After the accident debacle, as I mentioned before... I was planning for my India trip which was on 14th. The day was here. I was all set to go to the airport to catch my flight to India. I was anxiously waiting for this day. I wanted so much to
be with my parents on their 60th wedding anniversary. WOW!! 60 years!!
I prepared everything. Bought everything on the list and packed it in such a way so all the stuff can be included in it somehow. Almost every week ever since I bought the ticket,
I was checking to make sure I have all in place. Finally the day arrived.
My daughter took half a day off from her work to take me to the airport. We were about to get to the car with all the stuff.
Just before locking the door while
dragging the big suitcase she asks me….”Mom, do you have everything?…Passport, money, ticket and Visa?” I immediately answered…"of course I have been checking every week…let me just recheck it".
my bag…what she asked suddenly got into my brain…Passport, money, ticket and Visa….HUH!!!??? WHAT??? WHAT visa???
That is when, I realized, I never checked for Visa. Then I remembered I took a 10-year Visa a few years back.
So Visa stamp should be on my old passport. Immediately I started digging into boxes to get the old passport. Finally I checked and my Visa just expired in July of 2013. Well I guess it wasn’t just a few years back then. It expired and I never bothered
to think I needed that.
Recently when we went to Japan I didn’t need it. So it never occurred to me I needed one for India ☹ ( I only go there every other year for the past 36 years Ke Ke Ke!!!)
My flight was at 3:45 PM and we
were planning to leave at 12:15 ish…that was when the whole fiasco started. We were on the phone trying to talk to people at immigration, airlines etc. for the next 45 minutes.
The Indian embassy immigration guy (the voice sounded like
it could have been a gal too) said…”you just need to come to San Francisco right now and get the Visa and then you can leave to catch that flight”. FUNNY huh? Okay…I just thanked him/her and hung up. Now what?
suggested, “Okay let us just go to the airport and talk to the people there. Since you only have 2 hrs and 40 minutes left you have nothing to lose. So let us go”. I was in a daze while she was driving. We reached the airport around 1:25 PM.
Spoke to the Singapore airlines people. They were extremely nice. They said as far as going to India, I must have VISA. If I don’t then I will be stuck in the airport there.
Once again as per my daughter’s suggestion, since I already
have the ticket and took the days off, at least go to Singapore, tour around, site see and enjoy the vacation and come back on the day I am suppose to come back.
Airlines person said…’I
am so sorry, unfortunately you can’t use the same ticket to come back to LA since it was a sequential ticket. Ayyayayyayay!!! What a situation.
So finally we decided, I go to Singapore and my daughter will book another ticket to come back
to LA by mailing the Confirmation email to me.
Great!! To make a long story short…( sorry it is already long!!) the plan now is to go to Singapore by 16th, tour around and leave for Japan on 19th site see there and come back home on 22nd instead
of 23rd as originally planned.
Some how I got through the security with my carry on, since I asked my daughter to take the big suitcase back. No reason for me to carry that along when all it had was gifts.
By the time I passed through security
and walked through, to get to the gate, People were already boarding.
Finally...for now...I reached Singapore around 2am on 16th. Did not have a single shut eye since the time I boarded the plane.
Now comes the other fun part.
The next chapter
is about how I got stuck in the airport for 30 + hrs.
Got Stuck in the airport
That is correct…I was in the airport for 30 + hrs. From 2 AM on 16th through 1 PM on 17th. So what was happening during these hours you ask…I will tell you…
Could not leave the airport
since I did not have the return ticket yet. My daughter purchased the ticket and tried to send the confirmation email to my email. Unfortunately my phone did not work.
I had to go back and forth to the Internet café inside the airport to
read my emails. I went to the airlines counter and asked them if they can check to see the confirmation. They said, I need to have a confirmation email with number! I asked them if there is a way to print out my emails from the Internet café. They
said ‘no’! I had to go to the transit hotel to ask them if I can send my emails to them so they can print it for me. They said ok. So, I had to go back to the Internet café again to redirect my emails to the hotel desk so they can print
out 2 pages from each email a total of 6 pages. (3 e-mails- 1 for ticket, 1 for hotel booking outside the airport in Singapore and one for hotel in Japan).
HOWEVER, when they started printing, 6 pages became 81 pages with 2 lines on each page…sheesh
can life get any funnier!!
(At that point I wasn’t sure whether I should scream, shout, laugh or cry) Well I decided to laugh out loud and the receptionist started laughing too. That made me relax for a few minutes.
Finally on 17th
around 1PM I went through the immigration and got out of the airport. My beautiful daughter booked a 5 star hotel for me!! I started to yell at her as to why she did that. She yelled back at me and said "Mom, just relax and have fun. I am the one who bought
the ticket and it is on me". Little did she know what is waiting for me in my immediate future while vacationing!!.
Finally I reached the hotel and decided I would just relax for that day since it was already past 2 pm by then. I went to the Concierge’s
desk and got information on what to see the next day. They gave me a list. Since I have only one day in Singapore, on 18th I planned to go visit the world’s largest Aquarium and the Asian civilization museum from the list on 18th.
I got up the
next day got ready and was so looking forward to visiting these 2 places. While getting ready I kept hearing a lot of noises and thought may be some one was moving something….so I did not give it any more thought. Just before leaving the room I opened
the curtains and nothing but rain poring down like CRAZZZZZZY with thunderstorms the whole day. That was what I heard t…h…u…n…d…e…r….It was like that all day So I obviously I couldn’t go anywhere. Just
went around the airport again. Boo hahaha …Ke ke ke!!!
beautiful are you?
The next day I left for Japan. I was so looking forward to it. I know I can be more at ease in Japan since I was just there last year.
