26 September 2008

zomg tokyo! day 17 (last day)

Day 17 (22 September)
All 27 suitcases packed? Check. All drawers empty? Bathroom devoid of non-disposable items? Nothing hiding under the bed? Check check check. Gifts for everyone on the list? Oh crap. But hey, that's why they created duty free shopping!

The bellhops had all our luggage waiting for us at the bus stop, which was conveniently located about three feet from the main entrance to the hotel. Even more convenient were the bellhops that loaded the 38 bags under the bus for us. We were forced to load ourselves, sadly. The Friendly Airport Limousine bus took about two hours to get to Narita. I slept, Matt read.

At the airport, we piled 52 of the bags onto a luggage cart, which Matt was elected to push. This left me pulling the remaining two. Now before I go on, some description of our luggage is needed. There are the red 20", 22", and 27" Swiss Army suitcases. The 27" was fully expanded, adding an extra 2" of depth. There is also a matching large rolling garment bag. The camera and its myriad of lenses live in a Crumpler backpack with a high padding to usable space ratio. Matt has his messenger bag, per usual, and I have my larger purse (which really isn't all that big on an absolute scale). Added to the mess is Matt's new souvenir shoulder bag and the suitcase o' doom we got yesterday. I was pulling the four wheeled new suitcase and the garment bag. And back to the suitcase drama!

Luckily, or actually probably on purpose, the first class and business class check-in desks are about 25m from the terminal entrance. Lug lug lug drag flomp. One of the agents nearly died lifting the 27" suitcase on the scale. I can't imagine why as the suitcase was only 34.2kg. Personally, I was impressed with my amazing packing skills. The agent who had to enforce the maximum weight of 32kg wasn't. The suitcase and garment bag were opened on the floor, and the suitcase went "POP!" The agents were nice and called out weights as I took stuff out of the big one. That was easy compared to squishing the removed items into the already filled garment bag. I actually had to sit on it to zipper it. And then the bags disappeared, hopefully to under the plane I'm currently sitting in.

Next came customs. I was expecting quite a bit of fun due to the consumption tax refund slips in our passports. We'd heard stories of being required to show every item listed to prove you were actually taking the items out of the country. Instead, there was nothing. Just a quick signature on the departure form, and away we went.

There was no line at security, and the guards were actually nice human beings! How refreshing. Then came a big pile of stupid. Do you have any liquids in your carry on? I had some makeup that I forgot to put in a baggie. And I said so. Since we were already through the radiation machines, I figured the reason the guard was insisting on the eye liner being put in a baggie was so it could go through xray again. Nope. Once I managed to procure a baggie by emptying it of loose change, the guard put in the eye liner and handed it back to me. Um, what? That was it. It just had to be in a baggie, and then it could go back in my luggage. Obviously. If I had known that baggies were some kind of secret ultra explosion containing devices, I would have invested in them.

With that silliness behind me, both literally and figuratively, it was time for duty free shopping! Silly me, I thought they'd have the normal cheesy over priced souvenirs. Instead, we were limited to Cartier, Mont Blanc, Tiffany's, and every makeup company under the sun. Thankfully, we eventually found a real duty free shop hidden away in the back. And with that taken care of, we had no choice but to head for the Admirals Club.

In the US, you have ask a bartender for drinks and then, gasp, pay for them. Narita's lounge didn't have a bartender. Instead, it was open season on some serious top shelf liquor. Matt helped himself to the beererator, while I forced my dehydrated self to suffice with water. The food department was lacking in, well, food, so I ate about 20lbs of cheese. No big deal.

Fast forward 75 minutes, and it was hikioki time! We leisurely walked over to the gate, seeing as how we didn't feel like running. A short wait later, and we were on the plane. AA business class destroys JAL's. Or at least the one JAL plane's that hasn't been upgraded to clamshell seats. The new AA business class seats were great. Aside from the required tv, the seats lie almost flat. The clamshell seats mean that reclining fully has absolutely no affect on the person behind you. I'm going to miss the happy seats when squished in steerage over Thanksgiving. Woe is me.

Our flight actually arrived early! Yay early!

One of the benefits of being in the front of the plane is that you get off first. This is especially important on a 777 full of people that need to go through immigration and customs. Unfortunately, this benefit disappears if Matt accidentally leaves his cell phone on the plane. Apparently the world will end if passengers are allowed back on the plane, so I had to wait for every other passenger, the pilots, and crew to deplane. Then I had to wait for a flight attendant to look for the phone. I can understand waiting for the other passengers, but whatever, the phone was found, and the $150 deposit was saved.

Everyone else from the plane was already in line at immigration, but luckily most of the passengers were in the non US passport line. It wouldn't have mattered much either way, since the next hour (or 20 minutes, depending on how awake I was) was spent with customs.

Step 1: retrieve luggage from carousel.
Step 2: pile luggage onto two carts.
Step 3: fun with customs.

We bought way too much stuff, and the customs officer had to look up the codes for all sorts of things. It didn't help that all our receipts were in Japanese. When the dust settled, $65 in duty. Not nearly as bad as predicted. It was time to push our overloaded luggage carts through the egress and back into America!

The last item on the agenda was to get us and all the luggage to the car via the Air Park Shuttle. Generally the shuttle comes every 10-20 minutes, so when I saw the shuttle pulling up just as we exited the building, it was time to run. Running while pushing 600lbs of luggage is no small task, especially if it involves crossing three lanes of airport traffic (taxis). I can only assume that I looked like an idiot, but the driver saw me and we didn't have to wait for the next one.

Back at the parking lot, Matt warmed up the car engine while I stood watch over the luggage. Five minutes later, he pulled up, the luggage was smushed in the trunk, and we headed home.

The end.


Anonymous said...

I feel that I have travelled with you and am now exhausted. You certainly didn't miss anything from what I have read. Now that you are back in the real world, a very Happy and Healthy New year to you and Matt. Loved reading your daily accounts of your activity.

Luv ya,


dreamerj25 said...

Yes, very nice job describing everything so that we feel like we're there! =) Glad you are home safely.

momdgp said...

Good thing that blogs don't have a character limit (ignoring the writer & BF). I can still recall teachers having you read your report to the class last so as to leave time for everyone else. I loved your blow-by-blow of everything. Rain, subway, evil signs. The beast (IMHO) was how the mountain of suitcases increased exponentially every time they needed to be moved/carried/pushed/schlepped.