Japan Blog Study Tour

High up in the sky

While I’m typing this, I’m flying above Syberia somewhere at 36500 feet or 11125 meter altitude while flying at 927 km/hour (I need to get one of these engines for my car :-P). We still need to go 3181 miles which will cost us 6 hours and 41 minutes – gotta love in-flight information systems.

But lets start at the beginning, I woke up at 11 o clock in the morning with a steady 7 hours of sleep (needed to make sure I brought enough music and movies along for the flight and the stay in general, so I was up late). After getting dressed with a cup of coffee and a long shower I managed to recheck the packing list to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. By the time I was almost done, my parents and my youngest sister dropped in to bring me to the bus and to wave me off.

Once at the gathering point (its 14:30 by now), we found ourselves short one touring car. After a while the last people finally arrived and the bus finally showed up. Ofcourse the bus driver didn’t drive all the way up to the gathering point, instead he parked at the end of the street, making us walk to the damn bus. We finally headed off in the right direction: Schiphol Airport!

By the time we got there we walked to the gathering point to find the last missing members of the tour. After distributing some goodies (Bonsai sweater, candy as a gift for the companies we are visiting and some booklets), we finally headed off to the check-in. Finding the right terminal is easy, getting sent in the wrong damn direction by some idiot is also easy. So after some confusion we headed in the right direction with the entire group to the check-in. Our travel agent made it sound like we were getting actual tickets when we flashed our passports. However, upon getting to the check-in, they knew nothing of those tickets. While the committee was scrambling to find out what was going on, we found out that the transport belts have scaled that work even when the counter is closed. So everyone started weighing their luggage. So I put my suitcase on the belt knowing I had roughly 20kg. So I looked at the scale and it said 22.1kg…

Trying a second and even third scale didn’t help at all… While I was thinking how I was gonna repack everything to make it fit, one of the others asked the people at the counter if his 22.9kg was ok, they said it was so everyone stopped worrying. Finally we started the actual check-in which made me feel 20kg lighter, wait, 22.1kg lighter 🙂

After some time, some of us noticed a revolving door leading outside and after poking Isaac we went outside for a quick smoke while other people were sorting rail-tickets and what not. By then it was something like 18:30 and some of us were feeling the urge for caffeine. I’m happy to say that the only lady on the tour was among the ones in the Quest For Caffeine.

We finally headed towards customs where a grumpy looking dude cleared me in like 2 seconds, probably because I was asking too many questions 😛 After customs we headed towards gate 19. On the way there we got sidetracked by a restaurant next to the Holland Casino where everyone crashed to get some coffee or other refreshments.

After 10 minutes or so we rushed towards the gate which had opened up by 19:15 which gave us plenty time to get on board before it would take off. At gate 19, we where greeted by pretty much the same staff that helped us at the check-in (god knows how these people move around so fast). Ofcourse the only one who triggered the damn metal detector was me, even when I put everything in the box (even the lighters). After some semi-successful attempts to photograph the plane through the highly reflective glass, we boarded the plane. After 10 minutes or so we started taxiing towards the correct runway, which was somewhere near Groningen or something as it took forever to get there. On the upside: this plane has nose camera, allowing passengers to look outside the nose of the plane.

The take-off was pretty cool, except for the fact that I forgot to get the chewing gum out of my backpack so the pressure was fucking up my ears. Note to self: next time, get the crap BEFORE the plane fires up its engine….

Anyway, they closed the window blinds and dimmed the lights for a while now, leaving me and some others bored out of our skull as we are not intending to get sleep until we get to the hotel in 9 hours from now or so. In total this means we have to stay away for 9 + 11 + 5 = 25 hours or so. I can pull that off easily if I get coffee and enough movement. Perhaps I’ll close my eyes while listening to some music but that will be all.

On the topic of movement: we had a few instances of turbulence now. First the stewardesses give you some forms to fill out (for customs and what not, get this: they literally ask you if you are a criminal and/or are carrying drugs, weapons or explosives. I was tempted to tick the yes box for every option – what kind of moron would specify yes to any of these if you really had ill intent…) and next the driver/pilot starts rambling the airplane making it near impossible to write anything – let alone anything readable.

To get out of the boredom we gather in the middle and back of the plane to get some drinks and food at the DIY station, and the not-so-much-DIY-coffee-machine. We tried most of the drinks and candy/snacks. Tip: the stuff that mentions citrus somewhere in the Japanese description is safe to drink, the green tea has sea weed in it and the small bags that look like the winegum wrappers we have in the Netherlands are NOT WINEGUMS… Rather its some sort of dried figs but then made from apples or something and its downright disgusting…

Well I’m running out of battery and we are 5:30 hours from our destination (half way there – yay!) so I’m calling it quits for now. I’ll post some pictures when we get to our hotel and I’ll probably type something about the rest of the flight.

Someone remind me to get a jet engine for my car, seriously: the kickback you get when the pilot floors it is definitely something for me!

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