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Tokyo, day 1, travel and Shinjuku - Random thoughts [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Tokyo, day 1, travel and Shinjuku [Oct. 9th, 2017|03:35 pm]
[Tags|, , , , , , , , , ]
[Current Location |Tokyo, Japan]
[feeling |cheerfulcheerful]

Nearly off to Japan!

We didn't have to catch a flight 'till 9.10PM, which was awesome because it meant we could sleep in, have enough time to pack the last things (there's always things that have to be packed the day you leave) and prepare food to take along on the plane. I have a ton of food allergies (which my friends Sayaka and Sonoko kindly translated into Japanese, much obliged guys) and so packing some food to make sure I wouldn't starve seemed like an excellent plan.
Because the NMBS had decided to do engineering works that weekend, out of all weekends, Bert's parents were driving us to Mechelen station, where we would catch a train to the airport. Dropping people off at the airport is a massive pain in the ass these days, so this was a much better solution for them. In any case, it was much appreciated because having to take 2 trains and a bus with that much luggage would have been impossible. I'm not even sure we'd even be allowed on the bus with all of that, so thankfully my inlaws were able to drive us.
Anyway, the train to the airport was on time, and we didn't have to wait long to check in at all.
Getting through the security check all went smoothly too, and we then proceeded to find some water, get a slice of lemon cake at Starbucks and flopped down at the gate to use the airport's free wifi. It's only free if you're a Telenet user, which thankfully, we are. I really liked the new seat with USB ports that allow you to charge your device when you sit there, those were really practical. Not all seats are like that, but you can see that they are gradually upgrading the waiting area to be more mobile compatible and that's great. It sure beats the one plug in the wall per gate waiting area!

Nearly off to Japan!

Our flight wasn't delayed, which was great, and I really liked the first row seat. I know that in a lot of US planes the first row is a nightmare, but on a massive ANA plane, you get glorious, glorious leg space. The lady sitting next to me was also super nice, which definitely helped. Bert, however, didn't much like the space because he felt he couldn't really stretch out his legs because so many people were passing through to the toilets, and a lot of people bumped into him. So next time we take a long haul flight, I'll take the seat at the “wall” and he'll take the middle one and that'll be problem solved :). He still had more space than in a regular seat though.

I slept for a lot of the flight, and what I didn't spent sleeping I spent watching Ducktales on my tablet or Baywatch on the in flight entertainment. Yes I know, it's a silly movie, but hey, nostalgia and all that jazz. I was glad we had brought food, because I was indeed allergic to a lot of the stuff in the in-flight meals, which was good for Bert because it meant he had enough to eat.

I also discovered that my motion sickness has become worse, and I very nearly threw up during landing. Thankfully I didn't really!

ANA R2D2 model plane

The flight attendants were also super nice. One of them gave me a model kit for the ANA x R2D2 model plane. She said she had seen me watch Ducktales and heard me talk about Disney parks with the lady sitting next to me, so she figured I'd like to have it as a present from her. She was right, I love it!

I had heard a lot of horror stories about Japanese customs, but I must say that I thought they were all very friendly. It took a while for my fingerprint scan to work (that's what you get when your right index finger is full of scar tissue because it was accidentally mauled by your pet iguana), but they didn't make a fuss about it at all.
The actual bag check guys were super chill also. They were all “oh yeah, 's all good, have a nice stay!”.

The lady who sat next to me had given me the tip to go to the downstairs station to take the Narita express, and look forlorn and ask for help, because apparently there's a sort of half hidden corridor desk upstairs, and a member of staff is bound to take you there, which means you can totally skip the queue. I'm a huge fan of skipping queues, because at time s I feint when I have to stand too long, and still feeling pretty bleak with motion sickness I didn't want to take my chances. So that worked out great. We got round trip tickets, which is cheaper than 2 one way tickets, and only had to wait about half an hour for the train into Shinjuku.

Arriving in Shinjuku station, we began the search for the fabled West exit. In the end we managed to get out, and we were pretty sure it was near where we had to be, but we still didn't manage to find the hotel. So we asked a group of people flyering and one of them spoke pretty good English and said he's just show us where it was, as it was only 2 streets away. That was super nice of him!

Our hotel, the Ibis Shinjuku, was very decent. It's an Ibis, so you know you're getting decent quality: clean rooms, clean hotel, it's nothing amazing but it's definitely all fine. What I didn't like though, was that the hotel was advertised as one with English speaking staff. As in: staff that could properly communicate in English. This wasn't the case. Whilst they understood very basic English, that's where it ended.
I tried to explain to them that several members of our family are in bad health, and that when there was an emergency back home whilst it was nighttime in Tokyo, they'd ring the front desk and request we be woken up. That was a total fail. Which was a pain, because I hadn't told many people I was going to Tokyo, and I didn't want to risk someone waking me up in the middle of the night with random stuff because they either didn't know I wasn't home, or forgot about the 7 hour time difference.
Thankfully nothing happened, but it could have been a bit of a nightmare.

But aside from that blatant lie about the staff being fluent in English, I can't complain about the hotel at all. I would probably book it again if I went back to Tokyo, but then I'd ask a friend to translate the info about people at home so I can just hand it over and they'll actually understand what I am trying to say.

We had landed around 4pm, so understandably, when we had arrived at our hotel and checked and it was around 7pm, we were pretty hungry. I had seen an UNIQLO pretty much around the corner from the hotel, so we went there first because I wanted to get airism bra tops. They're not really cheaper than here in Belgium, but in Belgium they are seasonal and in Japan they're not. Seeing the Antwerp UNIQLO was out of my size, I decided to just get 3 more. Very unexciting, I know, but with my bad back these things are seriously amazing! It's also crazy how supportive they are. But enough about bra tops, which I'm pretty sure no one wants to hear about anyway.

Shinjuku by night

Photo of the day: 3.9.2017 (day 246)

Lanterns around the corner from our hotel.

After wandering around for a bit, we decided to try the infamous Mos Burger. There was a burger joint right under our hotel, but at that point we weren't near that, so Mos Burger it was!

dinner at Mos Burger

dinner at Mos Burger

melon soda

Melon soda

dinner at Mos Burger

Chilly cheese fries

It's actually pretty good, I would not be opposed to putting bolognaise sauce on my burger if I made burgers at home (because the chances of actually finding a burger like that in a Belgian burger joint are extremely slim).

We had noticed Lawson and 7/11 across the street from Mos Burger, so we went in to buy some water and food to have for breakfast the next day. I got melon pan, and Bert got some other Japanese pastries.
I also got some Dars Halloween chocolates. Entirely for the packaging. I really hope they are any good because I've got LOTS of it. If they suck, I'll just give them to my nieces for Halloween :D.
So far I've only tried the white, and so far so good :).
They tend to pretty indiscriminately eat everything that is candy.

And that was our first day.