Well apparently April is holiday time for William - this year I've embarked on a trip to Japan! I'm writing this in bed on my first night, having had a bit of a crazy journey. That is the subject of this blog post.
So the plan was that I'd train to Heathrow, catch a plane to Osaka via Doha in Qatar, and then jump on the next bus from the airport to Sakurai station, where my homestay family would pick me up. I'd planned everything out, looked up all the details - I thought I'd maybe manage to catch the 6 o'clock bus, half an hour after landing - and I felt pretty confident.
The first annoyance was that my train tickets only got me so far King's Cross, from where I'd have to take the underground. But I let Google tell me the way and had to pay £21(!) for a ticket on the Heathrow Express. I could have avoided it by going back on the underground, if I'd have 50 more minutes to spare (from Paddington to Heathrow!?), which I didn't.
Everything would still have gone fine if not for two further unforeseen hiccups.
Firstly, I was delayed at Doha for an hour and a quarter. I'm not sure why; the plane was just delayed. So I spent an unsettling hour in the middle of the night in an airport in Qatar with this thing:
Thankfully I was super prepared and could keep my phone charged with a battery pack thingy I'd bought for the trip. The wifi was extremely spotty, but I managed to get an email through to my homestay host to let her know I was delayed. I thought I might still make it in time for the 7 o'clock bus, if the flight went a bit quicker than scheduled, but would most likely be on the 8 o'clock one.
But enter stumbling block number two.
We landed at Kansai International airport at half 6. Pretty good, I thought. I can maybe catch the 7pm train!
Apparently when entering Japan you have to go through immigration. Where they take your fingerprints and photo. Which takes 2 hours to queue for.
So a grey-haired Japanese man with INFORMATION written on his armband shouting FOREN PASSENJAH (foreign passenger) hustled everyone into the most gigantic queue I've ever seen. And it moved at a snail's pace. For 2 hours I shuffled along, back and forth, back and forth, with hundreds of other foren passenjahs, watching the minutes tick by. There was no wifi, so I couldn't email my host an update. I just had to watch as the time of the last bus to Sakurai, 9pm, ticked slowly closer.
When I finally reached the front of the queue it was ten to 9. I was through in a jiffy, and I ran out to the front of the airport where I thought the buses should be. I saw it, still there, a little line of people piling on. I dashed over to the automatic ticket machine, a nice man helped me get my ticket (arigatou gozaimasu!) and I was on the bus. Phew!
Now I had an hour and a half to sit on the bus, knowing that my host had no idea where I was. I just had to hope that either a) she'd just turn up when the last bus arrived in case I was on it, or b) I could find some free wi-fi at Sakurai Station.
Thankfully my host's husband was waiting for me, and seemed cheerful enough with his limited English (TYE-ARD? Yes, I'm tired.) Once I finally got to my homestay house it was quarter to eleven and we were all ready for bed. I'll have to work out how to explain properly and apologise in the morning!