Chasing daylight

Trip Start Mar 07, 2012
Trip End Mar 24, 2012

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Flag of Japan  , Chiba,
Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hello from the Land of the Rising Sun, otherwise known as tomorrow. I'm here in Tokyo's Narita Airport after a 14-hour flight during which the sun never set. That's right - we left New York around noon, flew over the Arctic Circle, and arrived in Japan at 4pm, chasing daylight the entire way.

I last left you in Montreal, where my ridiculously early flight was also early arriving into New York. Even though it took nearly a half hour to switch terminals thanks to the ridiculously designed SkyTrain system, I still had about four hours to kill before my flight to Tokyo. So I bought a giant Starbucks coffee, and tried to check my emails but there was no WiFi (which, side note, how is that even possible? New York has free WiFi in its public parks, for cripes sake!) so I basically just read and browsed at the duty free. At one point, a customs agent on his coffee break tried to chat me up. I still don't understand what it is about plane travel that attracts a disproportionate amount of male attention? Is it the puffy bags under my eyes? My stylish sweatpants? Is Schlumpy Chic a thing now?

Onto my Japan Airlines flight from New York to Tokyo. JAL is an interesting experience. The last time I went to Japan (in '08), I flew Northwest, and the passengers were your typical multi-ethnic mix of people all traveling for a variety of reasons. Not so on JAL, where my flight seemed to be 99% Japanese people heading home, and I stuck out like a sore thumb as a westerner. There are a few advantages to this: Everyone sits quietly, is polite about things like overhead compartment space or armrest-hogging, and are generally exceptionally polite. Even the baby on the flight cried politely. Okay, I'm lying; the baby just cried. Crying baby is a universal language, I think. Also, everyone actually does the designated stretching exercises when they appear on the screen, like a synchronized yoga class. Not to mention the entertaining ads on the personal TV screens. Hey, it was a 14-hour flight; I had to amuse myself somehow.

Three movies, five rounds of Sudoku, a few bouts of pacing the aisles, and a fairly respectable 4-5 hours of sleep mixed in there took care of the longest stretch of travel.

Now I'm at Narita airport, eating ridiculously overpriced noodles and checking my email. I still have another 6-hour flight ahead of me before I get to Hanoi. It ain't over yet, folks.

But, to paraphrase Country Joe, I don't give a damn, next stop is Vietnam.
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