Check out time is an early 10 AM, but that's about when we need to leave, anyway. I've arranged with the kids to rendezvous at 9:30.
Another ancient taxi driver takes us to Ueno station. But we're dropped at the JR one, not the Keisei one, which is in a separate building. It takes us a little while to orientate ourselves and walk to it.
By which time we're hotter 200 hot sticks. We're all getting a bit impatient as we try to buy train tickets.
"Which terminal is it, Dad?"
"I think it was terminal 1." I'm not completely sure. But that's the last stop and I remember us getting on where the train started.
The bastard machine won't accept my credit card and we have to pay with cash. Except we're a little short on that. It's 7600 yen altogether. I have a 5000 yen note and some shrapnel.
"Do you have any money left, kids?"
“Dad. Why didn’t you hang onto enough money for the train tickets?”
“It’s my fault now, is it? I gave you some yen for exactly this reason.”
“I thought it was in case we got lost?”
“No, in case I made some terrible miscalculation. Or an understandable, small human error. Which is the case here.”
“Dad. This isn’t helping.”
Andrew has two 500 yen coins, which is handy. And Alexei has a couple of 100 yen coins. Adding up all the change we have, we scrape together just about enough. By the time we're done, Andrew looks close to collapse. I don't feel much better.
Luckily the platform has good air conditioning. We perk up a little as we wait for the train. At least we’re in no rush.
It's about an hour to the airport and the train is fast. Most of it is through Tokyo's densely-packed suburbs, where the houses are almost piled on top of one another. No-one has much in the way of a garden. Eventually we pop out into paddy fields.
Bags dumped, we head to our gate. There's a big queue at immigration. Just as well we're in plenty of time. Unlike at Seoul airport. That really was stressing me out.
We pool our last few yens and have enough to get a couple of drinks and a sandwich from a vending machine. Alexei gets to eat the sandwich. Neither me nor Andrew is feeling hungry. I’m a bit stressed up again. Had this with the last couple of flights. Pretty annoying.
I watch some Taskmaster as we wait to help me chill out.
The flight is long and uneventful, other than a slightly rocky landing.
There's a big queue for passport control, but only at the manned booths. The machine ones are quite quiet.
"Just think, kids, I won't be able to use the machines in a few months."
I hate the morons in the UK so much at the moment. Bunch of deranged lunatics. Especially the politicians.
We have a bit of a wait for our bags, but a quick taxi ride has us home by 7 PM. Dolores looks relieved to see us all back intact.
The trip must have gone quite well. Despite the frustrations of the heat and some uncomfortable bits of travelling, we returned all still talking to each other. No-one got a black eye, no-one was spat on. And no-one was arrested or deported. Or caught some horrible disease.
The kids are already talking about another trip next summer. Can’t have been that unpleasant an experience this time around. Let’s see if my bank account can stretch as far as another holiday.
Don’t be deceived by the bickering. I enjoy travelling with the kids. Though they are occasionally irritating.
They spot stuff. They carry their own luggage. They don’t get lost. They don’t get crazy drunk. They’re entertaining. Good company, too. They learn some of the language. They don’t whinge too much. They don’t mind hanging around in pubs. (Quite the opposite in Andrew’s case.)
And they keep me in check. A little. Which isn’t such a bad thing. Not going to tell the kinds that, though.
Singapore and Australia have been mentioned for next year. If I have any money left. Sponsors are welcome.
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