Monday, August 24, 2015

How to get stuck in Japan

Before you think I'm mean for posting this, Jeff agreed that it was too good of a story not to share.

Japanese people love their paperwork.  There was a ton of documents to organized after we had Wren and another huge pile to get a passport for her.  It's not surprising that there was another huge pile to leave the country.  Jeff and I had a deal that I'd organize everything and make sure it was easy to pack and we had the necessary gear for the baby if he took care of the paperwork.

When you travel with an infant, the amount of luggage you find yourself traveling with is HUGE.  We needed to take what ever we would need to get us through about three weeks in Boise before the rest of our stuff in Japan gets delivered.  We of course could buy stuff once we got here but it seemed silly to buy stuff we already had so we had a lot of luggage (A total of 10 bags.  One checked bag for me, one checked bag for Jeff, one checked bag of baby blankets and bedding, one checked box containing a small bassinet, a carry on bag with the laptops, a carry on bag full of Wren's clothes and extra diapers (you need a lot of diapers on a 24 hour travel day), the diaper bag, a small cooler with milk for the baby in it, and Jeff and I each had a small backpack with stuff to survive the flight.)  Oh yeah, and a stroller and a car seat with a baby in it.

So, there we are with our small mountain of luggage trying to check into the flight when Jeff turns to me and looks like he is going to through up.  When I asked what was wrong he explained that he didn't have Wren's passport.  He said he was about 99% sure it was still in the printer that the shippers packed up 2 days earlier, which was in a box on it's way to Boise somewhere...

We stepped out of line (with our heaps of luggage) and Jeff started making calls.  I couldn't help since my phone was deactivated for Japan 2 days earlier.  It was about 6:30 at night so getting a hold of people was difficult.  It became clear really quickly that we were not getting on the flight we had tickets for so we got that canceled. 

The next step was making sure we were not sleeping in the Airport.  This was a reasonable concern.  The next day was the Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and most of the hotels in the area were booked.  We knew that Micron was having problems finding problems for people who were in town that week and several had to travel long distances to get hotel rooms.  Fortunately my Japanese teacher Ito-san had come to the airport to wish us save travels and say goodbye and she was able to make a couple of calls and get us a hotel right near the airport. 

By about 9:00 we were able to get to the hotel and check in.  Fortunately they still had room service available since all the restaurants had closed.  We had some food as Jeff continued to make calls late in to the night.  Our shipment was in Tokyo and it looked like our most realistic option to get home was to go to Osaka the next day and go to the embassy to get an emergency passport and then fly out of Osaka.  This meant taking a taxi (30 min) to the train station and taking the train to Osaka (2.5 hours with one transfer) and then another taxi to the embassy (30 min) all with a ton of luggage and a baby.  Things were looking pretty bad so we were trying to go through luggage to see what we could ditch at the hotel so we could actually get through the train stations.  Around midnight we gave up and went to bed but I don't think either of us slept much.

First thing in the morning Jeff was back on the phone talking to the embassy.  Things were looking better.  We could get an emergency passport in the same day if we could get to the embassy by 3:00PM.  This was great.  We talked to the hotel and got the room for a second night, then we didn't have to haul all our luggage with us, we could just go there and back again in one long day and fly out of Hiroshima.

We had a quick breakfast and were literally on our way out the door to head to the train station when Jeff got a call back from the shipping company.  Yes, the located our shipment in Tokyo and looked in the box that Jeff had told them contained the printer and found the passport!!!  We didn't need to go to Osaka, they would overnight us the passport, YAY!!!

Since there was nothing to do at that point but wait, we took a walk.

Obon, which is the biggest holiday of the year in Japan started the following Monday.  This was making it really difficult for us to get rebooked on a flight home.  They were saying they could get us on a flight on Sunday... it was Thursday and I really didn't want to stay that long in the hotel airport with a baby.

While Jeff was looking for other flight options, the shipping people called back and said that there was a problem with overnighting the passport.  They would have to either send it slower or faster.  They said we could get it that night at 8:00PM.  Sweet!  This meant that the morning flight which was the last one with availability was possible!!!  We could get home on Friday!

Everything was looking so much better by the time we went to dinner that night.  There is actually a very nice garden right next to the airport that we checked out on our way to dinner (yes, our last dinner in Japan was at the airport since it was really the only close restaurants besides an Italian place).  I'll post pics of the garden another day.  The passport showed up as expected and we got on our flights and made it home with only one small hitch...  The baby bassinet got misplaced when we transferred in San Francisco and did not make it to Boise.  We got it the following day but Wren spent her first night in her new home sleeping in a drawer.  More on traveling with a two month old later.  This thing has gotten long enough.  Makes me stressed just re-reading what we did, haha!

It's good to be home!

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