Land of the Rising Sun, here we come!
Bright and early on Saturday 29th July, my brother and I left Cornwall in our hire car. We were going to drive to Heathrow, then my brother would get the tube back to his apartment in London, and I would get on a plane to the other side of the world. It still didn’t feel real as we sped out of Cornwall, and looking back on it, it still doesn’t seem that I quite grasped what was in store for me. We made excellent time despite my Father’s doom mongering, and made it to Heathrow by 10:30. My flight was at 16:00 and we were meeting at 12:45, so we had loads of time. We sat down and got a drink, and then my brother left me to get his tube. I felt a bit sad waving goodbye to him as he went down in the lift and left me to my people watching.
I spotted some folk from the London orientation including Sophie (more on her later too!) and Eric, and we had a good chat while we waited for the representatives from Miki Travel to show up. They appeared early (hurray!) and we got our stickers, our baggage tags and our passports and tickets back from them. We checked in with Qatar airlines, and I breathed a sigh of relief as my (potentially a littttttle overweight bags) disappeared off to the plane.
Our flight was with Qatar airlines via Doha, so we knew we were in for a seriously long haul trip. This meant I wanted gin, preferably in a bucket! Sophie, Eric and I got through security without too much incident, and found the nearest bar. I had an enormous gin and tonic while we waited and talked excitedly about what we were doing. We also met a lot of other JETs who were going to be flying with us. I think there were about 24 on our flight. Ami also appeared (remember her from London orientation!)
We boarded our plane and were pretty shocked at what we found. A gentlemen was being restrained in the back seat of the plane by a selection of suited heavies. The restrained chap was screaming his head off constantly and very loudly. In the current climate, this did not reassure any of us who were slightly more nervous fliers and we made our way to our seats with some trepidation. Ami and I were sat next to each other which was a blessing as we weren’t the greatest fliers and it was nice to have someone to share concerns with as we took off. Before we took off, one of the suited heavies from the back of the plane came down to tell us that the reason the restrained man was screaming was because he was being deported from the UK, and didn’t want to go. While it was reassuring to hear that we weren’t in imminent danger of being blown up, the screaming didn’t stop until we were in the sky and it was still very unnerving. In the event, no one died, and we made it to Qatar in good time.
In Qatar, we did our transfer and met up with the Scottish contingent who had come in on a different Qatar airlines flight. Now we were all together, we sat and waited for our next flight to Tokyo. This flight was the long one – nearly 10 hours all together, which following on from our previous 7 hour flight and 2 hour wait did not make any of us very happy.
Luckily I had an aisle seat so I could at least get up and stretch whenever I wanted to, and I was in an aisle with Sophie and Eric which made for interesting conversation when we weren’t supposed to be sleeping. Nothing too exciting happened and then all of a sudden, we were landing! We’d survived our giant journey and we’d made it to Japan!