Monday morning, 7.30. My mom picked me up to go the airport. On the radio, we heard there were traffic jams of 1,5 hours to the airport, due to it being the first day 75% of flights was operating again, after the terrorist attack of 22 March. My mom’s boyfriend took a different road than the usual, trying to avoid the traffic jam. Though we left well in time, I couldn’t afford being late and I hate having to rush through an airport. We were very fortunate; traffic was slow on the other road was well, but once we actually arrived at the airport (where the worst part of the traffic jam was), all cars were on the exit towards Zaventem itself, not on the part to airport. The whole traffic jam had evaporated! Usually it takes about 40 minutes to the airport, this time it took about 1,5 hours.
So, we parked the car around 9, and followed the signs to the temporary departures hall. Through a parking building, up and down stairs and finally: a tent. That’s where I had to leave my mom behind, because only passengers could go further. A line, an identity check, another line, a luggage check, a confusing baggage drop hall, stairs and more stairs, arrival at the usual hand luggage check with no line at all. Through the hand luggage check and off to gate 22. Which would change anyway since the actual information was only made public about half an hour before boarding.
It was only 9.45 when I arrived at the gate, so the whole temporary infrastructure was not too bad, though confusing. The flight would leave only at 11.40 so I had to wait for quite a while. Around 10.50, the final gate info appeared on the screen, the new gate being 34, so not that much farther. Everything went smoothly, and we left for Helsinki perfectly on time.
From BRU to HEL takes only a bit over 2 hours, so I didn’t do anything to keep me busy on the plane. I had a window seat, the plane was flying low and the skies were clear, so for the 2 hours I just looked outside and marveled at the wonderful sights below. I seriously need to visit that country full of pines some day! In my post on Monday, I said I’d probably be flying somewhere above Denmark at the time of posting, and I was right. At that time we had just passed Copenhagen. 😉
As last time, the transfer in Helsinki went smoothly and I arrived at the gate in no time! Up to now, HEL must be the best airport I’ve been to. Or well, at least the one where everything goes smoothest. BRU is great as well, though. Too bad half of it is now gone… They just renewed it, damn it! 😦 Okay, so I had lots of time left before the flight at 17.25 (we arrived at 15.15) and next to the gate was a Burger King. Though I’d passed a noodles and sushi shop on my way, I made the bad choice of going for Burger King. Fast food makes me hungry, as in, I get more hungry after I ate it, so why did I even choose the burger?! Stupid of me, but I probably didn’t want to get too far from the gate, fearing I wouldn’t make it back in time…
Not much after I finished my meal, the boarding started. When I found my seat, I was happy to see I was in the row behind the toilet, so I had SO MUCH LEG SPACE!! I guess some people wouldn’t want to sit right behind the toilets, but I was super happy with all that leg room! On the seat next to me was no one, and the next two seats were occupied by a young Finnish-Japanese mixed couple and their baby of only a few months old. Once again, most people probably wouldn’t want to sit next to a couple and their baby, but during the whole 9,5-hour flight, the baby didn’t make a sound!
I watched a few movies to pass the time. The first on was The Book of Life, and I really liked it! It kind of reminded me of the unique style of Tim Burton. The story was fun yet moving. Next up was Rush Hour, which I’ve seen several times before, but it’ll always be a great movie. After watching Jackie Chan’s moves, it was time for another animation movie: Epic. Funny and somehow educative, showing the importance of nature. Though I wanted to watch another movie, Finnair’s in-flights entertainment system didn’t have that much on offer.
I survived without watching another movie, and around 9.05, 10 minutes later than planned we arrived at KIX. I was anxious to get out, because I had to get the bus to the other airport at 10.20. My experience at KIX was the worst this time, or just the whole transfer in Kansai was the worst. First, the customs officer tells me I’ll have to go to the office next time, because I’m always staying for about 90 days. Said I’m suspicious… So I thought “Well, I love your country so much, so I always stay as long as I can, but your country won’t let me stay longer…” but I say “Oh, okay, sure.” Because, you know, I have nothing to hide. But I’m sure I wasn’t the only ‘suspicious’ one, because the line moved a lot slower than usual. There was also a big banner stating “The inspections will be more strict due to terrorism.” Japan, my dear, you’re half a world away from where that shit is happening… The sent suicide bombers to Europe, Japan’s way too far! But okay, I shouldn’t be talking about terrorism and stuff on here because it’s a sensitive topic.
