airports, airplanes, Japan and jetlag

Eight hours in four airports and seventeen hours in three airplanes and we finally made it. After lots of packing and preparations, we drove to Denver on July 5, and got beautiful rainbow to send us off.

rainbow near limon

Because our first flight was at 7:15 a.m., we woke up the next day at 4 a.m. to catch a 5 a.m. airport shuttle — I never want to get a hotel wakeup call that early again.

wake up call

Our first flight wasn’t terribly noteworthy, but the 11 hour flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo was memorable not only because it was Ian’s longest flight, but also because we saw Alaska (and thought of our friends from and currently in Alaska!) and Japan.

flight - alaska
flight - japan
flight - japan (our first view of fuji)
Mount Fuji.

Although we only experienced Japan via the airport, I think it portrayed the country very well: ultra-polite people, clean places, and lots of technology. In fact, you can experience all of this just from their bathrooms.

the japanese toilet experience

There was quite a line in the ladies' restroom, but don't worry, they had a map outside the door so you would know exactly where you were.

japanese toilet (you are here)

Once I reached a stall, the toilet below greeted me and I grew worried I wouldn't know how to work their technologically advanced toilets.

japanese toilet

However, the Japanese were kind enough to provide an instruction sheet for their toilets with "equipment to cleansing the buttocks with warm water."

japanese toilet

Push a button for "washing the rear," another for "rear washing stopped." You can even adjust the water pressure (I wasn't brave enough to experiment with any of this). There's also a button for an adjustable flushing sound — these ultra polite people don't want to offend anyone with certain embarrassing noises. The final button provides extra deodorizing. Thankfully the flush was still a lever on the back of the toilet behind the lid.

We said sianara to Japan and mabuhay to the Philippines. We arrived at 11 p.m. July 7 and passed through a health inspection. They checked Ian's temperature since he had visited a doctor in the past 10 days (for his hepatitis A+B immunization) and they had a monitor that scanned body temperature to notify them if someone had a high fever and should be quarantined. We spent almost an hour waiting in line for our visas.

ian @ immigration

We finally got stamped and through customs and were met by Tito Nilo, Tita Gerts, and Didy. We loaded up our luggage next to a blocked off area — someone had forgotten their luggage and they were treating it like a bomb threat. A short drive later, we arrived at Tito Nilo's condo.

dwight admiring nilo's artwork

The past two days we've been relaxing as we recover from jetlag. We've been swimming at the pool here at Tito Nilo's condo, watching movies, and trying new food. As a special treat, we even went to the spa ($20 for a 75 minute traditional Filipino Hilot massage, gotta love it).


But don't get too jealous — today we're going to visit Meycauayan — where my mom grew up, and it is definitely far from a tropical resort. Stay tuned! (And we've got more photos on Flickr).