I wake up early and ready to fly home. I’ve enjoyed Japan but there always comes that moment just before departure when you are ready to see those you love. I don’t sleep well because my missed flight from Chiang Mai is still firmly fixed in my memory. But I wake up on time, load the final two pannier bags on the bike and set off for the Tokyo Narita International Airport. It’s only supposed to be a 9km ride from the hostel but I fail to pay attention and cycle about 2km in the wrong direction resulting in a 2km ride back to where I was. The total ride is 13km but I’ve left myself plenty of time so it’s no problem.
Just before the airport I find one last geocache in Japan. I think I found five here in total. But I needed to find this one because I’ve been carrying a travel bug for over two months that I have been trying to find a cache large enough to place it in. I had seen this cache was a “regular” so knew it would be big enough. It’s a travel bug hotel so I drop the one I’ve been carrying and collect three from the cache. There are about ten travel bugs in the cache and many have been there for a while so I figure it will be okay to take a few and send them on their way.
You can ride all the way to the airport along a cycleway. But once at the airport itself, finding the entry is a challenge. The security guards at the entrance to the driveway force me onto a walkway but then the only way to the actual airport entrance is either down some stairs or through a carpark and then into a lift. I take the latter option. I just walk the bike right up to where the Air Asia gate is signed, remove the box from the back rack and pack everything. The box needs to be cut down because it’s far too big but I manage and even can fit it in without removing the rear wheel or rack. I could have put the whole bike in complete but thought that might be a bit cheeky. And yes, I did cycle to the airport with that big wide box sat on the rear rack like that … it was fine.
The Air Asia check in was not so fine. You are not allowed trolleys at the baggage drop which means people have to struggle with their luggage, especially sporting equipment. I slide the bike box along the floor and am not the only one who is having difficulty. To add insult to annoyance there are two check-in areas for Air Asia. One is Air Asia Thailand and the other is Air Asia X. The distinction isn’t signed. So I struggle and wait in one queue only to be sent to another counter, which requires more struggling with my gear. Oh, and the Air Asia counters are in an alcove in an area between the two terminal entrance doors – not inside the terminal itself.
The next joy was discovering that my luggage could not be checked through. The lady said that I should have booked the flight as a through-flight on a single booking. In fact, I had done this but Air Asia decided to cancel my connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur to the Gold Coast so now I have to clear customs with my luggage and recheck it in tomorrow morning from Kuala Lumpur. I will also have to pay for my own hotel in Kuala Lumpur or sleep on the airport floor. I emailed Air Asia to query this and they said that “flight schedules are subject to change at any time” and that Air Asia will not be liable for any loss incurred by passengers due to the airline changing flight schedules. Let’s just say that I am monitoring the flight cancellation situation by Air Asia compared with other airlines that I fly because so far I have had a number of flights cancelled (Kuala Lumpur to Gold Coast leg of my through flight home from Thailand but for some reason they did put me up in a hotel that time, my return flights between Kuala Lumpur and Narita were canceled and I was re-routed to Osaka, this flight home has been cancelled and Paul’s flight from Gold Coast to Kuala Lumpur was also cancelled and he was placed on a later flight). Yes, they put you on another flight but I am starting to get annoyed with the cancellations.
But perhaps this is why the airline is canceling so many flights. This is my flight from Narita to Kuala Lumpur after all the passengers have boarded. I would estimate that the flight was about 25% booked and the rest of the seats were vacant. Everyone on the flight got a whole row of seats to themselves and still there were plenty of extra spaces. It was a quiet flight with lights dimmed and window shades down throughout the plane despite it being a daytime flight. I guess if we passengers can lie down to sleep we all will.
The flight itself was a little bumpy due to monsoon season in this part of Asia. But the pilot flew very high (41,000 feet … the limit of this aircraft’s legal altitude) probably to fly over the worst of the weather. Once the seat belt sign was off I just turned on a movie and dozed. Oh, the silhouette in the window is Tozzie my travel companion. He was a gift from a friend to Paul and me. We are taking him traveling with us and he has his own Facebook page so I took a photo of him for that page and it turned out to be the better of my in-flight photos.
Flight successfully completed I decided not to sleep on the airport floor. For MYR100 ($AU35) for 12 hours I could get a capsule in the airport container hotel. It included luggage storage (including the bike), showers, sitting area, international power point and fast wifi. I only have 17 days to be with my loved ones so why turn up home tomorrow night tired when I can have a good sleep now and depart refreshed in the morning. The capsule is really comfortable and much better than a hostel dorm. And I don’t need much more space than this to write a blog post or two, watch a movie on my laptop and have a refreshing sleep.