I thought it would be nice to not have an early morning flight (mistake #1). Unfortunately, a supposedly relaxing morning turned out to be anything but. We left the airbnb at about 7:50am, expecting to arrive at the airport slightly before 9:00 for our 10:30 flight (mistake #2). We already tried to avoid the Yamanote line worried about the morning rush. All was well until we had to make our transfer at Nihombashi Station. When we saw that our train to Haneda Airport was full of people, we decided to wait for the next subway (mistake #3). Biggest mistake. I saw that there are trains coming up that also go to airport, so we waited patiently. Unfortunately, train after train is packed with commuters so we just hopped on the next one, which according to the time on Google maps, should be direct to the airport. Usually I would check the side of the train to see if it is the correct one but this time, I was too busy freaking out about the amount of people on the train that I neglected to look (mistake #4).
It was definitely rush hour for Tokyo and I felt it first hand. As soon as you felt that the train is at capacity, more people somehow manage to squeeze on. At one point, I was at the 75 degree angle, leaning on Aaron. At another point of the ride my hand was twisted between my backpack straps and the handle of my luggage. I thought my wrist would break. My biggest concern it not being squished but that my luggage is in people’s way and hurting people. I tried to get out of the way but it was quite impossible. Another one of my concerns that no one else on the train seems to be carrying luggages, which had me wondering if we were on the right train. Then the train was at a stop which showed Haneda Airport on the display boards on the other side of the platform. We hesitated in getting off since Google Maps said to remain on board. My concerns were not unfounded because we later realized should’ve gotten off the last station to transfer (mistake #5), so we took the train back to the previous station, which took a while, since our initial train was an express train so it travelled large distances to the next station.
Not-So-Mindful Steak Sandwich Eating
Eventually we made it to the check-in counter at 9:30am. We were the only ones there and the airline staff seemed to be anxious. After checking us in, they signalled that we should hurry up through security. Luckily the Japanese security and customs process was quick and we were able to get to the boarding gate with 2 minutes to spare before boarding. We finally sat down in our seats and tried to recover from the hectic morning. Aaron swiftly pulled out the left-over Shima take-away sandwich and started munching on it. I also took my share and started eating it while reflecting upon our journey to get here.
Terrace House Catch-Up
The plane ride itself was pretty good. We flew with China Southern and it was a very small flight with no seat-back entertainment but that was ok with me. I got time to catch up on my blog. I also had the opportunity to watch some Terrace House that I was able to download while I was in Japan.
5 hours flew by and we landed in Guangzhou. Since we had acquired a new bag with shopping we have done in Japan, we wanted to place this in storage at the airport. It was quite simple. We located the departures hall and looked for the baggage storage counter in the back of the hall on the international side. We paid our 75 RMB (~$15 CAD) for 3 days storage and we were off, with one less bag to worry about.
First impressions so far in Guangzhou is that most people spoke Mandarin here instead of Cantonese. This surprised me because you would think if there is anywhere in China where they would be speaking Cantonese, it would be in Canton itself.
We were able to get to our Airbnb location quite easily via their public metro system. Their subways were clean and easy to use like Tokyo’s. The difference is: people were not shy to voice their displeasure if our luggages was in their way or if the pushing gets too intense.
After some interrogating by and registering with the security guard at our building, we were finally able to meet up with our travel buddies once again and to put down our bags. The Airbnb was spacious but compared to our accommodations in Japan, which were sparkling clean, this one was lacking. The decor was very modern and hip, but this was all a smokescreen. There was visible mold and water damage throughout the place revealing the age of the building. We also encountered a few cockroaches throughout our stay as well.
Early Bird Gets the Worm
We were all exhausted from travelling so we just found something to eat close by. We found a restaurant called Jiu Mao Jiu (九毛九), which appeared to specialize in the hand-shredded chicken. Unfortunately they were sold out of that for the day, so instead we ordered a few other dishes. The ordering is all done via a tablet, so it was very simple. We had the green onion pancake, stir-fried noodles, pan-fried dumplings, some greens, and beef noodle soup. All the dishes were pretty good. I especially liked the stir-fried noodles, which they mixed up in front of you.
After dinner, we were pretty tired so we went home. We were aware that many website are blocked in China (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Youtube, Google – AKA everything we usually use on a daily basis), so we subscribed to a VPN service prior to coming, which we have been using throughout the trip without an issue. Unfortunately, it decides to fail when we really needed it. The SIM card that Aaron got and the wifi at our Airbnb did not work reliably with the VPN. I guess this was our chance to unplug and go to sleep.
Today hasn’t been the most smooth sailing day of our trip. Check out my companion post on Tips on Navigating the Tokyo Metro System (So You Won’t Miss Your Flight!).