To Japan and Back Again (Part I)

On its trip from Korea to the United States, the Patriot Express flights make a stop in Yokota, Japan for a short layover while those going to Yokota get off and those getting on are processed. They also add more fuel for the trip across the ocean. This is usually about a two hour layover. All was going fine: we layed over, re-boarded and got on our away. About an hour into our flight, however, (and keep in mind that we’re now over the ocean) the Captain comes on the intercom and announces that they are having mechanical problems and need to return to Yokota. He goes on to say that they’re not “safety” issues but “comfort” issues and explains that all but two of the planes 8 toilets have stopped functioning. With a plane full of people and many hours to go, that can be a problem!  So, the captain said we’d be turning around and would hopefully get it fixed and get back on our way soon.

You can see our flight path. Well on the way, then turning around to go back to Japan!
You can see our flight path. Well on the way, then turning around to go back to Japan!

Well, it wasn’t a quick fix. After waiting several hours, they brought out food for us (pizza and subs…) and began making hotel and transportation arrangements which took quite a while. It’s really a bummer when you are all set to get home and see your family who you haven’t seen in a long time, and the plane turns around and heads the other direction then a short delay turns into an overnight stay.

Fortunately the airline pays for our meals and hotels when it’s their fault. We were told to form a line to get our hotel assignments then head toward the waiting buses. Not one to wait in line, I just stayed seated until the line got short. With just a couple people left I got up and got in the line. As it turns out, apparently they started assigning rooms from least expensive to more expensive which makes sense to save them money. Since I was about the last in line, I was assigned to what turned out to be what looked like a 5-star hotel! The Forest Inn was about 20 minutes from the air base and as we pulled into the driveway I saw that it was a very nice hotel, which was confirmed when we walked into the lobby. Here’s a look at the hotel they put me in:

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This is the way the room was presented. Drawers partially open (fancy) and very nice furniture.
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Inside that cabinet to the left of the desk is the refrigerator. Too nice of a room for it to be exposed!
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Big, comfy bed, of course!
In the nightstand was not only a Gideon's New Testament but The Teaching of Buddha.
In the nightstand was not only a Gideon’s New Testament but also The Teaching of Buddha.
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The drawer over the refrigerator has an assortment of teas and coffees (some that I brought home for Holly) and Noritake tea cups/saucers!
The mini-bar had complementary drinks but I went with water.
The mini-bar had complementary drinks but I went with water.
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The bathroom was even well appointed with everything one might need…
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The closet had, in addition to a brush and towel to polish shoes, clothes freshener and slippers to use and take home! (yep, I did!)
You could adjust the bath/shower by the temperature, not just by feel...
You could adjust the bath/shower by the temperature, not just by feel…of course, it’s celsius…
I didn't use this! Well... I used it, I just did take advantage of all of the features. ;)
I didn’t use this! Well… I used it, I just did take advantage of all of the features.

So as you can see, they put me up in a very nice hotel which allowed me to relax some after a hectic day. Before turning in, however, I went for a walk up to 7-11. It’s not that 7-11 is all that spectacular (though I’ve heard the thousands of them in Japan are much better than the ones in the U.S.) but it was the only place nearby to get a snack. It was beginning to rain so the the hotel clerk let me use an umbrella. On my walk, I found it very funny to see so many people riding their bikes in the rain-holding an umbrella! I don’t think I’ve seen that anywhere else that I’ve been.

There were a few other interesting sites on my way, though the darkness and the rain prevented me from getting good pictures, but here they are anyway:

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This appears to be some sort of memorial next to a map of the surrounding area
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It seems like there’s a Harley-Davidson shop just about anywhere I go!
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There were charging stations for electric cars in the hotel parking lot.
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After about a ten-minute walk, I got to the 7-11. The outside looks pretty much the same as any other.
The inside, though, had things you won't find a U.S. 7-11!
The inside, though, had things you won’t find in a U.S. 7-11!
I was hoping this was cow milk...
I was hoping this was cow milk…
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Those French Bread rolls were yummy, and came with butter inside!

After my walk and roll, it was getting late so I tried to get some sleep. The bus was going to be there at 0600 to pick us up so I had to get up at 0500 to be ready. Not much of a full night’s sleep, but I got to relax a bit anyway.

The next day began with a breakfast that was, how should I put it? Anything but optimal, but the events of the next day I’ll save for To Japan and Back Again (Part II)!

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