Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Japan Day 0 - Continued.. In Kyoto

Day 0 continued

My flight to Kansai was moved up 15 minutes so that was nice. The flight was weird because it was an international flight to Guam that was stopping over at Kansai. the plane was an older NW 757 and the overhead bins were slightly smaller which was annoying but it had more coat storage racks that people were putting their large carry-ons instead. Another weird thing was that although it was a northwest flight it was staffed with Delta flight attendants. I had a bit of dejavu: I think I had 2 of these flight attendants before on one of my trips to Europe. The plane was poorly stocked. They ran out of glasses and were a bit limited on their drink choices. I overheard the flight attendants complaining about it too.

I got in to Kansai International(very nice design by Renzo Piano). To get to customs you actually get on a dedicated tram that takes you to the processing area. the first step there was to go through quarantine (the Japanese are taking the swine flu very seriously) and turn in the health form we had to fill out. If you had any minor symptoms at all like running nose, stuffy nose, you could pass but they would give a mask to wear. If you had a fever or worse symptoms, you were directed away to see a doctor.

Immigration was next. Very similar to what the US is doing. I handed over my passport to be stamped and they actually put a very detailed barcoded sticker in it instead and stapled part of one the forms to it too. They took my fingerprints of both index fingers and took my photo and I was on my way.

The final step was to get through customs. I picked up my checked bag (I was glad to see it had made all the connections). It turned out to be a breeze. They only inspected my checked bag and didn't complain about any of the snacks I packed.

Most of the airport staff spoke enough English that I didn't have any trouble getting around.

I left the main terminal and headed to the train station to catch the express train to Kyoto. It took me a couple of tries to find the right ticket on the ticketing machine. It was in English but it kept trying to get me to upgrade my ticket. The basic ticket is non reserved seat in a regular car but it tried to sell me a reserved seat and a spot in the first class "green" car. I headed down to the platform and waited. About 15 minutes later, the train came, the English electronic sign on the side of it said Kyoto on it but after being blocked from boarding by one of the friendly attendants who told me carefully in English "next train". So I think it must of said "out of service" in the Japanese that was flashing on it too.

I got into Kyoto late. I didn't know originally if I would make it there that night so hadn't made a hotel reservation but from the guide book I knew there were several low cost places around the train station. So I put my luggage in a locker at the train station so i could walk around and find a hotel. Didn't take long for me to find one a Tokyo Inn (A cheap chain brand here) and I crashed for the night.

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