In any case, he let me through after some questions and after getting my luggage, I went straight for the bus ticket counter. Luckily I had been one of the first in line at customs, so I arrived at the luggage thingy as one of the first as well. I’d missed the previous bus by only 2 minutes, so I had about 35 more until the next. I bought the ticket and, after making sure I knew where the bus would stop, I went to the restroom. When I came out, I noticed I HAD LOST MY TICKET! After checking the floor in the restroom and in between the counter and the restrooms, I explained my situation to the ticket lady, who then told me to explain at the ticket window outside because she couldn’t do anything about it. So I did, and the outside ticket lady said “Nope, if you lost it we can’t reissue a ticket. You’ll have to look for it.” WHAT?! I had only 10 minutes left before the bus would leave, so I rushed to the restroom, checked the floors once more, returned to the arrivals hall and checked the floor there… Nothing! And then I realized. I shouldn’t just check the floors, there are other places to lose/misplace tickets! I went into the bathroom stall for a fourth time, didn’t look at the floor and there it was: I’d put my ticket on the low wall behind the toilet… Such a relief! Rushing outside, I noticed I still had 5 minutes left before the bus would leave. Lucky! I handed over my suitcase and took place in the bus.
60 minutes later, 10 minutes sooner than planned, we arrived at ITM, where they had two terminals: one for flights operated by ANA and one for flights operated by JAL. I had a JAL flights, so terminal 2. Since all flights were by the same company, I had a hard time finding the right baggage drop. I was so confusing, it seemed like my first time at an airport. And even my actual first time (alone) wasn’t that dumb. I first ask one JAL employee, who pointed to the hachi-ban (8th) counter. In front: check-in luggage check. So I show my ticket to this guys and he says it’s there. He puts my luggage through and doesn’t say a word… So I ask the next lady where I should go. She looks at my ticket receipt all confused and disappears for a few minutes. She returns and says I should go to hachi-ban. So I go to hachi-ban, give them my paper, point at the flight I’m about to take, which clearly stated “Osaka to Fukuoka”, and she asks “international flight?” Such geography knowledge! So I say “No, Fukuoka…” She goes on with whatever she’s doing, while the other guy helps me put my luggage on the belt. 24,5 kg. Limit was 23. Good thing they didn’t have scales at the temporary infrastructure in BRU. 😉 She hands me my ticket, and I step aside so I’m not in the way of other customers. Looking around me confusedly, the girl runs back to me with a ‘map’, showing me where to go. She could’ve just said I had to go up the stairs, but anyway, it was kind of her to point out my dumbness once again. Up the stairs, I found the hand luggage check, once again without a sign showing where to enter. Hello, Osaka, ever heard of signs?! (oh, by the way, everything from when I set foot to Japanese soil every conversation has been in Japanese, but now the English had completely disappeared, IF there was a sign, it was in Japanese…) So these two girls in front of the luggage check beckon me and show me where to go. Good thins Japan creates this kind of jobs, where in other countries, they’d just put a sign… Then the girls at the luggage check speak to fast asking me about this or that in my luggage. But none of these things is in my luggage, because, you know, you can’t have scissors and stuff in your luggage for international flights either… So I show them my bag of liquid stuffs, and go through with no problems. I was so glad to arrive at that gate! I seriously felt so dumb, the whole procedure is the same as in any other airport, yet they made it so confusing and unclear!
I got stated at for being the only foreigner on the plane, but I’ve gotten used to being the white unicorn in Japan. 😉 Arriving at Fukuoka airport, I luckily didn’t have to go through any of this again, since it was a DOMESTIC flight (:P), so I quickly picked up my luggage and found my friend Karolien waiting for me. She helped me get my luggage to my dorm/share house. But that’s a story for Friday. I was planning on writing about my first day in this post as well, but it’s getting quite long so I’ll stop here for today. 😀