And the Journey Begins!
When I left from Toronto this morning (morning in Toronto, that is), I was such a big jumbled ball of emotions that I still can't untangle them properly. However, thanks to my mother's friend Wally the Pilot, I was totally pampered and taken care of, to the point that I was almost embarrassed for the amount of preferred treatment I received. I got to take a tour of the plane before we left, and I learned some things;
1) There is a completely different level of the plane that is dedicated to the flight attendants and the pilots. They have sleeping cabins and a lounge to escape to.
2) Dispelling the myth that most of the buttons in the cockpit are just there for show. They're not. Wally the Pilot swears that they use every single one, almost every time they fly.
3) First class is just as good as you think it is. I've always longed to try the awesome 'pod beds' they have in first class on the giant planes (I flew in a 777), and I'm so happy that I had the opportunity. The ability to stretch out and sleep makes the 13 hour flight a totally different experience; not nearly as painful as I had anticipated.
4) There are windows in the first class bathrooms, and the floors are tiled. Oh, yeah.
At one point during the flight, I had totally lost track of the time and had to figure out if I should sleep or not. I attempted to figure out some science to overcoming the jetlag I would inevitably be experiencing, but I failed miserably.
Once we had landed, all the passengers were herded like sheep towards customs/boarder patrol/interrogation/full body scans. Japan now has copies of my fingerprints, my retinal scans, pictures of my face, blood pressure, etc. Truthfully, it was incredibly painless. I wasn't stopped or questioned more than necessary. I think my visa must be a really good one or something. Also, there were less signs in English than I had expected. For an international airport, they really don't care about being that 'international-y.'
Once I was through the gates, I tried to find a place that I could smoke, since I was going through some serious withdrawal. I could smell cigarettes everywhere, but I couldn't see anyone smoking. The torture was killing me, but I found a place eventually. Apparently everyone obeys the 'do not smoke' signs except for one demographic. The middle-aged suit-clad Japanese businessman does not care where he smokes, which is why I could smell it everywhere. And in this shame-based society, no one tells them otherwise. Whatever.
Taking the bus-shuttle to the hotel, I noticed some slight differences from home. Little things like barbed wire fences, which lined all the highways like prison walls. All the cars are about a foot smaller. In fact, everything is just slightly smaller than home. And there are vending machines EVERYWHERE.
Oh yeah, and the toilets are just as hilarious as I had anticipated. More on that later.
I have to be on a bullet train to Tokyo in the morning, so I will leave it at that!