Well, we made it!! We arrived in DC on Monday evening the 28th and stayed in a hotel near the airport. Wednesday morning at 7:00AM, we boarded the shuttle and headed to the airport. Checked in went through security and ate breakfast at Chipotle. I’m sad that it was the last time that I will eat there for a while. Hannah decided it would be a good time to brush up on her Japanese as well! We boarded our flight to Dallas around 10:00AM... The girls were a little tired already, so they decided a rest on the floor was appropriate!
We then boarded our flight from Dulles to Dallas, which was 3 hours long. After that we quickly walked 3 gates over to our Tokyo flight, used the restroom and boarded our 12 hour flight to Tokyo. Our seats were awesome! We were sitting in front of the wall separating business class from economy class, pretty much over the wing of the 777. We had lots of leg room and Hannah even laid on a blanket on the floor and slept for a few hours. We each had our own little TV’s with movies and games, which was great for entertaining the girls. They were very good on such a long flight and although I don’t want to sit on a plane for 12 hours again for a very long time, I wouldn’t hesitate doing it again with them.
Once in Tokyo, I realized we were actually in Japan, but everything had English written right along with Japanese. I appreciated that immensely, since getting to and through Tokyo was one thing that I was a little nervous about. It was not a problem thanks to the English on everything and most of the people working at the airport also spoke fluent English. At baggage claim we couldn’t resist taking a picture of the girls with the luggage cart that said, “Welcome to Japan!”
Immediately after taking this photo, a very small Japanese man ran up to me with him arms crossed in front of his body and pointed to my camera. I took that to mean, “No picture taking allowed”, so I put my camera away. I think since we weren’t through customs yet, they didn’t want people taking pictures, but I’m not sure. I am just glad he didn’t make me erase my picture!
Everything went very smooth, with the exception of Elliot getting heat sickness when we got off the plane in Tokyo. It was quite cool on the plane and then we got off the plane and into the airport and it was HOT!!! After getting through immigration, getting our luggage, getting through customs, re checking our baggage, going through security again and finding our gate, we were all VERY hot. As we sat down in our seats at our gate, Elliot lost it! :O( After that she was fine, but I felt bad for her. I told someone she had gotten sick on the floor, which I was a little nervous about, because I was afraid they would make us take her up to the health room and quarantine and we’d miss our flight or something. Luckily, none of that happened and after 4 hours in the Tokyo airport, we boarded our 2 hour flight to Fukuoka. I don’t remember any of that flight, as after flying for 15 hours and sitting in airports for 7.5 hours, we were exhausted.
Arriving in Fukuoka was pretty simple as well. Following the signs to baggage was easy, with the pictures of a suitcase and maybe English, but I don’t really remember. We found the luggage collection and a restroom. Elliot walked into a stall, immediately walked back out and said, “HANNAH, CHECK THIS OUT!!” She had walked into a squatting potty and thought it was pretty neat, although she didn’t want to use it. Instead she used an American potty, which was all tricked out with music, the sound of a toilet flushing, (for those of you embarrassed about what you are doing in the stall) a badet , and a little spray of water ( you chose the water pressure) to clean your tush if you feel the need to do so. The toilets are very sophisticated here!!
The Squatty Potty...
The fancy musical potty..
Once we got our luggage we walked toward the exit and found a guy named John who was there to pick us up. He and our driver (we’re high class folks now I guess J ) loaded up our stuff into the van, which is not an American sized vehicle and we drove the hour and a half to Sasebo. It was completely dark, so we didn’t see much on the way back, except for lots of tunnels through mountains and some very expensive tolls. Have you ever complained about paying $3 or $4 for a toll, or taken a trip and had to pay $20 or $30 in tolls?? How about paying $30 for one toll?? Yikes!!!
We pulled onto the base and got a mini tour on our way to the lodge, (in the dark) checked in and got our luggage into our rooms. On the way down the halls, we came across a vending machine, which vends hot coffee, cold coffee, hot tea, cold tea and hot chocolate. Pretty neat I think. From what I’ve heard, you can even buy hot Sapporo Ichiban (think Ramen Noodles) from a vending machine. NEAT!!!
We reserved two rooms, as we may be here for a while waiting for housing. The girls claimed one room as theirs and Josh and I are in the other, connected by a door of course. We were all awake at this point, filled with adrenaline from the fact we were in Japan. After eating a little snack and having a drink, (non alcoholic of course, although an alcoholic one might have mellowed us out faster) we turned on the TV expecting to see Japanese channels and a few bad American ones, but we were happy to see all the regular American TV channels, including one of our favorites, Food Network!! We watched that and the Disney channel for a little while and finally mellowed out enough to go to sleep around 1:15AM Japan time (on Thursday Morning), which is about noon (Wednesday afternoon) on the East Coast.
It’s now 8:35 AM on Thursday morning and we’ve been up since about 6:30AM. Josh has been for a run, showered and been down to the Mini Mart to buy Lucky Charms, our coffee in a can and a few other snacks. We’ll go to the commissary later today or tomorrow and check out the rest of the base, after I get ready for the day. We’re officially residents of Sasebo, Japan!!!!
**I know I'm a little crazy for already writing all of this and posting pictures already, but I didn't want to forget everything by waiting too long. :O)