I have the worst luck when traveling. I am sure I have said this before, but I don’t believe I have ever gotten on a flight without something out of the ordinary happening. The flight is always either delayed or moved to so many different gates that I spend all of my pre-flight time rushing back and forth across the terminal. Once I do manage to get on the flight, I am reliably sat next to either the chattiest person on the plane, the screaming child, or the person who falls asleep on your lap and leaves you staring awkwardly out the window for the duration of the flight. No matter how long the flight is, something weird always happens to me.
In the last month, I have been doing a good deal of traveling, going to Colorado, Japan, going home for literally a month, and then flying back to Japan to go to school. Not one of these flights has been normal. I already did a post about my first flight to Japan, so if you haven’t read that please do because it was quite interesting, to say the least.
My flight home from Japan wasn’t noteworthy enough to get its own blog post, but I will give the highlights here: my flight went from Tokyo to Beijing to JFK, and on my flight from Tokyo to Beijing I sat next to literally the chattiest person ever, despite the fact that he spoke only Chinese, and I spoke only English. This meant that for the entire flight, even when I had my headphones on, which is the universal sign for ‘don’t talk to me,’ he kept tapping me on the shoulder to show me his phone, where he had translated questions like: “why are you in Japan,” “what is your favorite food,” or “would you be willing to learn Chinese?” I am not the chattiest person at the best of times, so suffice to say I practically sprinted off the plane upon arriving in Beijing. On my flight to JFK, I fell asleep while we were still taxing and woke up to see that the lady next to me had wrapped her head in a face-shaping bandage that nearly gave me a heart attack upon seeing it for the first time, and was now asleep on my shoulder humming to herself. To top it off, when I landed in JFK I discovered that Mr. Chatty Cathy from flight #1 had added me on Facebook.
As you might imagine, my expectations when I arrive at the airport are always quite low, but even so my flight to school went worse than I could possibly have guessed. Before leaving for the airport, I jokingly mentioned that it would be just my luck for my flight to get delayed an hour, as that would mean I would miss the first bus to school and would instead need to wait for 5 hours in Fukuoka Airport for the next one to leave. Oh, how inconvenient that would have been. (note sense of impending doom.) Apparently, just saying that was enough to tempt the universe into proving me wrong. I arrived at the airport at about 9 PM on Thursday, September 14th, for a flight on Air China that was scheduled to leave at 1:35 AM on the 15th. At 1:35, due to problems with the engine, that flight was cancelled and rescheduled for 1:35 AM on the 16th, 24 hours after I was originally supposed to leave. That in itself was annoying, but here is the catch: If I were to get on that flight, I would arrive in Fukuoka on the 17th, and on that day a large typhoon was scheduled to be right over Fukuoka, and flights into the airport were already being cancelled. This meant that If I got on the rescheduled flight, I would not be going to Japan but would instead end up stranded in Taipei for an undetermined amount of time.
So, at 2 in the morning, instead of being shipped off to a hotel for the night along with all the other people on my flight, I opted to get bounced between manager to manager, begging to be transferred to an earlier flight so that I could make it all the way to Japan in one go. Obviously, they tried to avoid transferring me to another airline, but at that point I had been awake for almost 24 hours and was not going to take no for an answer.
At 6:00 AM, they finally caved and I was transferred to a flight on Asiana airlines that was leaving at 1:30 PM on the 15th for Seoul, where I would transfer to a flight to Fukuoka that would land at 8:00 PM on the 16th. This would be just before the typhoon hit and I should be safe. After this victory, I napped on my suitcase in the corner of the baggage claim for about half an hour, bought a ‘thanksgiving sandwich’ which had me feeling nauseous for a few hours, and checked into my next flight at about 10 AM. My check bag was actually about 4 kg over the limit, but I think that the flight attendant took one look at my exhausted face and decided to let it slide.
By the time I was boarding my Asiana flight, it had been about 15 hours since I had arrived at the airport and 30 hours since I had last slept. I was ready to pass out the second I sat down in my seat, but as I walked past the check in gate, a flight attendant pulled me aside and said that they just received word from Incheon International Airport that my flight to Fukuoka would most likely be cancelled due to the typhoon, although they were still waiting on the final word. Because it would be cancelled due to weather, the airline would not be responsible for finding me accommodation or a new flight out.
