There’s something incredibly euphoric about starting a new trip.
Truth be told, I’m actually terrified of flying — probably for the same reason that I hate driving… There’s a lack of control associated with being piloted around in the sky that’s similar to having to trust that everyone else driving a vehicle on the road next to you isn’t going to do something crazy and kill you.
Somehow, though, every time the engines start turning and I feel that first slight lift when the wheels just lose contact with the ground, the endorphnines in my body skyrocket.
I just *love* traveling.
Take-off to Tokyo for this trip was perfect.
The whole flight was, really, aside from the fact that I didn’t sleep quite when I wanted to, so my jet-lag was bound to hit with a vengeance at some point…
My flight landed abotu 30 minutes early, at around 8:30pm local Tokyo time, which was spectacularn since I only had 22 hours in total in Japan…
I carried my backpack onboard with me, so I was completely free once we debarked. I *also* had a few yen in my pocket from my mom, who had forgotten to change them back to dollars on our way home from Japan last year… Thanks, Mom!
While waiting in the immigration line, I jumped on the Narita free-wifi and let Matt know I had landed. I grabbed my Keisei-Line ticket and hustled into the train boarding area.
In my sleepiness, I misread the “Ltd. Express” and thought it had said “Local” and almost managed to miss my train… but I realized my mistake and hopped on at the last minute. PHEW.
About an hour later, I was at Matt’s station. As I walked up to the turnstile, I saw my friends waiting for me. AHH!!! I ran through and there were SO MANY HUGS.
I hadn’t seen Matt and Jes since last summer when my family was in Tokyo for a few days on a stopover, and it had been another year before THAT when I had been in town for business on my birthday, and they’d taken me out. Prior to that, Matt and I had worked together, and I’ve known the guy for over half of my entire life. Needless to say, he’s a wonderful guy, and Jes is a pretty fantastic counterpoint, who is a magical unicorn in her very own right.
After we ceased the squeaking and hugging, we headed off towards their apartment… but not without first stopping at Yoshinoya, my college study-abroad favorite. We also stopped at a 7-11 for snacks. Which, anywhere outside the US, is a totally legit and awesome place to go.
Thusly fortified, we finished the ten minute walk back to Matt and Jes’ apartment, which, btw, is ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE AND GINORMOUS.
I literally walked in and we all plopped down on the floor to chat. Because catching up via the internet just is NOT the same as snuggles and hugs and stories in person. So we did that for a while, and then Jes had to hop on Twitch to stream, since I was stealing her usual Monday-Stream-Time with my visit, so we moved around a bit and she set up her super cool green screen and we got to chitchat while she was drawing. (Check her out, btw. She’s pretty freakin’ great…)
After a while, Jes was starting to get hangry (it was also like 2am), so Matt and I went for a walk to the conbini to grab some more snacks, and we did some heart-to-heart chatting that only lifelong friends can do, and I am so, so, so thankful for him.
Anyhow, we returned and hung out with Jes for a while more while she streamed, and then it was like 3:30am and we decided to get ready for bed.
Our conversation drifted to traveling and budget while Matt was setting up my futon, and I decided to poke around on my favorite deal aggregation blog to see if there was anything cheap out of Tokyo that they could use for a weekend getaway.
I didn’t find a weekend getaway for them…
But what I did find was flights to their hometown in the USA, over christmas/new years/MAGfest, for under $600 USD each (with return).
Those flights are usually $1,500+ EACH during that time.
I just stared at my screen when I saw them… and I just slowly showed it to Matt.
and that’s how we ended up staying awake until 5:30am, on the phone with Matt’s mom in the USA, booking flights on my credit card because their bank card was getting bounced on expedia (they paypalled me the $ immediately, silly expedia card processing…).
We FINALLY passed out for our 3 hour nap after the flights were successfully booked and all funds transferred.
Alarms went off at 8am so we were up in time to shower and head off to Mr. Donut for breakfast, my remaining food stipulation. THEY HAD PUMPKIN PON DE RING! I COULD NOT EVEN!
I had all the donuts and all of the iced milk tea, and then we hopped on the train to Harajuku so I could get my shopping on…
Upon arrival, we learned where the lockers are at Harajuku (spoiler alert: they’re in the Tokyo Metro station, not the JR station!), dropped my bag, and then ran through as much of Takeshita-Dori as we possibly could until noon or so.
Then we headed off for some delicious ramen, because, well, ramen.
After ramen was had, we realized it was getting kiiiiiind of late, so we zipped back to ACDC Rag to grab the hoodie I had been eying, and then BATTLED THE TIDE that was a national holiday in Tokyo… aka an entire WAVE of humans shopping in Harajuku.
We got to the station and bounced one over to Shibuya, where the N’EX runs now (what!? Awesome!) and Jes ran to the potty and Matt and I raced to figure out where to get a ticket, since apparently ALL THE SEATS ARE RESERVED NOW.
We both were frantically pushing buttons since the train was coming in 10 minutes, and when we were down to 5, Matt grabbed the station attendant to help us, since even his fluent Japanese was failing us.
The guy printed my ticket and I had 2 minutes to spare. Jes had found us and we all raced down the stairs to the platform, and the train was just pulling into the station.
We all hugged and snapped a selfie, and I turned to jump on the train… but it hadn’t pulled into the station all the way yet.
Apparently this was a SUPER TINY FOUR CAR N’EX.
It was now pulling OUT of the station.
I had missed my train.
CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP.
It was now 2:37pm, my flight was at 6:05 and it takes an hour to get to the airport.
We ran back upstairs to chat with the same station agent who printed out my ticket. Matt was talking to him and I was panicking to Jes, saying that I was sure he was saying I was SOL and would need to buy another ticket or that there wasn’t a train coming in time for me to make my flight…
It was, of course, none of those things.
He said just to hop on the next train, which was coming in 30 minutes, and sit in the seat my ticket indicated. If someone else came along and needed that seat, to just apologize and switch. If the train ticket agent asked, explain what happened.
Ok. I can totally do that!
So we walked back downstairs and this time stood EXACTLY AT THE CORRECT BOARDING PLATFORM to chitchat while we waited for my train.
And that, everyone, is how Matt, Jes and I now have a selfie that was SO IMPORTANT that I missed a train to take it.
(Oh, and I got on the next train just fine, made it to the airport with plenty of time, and boarded my flight to Singapore without any additional issues.)