Introduction: After spending 20 years in the U.S., it's time for me to go back to Japan. I had an option of going home straight but why not stopping at somewhere on the way?!
I woke up around 3:00am, put my sleeping bag and other items into trash bags. Did a light stretch then took all the items out to the trash bin. I had to make many trips to the bin and was sweating bad. Finish packing my belongings for the last time, loaded my bags and started the car, left home at 4:40am under dark sky, dropped off my keys at the apartment office's deposit box as I was leaving to work. I drove straight up north on Eldridge Pkwy for the last time while listening to the radio programs which I used to hear while I am heading home. I don't have to do this anymore. Arrived at the office on schedule, parked my car and stayed in at the office until the time comes. (done)
Apartment is empty now
Even today is the day I am departing, the company has a weired rule which prevents me from just take a day off because the last Friday was a company paid holiday (Good Friday). So I had to stay at the office for 30 minutes minumum. I Left the office at 5:05am and drove on feeder road along Sam Houston Tollway toward the airport. It was dark, and the traffic was fairly moving fast so I had to put some efforts to move along. After passing I-45, I get on Beltway 8 and continued for the rest of the route, getting off from the beltway and drove on JFK Blvd, arrived at the airport's rental car center at around 6:00am. I now need to carry three bags in addition to my messenger bag, but I cannot miss any of them. Waited a little bit at upstairs for a shuttle bus which took me to the terminal C. Checked in at the counter and got my bags checked with my tickets in my hand. Walked to the security screening at 6:15am. The line was pretty long not sure how long it is going to take. Passed at 6:45am so the boarding has began already. (done)
Penalty sit in...
My request for upgrade was granted so I will be in the business class. Walked to Gate 14 which is nearby the security check and I lined up behind the last person in the group 1. The boarding process was already started so I get in the cabin in no time. I took my seat at 7:05am and waited until 7:25am for the doors to be closed. After a brief moment, the plane was pushed back from the gate at 7:35am and taxied to the west side under orange morning light. I just cannot accept this is very much the end of my U.S. life but tears did not come out, I guess I worked so hard for the last couple of years withstanding the night shift work environment to collect enough points to qualify social security.
B787 at IAH 6:57am
Being pushed back
While I was facing bright sunshine, the plane slowly proceeded to the runway for departure. The plane had to wait for a few planes in line to depart and soon our turn is here, the plane departed at 7:50am to the south as usual, crossing the beltway as gaining the altitude. The plane made a right turn, giving me the last view of the airport and changed the heading toward California. Under morning sky, the plane kept going to west. The flight was very calm, I saw Phoenix, AZ on the way, as the plane approach towards the desitination, there is an area just off the Los Angeles where clouds covering the mountains. The plane was making a long shot for the straight in from the east side. The airport looks like under rainy condition so the plane entered low clouds and then broke into the view where rain streaming the window. The plane landed but had to wait off the runway until 9:05am local time. Stop and go after then finally moving at 9:15am to the date. Getting off from the plane around 9:25am.
LAX under rain
The gate to the connection was right next to the one which I just came out. Checking on the net and Getting on board at 10:30am, the entertainment system in the B737-900 was not that great so I guess I have few choices then. Door close at 11:05am, and get pushed back 12:28pm HNL time, 1,000 mile to go. Bumpy air expected. 2:25pm 230mi out. 2:40pm descend started from 30,000ft. Landing 12:35pm announcement
Hawaii Island, Diamond Head, Waikiki
As the plane approaching to the Hawaii Island, my first view was ? which is southeast part of the island. The plane flew along the coastal line and turning around the Diamon Head, then while looking at Waikiki beach to the right, the plane made the final approach to the airport.
The plane made landing after flying over marsh like place then touched down under summer like sky. The plane has to taxi for a while before arriving at the gate.
Walkway is exposed to ambient
After the plane arrived at the gate, I walked out from the plane. The airport has several terminal buildings, but to the main building, I have to walk outside (2:20pm) which is covered at least. This was a bit of surprise. Took stairway down to baggage claim, waited for a while for the bag to come up.
I dragged my bags to the rental car place which was quite challenging. At the counter, I was given a Dodge Charger, a bit oversized for me but I guess I juse need to drive with care. The car had GPS so I just entered the address and headed toward the hotel. Left the parking and getting on a freeway toward Waikiki, the drive to hotel was supposed to be one easy one but I just could not find the parking for the hotel so I had to drive around and around until I can find the parking, got the parking pass and dropped off my car. I won't need it for a while.
Driving on a highway
Checked in and walked to my friend's restaurant.
Rain came down but I kept walking, only thinking that maybe I should have broght at least a towel. Arrived at a place where my friend works, and had a quick tea with him while catching up. We then walked to a restaurant to meet another friend, had dinner together.
Dinner, beef and fish.
Left the restaurant then decided to hit another place for a drink. Walked back to the hotel around 11:30pm, going to bed around midnight. It was a good evening.
Woke up at 5:00am, stretched my body then get ready for the day. Left around 6:30am and drove on the freeway toward Pearl Harbor, I got lost but somehow arrived at 7:30am. I was lucky that there was a spot available for the Arizona Memorial from 7:45am, I thought I had to wait for a while since I could not get a ticket on line yesterday and only walk in was possible. Lined up in front of a building, and we were led to a movie theater and watched a short clip,
After coming back to the building. I took a bus to Battleship Missouri (a.k.a. Mighty Mo.) It was a smarter choice since I don't have to worry about the parking
I then took another bus ride to the Pacific Aviation Museum. I walked inside and saw a few planes in display, and there was a hunger nearby to check out more planes.
