After two weeks of fast and furious adventure it was finally time for Monique and I to leave the Land of the Rising Sun.
We were happy at the thought of returning to our friends and family, and our own deliciously comfy beds, but were sad that our holiday had come to a close.
But our adventure wasn’t quite as ‘closed’ as we imagined.
Leaving Japan: Don’t drop your Yen!I think it’s pretty fair to say, that after our visit to Harajuku, Monique and I did not manage our money well. By the time we left on April the 20th we were literally down to our last 1,000 JPY (combined)!
The fare from Hamamatsucho to Haneda airport (just so you know) is 480 JPY, so we had just enough. But fate decided that would be far too easy.
On our way to Hamamatsucho from the Yamanote train, trying to juggle luggage, a backpack, peak hour bustle, and coinage, Monique dropped two 100 Yen coins on the escalator – they were gone – for good.
Now Monique only had 300 Yen left which was not enough – we were somewhat stranded. After a few minutes of discussion I suggested that Monique put all of her money into the machine, and that we get off at Haneda station, and work it out from there.
It was all we could do, really.
The train to Haneda was old and somewhat rickety. We had no money left, we needed to get into Haneda airport and it was a dreary, rainy day. It was a bit of a bummer to be honest.
We arrived at Haneda and walked to the station gates. I put my ticket into the machine, walked through and waited as Monique approached the train guard, with the little coinage she had left, and tried to explain in broken Japanese and English that ‘this was all’ she had.
It took a while for the guard to understand but, let me tell you, when she did, she was not impressed. I was kind of surprised to be honest – this was the International airport train station – have they really never encountered this situation before? Has no one else ever arrived tired and poor and unsure what to do?
I’m not saying that we had the right to ride the train for free but, you know, it was 180 Yen that Monique was missing. The guard became excessively shocked and angry with us and called in, I shit you not, three other employees to ‘deal’ with her. I understand that the Japanese are big on having your shit together but, honestly, I thought it was a dick move.
Things were starting to get out of control so I asked Monique, ‘do you have any other money on you?’ She thought about it for a second and then her face lifted, ‘oh my god,’ she said, ‘I think I have five dollars in my wallet!’ ‘You better hope you do!’ I said, laughing a little.
Monique rifled through her wallet and found, thank sweet baby jesus, five dollars. She gave me the money and we explained to the now four people handling our ‘situation’ what I was doing.
I took off at full speed towards the exchange hoping that there was no minimum limit to change money. There is a minimum limit but that’s for coinage not notes. I filled in the exchange form, took my 458 JPY, and ran back to Monique to pay her 180 Yen debt.
We made it!
From Haneda to Home: the calm before the storm
Our flights back to Australia, particularly the first leg to Singapore, were awful and terrifying. We were taking a red eye and, after some time we noticed that our flight was delayed, which was nothing particularly unusual, but somewhat annoying.
Then we got on the plane and we waited. And waited. And waited. Then they started handing out the inflight menus, headphones and flight packages while we were still on the ground and I knew something was wrong. I looked out of our window at the lashing rain and realised ‘there’s probably a huge storm going on up there.’
My stomach sank and tightened at the same time. Eventually the captain informed us that we were taking off ‘despite the storm’ and that it was going to be rough. And oh lordy – was it rough.
A little bit of turbulence doesn’t bother me too much but this was the kind where, all of a sudden, your stomach is in your throat and food and drink isn’t served because the cabin crew have to be seated. Even when we could have food hot drinks were not allowed. I ordered several red wines.
On top of all this, the guy sitting next to Monique and I had the worst halitosis I have ever had the misfortune to smell. It was a difficult six hours and Monique and I spent a lot of time holding hands.
Luckily our flight from Singapore to Australia was unremarkable and we touched down at 3pm on Sunday the 21st of April, never happier to be, firmly, on Terra Firma.Customs were a breeze, although there was a marked drop in efficiency and politeness, and we sailed through arrivals to a giddy and, perhaps, slight teary reunion with our boyfriends.
It was a beautiful sunny day. Our beds were cosy and the shower was hot and refreshing. Our cats were fluffy but (of course) indifferent and the fridge was stocked with our favourite fruits and vegetables.
Adventure had come to a close but we marvelled at the experience – the courage and joy of our visit to the ever-wonderful Japan.
Next post: Japan travel advice round-up: the Holy Grail
Until next time,
Kally & Mon.
Accessing Haneda Airport
There are four ways to return to Haneda Airport when you leave Japan. These are the Tokyo Monorail, the Keikyu train line, the Keikyo Limosine Bus Service and Taxi.
A taxi to the airport is expensive so avoid it if you can.
The two easiest ways to reach Haneda would be on the Tokyo Monorail or the Keikyu train line. You can access the Monorail from Hamamatsucho station on the Yamanote line. The Keikyu airport line can be accessed at Shinagawa station on the Yamanote line or Yokohama on the Keikyu line.
The trip from the Tokyo Monorail will cost you 480 JPY and trip on the Keikyu line will cost 400 JPY.
The Keikyu Limousine Bus Service connects Tokyo and surrounding precincts (including major hotels) to Haneda airport. The cost can be anywhere between 500 – 2000 JPY.
Visit the Japan Guide website for more detailed information.
[Feature Image Credit: Monique Nielsen]
[Image Credit (1-2): Monique Nielsen]
[Image Credit (3): Japan Guide]
[Image Credit (4): Tokyo Airport]
What is the worst flight you ever had to endure?