Every traveling story is a horror story. I don’t think that anyone has ever had any good traveling stories. Now, I am not talking about the kind of traveling story, where ones says, we went to Stonehenge and it was amazing. I am talking about the actual physical act of traveling. No matter how or when you travel, it is always a gruesome physical and mental chore that one puts their body and soul into. My story is no different.
My woeful tale of travel began at 4 am on Saturday morning. The act of moving your body out of bed at 4am for any reason is a gruesome and woeful act in itself. The ride from the house to the airport I assume was about an hour. I was awake, but I actually have no concept of time at that part of the morning. I actually can’t even put together the events that led to me arriving at the airport. I have either blocked it mentally, for being traumatized at that point in time, or, I was simply asleep with my eyes open.
We pulled the bags from the car, and Connie hugged her son goodbye. We gave a goodbye, and good luck back and forth. He sleepily pulled away in the little flowered PT Cruiser and we carted our overfilled and oversized luggage into the Syracuse airport. We stroll up to the counter and as I said before, were greeted by DJ Jazzy Jeff in full dreadlocks and bubbling personality. He was rocking and rolling to his own beat behind the counter and quickly explained to us that the ONE flight from Syracuse to NYC was delayed. …and by delayed, he meant it wasn’t coming. One flight being delayed four hours isn’t a delay. That’s a different flight all together. Jazzy J was very quick and adept at his job and graciously put us on a flight on a different airline. He didn’t bother to get us seats next to each other on either flight though. I am not even sure if he tried.
We didn’t catch that fact until much later.
I am not a flight sleeper. I’m not a car sleeper. I’m barely a bed sleeper. The first flight was no big deal. From SYR to CHI. A slight layover in Chicago before the flight to Japan.
Now, I have flown before. Relatively long flights from NY to LA and you get used to it after a while. Well… Chicago to Tokyo is a whole different ballgame. 14 hour flight. Now, think about all the things you do in a fourteen hour period on any given day. Then take sleep out of that fourteen hours. Then add in a never-ending blinding ball of hot light known as the sun that heats the giant metal cylinder you are sitting in to a nice and comfortable temperature of 182 degrees. Then, not only do you not sleep in that fourteen hours of blistering skin melting heat, you are also seated in a tiny seat that your big American ass somewhat wedges into.
Fourteen hours. Stare at this sentence for fourteen minutes. That doesn’t even begin to scrape the skin from your fingernails.
I cannot explain how excruciatingly warm the flight was. There was no air conditioning whatsoever. And yet, Connie and I were the only two people whose life support systems were failing due to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Fourteen hours, as we watched on our little GPS screen as the plane left chicago, went up through ALL of Canada, and Across all of Alaska before dipping briefly into Russia and finally down into Japan. Based on the curvature of the earth, that is the fastest route. Apparently the quickest between two points is not a straight line, but rather I giant elliptical arc that cuts through Alaska and the Old Republic of the Soviet Union.
Once off the plane, we navigated our way through customs relatively easily. It wasn’t difficult at all. Just follow the pack. From immigration, customs to baggage, it was a breeze. We even navigated Currency Exchange and purchasing bus tickets to the hotel at relative ease. The worst was behind us.
Oh wait. No it wasn’t.
The bus ride clocked in at a nice and balmy 90 minutes for a 45 minute trip and did I also mention how fucking HOT the bus was? Another 90 minutes of melting and dizziness brought on by dehydration and exhaustion. This was never-ending.
We arrived at the hotel. We checked in. We immediately collapsed and slept. We fell asleep at 6:30 pm. We woke up the next morning at 7am. That’s when I started doing the math. With the travel, the time changes and such, we spent approximately 26 hours straight barely sleeping of straight burning travel. We were light headed, our bodies dehydrated and our brains completely fried.
Welcome to Tokyo.