Japanese Spring Festival

Wow, as always, we’re really catching up on old news.

Way back in February, my colleague Mike and I decided to go to Japan for snowboarding. While I had been many times, this was to be his first time to Japan.

Our trip began on the actual Chinese New Year day – delaying our trip until then made for cheaper tickets. We got to Pudong early, worried about the check in lines – stood in line for a while, checked in and were all set to go at the gate. This is where our tale of woe begins: our flight was supposed to take off for Tokyo at 2 . . .and even at 1:45pm, the plane wasn’t at the gate. Then at 3pm, a massive amount of fog rolls in.

Here’s the scene at the gate when they announce our flight is cancelled, because of course, it was cancelled.

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Unfortunately, the cancellation was only the beginning. The beleaguered airline staff instructed us to exit back out through immigration and then pick up our luggage and then the airline would put us up in a hotel. We figured it would be an airport hotel so that we could get on an early morning flight – there had been some thought about going home, but then we worried that we wouldn’t know when the flight would take off the next day.

Recovering our luggage was a mess. There was one poor woman trying to handle an entire flight. No one was actually unloading the luggage, so passengers were going down to the luggage unloading area and pushing carts to the staging area. The woman would have to check to make the right luggage went to the right passengers. Other flights were also being cancelled on account of the fog, however, once we recovered our luggage, we kept seeing buses from Spring Airlines, British Airways, and other Air China flights until we finally got on our bus (the third for our flight) a good four hours after our flight was officially cancelled. Then we’re on the bus, and we’re going and going and going and we’re on the road farther and farther away from Pudong and after a while, the landmarks are looking super familar. In fact, I saw my elevated highway offramp – in fact, we ended up at an airport hotel near Hongqiao airport. So we spent 14 hours “on the road” and went negative 7 km.

Here’s Mike’s expression.

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So finally we get to Nagano, and it’s warm. Ugh. The snow is mushy and or alternately icy. And it would continue that way for the five days we were there. However, we did eat well.

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