Back to Japan!!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here (mainly as I’ve not done anything interesting, and I’ve been slacking off quite a bit with the language learning!), but as I’ve not returned to Japan I figured it’d be a good time to start things back up again.

Workaway nightmares

So as some may know, the original plan was for me to go back and do another workaway placement for a few months, and also to go back to see how the tea I planted last year was doing.  Both of those plans went catastrophically wrong! On the tea field front, that’s complicated, but it comes down to the language school I was staying at being really strange about things.

On the Workaway front, changes to the visa requirements mean you need a work visa to now do them in Japan, rather stupid as if I had a work visa I’d just get a regular job there!  The other annoyance is that I was trying to secure a placement before the regulations changed, but due to places taking so long to reply, the visa restrictions came into force before I could arrange anything!  So in the end I’ve just taken a massive credit card hit to go back for a couple of weeks.

Flight choices

After how amazing Air France were last time (both on the flight and actual customer service helping sort some stuff out), I had wanted to use them again.  Sadly during peak season their prices were upwards of £2000 so I had to rule that out!  (Against last years £550 off peak).  The best of the options seemed to be Korean Air at about £900, the travel time was good, and I’d at least heard of them.  A few options were cheaper at £700ish, but they involved crazy layovers and long travel times, with airlines that just didn’t fill me with confidence.

I ended up with an evening flight from Heathrow, it was a nice change to have the day free to leisurely wander to the airport, rather than having to be up at 5am to catch a flight.  So after pottering around I was finally off! And that was where I ended up wishing I’d have been able to afford Japan Air, Air France of BA etc.

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Korean Air

So actually the flight to Seoul was fairly smooth, no real turbulence, and no excitement with near missies with other planes this time.  But everything else was pretty poor, the inflight entertainment was non existent, there were hardly any movies or tv shows, and I don’t just mean that I would have liked to watch, I mean in total! Plus the touchscreen didn’t work most of the time, the manual remote thing was needed instead.  The food was awful, and this is coming form someone that actually doesn’t mind plane food!

Now something that I would like opinions on, flight etiquette, I was on a window seat, two other passengers between me and the isle.  For most of the flight either one, or both of them were fast asleep at any given time, now when you’re dying for a wee this causes quite a dilemma; is it considered bad to wake them up so you can ask to get out? Do you try to climb over them with the risk of them waking up find you on top of them?! Or do you just have to endure and hold it till there’s a window to make a break for it? What is the protocol in this situation?! I ended up being considerate and doing the latter, but as a result that meant for about 8 hours of the flight I was just dying for pee!  What do people do?!!

Seoul – Time attack mode!

Now this was always going to be close, as I had just 1 hour to catch my connecting flight to Osaka.  As it stood it looked promising, the flight landed on time……….but then must have spent forever taxiing around on the runway, as by the time I was off the plane I found I had just 20 minutes!

That was 20 minutes to somehow dash across the airport, clear another security checkpoint (which please explain why you have to do this for transfers? If I cleared security at Heathrow, then sat on a plane for 12 hours, how could I have possibly acquired anything extra?), then run to the new gate.  And while doing all that I had to dodge trolleys and people, while running at a speed that didn’t look like I was suspicious or guilty of something.

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Matters weren’t helped by the security checkpoint, the amount of people that had ages in the que to get their electronics out etc that didn’t was frustrating as hell, and the amount that seemed to take forever as they had about 20 bags of shopping with them! I always thought it was one carry on, and one duty free bag, but evidently here it was fine to have one carry on, and the equivalent of your monthly groceries shop with you!  In the end after a mad dash I made it with about a minute to spare! I really apologise to whoever sat next to me as I was just a stinking ball of sweat after that chaos!

Thankfully though the next flight was a short 1 hour hop across to Osaka, though upon landing it seemed to be another hour of just taxiing, I honestly think the plane spent longer on the ground than in the air.  On a plus note the snack of a tuna rice ball was better and more filling that anything on the 12 hour leg of the journey!  It was a very cloudy day, so I didn’t get the see the mountains of Japan as I went over, it was basically cloud cover, then suddenly runway tarmac.

Back home

So after 12 hours of a tedious flight, mostly spent trying to hold back a pee, a time trial challenge at Seoul, and a 1 hour recovery from said time trail, I was back where I belong! Feeling the fresh of Japan really felt good!

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Upon doing the immigration stuff and claiming baggage, I arrived in the lobby to be greeted by several large inflatable Pokémon, as well as a massive Pikachu! I saw a poster saying there was a 2 week Pokémon event of some form on at the airport, but I was too tired to try and read / translate anything further.

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Stepping outside it was raining quite heavily, although most of the airport to the station is covered I made a point of just stepping out and sitting in the rain for a bit, it might have seemed strange to some, but I was just happy to be back, and sitting in the rain just felt refreshing.

Finding Tsukaguchi

First AirBnB was located in Tsukaguchi, in Amagasaki, a city about 15 mins by train outside of Osaka.  I just took the normal JR line form the airport, changed in Osaka and was at the station in about an hour and half.  First port of call from the station was of course a vending machine! Drinks just taste better from the vending machines here!

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In my tired state my built in mini map and compass was a bit off, so I ended up just heading for the general area of where I thought the place was, after more wandering in the rain I then decided to take a break and find a hot coffee vending machine.  Turned out the be a good move, as a) I got coffee b) as I stood there drinking the coffee I noticed I was right outside the place!

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The place itself is a really cosy little flat, comfy futon, Japanese bathtub, and a nice balcony too.  Did have a slight internet panic issue, but that got sorted the next day.  I ended up turning in about midnight, and naturally waking up fully re-energized at about 6am, before the alarms I’d set.  Jetlag? No idea what that is.  Anyway, it was time to get ready for a day in Kobe!

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