If I may digress… I have seen a few countries and thoroughly
enjoyed visiting all. However, this one captured my soul. Japan is and always will be first on my list. My opinion has nothing to do with beautiful temples, scenic areas, cleanest hotels, amazing architecture, excellent 1st grade convenient stores, extremely
well organized railway system, to name a few.
All the credit goes to the people in Japan. This is where I say the phrase ‘people make the country’ is more appropriate. People there are the most polite, well-mannered, well focused,
extremely organized and go out of their way to help others. I loved every second of it while I was there last year.
Now back to my story. I reached Japan on 19th, which was my Mom and Dad’s 60th wedding anniversary day.
the time I reached my hotel and settled down, it was around 3pm ish, so I decided to just walk around the hotel, and inquired about tourist spots and got information on a temple, which is a 25-minute walk from the hotel. So I made plans to go there the next
day. The receptionist was trying to explain with a really thick accent as to how to get there and I was focusing on what she was saying but not really understanding it. In the mean time there was this young British guy, who heard that and came over and explained
to me how to get there and gave me directions. The receptionist was happy that I was happy.
I walked through the little street while looking at these little shops and finally reached the temple. Guess what… it really took exactly 25 minutes!!
The temple is called Shinshoji temple. It is a Buddhist temple. It was amazing, beautiful and they had a ceremony, which reminded me of temple ceremonies in India. The chanting sounded like Aum…..”. It was peaceful and very scenic. I was there
for a couple of hours admiring the sculptures. I sort of lost in thought and all the stuff I was going through for the past few day not to mention since my CC incident, all of that did not even matter any more.
It was time for me to get back to
the hotel. It should be simple enough. Just walk back the way I came right? NOOOOOOOOPE ☹…
I was trying to find my way back. I saw a large store, which looked like a fancy bakery. I went in to ask for directions. As soon as I stepped
in 4 young ladies immediately came to me, formed a line, bowed towards me and started to say something in Japanese.
I was a bit baffled right at that moment. Are they thinking I am some sort of a ‘Princess’!! Oh…all right…okay…’Queen’.
I think I have already passed the princess stage!
Then I thought, may be there is some one behind me? I looked behind but there was no one! So I started to bow too. Ha! ha! ha! Then I realized based on what they said they were greeting me as a
customer. Well so much for my convoluted imagination thinking I was ‘A princess’!! Sorry… ‘A Queen’!!!
[Based on my parent’s comments, I am still a princess in their eyes….so there!!!] Okay, enough
of my self admiration!
I started to tell them that I was lost and need to go to my hotel. I gave them the name of the hotel. They talked amongst themselves to figure out what I said and became so excited to help me.
One lady started
to explain in Japanese and a few words of English. I couldn’t understand and showed my blank face with a puzzled look. Second lady jumped in started to explain a bit differently, I still showed my blank face but with a smile.
lady immediately said…”aaah…" and signaled me to wait, and then went to an older lady and explained my situation to her, and brought her to me. As soon as I saw her I knew she would probably know how to explain in English.
comes and bows to me. I reciprocated and explained again in English and she was so enthused (that made me think these people are so special not like any others I have encountered) and immediately goes to one counter and gets me a card with a street map and
in her own accent she shows me where I am on the map and how to get to the hotel. It would take another 15 minutes to walk.
I thanked them all from the bottom of my heart saying 'arigato guzaimassu' to each one of them. Started to leave and once
again they bowed standing in a straight line. I bowed even more and left with a happy heart.
I kept the card that lady gave me. I will keep it with me forever with fond memories.
While walking I spoke to another lady on the way. She
was an owner of one of the shops. She smiled at me and said something. I didn’t know what. It is funny because we both did not know what the other person was saying but our faces were all full of ‘smiles’. People like that make our world
a better place to live.
Finally I reached my hotel relaxed and had coffee. Then went to the receptionist desk to get information about next day’s agenda, which is 21st, the only day left before I leave for LA on 22nd.
story is not done yet. I have one more day left. You probably are guessing what might have happened...right?
On 21st, I wanted to go to ‘Asakusa’. There are so many places to see there. Especially a shopping street called ‘Nakamise’
where you will find traditional Japanese stuff such as kimonos, and interesting souvenirs, etc… It is near another beautiful Budhist temple called Sensoji. Sensoji is the oldest temple there in Tokyo. When we went last year we visited that place and
I really liked it. The lantern of that temple is used as their landmark in that town. The gate to that temple is called ‘Kaminari-Mon’. This is also written on that huge lantern. Guess what…OoooooHoooo we are getting to that fun part where
you have read in my writing before.
So I got all my plans in place for the next day. Got ready.
By the way, remember I was mentioning about the lantern and what it has on it? It reads “Kaminari-mon”. There is a meaning to that
phrase and it played its part on that day.
All right already, don’t go google it now. I will tell you what it means. It means “Thunder Gate”!! I opened the curtain and saw Crazy …windy… rainy… unbelievable weather.
That is correct. Hmmmm!!!!
Any way, I decided to go at that point and I sort of did not care. I was about to step outside the hotel, receptionist runs towards me with an umbrella. I thought that was so sweet. I thanked her and looking at the umbrella
That is when I heard the receptionist say “Oh Oh….”.
I looked at her and she was looking out side. So I followed my gaze towards where she was looking at. Then, you wouldn’t believe what I saw.
A lady walking with an umbrella that was all curled upside down and drenched in water.
Then I quietly gave the umbrella back to the receptionist and said, “No thanks I will just sit in my room and watch Japanese shows. ☹
left for home on 22nd morning. I must say it was an adventure or should I say “a missed adventure” …which I will remember forever.
Thank you all for patiently reading my story. Although as it was happening (most of it anyway...) it
might have been frustrating. But now looking back at it it was not that bad. I have collected some interesting memories to keep. Don't you think?