So, I guess I should have figured that there would be a problem. I’m usually pretty smart about time limits and whatnot, but for some reason, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I got to the airport super-early, like 3 hours before my flight would leave. It wasn’t necessary, at least, I didn’t think so. I went to the check-in counter and got my luggage set up. I had two big suitcases to check and I knew the airline had a limit of 20 kg total for all checked luggage. Mine was 24kg over that limit. I knew I’d have a hefty chunk of change to pay, but I was prepared for it. There was no other way to get around it. When I got to the counter, the lady told me that I would have to pay extra and I told her it was ok. Suddenly, another woman came over and asked if I was flying back to America. I told her that I would the next week, but that this time, I was going to Cairo. She asked if I already had my ticket to the States and I showed her my itinerary. With a quick glance and a few taps on the keyboard, she said that I was “ok” and wouldn’t have to pay the extra money. I looked at her in amazement. Was it really that easy? Did I get to check all that luggage for free just because I am an American. It couldn’t be! but it was. They put me under the “piece” plan which is just for Americans. Sooooo nice!
I went to get some dinner, which I couldn’t really eat because my stomach was all tied up in knots with anticipation. I get this crazy ball of nervousness mixed with excitedness inside, and I can feel the energy of it shooting down into my toes and fingertips. I love air travel.
When I finally headed out to go through immigration, I met my doom. My visa to Japan had expired the previous day. I thought this would be ok. Not a big deal, right? I was leaving, after all, not to return for at least a year, I believe. Nope, there was a problem. Just that one measely day forced me to dish out 4000Y (~$40), fill out 5 pages of paperwork for an extension on my visa, and to wait until just 10 minutes before my gate would close to board. It was crazy, and I thought a bad omen for the next 15 hours of travel.
I did get my visa extended and my exit stamp in my passport, and I did make it onto my plane. I was seated next to a very sweet Japanese lady named Akiko. She was super-cute and we had a nice chat in very, very broken English, and very broken Japanese. She was from Kumamoto and visiting Korea for the weekend. She is studying Korean and was a nice companion for the 1.25 hour flight to Seoul. We parted ways and I went to board my flight to Dubai. No problems there. I got on at the right time and found my seat. The guy seated next to me didn’t speak English, and was Korean, so I didn’t get to/have to chat with him. I was kind of glad for that.
When I got to Dubai, I found a pastry shop and a nice little table to sit at and wait for my boarding call to Cairo. My flight had arrived early, so I had a whole 4 hours to wait for the call, but that was nice. I like to sit and people watch, and Dubai is a beautiful airport! As the morning came on, brighter and brighter, people began spilling into the airport and filling the tables around me. As if by, ahem, chance, a Japanese couple sat down at my table. They were really nice, heading to Seychelles to do some scuba diving and snorkeling. They were from Tokyo. I noticed them speaking Japanese and asked them where they were from. We struck up a conversation and sat chatting for the next 1.5 hours. It was so nice. All of these people exchanged email addresses with me so that we could stay in touch. Mariko and her friend even invited me to stay with them if I’m ever in Tokyo again. So sweet!
When I got to Cairo, there wasn’t much problem. Just strange men and a lot of people trying to point me to my next stop and then expecting a tip. That’s one thing that is very hard to get used to…tipping. We do it in America, but not at all in Japan. They thrive on it here, and I have to remind myself to keep small bills on me. A lot of fun. Anywho, yesterday, I went to Saqqara and saw the step-pyramids, rode a camel, and saw a carpet-school where little kids weave and cut those beautiful wool carpets. So expensive!! Today, I’m off to see the Giza pyramids and the Sphinx! I’m sure it will be a lot of fun. Until then, masaa’il khayr!
Gah… I took a flight from Vienna, Austria to Japan. Went through four airports, so I definitely feel your pain. What are you studying in Japan?
@moolgishin – Oh, I wasn’t studying in Japan, I was teaching English there. I’m back home in Ohio now though, looking for a “real” job…so much fun! :)I left Japan and stopped in Cairo to visit some family. When I left Cairo, I had to stop through Moscow and Atlanta before finally making it home. It was so crazy!