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Published: March 18th 2007
On our last day in Tokyo, I commented that I loved Tokyo and I didn't feel like leaving. It seemed the heaven heard me, and it "granted" my wish by giving me a 7-hour flight delay!!! (It was a casual remark when I said I didn't feel like leaving. I never expect the heaven to be so serious. Next time I'm not going to say anything when I leave a place...)
Leaving our inn in Otsuka at 7am, we took a train to Nippori Station to transfer to the Keisei Line. (This time we took a "limited" train. We didn't dare to take the "local" train again, after spending more than 2 hours on the trip from Narita Airport to Ueno.) We arrived at Narita Airport Terminal 2 at around 9am. When we reached the departure level, we were shocked to see very long queues in front of the JAL check-in areas. (Passengers need to scan their luggages before they can enter the check-in areas and queue at the check-in counters.) Mingxian went to ask an airport staff for advice, and the airport staff misleadingly told us to use the First-class queue. In the end, we ended up in
the check-in area earlier than expected. (If we joined the Economy-class queue, it would probably take one hour...)
However, bad news came. The airport announced that the departure of our flight from Tokyo to Singapore would be delayed from 1055 to 1730!!! This was because the plane was stuck somewhere else in the world and couldn't arrive in Tokyo in time. As a form of apologies, JAL issued meal coupons to affected passengers. In the end, we had an unexpected extra 6 hours to shop, eat and explore the airport! (But that meant we would arrive at Singapore after midnight, instead of the original 1735.)
Mingxian and I decided to explore terminal 1, as terminal 2 was crowded and chaotic. When we reached terminal 1, we were surprised to see that terminal 1 was not crowded and there were no long queues. It seemed ANA (the airline using T1) handles passengers and queues more effectively than JAL (the airline using T2). Next time if I come to Japan again, I will probably try ANA instead... We explored the shopping mall in T1, and we were attracted by a gift shop selling irresistable candies, cakes, biscuits and other food
After witnessing Japanese efficiency for 5 days, today I finally witnessed Japanese inefficiency...
wrapped in irresistable packaging... In the end we bought many boxes of Japanese snacks. We also visited the observation platform of T1. The observation platform was outdoor, and we could see many planes on the tarmac. (Narita is the first airport I encountered that has an outdoor observation platform open to public... Most other airports only permit plane-viewing behind a glass window.)
At noon, Mingxian and I decided to utilize our 1500-yen meal coupons in a nice Japanese restaurant. Both of us ordered an Udon set and a dessert, and we fully utilized the 1500-yen value of the coupon. Haha. The lunch was fantastic, and I was glad that my last meal in Japan was such a good one. After lunch, we returned to T2, where we visited the observation platform of T2 and shopped in the T2 shopping mall. After a series of crazy shopping, we decided to enter the restricted area and sat down for a rest. After crossing the immigration and hand-carry luggage check, we went to the area near our departure gate and sat down. We opened our laptop and we could detect wireless signals. To our disappointment, access to the wireless internet required usage
There were several queues which were equally horribly long, and some people were just lost and confused.
fees. In the end, we just sat down and slept. Before we entered the departure lounge, we saw another souvenir shop, and the shop was selling Shiroi Koibito ("White Lovers" - a very famous white chocolate from Hokkaido)!!! Mingxian and I were so excited that each of us bought 2 boxes of Shiroi Koibito!
By the time I boarded the delayed flight, I had almost spent all the money that I brought to Tokyo... (If not for the flight delay, I might not have shopped so much. Perhaps I would still have 5000 to 6000 yen left... But well....... Japanese products have such an attractive packaging and presentation that it's hard to resist buying...) Although the 7-hour flight delay was initially unpleasant, the facilities and shops in the airport more or less compensated the inconvenience and unpleasantness.
When I reached Singapore at midnight, I thought my ordeal would be over, but I was wrong. At the immigration, the queues were horribly long, just like the ones in Narita Airport Terminal 2! After immigration and baggage claim, I was shocked again to see a very horribly long queue for cabs! (This was so unlike Singapore!!! Normally, the immigration is
empty, with 1 or 2 persons per queue. The taxi queue is also normally 10 to 20 people long.) Later, when I finally boarded a cab, the cab driver told me that everyone was returning to Singapore after one week of school holiday. That's why the airport was so crowded. Sigh...
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