The Exciting – and Bumbling – Conclusion of the Impromptu Trip to Japan

Ah, how immensely satisfying is sleep!  I awoke the next morning, in Japan’s Hotel Nekko Narita, along with the rising sun, competently refreshed and ready for a new adventure.  This proved to become a day of entertaining misadventures…that translate into a wonderful story.

First off, you must know that most of us had given our passports to the chaperons the previous day.  When the majority of the group arrived in the hall of the hotel, talk turned to the bus situation.  One bus to the airport had already arrived, but could accommodate only 10 people.  Luggage in hand and passport in someone else’s, I climbed onto the bus as part of the first group.  As it turned out, my traveling companions were only several chaperons, two students and Rick, the tour arranger.  I happened to sit directly across from a chaperon, who would soon make a heroic act.

At the gates of the Narita Airport, we were informed that a Japanese officer would make his way through the bus and that we must have our passports ready directly.  This particular officer was clothed completely in green and had a militaristic manner, which, though possibly intended to put people at ease, caused the passport-less aliens to feel some mild discomfort.  Closer and closer he came, nearer and nearer came he.  Frantic questions posed by the alien to the chaperon.  Chaperon responded calmly and, in a slightly anticlimactic ending, told the officer, “He’s with me.”  Imposing manner aside, the officer accepted that and moved on.  We duly arrived.

While waiting, I made friends with a French couple and had a conversation, albeit a brief one, in French.  ‘Twas a very cosmopolitan airport – Spanish, Japanese, English, French and many other languages all blended together in a pleasant mix. After waiting for about 30 minutes, we were joined with the others and a team of Argentinean basketball players that had also missed the flight.  In order to get the tickets for our plane out of Japan, we had to check our luggage.  As you may know, the violin does not survive well as checked luggage and must be carried on (unless one wishes to have a make-it-yourself paste-together violin, in which case checking would work perfectly).  Most people had difficulties explaining this fact to the Japanese clerks, since the size seems more appropriate to check, and waited about 10 minutes for the situation to be thoroughly examined.  However…in my case, after the case was measured and the question had come forth, I made use of a charming smile – not only did I immediately take my violin with me, I also was given a window seat.

The flight was uneventful, disregarding the sushi as part of lunch, the squid that I accidentally ate thinking it was a potato or a parsnip, and the Argentinean team seated immediately behind us (they must have been cramped in the narrow plane; most of them were seven feet tall or more).  We finally arrived at Beijing and made our way to the foreigner passport check area.  (Due to their height, the team proved to be popular choices for pictures during the wait.)  We made it through without any searches or deportations, walked through the wonderfully sized airport decorated all over with flowers, and prepared to board a shuttle to another part of the airport.  I was about to board, when one of the smaller Argentineans (he was about 6’ 5″) came up to me.  With a thick accent, I gathered that he had lost his team and wanted to know the last place I had seen the entire group.  I directed him back – very far back – to the foreign check area.  He thanked me and began the journey of 15 minutes.

The shuttle deposited us in a baggage claim room that dwarfed San Antonio – supported by 58 enormous pillars (yes, I counted them, purely for the sake of your interest, my dear reader).  There were at least 10 different conveyors.  We were making our way toward the left of the room when what group should I see but the very team of Argentineans, coming from the opposite direction, all dragging luggage.  I helpfully asked one of them if he spoke English – he did not, but pointed at one who did.  I misread his finger and asked one, then another, who both did not have the ability.  Finally, I reached the towering leader of the group (he must have been 7′ 3″ at least) and informed him of his lost teammate and the fact that I had sent him wholly in the opposite direction, about half an hour’s journey from the baggage room.  He laughed, gave me a big high five and I moved on.  I never found out if they retrieved the lost player or if he was left in the Chinese airport…but I’m sure I helped…

Until next time, then, ciao!



4 Responses to “The Exciting – and Bumbling – Conclusion of the Impromptu Trip to Japan”

  1. Michelle Says:

    I am so enjoy reading your articles!!! Have a great time!

  2. Marian wagner Says:

    Michael, You are positively hysterical. What a blast reading you.
    You GEM!

  3. Douglas Thompson Says:

    I look at the blog every day to see if you have written anything new. I enjoy your writing immensely. Your use of the english language and your ability to communicate are a joy to behold. Thank you for taking the time to keep us informed.

  4. Maxelo Chauke Says:

    This has nudoubtedly been a great read 🙂

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