Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2004

Return to Winter

I was awoken from a deep sleep by the alarm at the ungodly hour of 0500. Disorientated for a couple of seconds, I soon remembered that I needed to be up and about without delay in order to be sure of catching my morning flight to Tokyo. I made myself a cup of coffee, finished the last of the packing and was ready to check out shortly before 6. As it turned out, the first shuttle bus to the station was due just after 6 so, although Graeme had advised me to take a taxi, I decided just to wait the few minutes that were needed. The shuttle turned up on time and, there being absolutely no question of traffic delays at this hour of the morning, I had a very quick transfer to the station, where I was glad to make use of the excellent in-town check-in facility.

The train whisked me to the airport and I was ready to proceed directly to Departures, remembering first to cash in my Octopus card. Then it was through passport control and security and straight into The Wing, Cathay Pacific's first class lounge, which I had heard so much about on FT. All I can say is : WOW! This place is fabulous. I hadn't intended to eat anything at all substantial until the flight itself, but when I discovered the dining area and was asked whether I wanted something to eat, I found myself being ushered to a table beside the water feature that occupied a whole side of the restaurant area. I had a bowl of cereal, a small portion of scrambled eggs, a warm croissant and some Swiss cheese, all washed down with a cup of tea. I then logged on to one of the PCs in the main lounge area to use webmail and FT and, in no time at all, it was time to head down to Gate 31 for departure.

(Link to flight log in side panel)

On arrival at Narita, my first thought was that here was another airport that managed to look deserted ... then I hit Immigration   There was an enormous queue snaking around the area in front of the booths. It was all terribly well organised, of course, even to the extent of having theme park-like "Waiting time 30 mins from this point" signs. I was just thankful that I had been one of the first people off that 747. Thankfully things speeded up a bit as more agents were summoned up from somewhere. Once through, I had little trouble in buying a ticket for the Airport Limousine Bus, which would take me directly to the hotel, in the Ikebukuro area of the city, at 1500. I stepped outside and was informed by an overly-precise digital indicator that the temperature was 5.8C. Back to Winter indeed!

I had almost forgotten how dreadful Tokyo traffic can be. The transfer took not far short of two hours, so that there was little in the way of daylight left by the time I got to the hotel. Making my way to my room, I was a bit taken aback to find a little notice on my bed saying FUKU ZAWA. "Well, really, that doesn't sound very friendly," I thought. On closer inspection, it turned out to be the name of the person who had prepared my room for me   I decided that there would be no point in venturing out again and had a quiet evening in.