(insert "life is a journey" cliché here)
Tell you what. It’s pretty good to have a flat-lying eight hour sleep during a long haul to London. No I wasn’t flying first or business, and I hadn’t selected a stopover with expensive hotels etc. It was all part of the flight.
This was back in 2000; the best deal I could find at the time for around $1800 – Sydney to London return with Japan Airlines. We arrived in Osaka about 8pm; everyone got off the plane and trundled across the hyper-modern airport into the airport hotel, then to recommence our flight at 11am the next day. Same plane, same seats, same passengers. As I lay in a comfy double bed watching Stephen King’s ‘Misery’ dubbed into Japanese, I decided it was an extremely civilised way to fly.
When I say I’ve never been to Japan, technically I have, I just saw none of it. I did stand on the hotel balcony that evening, viewing the industrial airporty landscape and wondering if I should take the train into Osaka city to check it out. Better not, I decided. I was, after all, ‘mid flight’.
In the morning, we passengers descended upon the hotel restaurant for our breakfast. Another great way to eat on a long haul, with an extensive choice from a buffet. Aaaand why not choose eel for brekkie! I then perused the windows of perfectly manufactured plastic meal displays (like these ones, click here), and pondered whether to buy a yukata (casual summer cotton kimono) but decided to leave that for our stop on the return home.
Ahh. The return home. Four weeks later, after a pleasant road trip around Ireland, I looked forward to what I hoped would be another nice hotel lie down. Not so, I was informed as I checked in – we’d be arriving at Osaka at 2am, and would be confined to a departure lounge. Never mind, I decided. I’d use that time to shop for a yukata and other souvenirs.
What we were greeted by was the situation above. Four hours in plastic chairs. You couldn’t even lie down across them. And there were no shops open except for a small kiosk dispensing water, green tea and packaged snacks. No souvenir shopping for me then. I finished my book, and as there was nowhere to buy even an English magazine, wearily I turned to the first page and began reading it again.
And I lay on the floor with my head on my daypack as a pillow. Quite a contrast.