I can't really believe that we arrived on the island of Okinawa well over three weeks ago. Looking back over my journal, it feels like only yesterday, but my brian is telling me it all happened years ago...
We touched down in Naha airport at 1830 local time, having left home at 0445 the previous day. I'm not a mathematician and don't care, now, to work out how long we were actually travelling, but it was a hell of a long time. Not a journey I'd wish to repeat anytime soon, being jet-lagged the way I am. It's funny, but I didn't feel as bad then as I do now. Perhaps the excitement of our arrival offset that. I don't know.
Our flights from Edinburgh and Copenhagen went without a hitch, all according to plan. The only snag was the surly woman, Karen, on the check-in desk in Edinburgh. If I hadn't have needed to keep her sweet, I'd have bitch-slapped her. The cow.
"Would it be possible to have a window seat on the Copenhagen to Tokyo leg?" Ian asked.
"Give me a minute!" she snapped.
We didn't ask again. On walking away, inspecting our boarding cards, we saw that we were to be seated right in the middle of the central block of seats in Economy Class - as far away from a window as she could have got us. You can't tell me there were no window seats approximately ten hours before the flight.
We had a short excursion, taking the train into Copenhagen city centre in-between flights. Calling it a city centre makes me feel like I'm committing a crime. It didn't feel like a city. I'd be more comfortable calling it a village. It's hard to believe 1.2 million people live there.
Denmark is expensive. Before returning to the airport, we had an orange juice and a sandwich. We paid about six pounds sterling for the piece. The cheapest we could find. Most other places were nine.
Denmark needs the €uro.
So do we.
Anyway, back at the airport... A kind lady at the gate reallocated us into some super seats at the window. I had been quite sad up until that point. Not only for the lack of a window seat, but because of the ugly manner displayed to us by Karen.
I'm sorry if you're called Karen, dear reader. If you are, you're not going to like what I'm about to say:
I've never met a nice Karen yet. They've all been utter cunts.
Hey, pregnant lady, if you have a girl, don't call it Karen. She'll turn out an utter wanker and grow old, alone, bitter, with no friends. Naming a child Karen is nothing short of a curse.
It seems the further one gets away from Britain, the more helpful and courteous people are.
In Japan, with very few exceptions, we were greated with a hearty Irashimase! and immediate service... One realises how poorly we are treated here in the UK.
Tokyo was very warm and muggy - cloudy, no sun. We had some hours to spare before taking our flight to Okinawa so leisurely took the bus from Narita to Haneda. Very easy, cheap and simple. On arrival at Haneda, we looked for Mochi. We found none. Christ! After failing in our search, we went to the airport observation deck to look at the aeroplanes. We didn't stay outside too long as the humidity was far too oppressive.
The flight to Okinawa was only ten minutes late departing and arriving. Of course, JAL staff apologised deeply and profusely. I should imagine several staff members committed harakiri. If they didn't, I'm sure they would if we'd asked.
There were only sixty people on a Boeing 747 which would normally seat around five to six hundred (at a guess). The cabin crew, lacking passengers, did their best to look busy, touring the aircraft, making sure the overhead bins were securely fastened. Doing this once or twice might have been acceptable, but twenty to thirty times was a tad ridiculous. There must have been about twenty stewardesses on board. All ladies. Are the gays not drawn to the world of the trolley dolly as they are in the west? Before we boarded the flight, thirty two cleaners (yes, we counted them, sad, I know) gave the aircraft a good going over in under ten minutes.
I'm guessing unemployment is low here. It's better than having people on the dole, I suppose.
Susan and her son Connor picked us up from the airport. What a nice lady.
On leaving the airport for the car park, we were hit, like a mallet, in the face, with humidity like I'd never known before. Completely OTT.
Susan very kindly drove us (for over an hour) to our 1970s style kitch hotel, right on the beach. I thought I'd stumbled onto the set of Hawaii 5-0. Even our aeroplane looked like it was out of the seventies. No electronic gadgets for headphones, just those old hollow plastic tubes of days gone by! Japan is a land of extremes. Technology, tradition, the stone age... Ok, so perhaps not the stone age, but you get what I'm saying. Ray, Susan's husband told me that cassettes are still very popular in Japanese cars.
I never liked tapes. They served their purpose. I'd record an LP to avoid it being scratched ond worn through overplaying it. When the tape wore out, I'd record the LP again. What a fine system it was...
On arriving at the hotel, we took a walk to the beach, paddled our toes in the unbelievably warm sea, saw some rather large bats (like teddy bears with wings!), had a shower and then went to bed.
If it wasn't for waking up in the middle of the night, thinking I'd woken up in a greenhouse, I'd have slept like a baby. Try as I like, I couldn't be green. The air conditioning went back on and back to the land of nod I went.