Pacific Aviation Museum Hanger (Click here for more pictures)
My lunch, Hawaiian Dog at the museum 11:00am
I had to wait for a while to get a ride back to the parking. By the time when I arrived there, the amount of people has dramatically increased compared to the morning. It's no use to stay any long, so I started the car and left the place. I wanted to stop by at the center part of Hawaii to check out the state capital and others so I found a place to park and made a stop at downtown to check out the
The state capital of Hawaii, and Iolani Palace, and Church and I walked back to the car.
Former Palace, State Capital and Church
Decided to go to Diamond Head for the rest of the afternoon. I entered the location on the GPS and began driving off the Pearl Harbor area. Drove on freeway then getting off to a local road. I have seen people parking on street and walking on sidewalk along the road so I began to worry that I may have to park outside and dp extra walk. After passing a tunnel, I arrived at the parking. I thought I may have to wait for a while but actually there were plenty of parking available by this time. Parked my car at 1:30pm, began walking upona trail, thru a tunnel, going up spiral stairs and made it to the peak around 2:00pm. It was not too bad. The scenary was nice and
Come back to the parking by 2:30pm. It was a one hour trip to the top and back. The temperature went up pretty good so I decided to do myself a favor by buying a shaved ice. Left the parking and drove back to the hotel. (done)
After coming back to the hotel, I decided to walk around, saw a couple of interesting hotels which stood for a long time.
Royal Hawaiian and Moana Hotel - The first lady of Waikiki, opened in 1901
In the evening, I met with my friend again. He picked me up with his car so we have more freedom on moving around.
Dinner for tonight.
I woke up around 5:00am, stertched my body, the outside was getting brighter slightly as I was preparing to leave. I wish I had a chance to swim in the morning but I guess I have to find the opportunity in the future. Hawaii is not too far. (done)
Left the hotel and drove on the local road toward the freeway then drove toward the Airport. After arriving at the airport, I had to drive a bit to locate the rental car return. Driving against the sunlight was not my best experience. (done)
Returned the rental car and dragged my bag to the terminal I hate when I do this too often. The cheeck in counter in Hawaii was pretty wide open, and very few people so the check in was easy and quick.
Check in counter, at 7:00am.
The only issue is because it was 7:00am in the morning, very few stores are open. I walked around the airport after checking in but it was too early for any shopping. As I
Grabbed a few items such as tea and coffee then walked to the waiting area for the boarding gate. There is a second security check so once the process began, I get my passport and boarding pass checked, crossed into the otherside of the rope.
Getting on a flight to Japan
The plane left the gate and began taxing.
The guy who sat next seat is a professor at University of Japan teaching Japanese and American politics. It's very cool.
The plane took off to west, I can see
The rest of the way, I
The plane approached from the north side, I can tell
After getting off from the plane, it was something. I felt that this is a really the end of a chapter. It's always the same routine that I look back on the plane as I was going up the stairs.
I began walking hallway toward immigration, getting down the stairway with "Okaerinasai" getting a stamp and
Arrived at Narita, my 20 years of life in the U.S. is over now.
Welcome back, finally.
I walked up to a Kuroneko Yamato counter to leave one of my bag which I can ship to home. Bought a ticket to Nagoya, and went downstairs to get on Narita Express 30 at 2:40pm Leaving Narita Airpot at 2:44pm. Arriving at Shinagawa at 3:51pm.
The train moved
NEX30 at Narita Airport
Moving to Tokyo from Narita
I had an errand to run so I met with a friend of mine at Shinagawa station to give him a batch of protein bottles as requested, had coffee together then I moved on to Akihabara, and Ueno (6:15pm) before joining a dinner at Gotanda.
Getting off at Ueno station and took a walk at Ueno Park. Under the twilight, I saw a lot of people gathered, some are for company functions. The Sakura, chrryblossum tress are in near full blooming so
The sun was almost coming down, so I took Yamanote line train to Gotanda station, looks like many of my friends are getting behind so when I arrived at the restaurant, I was the first one. (done)
Dinner with my Houston friends.
My friends showed up one by one, and I caught up with them and shared my gift from the U.S., especially from Hawaii. Almost every year, I was welcomed each time when I come back to Japan for a week long vacation. I hope the trend will continue even after I come home.
After bidding a farewell with my friends, I walked up to the platform of Gotanda and took a local train leaving at 21:57, which made it to Shinagawa station very close to the last Shinkansen train to Nagoya. I then run to a locker and took out my bags, dragged them to the platform of Shinkansen. I did not have time at the gate so I just showed my ticket to get on the last train to Nagoya, Hikari 539 left Shinagawa at 22:07, which was packed and I was standing at the isle of a non-reserved car. I was able to take a seat after the train stopping at Shizuoka at 22:56, where many people got off. The train arrived at Nagoya at 23:49.
No seat, No room available...
I then walked down to subway station and took a train leaving Nagoya at 23:57. When I arrive at Hoshigaoka after midnight, and there is no bus home availabe so I had to use a taxi, paid 1,080 Yen, stepped out from the car and walked to the house. Going to bed by 1:00am. My 20 years of journey is completed today. Tomorow is my first day back in Japan... (done)
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