Day 1, Chicago to Ho Chi Minh City

So other than getting a bad cold two weeks before the trip I was pretty much on the mend, through the running nose and hacking stage but then . . . nose bleed problems.

Two trips to the clinic and one to urgent care, over a week period, still produced no good solution. Dry air they said . . . use petroleum jelly to coat the inside of my nose!  Didn’t get that advice until after three nights of bleeding in bed. My nose started gushing each night about 3:00am and by the time I woke up from the event, the pillows and sheets looked like a murder scene. BUT . . . the p-jelly coating seemed to work and I was ‘flow free’ the last two night before the flight.


Oh they had the ‘nose kit’ ready when I went to urgent care but no cauterizing of nose blood vessels took place.


With my cold and nose problems hopefully under control the next issue was the weather. Rain, snow and sleet predicted for MSN and ORD, the day before, and during my departures. emJay was able to take me to the bus stop and soon I was on the way to O’Hare. No delays. Did I mention she is ‘so nice” . . .can’t wait until she retires in a couple of years an we can do all these things together!!!


I went down the night before my flight , to hopefully avoid any local travel issues and had a nice nights sleep, as it continued to snow outside. Lots of ‘white real estate’ in my bed. Hopefully no nose bleeds . . . and there were none. Now I just got to get my nose through the 23 hours of flight time.


Anticipating TSA staffing issues at the airport due to the government shutdown, I got to the airport three hours early rather than the recommend two hours. No problem. It took 15 minutes to get through the JAL airline checkin process, mainly because of all the ‘packages’ visitors from the US were taking back home. A surprising number of what looked like TV’s from Walmart!!!

Then it was on to TSA security where there we only about 15 people in front of me and I was through the process in 10 minutes!!! Easy, Peasy!!! I thanked each of the staff who assisted me through the process for showing up for work during the slowdown. Might have something to do with the good old fashion ‘work ethic’ so common in the Midwest.

The concourses we’re we’re basically empty. Funny considering the hotel was full of people whose flights had been cancelled. Most were flying domestically.


So . . . at this point I had some time to work on this, as I looked out the window watching the ‘de-icing’ process of our JAL airship that will carry me to Narita, Japan and then onto Ho Chi Minh city. More to come!!!

Oh and there was more to come . . . after ferrying out to the run way, the airport was closed for several hours. Our captain had the choice of sitting out on the runaway or returning the jet to the concourse , which is what he decided to do

The door of the jet was opened and folks were allowed to get out and mill around the waiting area. After an hour and a half it was time to refuel the plane. So were told to unbuckle our seats belts in case there ended up being a fire!  After that we needed to be de-iced one more time and them it was time to load everyone up and head for the tarmac again. We finally lifted off 4 hours after our schedule departure which of course made the 12 hour flight even longer!!!


Our route . . .


. . . would take us right over Watertown and Fond du lac, emJay’s ancestral homes. She had been up in Kolher for a meeting and was driving back to Madison about the time we flew over. I looked down and thought I saw her driving on Hwy 41!!!!


. . . finally we were touching down in Tokyo . . .


. . . all in all my Gamin watch told me it had been a stress free day . . . got to stay in the frame of mind!!!


Japan Airline (JAL) has there act together. When we landed at Narita, they had a sign at the end of the concourse with the names of the 50 or so of us who had missed our connecting flights because of the delay. Dashi walked up to me, to ask me my name, and went and got my ‘dossier’ that had: my lodging voucher, dinner and breakfast vouchers (all paid for my JAL), my rescheduled flight info for the next day on Vietnam Airlines and a map on where to catch the shuttle bus  to the Nikko Hotel located adjacent the airport.


I went to station 33, there was the bus and 10 minutes later . . .


We pulled up to the Nikko . . .


which had very festive lighting!!!


I checked in at reception and went right dinner, had a nice Japanese dinner with of course a nice plate of desserts. Felt I earned it after all the delays!!!


Then it was up to my room. spartan but very . . .


clean and with everything I needed for the the night . . .


. . .and my first exposure to the infamous Japanese toilet system which have heated seats  . . .


. . . and should com with a users manual!!!! I climbed into bed planning on having a full nights sleep before my 5:30 wakeup call . . . but unfortunately only slept until 2:00am and then tossed and turned for the rest of the night. A chance for a good nights sleep wasted because of jet lag!!!