Saturday, September 1, 2007

Airport Lessons

We have arrived safely in Marugame! We got here Saturday afternoon, and our boss, Fumi, picked us up at the bus station and took us to our home, which is across the street from her house. We live in a pretty rural area with rice fields all around, although there is a Baskin Robbins around the corner! I had my first experience with grocery shopping last night, and that was very interesting. The store we went to did indeed have 1 pound bags of rice for $10! Yikes! I will post more about our area and house later. Before I forget, I want to just make a list of lessons we learned quickly in our first experience with international travel.

1.) Apparently, if you are traveling to Japan on a tourist visa, you need a return ticket. I had called the Japanese consulate earlier and he had told me the same thing, but then I found a website for English teachers in Japan which told me that no one cares about a return ticket. Desperately, Fox and I racked our brains as to how to come up with the means to get return tickets. Luckily, the airline rep told us the loophole in the system--buy a ridiculously expensive return ticket that is fully refundable so that we could be let on the airplane and have proof of plans to return and then get our ticket refunded after we went through customs. We frantically called my sister to do just that, which she did quickly and willingly, (thanks, you're a lifesaver!) and we were able to board our plane with no problems. The funny thing is that when we went through customs in Japan, they didn't care about a return ticket or why we were even there in the first place. Sheesh!

2.) Check your reservations well! What I thought was a ticket from LAX to Kansai International Airport, which has free shuttle buses to hotels and a bus station in the airport, turned out to be a ticket from LAX to Tokyo-Narita. From Narita, after going through a priority line at customs since we have a baby (so it literally took less than 10 minutes) , we had to take a 1 hour shuttle to the Haneda airport, which gave us approximately 45 minutes to check our bags, go through security, and get to the gate--somehow we miraculously did it! We then got on a plane to Osaka, which took 1 hour, and then found out that there are no train or bus stations in Osaka airport. We had to take a shuttle to a train station and from the station, take a taxi to a hotel, where we stayed. The next morning, we lugged all 8 pieces of luggage (our large one's wheel broke!) down to a bus station about ten minutes away. From the bus station, we took a bus to Marugame and were dropped off at the wrong stop! Luckily, our boss had her cell phone on her, so we were able to get to our home with no problems (except for Fox, who was following Fumi's car in our new car, getting incredibly lost on the way back--but that's another story).

3.) Do not ask for water from the flight attendant on a Japanese airplane. Water isn't an option! However, she did make a special trip to find me some water.

4.) American babies are irresistable. Even the most serious looking businessmen drop their work to comment on how cute and chubby Cash is. Cash was an angel on the plane and bus. So far, he's been waking an hour earlier, but that's the only difference. Yay!

5.) Never switch seats if you are sitting next to someone who might possibly speak your language, even if they are eating raw fish and drinking a huge beer. Fox ended up learning a lot about Japan, practiced his Japanese, and got to speak English for a few hours to a very nice man on the bus.

Possible visitors please note: Do not let our misadventures dissuade you from visiting! It really was not that bad, and I can't believe how smoothly it went compared to my predictions. Okay, I love you all and don't forget to set up Skype! ~Amy


Rick Ellis said...

Congratulations....glad you guys made it. Sorry to hear about the confusion in getting on the airplane. What an adventure! DAD

Ru said...

It pleases me so to read about your adventure and to know all is safe and well. I miss the Ellis family terribly...yet am eager to hear, read, about your lives in the Land of the Rising Sun. Heaps of love.