Welcome to Day 2 of Janet, Randy and Family Japan Adventure 2016
Friday, April 8th, 2016
The plane pulled up to the gate at Narita and there were two bridges brought out to the plane for deplaning. As we got off the plane, we were met by an Air Canada concierge with Randy's parents' names. We waited for a few more minutes for Randy's aunts to arrive, and then the concierge escorted us towards Customs and Immigration.
The appearance of the concierge was a surprise to us (not something that we had arranged), and we thought that maybe this meant that we would be able to access some sort of fast track lines. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Our flight arrived at the same time as two A380s, and when we got to the Immigration hall (newly named to Immigration Hell), there was a massive line-up. In fact, we were backed up into the hallway that leads into the immigration hall itself. For about 15 minutes, we stood there without moving at all. Finally, things started to slowly inch forward until we were actually in the hall - but we were disappointed to see this huge line that snaked all through the room.
Our concierge actually left us and said she would go and get our checked baggage for us. So, almost one and a half hours, we slowly made our way through the immigration line (Immigration Hell). Part of the problem was that there were a number of lines for Japanese passports only - but these were empty for most of the time we stood in line. Part of the issue is that Japanese Immigration makes you put your two index fingers onto a finger print reader... well this is slow, I saw several people that couldn't get their finger prints read. I saw some of the immigration agents using wipes to clean peoples fingers. So Multiply that by how many thousands of people and you have huge queues Not a great way to start, and not a good impression for a country that you usually associate to being very high tech. But we finally made it through.
Randy and I made it through first, so he went off to the luggage carousel to see if the concierge had our bags, while I waited for the rest of the family. As we took the escalator down to the baggage area, we saw Randy and the concierge coming with our bags. Then we just had to exit through Customs. Again, Randy and I went through first. Randy dashed off to get tickets for the shuttle bus while I waited for the rest of the gang. By this time, it was 5:10pm, and the concierge told us that the next bus to our hotel was at 5:35pm. If we didn't make that bus, we would have to wait another 2 hours. We weren't going to wait 2 hours !
Randy had the tickets for us, and we even had time to spare to get some cash out of an ATM before our bus arrived. We settled on the bus for our hour+ trip to the hotel, arriving just before 7:00pm.
Once at the hotel, we were escorted to the reception desk to check in. We were told to head to our rooms and that our luggage would arrive in a few minutes. We had just started to unpack when Randy's aunt knocked on our door. Apparently the 2 aunties had been given a room with a single queen bed instead of 2 twins. Luckily the bell boy was still around, so he phoned down to the front desk to get it sorted out.
For the first time since we've stayed at the Imperial Hotel, we were facing towards the Imperial Palace. As it was dark out, I was too tired to set up the tripod to take any pictures, so that will have to wait until the next morning. About a half an hour later, we went downstairs to meet Randy's family and show them where the nearest Starbucks and 7-11 were.
My throat was feeling really dry and a little sore, so I picked up some juice from the 7-11 (and Randy picked up some Onigiri to eat). Randy's folks and aunts were in the mood for some noodle soup, so we spent some time looking for a restaurant that served that. I was really tired, and not very hungry, so we left them to have some supper and we went back to the hotel to go to bed. (don't worry, the restaurant was literally half a block from the hotel, so we were pretty confident they would be able to find their way back). We hope they found their way back... check in tomorrow when we discuss with the police a missing persons... (I'm kidding I'm sure they are fine)
We went back to our room, and pretty much went straight to bed. Yup, that was a long 24 hours of being awake.
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