Japan day 1+2: Tel Aviv to Tokyo via Beijing

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May 6th 2019
Published: May 13th 2019
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Monday 6 May 2019 - Let the adventure begin... Tel Aviv, Israel to Beijing, China

The adventure began at 7pm Monday evening when we left the apartment about an hour later than I (Lesley) hoped. I had concerns about our luggage, thinking our first flight was scheduled about 10pm when it was really for 11:20. We booked two separate flights - El Al to Beijing and Air China from Beijing to Tokyo. Last year when we flew long haul to the Galapagos Islands via California our luggage didn’t arrive on our initial flight. Fortunately last year we spent a night at Don’s cousin in California so we able to collect our bags the next morning before boarding our flight to Ecuador. Plus United Airlines had several additional flights to the US reaching San Francisco, whereas El Al only flies on alternate days to Beijing.

At Ben Gurion airport El Al told us we could not check our luggage all the way through. Instead the check-in agent simply noted on our bags that our final destination is Tokyo. She said we would need to collect our bags in Beijing and check them in with Air China there.

We boarded the El Al flight at 11pm and I fell immediately into a deep sleep. The bed was comfortable and I finally woke at 6am Israeli time. Don had awoken shortly before me.

Tuesday 7 May - Beijing, China to Tokyo, Japan

El Al arrived in Beijing airport and we disembarked at 2 pm local time. We were some of the first off the plane and then the fun really started. The official China website states that we don’t need visas as we are in transit. But now we had to get temporary visas because we had to collect our bags, leave the airport and then re-enter the airport. Once we had found out where to go, that bit was easy - no lines. Then it was back to passport control, and we queued-up because we had lost our quick-off-the-plane advantage. Passport control then required fingerprints. My fingerprints don’t like the machines - I should be a spy. Eventually after several attempts the supervisor was called over. Then we found the magic answer - a wet wipe. Don said if I ever wrote my spy story memoirs the ending would be that a wet wipe gave me away. Then down to the baggage reclaim. And guess what - after waiting and waiting - no bags. "Oh" said the baggage agent, "they’ve probably been checked through."

So back up we went to departures. After being sent to one end of the departure area (and Beijing airport is pretty big) we were told we were at the wrong place. So we were sent to the other end of the airport. By this time we had less than two hours to our next flight.

There we found a very helpful young lady at the Air China checkin desk. We explained our bag situation and she made a phone call. At first no bags were listed. Then the person at the other end of the phone asked her to enter numbers from our El Al boarding card and after about 15 minutes our bags were found and confirmed as already loaded for our Tokyo flight.

So we made our way back from whence we had originally come via the train to departures toward the correct section for our gate. And to the Air China club lounge where a gin and tonic went down a treat.

We boarded the plane and had some champagne which my clothes thoroughly enjoyed when I knocked it over. We had just heard an announcement, in English, about how rowdy behavior could result in a prison sentence. Will anybody visit me was all that was going through my mind.

After an hour's delay sitting in a long line of planes waiting to take off, we finally got flying. The kosher meal was still frozen and the fish was a grey color (grey mullet ?).

At last we arrived at Tokyo airport where a very nice lady from Backyard Travel met us with loads of tickets for trains etc and all our itinerary details with maps. She led us to a limo and we were driven to the Sheraton Miyako hotel. We passed the 'Rainbow' suspension bridge all lit up and the Tokyo Tower which looks like a mini Eiffel Tower beautifully lit up.

We were shown to our room - a small room with a single queen size bed. One person (Don) would have had to sleep squashed against the wall. Now we are two elderly persons needing to get up during the night... We complained and now have a proper double room with a king bed and lots of space to spread out. It is now nearly 1 am local time and we are going to sleep.



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