Travelling from Melbourne to Hakuba
19.01.2011 - 20.01.2011 2 °C
Left work and we were all gathered at home soon after 2pm
Manage to chew up a lot of time stuffing around checking up phones and what may be compatible in Japan – finally 2 of our collection seem to fit the bill (CDMA 2100 3G is the only network frequency in Japan) but we will not know until we try. Using the Travel Sims again, they were economical for us all through Europe last year.
Check, check and double check we have the main items, and then head off at 4:05pm, 5 minutes behind Marko’s schedule. Even with a bit of traffic and getting petrol we were at Tulla by 4:50. As we were doing a domestic check in first, that took all of 3 minutes and we were left 2 hours to wander around the terminal. Changed some cash, had some chips, and triple checked we had everything.
A sad farewell as we said goodbye to L at the gate. We’ll be back soon! The flight to Sydney with the flying kangaroo was comfortable and uneventful. Went into the transit lounge for a long wait for the bus across to International (no Marko, it was free) which gave us a few quick moments to confirm with L we were on our way before we were called up.
We are at the back of the A330, well second last until the entertainment does not work, then we get moved back so we have got a video each. Again a comfortable flight, try to get a bit of sleep.
We land after an early breakfast, and into Japan for the first time! Narita is easy and quick to get out apart from 20 minutes in immigration. Dozens of rugged up Aussies ready to hit the slopes. Downstairs to the JR station and swap our voucher for a JR East rail pass (4 day flexi) and book through to Nagano.
We are on the N’Ex to Tokyo station, with a view on the east Tokyo suburbs. They are very different and mainly built in greys and browns. At Tokyo we have a few minutes looking for an ATM. When we find them, the 7-11 Bank rejects me, but the J Post bank is a winner. On Anne’s advice, I am keeping the cash reserves up high, as the ATM’s are hit and miss as to whether they will shell out.
Onto the station to meet our Shinkansen – the Asama 513 to Nagano. To G’s disappointment it is not a platypus, but he gets over this quickly. There is plenty of room in the carriage, and the seats are comfy. Not unusually, we leave right on time and the early part of the journey is moderately slow until we get outside Tokyo suburbs. As soon as that is behind us, the driver opens up and the scenery whizzes past at a huge rate. Seats are spacious and comfortable, they recline and can even be spun round so you can have groups facing each other. Soon we reach Nagano- it is snowing!! I follow some instructions off the net to go to bus stop 6 to get the Hakuba bus. At stop 6 there is no sign that mentions Hakuba, so I check all the other bus stops, no mention there either, they all seem to be local connections. So we head in and ask at JR car rentals, and the kind man directs us to the other side of the station. So if you are heading to the ski fields of Hakuba, Shiga Kogen, Myoko Kogen, go to the East side of the station. We have a fair wait, but we meet a local origami teacher who gives G a paper crane!
The bus trip is mostly uneventful, that is we fell asleep – me because I was tired and G because I drugged him for travel sickness, expecting a windy drive over the hills which never eventuated – its lots of tunnels cutting through the mountains. Out of the bus at Hakuba Happo, we go into tourist info who call up our hotel to come and pick us up – just as well, because the snow has started to bucket down.