Arigatō gozaimasu (thankyou very much) has probably been the one phrase we’ve used more than any other during our trip. I’ve nearly said it instead of thanks a few times here in Sydney. So yes, we’re back home, and the journey here was a little more eventful than our departure. Despite some misadventures, I’m still pretty grateful for the way Jetstar handled it all.
It all started going wrong when we experienced for the first time a train that was running late. The train to the airport. Of all the trains we’d caught on our trip, this was the only one that we really wanted to arrive on time. Stress levels rose each time the train came to a stop in the middle of nowhere, or slowed to a crawl through some suburban stations. We’d allowed ourselves a couple of hours at the airport, so when we ended up arriving 30 minutes late it wasn’t too bad. Turns out we could have been a lot later and still been fine.
Lugging our stuffed to the brim suitcases, over-packed backpacks and multiple miscellaneous carry bags, we headed for the check in, and were greeted by a sign informing us that our flight had been delayed by three hours. Grateful just to be rid of our suitcases, we checked in anyway, where the very apologetic staff kindly overlooked our 13 kilos of excess baggage (which would have cost us ¥19500, or about the same as the flight home for one of us), and also gave us some meal vouchers for the airport.
Deciding to ignore McDonald’s and have one last meal of sushi we found a suitable restaurant and started to order a greatest hits of sushi. Well Holly did (including one tuna roll which used up her whole voucher), while I decided that it was one last chance to try something different and ordered (amongst other things) the crab brain sushi. Once you got past the look of the blob of greeny-grey on top of the rice, it tasted pretty good, though I still prefer the pigeon brain I ate at La Rochelle.
We ambled around for a while, but with most of the shops closing for the night there wasn’t too much to look at, so we just took it easy down at the departure gate. Eventually sometime after 11pm we boarded, and at first were shocked at how close together the seats were. Where’d all the leg room go? Then I realised we were no longer on a Shinkansen and such luxuries were no longer part of the deal.
Turns out Jetstar did have other things to offer though, for once we were settled we were handed complimentary comfort packs (including ear plugs – perfect for blocking out the shrieks, squeals and applause that came from a bunch of Japanese teenagers as we took off), given free snacks and drinks throughout the evening and even breakfast in the morning. Holly had some yen left that we were planning to use up by buying coffees etc on the plane, but since they wouldn’t take our money that didn’t happen.
After a super brief stopover in the Gold Coast (get off plane, go through security, board different plane), we were delayed again waiting for some passengers who were transferring. Cue more free snacks and drinks. An hour later we were finally in Sydney, and just when we thought there were no more hurdles to overcome the baggage carousel died and we stood around for 15 minutes while people with walkie talkies pressed buttons with no result. Eventually an overall-clad man appeared from a door, worked his magic, and our bags surfaced.
The end? Not quite. Desperate for a shower and a change of clothes, the Marrickville Festival stood between us and home, so what should have been an easy drive from the airport turned into a series of detours and wrong turns.
But we made it eventually, and are enjoying a new found appreciation for the size of our unit, glad to be cooking our own food after weeks of dining out (though not quite ready for the washing up that comes with that) and finding it a novelty to be able to watch TV and have it make sense. Still haven’t unpacked my suitcase though…