Arriving in Japan

on Thursday, 27 May 2010

We arrive in Beijing at about 7am and have a lot to do before our flight to Nagoya at 3:30pm. We again arrive at the wrong train station and the cab drivers want 100Y(£10) to take us across town, which we don’t want to pay. We decide to walk around a bit and eventually stumble across the subway. Amazingly the subway is ridiculously easy to navigate and we find the station we need and the cost is only 2Y each, great! We go down to get the tube and by this time it’s just past 8am and obviously rush hour. The first tube arrives and it looks like it is absolutely crammed full with people without an inch to spare. Somehow about another 5 people manage to force themselves on. The next train is virtually the same, but I decide we are going to have to do the same or will never get on. We are on for about 10 minutes and there is absolutely no space to move with people pressed up against you on all sides and us with all our bags on. At least you couldn’t fall over as you were so wedged in. We arrive first at the post office and I manage to send 8kg of souvenirs back for about £30. But they reject the fake yak tail I had bought in Nepal. Our next stop is to buy our Japan rail pass, after spending a while finding the right building, the first place will only sell the passes to people who have booked tickets with them, which we haven’t and the second travel agent have run out of tickets and send us to their head office, which means another trip on the tube and a search around the streets. Finally we find it on the 21st floor of an office building and manage to buy our 1 week pass for about £240. Apparently a very good deal as a single long train journey can cost the same. By this time it’s passed midday and we decide to make our way to the airport for our flight at 3:30pm. We decide to get a cab to make sure we get there in time. We arrive and after 15 minutes of trying to find out were to go and being sent to different ticket offices we finally check in.

Checking in we have our luggage scanned and I have a bottle of water confiscated, Tom has all his toiletries, sun cream e.t.c confiscated, although I have exactly the same things in my bag.

We are apparently a bit late even though the gate had only been open 5 minutes and are rushed out to the plane. As we take off I think I hear them say the flight is 1hr 10minutes, which sounds way too short. After an hour and ten minutes we land and think we have got on the wrong plane or something, because we are at Qingdao airport. Which is still in China! I query the boarding pass with the air hostess, who just points at the door. We walk of the plane and a guy is calling Nagoya, we realise we have a connecting flight, even though we had not been told and had not been issued with any other ticket or information. We follow the guy through to the gate and have to have our bags checked again, this time I am stopped and they have picked up my asthma inhaler which I have to explain and also some deodorant and a small knife in my bag, which amazingly after showing them they just give it back to me. We get through and board the plane for the next two hours. We end up getting on exactly the same plane again.

We arrive in Nagoya airport at about 9pm, after clearing customs, where we have our fingerprints and a photo taken, we find a information desk, which thankfully looks up our hostel and tells us how to get there. We have to but the train ticket from the airport, which is on an island to Kanayama station. This costs us a ridiculous 790Yen (£6) for a journey that cost 20p in Beijing early in the day. We arrive at Kanayama and go outside to get a cab, in the square outside are lots of kids on bmx’s doing the most ridiculous tricks you have seen. These guys must have been professionals riding the bikes upside down, turning the wheel with their feet and flipping it around like a skateboard. Unfortunately my video camera was right at the bottom of my bag and I couldn’t get it out, but it was pretty amazing. We decide to get a cab as we don’t know where the hostel is. We get in and the driver has to ring the hostel to get directions, eventually we end up driving for about 2 minutes, when the guy gets lost and just sits there reversing up and down a street as the meter seems to go up about £1 every 30 seconds. Eventually when it it’s 1000Y we decide to get out, just as the hostel owner turns up. So what was less than five minute walk costs about £8. In hindsight we should have just paid less and walked off, but we only had 1000Y notes. The hostel is very small and we soon realise everything is going to cost a lot of money out here. To rent a bike it is 500Y, to use the washing machine is 300Y and then after visiting the local supermarket, where water is now 100Y and a small sandwich is 230Y.