16 April 2010

The Trip Back to Atsugi

Here we go again.  Last time I did this, I got lost while dragging my 35 kg luggage around Shinjuku.  From Narita (the airport I'm headed for) there is supposedly a bus that goes straight to Atsugi, but because of the schedule of flights from Manila, I missed it.  So there I was, in Shinjuku, but thanks to helpful people I was able to make it to Atsugi - except that I wasn't able to contact the person I was going to meet.  So it was past 12 midnight, the place was deserted, and I was there by myself, getting lost for a while, but I didn't know if the person I was going to meet was going to find me.  Unfortunately my phone was not useable in Japan (it is a GSM-only phone; Japan's cellphone networks use CDMA), so I cannot make a phone call to my picker upper. I tried using the payphones but they were speaking in Japanese, I didn't understand what the instructions were as to how much coins I should put in.  I think I didn't even have enough coins, or that I lost some of them already trying to make a call.  And then, she showed up.  I left my Manila home at around 10:00am.  I got to my Atsugi apartment at around 1:00am.

Looking at the positive side, it was nice weather in Atsugi then, the perfect spring weather, like nature's own natural air-conditioning system was on.  And my free baggage allowance was just 20kg, but thanks to my connections, I was allowed 35kg without charge!  (This was not Philippine Airlines, by the way.)

So this time around, I'm a been there, done that.  Only problem is, since I was staying longer in Japan this time, my checked and handcarry luggage totaled 54kg!  And on paper, the allowable weight was only 37kg.  Thankfully the guy at the check-in counter said he will let me go with just a 10kg excess baggage.  Goodbye hundred-something dollars.  This is Philippine Airlines, by the way.  That's about all the trouble I had at the Manila airport.  Oh no, wait, I had to pay the Philippine Travel Tax of PhP 1620 - they say it applies to all tickets purchased online.  The inconvenience of going online!  What an irony.  And you wonder how come the Philippines is... nevermind.  I flew business class by the way, to get the heavier check-in baggage allowance.

And PAL's business class was spankin' hot!  Fully reclining seats, and 19-inch touch-screen LCD panels?  Wow.  I had a choice between a Japanese meal and a Western meal.  I chose the Japanese meal of course.  Yum.  Well, that's what you get for paying an extra...  $3.  Yup, I bought my ticket online, and it is just a one-way ticket because I don't intend on flying business class again soon, and the difference is just $3 (~PhP 150).  If I bought roundtrip tickets, the difference would have been around $200~$400, I think.

The plane take-off queue was so long at Manila, it took us probably more than 30 minutes from departure time before our plane actually departed, but like airlines do, we landed in Narita around 20 minutes ahead of schedule.  That would be around 7:35pm local time.  The straight bus to Hon-Atsugi (the main train station in Atsugi) leaves at 8:20pm.  I could make it in time!

Alas, when I got to the immigration counter, there was a problem with my visa.  It says "precollege (undergraduate) student" when in fact it should say "college (graduate) student"!  So they had to change it, blah blah blah.  Point is, I could've made it in time for the straight bus to Hon-Atsugi, but I didn't.  This time around, I was able to get on a bus to Sagami-Ono, which is just 5 stations away from Hon-Atsugi - no more Shinjuku!  That was so much pleasant a journey.  I got to Hon-Atsugi around 11:30pm, I think.

Actually, it wasn't so pleasant when I got to Sagami-Ono.  The bus stop was on the ground floor and the train station was on the second floor, so I had to go up one level.  Where we passengers got down from the bus, there seemed no option for elevators - just a long, 5- or 6-meter high staircase.  And then it was raining.  And very cold.  As in, around 5 degrees (celsius) cold.  Add some wind chill.  It felt practically freezing.  Quite literally.  No way I was going to take those stairs!

I actually noticed the elevator on the other side of the road, but there was a 2-foot high fence obstacle.  I chose to just carry my 42kg luggage over this 2-foot high fence and then take the elevator (and this is all protected from rain), than carry it under the rain 0.2m (stair thread height) at a time 30 times (number of steps)!

But when I got out of the elevator,  the problem was still there.  The rain and the wind chill factor.  My umbrella was deep inside my 42kg checked baggage.  And even if I was able to get it I would only be able to shield myself from the rain, not any of my bags.  Oh no, my electronics.  And if I still had to look for my umbrella, how long would that push me back?  Under that weather, all I wanted to do was get home.

Anyway, I just hurried to get to the station and nevermind the rain.  When I got to Hon-Atsugi, I needed to take a taxi to the school.  The last time, that someone who picked me up had a car to take me to my then apartment, and there was no rain!  And the rain and the wind chill I think rode with me on the train from Sagami-Ono to Hon-Atsugi.  Big problem.  Nothing else could go wrong?  Try this, there was a 20-party queue for the taxi.  Guess what.  In the rain.  I had no choice.

So finally I got to TPU at just a little past 12 midnight, the person who was to meet me, met up with me.  He introduced me to some of the researchers at the school, and then off to the apartment we go.  On foot.  Thankfully they lent me an umbrella.  When we got to the apartment, I forgot that my apartment was on the 2nd floor.  Have I told you I have a 42kg bag?  Well at least there were 2 of us this time to carry the bag one level up.  Obviously there aren't any elevators or escalators.

Anyway, finally I was in my apartment already.  maybe around 12:15am.  Everything is fine now; time to sleep.


I forgot to ask my new friends how to operate the heater.  The controls were in Japanese!  I tried to figure it out but to no avail.  So I slept in 5-degree weather.  I wore a thermal underwear, two layers of sweater, I had a towel-like blanket (that's what they gave me), and a comforter/quilt.  I had difficulty sleeping at first.  I haven't eaten anything yet since that in-flight meal!  And it was soooooo very cold.  Last time I slept at around 2:30am.  This time though, I was too tired, and clocked out at around 1:30am.

Overall, except for the excess baggage (a.k.a. unplanned expense), visa issue, the rain, the rain, and the rain, and the really cold weather, everything was better this time around.  I was able to exchange text messages with my fiancée.  Yup, my phone is CDMA-capable!

One night only so far, this looks like an interesting 3 years.  Not to mention, my wife-to-be will be with me here witnessing one of my dreams coming true.  Of course, her becoming my wife this December is another dream I do not want to wake up from for eternity.  Ah, I am very sleepy now.  Good night to you all.


  1. naguluhan ako sa post na 'to. may mga flashback parts ba?

  2. Last time I went to Japan was with Caesar Rubite - minus the rain and chill. I can just imagine your adventure that day hehe.

  3. cool! how long did you stay here? and what month(s)?