Naturally I was now wide awake and freaking out yet again. My dad, upon hearing this news, suggested that should my flight get cancelled I should spend the night in Seoul, take a train to Busan (at the other end of the country), and then take a ferry from Busan to Fukuoka, as that would be cheaper. This was not the advice I was looking to hear, as I speak no Korean and highly doubted my ability to make it across the entire country, get on a boat, and then somehow travel from Fukuoka to Beppu in time for the start of orientation. And to anyone who thinks he might have been joking, I assure you that he was not.
I actually got quite lucky on my Asiana flight because not only did I manage to get a window seat, my entire row was empty, which I quickly took advantage of by laying across all three seats. However, I was so worked up over the thought of my flight being cancelled that I could not sleep a wink, and instead watched every rom com available and then played the in-flight Tetris for about 5 hours straight.
By the time my flight landed in Seoul, I had imagined every possible problem I could encounter traveling across country by myself, so of course my flight was not cancelled and my 14 hours of worrying was all for naught. And because my layover was only 15 minutes long max, I was again shepherded through the airport by a flight attendant, so I didn’t even need to figure out how to get to my gate. (Although I was painfully aware after following him through a veritable maze of duty-free shops that I never would have made it myself.)
Again, I managed to snag a row all to myself, although this time my flight was only 45 minutes long so I did not really get to enjoy it, and then I had landed in Fukuoka and was waiting for the next bus to school. I still had not slept and was now borderline delirious, so although at first I tried to talk to people, I gave up pretty fast and just sat in silence until my bus came. The bus ride was another 2 hours long, although most people, like myself, drifted in and out of sleep the whole time and by that point no one was talking. After that there was an hour of panic as we were given our room assignments and filled out arrival forms, and finally went to sleep. By this point, I had been awake for 50 hours straight, with nothing more than a few 15 minute naps the whole time. So yeah, my luck with travel is somewhat lacking, to say the least. But at least I did make it to school before the typhoon hit, because as I predicted most flights the next day were cancelled, and the few people who managed to get through had to find their own way to school as the University was no longer sending buses to the airport due to the typhoon. So maybe I did get lucky???
The next post will be about my first two weeks in Japan, but as my classes start on Wednesday I can make no promises about when it will come out. For now, I will just say that it has been absolutely amazing and I am so unbelievably glad I took the leap and decided to come here. If you want to hear about it in more detail, click subscribe up above and you will get an email every time I post something new! Also for those of you still following my first Japan trip, I will be posting about that trip throughout the year, but the next segment of that trip may not come for a while as I have so much to say and don’t want to have all of my next posts about that trip. But just keep reading and I promise they will come!
3 thoughts on “The Longest Trip Ever: My Flight to School”
You made it! I have never laughed so hard as when I saw the picture of that face mask, terrifying! We are very excited for you to begin your adventure. Hopefully the tough travel will be the biggest obstacle. When my grandparents lived in Japan they took a boat from San Francisco which took something like a month or more to arrive, so in reality you made it there in record speed. Your view is amazing – enjoy your first few weeks. Big hugs from T & T! Jen
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I laughed at that face mask too. That is so bizarre looking! haha You have to admire the guy’s effort trying to communicate even though you speak different languages. Although, that would drive me crazy too because I’m a very quiet and unsociable person. Oh no, you totally jinxed yourself with the flight delay. I hate when that happens. I applaud you for getting through these long flights though. The longest flight I’ve been on is just over 2 hours, and that’s plenty for me.
You never slept more than 20 minutes at a time for the 1st 18 months of your life 😊 😏 The breathtakingly beautiful adventure makes it all worthwhile. The Chatty Cathy thing is ironic as well, that was definitely one of your other gifts . Thank you so much for the photo of the mask, as words could not possibly describe that accurately. That was my favorite part! Still laughing! That would have scared the daylights out of me too. So happy you are safe and enjoying that incredible view. Keep up this wonderful posts please. Tons of love & hugs 😍😘Momma💗