Well. That was a lot of travel time. After busing to Delhi and spending 6 hours in Delhi airport I landed in Chennai which was a balmy 39 degrees. My first reaction was to get out of the heat and ditch my bags… While escaping the heat was easy it turned out ditching my bags was not. Upon entering the airport (at 3:30pm) I discovered I couldn’t check in until 9pm… I also was no longer allowed to exit the airport for reasons that I never understood. So began what ended up being my 12 hours in Chennai international airport. Flying internationally from Chennai is like flying internationally from Queenstown or Hamilton… There is nothing to do in the airport. Originally stuck outside of customs I drank a chai and read nearly an entire book for 6 hours. Then just as I was about to be able to check in for my flight I was told it had been delayed until 3:30am. I was less than thrilled for two reasons.. (1) I was already sick of the airport and (2) the delay meant I would miss my connecting connecting flight from Hong Kong to Japan. Full credit to Cathay Pacific the staff were lovely and immediately sorted a new flight for me. When I finally cleared customs I gave up and forked out $20 to go into a lounge that had sofas, food, wifi and way less people. Boarding the plane to Hong Kong at 3am I was exhausted and smelly (a situation that did not improve until I arrived in Tokyo). I struggled to keep myself awake for boarding… The second I sat down on the plane my eyes closed and I managed to sleep nearly the whole way to Hong Kong.
Landing in Hong Kong I was given a food voucher by Cathay Pacific and spent the next 3.5 hours wandering the airport. I can tell you now, Hong Kong airport is an airport that you could spend 12 hours in, I caught the trains to various parts of the airport, ate ramen and discovered that their duty free shops had free tasters of chocolate… I was set! Obviously I tested all chocolates (more than once). Being a responsible traveller I emailed the hostel I was meant to be staying in in Tokyo saying my flights had been delayed and I wouldn’t be landing arriving there until 10:30ish… The owner promptly replied saying I probably couldn’t stay there as I wouldn’t be able to get there as public transport stops at night and I had to cross the city from Narita airport to Haneda. This was something of an issue. I resolved to head straight to Haneda airport and stay in one of the airport hotels… I just really needed to shower before heading to Sakata to see Ben and meet his friends!Boarding my plane to Japan I realized by the time I landed it would have been more than 48 hours since I boarded my bus in McLeodganj… Making it more than 60 hours since I lay down or had a shower!
Arriving in Japan I was immediately struck by how quiet everything was. Indians are not a quiet population, every aspect of their life is loud (I am aware that probably sounds rich coming from me). Landing in Tokyo there was a lot of bowing, quiet please and thank yous (I think, it was in Japanese) and polite smiles. No one wandered up beside me asking where I was from and if I would take a selfie with them. The Japanese were supremely efficient at processing customs etc… My only hold up was a security guard questioning me over what my earplugs were and why I had them. Again boarding the bus the difference between Japan and India was obvious… When entering a safari in an open topped jeep in India there was no safety warning, request to remain within the vehicle or risk analysis. Boarding the bus between airports in Japan my bag was dutifully labeled, a man walked through the bus ensuring we had our seat belts on and a message was put out saying please turn phones onto silent so we wouldn’t disturb other passengers. All I thought was “we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto”. When I finally reached Haneda airport I walked straight into the airport hotel and asked for a bed, no longer caring about costs, all I wanted was a shower and a place to lie down. So I had probably the best sleep I have had since leaving NZ, after spending 45 minutes in the shower (a real shower that has hot water too) scrubbing India off I collapsed into the best with a feather pillow and passed out. In the morning I boarded my flight and headed to Sakata to spend the next week with my friend Ben!