Over five years since the last post and a lot has happened – many holidays took place and quite a few did not.  Hardly surprising given the intervention of a pandemic and the consequent disruption to holiday plans.

Long ago in 2020 we booked this trip.  Initially to commence in April to see the cherry blossom and with a stop in Russia along the way.  The trip was redated to May, the Russian stop expunged in the light of the invasion of Ukraine and another day shaved off the schedule to satisfy the timetable of the ship’s later cruises.

As we are sailing from Yokohama we have to first get to Japan.  Once at Heathrow it is to JAL for check in!  As a traveller in front has a lot of luggage we get redirected to the first class check in, but regrettably not the first class cabin.  Security does not take long and we had for the Qantas Lounge.  The quality of the snacks is lacking so we decide to visit the Cathay Pacific lounge.  Champagne and samosas gets us off to a good start!

90 minutes to kill is enlivened by an advert for a play at the Donmar Warehouse and after a brief discussion we also book Corrigans for dinner.  Waiting time at airports is obviously online shopping time.  I am relieved when our flight is announced.  We board and pull back from the stand on time.  It is about 30 minutes before we take off and start heading east.  It soon turns dark outside.

We are heading for a variety of ‘stans plus Mongolia whilst the on board system thinks we are going to overfly Russia.  Amusingly like a car sat nav it keeps showing an immediate left turn is needed to achieve the desired route whilst like me the pilot is no doubt saying that he knows he is not lost!   Once in the air I sequence a number of radio recordings and podcasts.

So having eaten dinner I have just worked out that it is really about 6am, future time.  Somehow I think it is time for some sleep.

Not enough hours later I wake, somewhere “near” Ulan Bator according to the maps, but with about four hours flying time still to go.   Looking at the map later as we fly over South Korea it is noticeable that there are lots of small turns as we are presumably following a more tightly defined route and not simply taking a route akin to a great circle.  Just past Seoul we turn left and then right again.

I stopped the podcasts but on restarting then realise I am half listening half sleeping through the last item I had sequenced and realised that I have missed large chunks of the various podcasts.

About 40 minutes before landing I manage to destroy the calm as I have lost my passport which I thought was in my jacket but it was in the zip pocket on back pack, but not before absolute panic descends as the JAL 777-300 also commences downwards.

Passport found in zip pocket of backpack and calm returns.  In less than an hour from touchdown we are waiting departure in our coach.  Much of the coach ride is in tunnel as we head from Haneda to Shinjuku Hilton.

Check in, order room service burger and then some sleep.