Back in Kyoto

Anthony and I returned home to Japan yesterday after a month at my folks' place in Ohio. The return trip was substantially longer than the flight out, and much more gruleing than last year's return to Kyoto because it included a cross-country leg before the trans-pacific flight.

Our trip started with a 4:00am wake-up-call in Cleveland, Ohio, with us finally walking out of customs/immigration at Kansai International 25 and a half hours later. It was a long journey, but to see Fumie — and to see how Anthony ran to her and jumped into her arms — was certainly worth it.

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 55mm — 1/50 sec handheld, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Tired Boy at 37,000 Feet
(The EXIF data says 34,728 feet, but I believe the airplane's GPS more than my handheld unit.)

It wasn't a good day for United Airlines. Our first flight (Cleveland→Chicago) went fine, but the next flight (Chicago→San Francisco) didn't start smoothly: we boarded half an hour late, and then sat on the ground for an additional two hours while mechanics fixed “a lavatory faucet that won't turn off.” Two hours to turn off a faucet? I don't know which is worse, the thought that that's true, or that that's the best lie they could come up with.

Some time was made up during the flight, so we arrived to San Francisco only two hours late. A lot of people missed connections, but luckily, our layover before the flight to Kansai had been scheduled for three and a half hours, so we still arrived with plenty of time.

Sadly, that didn't matter, as our next flight also boarded 30 minutes late, and like before, we sat while mechanics fixed something (this time in the cockpit). The cockpit must be substantially less complex than a faucet, since it took only an hour to fix.

Once we finally pushed back from the gate, it took forever (29 minutes) before we finally took off. By this time we'd been up for over twelve hours and I was physically and mentally exhausted. Knowing that an 11-hour flight was still ahead only made it worse.

Anthony fell asleep for a bit an hour into the flight, and I took the opportunity to snap a picture of the little sleepyhead.

Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/45 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos

At about six or seven hours into the flight, I was shocked to notice the seat-back display indicate “time since takeoff: 1:30.” The hour and a half had only felt like six or seven hours. It was a long flight, mentally, physically, and chronologically.

Anthony didn't sleep long that first time, but he did sleep again for about the last three hours of the flight, which was wonderful. I think I fell asleep for about an hour in there somewhere.

We landed at Kansai's new runway (28 Right), which opened earlier this month. The practical effect for us was that instead of taxing for only one minute to get to the gate, we taxied for fourteen long, painful minutes, traveling over six kilometers after actually landing and slowing down.

Landing and Taxing Tracklog from my GPS as seen with the most excellent Google Earth
Landing and Taxing
Tracklog from my GPS as seen with the most excellent Google Earth

Immigration, getting our baggage, and clearing customs went pleasantly quickly, and we exited the secure area to find Fumie and her mom waiting, at which point much hugging and kissing ensued.

Fumie handed me a key to a room at the on-airport hotel so that I could rest right away, and took Anthony and the luggage home.

I was showered and asleep before she got halfway there.

All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

Sounds like a tough flight. Glad to see you back safely!

BTW, thanks for making tripods, ballheads and quick release plates clear to me in the last few posts! Very informative.

— comment by Gustaf Erikson on August 29th, 2007 at 4:22am JST (16 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Maybe it’s none of my business, but why get a hotel if you were effectively home?

Hah, yes, I guess I should explain that. The drive home is two hours, and having made this trip many times, I’ve found that once the excitement of actually being done with the flight wears out, about 15 minutes into the drive, I’m so tired that I just want to die to get it over with. Thus, I’ve learned to get the hotel and sleep right away, and head home at my refreshed leisure the next morning. —Jeffrey

— comment by Foobert on August 29th, 2007 at 3:10pm JST (16 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

I’ve always liked the long flight for some reason — a few hours in, probably because of the ridiculous amounts of time left, it feels less like a flight and more like a bunch of people have changed residence to this sort of otherworldly abode. Sound doesn’t reach you from outside but for the low hum of the engines, a good half of the people are asleep most of the time, and the overlords (stewardesses) come along and maintain the people in pods occasionally.

Kind of surreal, in a way.

— comment by Sam on September 8th, 2007 at 7:12pm JST (16 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink
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