t realise Scoot was a budget airline = no food supplied, and I wasn’t aware that we stopped in Bangkok. For an hour. It was ridiculous, I had to get off the plane, have a sticker put on me, race all the way round the airport to get on the same plane at the same gate I got off of! I think the plane was slightly late arriving so that by the time I made it back to the gate I was the last to board. I’d stopped off to get some food – a McDonalds Fillet-O-Fish (my first McD’s on this trip) – however they wouldn’t allow me to take it on the plane! I had to sit down with all the airline staff watching me and try and eat it, I managed the F-O-F in record time after which they asked me to board; I was not best pleased to have to throw away the chips and my favourite drink – Strawberry Fanta!
For all my annoyance of being on this airline, they were actually very nice and it wasn’t their fault I wasn’t aware that I wouldn’t be fed or that we stopped in Bangkok. I wasn’t able to check in online therefore when I checked in at the airport I didn’t get a choice on where to sit. They had seated me by the toilet, and unlike other planes it was actually right next me as opposed to being behind me. After the Bangkok experience I just wanted to get a bit of shut eye and asked if they could move me, a very nice flight attendant managed to find me three empty seats and I was able to have a lie down in (relative) peace and quiet.
It was morning when I got to Narita and James’s instructions were to get the shuttle bus to his hotel. With it being Japan, everything was running on time and the bus stop was easily found and in no time at all I was in the hotel lobby and saying hi to James! I dumped my rucksacks and we went to a very cute coffee shop and had a lovely hot chocolate and a catch up. Having been to Japan before (back in 2008), I was already feeling at home. Afterwards we wandered through the town to an amazing temple and gardens, there weren’t many people around and it felt very peaceful. James and I talked non-stop, he was getting on well with his job (he is a flight attendant) and I was glad to hear all about his relationship and plans for the future. I really didn’t want to go, as a few hours wasn’t enough to properly catch up, but I needed to get into Tokyo and find my hotel.
Before I left the UK I went to see my brother and he found some useful things I could take with me, one of them was a Suica Card which is like an Oyster card. James and I worked out how to put money on it and what train I needed to take and I made it to the Hotel Palace Japan quite easily, it was in Minami-Senju in the Asakusa area. The name sounds posher than it was, however the lady on the front desk was really friendly and spoke good English and we had a chat for ages before I went up to my room. It was like a hostel as it had dorms and shared rooms, but I was put on the ladies-only floor where there were single rooms with a shared bathroom.
The room itself was smaller than the Tea House rooms in Nepal, with a single bed, a built in cupboard as a wardrobe, a fridge and a desk and chair with a small TV but it felt homey and I liked it. The bathroom was airy and clean with nice toilets (with heated seats!) and lovely hot showers. I was on the 6th floor, which was the top, and looking out of the window at the end of the corridor there were great views of the city at night, including the famous Tokyo Skytree. The Tokyo Skytree is the tallest structure in Japan, standing at 634m. It has two viewing areas, the lower (at 350m) provides 360 degree panoramic views of the city and the upper (at 450m) has the “the world’s highest skywalk”, which consists of a sloping spiral ramp that gains height as it circles the tower. If I had time I would try to go.
I had only eaten a few snacks since getting off the plane and it was now mid-afternoon. I went out and as I was walking I started to feel a little bit lonely; I had been surrounded with people for a month of my travels and suddenly I was all on my own. I came across a small temple and in the peace of the garden I took some time out until the moment passed. The hotel had a little kitchen area on the ground floor so rather than sit on my own in a restaurant I decided to make a home-cooked meal and picked up some chicken, veg and bean shoots and other supplies to stock in my little fridge. I found oil, soy sauce and seasonings in one of the kitchen cupboards and whipped up a nice stir fry for my dinner. Strawberries and a cup of bush tea finished things off and, after catching up with some of my friends on WhatsApp I felt much happier and ready to enjoy exploring Japan the next day!