Because we'd never been there before, we heard the food was excellent, and we got a great deal on airfare ($1504 for all five of us, total, on Japan Airlines), we went to Singapore for ten days in January. After Christmas and New Year, but before Chinese New Year, and before my classes started back up again, we took the kids out of school and just went. Well (of course), it was a fantastic trip!
Our plane is broken--a new part just arrived and they're going to install it, but we'll be here in Boston for another 5 hours. We repacked our bags to put a change of clothes and toothbrushes in another carry-on and checked our two suitcases through to Singapore. But Japan Airlines is nice; they gave us $50 food vouchers, and we are also in the Air France first class lounge eating free food there--miso soup, chocolate croissants, churros y chocolate, ham and cheese sandwiches, and coffee for Robert. Then we are obviously going to miss our connection to Singapore so will stay in Japan for a day for free. I'm pretty sure we did this before, same hotel, same buffet, when our plane to Thailand was overbooked five years ago. We're not complaining--it wasn't our plan, but we're on vacation, and lounges and free Japanese stuff are also good. The kids are eating ramen now, and in an hour or so well head out to the play area in the rest of the airport and then use our food credit before going back to the gate.
Now Marcus is reading Call of the Wild on the kindle and Samanthais using one of those "learn to draw" books and Robert and Helen are off on some sort of expedition in search of something in the airport... We don't have anywhere particular to be, and I just emailed our Singapore hotel that we won't be there until the next night, so it's fine. Also, Japan Air is nice to babies--they put us at the front of a huge line to rebook and gave us vouchers for her even though she's an infant in arms, and they always give diapers on the plane too, and baby/kid toys, and a "baby meal" including that rare and precious commodity, a banana. I checked out a Mamava nursing/pumping pod in the airport, and we had a solidly awful meal (at least it was free) at an airport restauant.
We got to Japan about two hours ago! Got off the plane, cleared customs, took a shuttle bus to our hotel, and just wrapped up dinner at the buffet--Hotel Nikko Narita. Going to head up to our room now. Helen’s sleeping on my in the wrap and the big kids are sleepy, so I think everyone will be asleep by 11pm local time, which should be good for getting adjusted!
Everyone loved our tatami mat room. In particular I love the flexibility of the four futons and open space WAY more than the traditional American two queen bed hotel room.
Helen and I slept until 4am, at which point we were up and well rested so I got dressed and took her to the lobby to wander around and not disturb the big kids. Robert didn't seem to sleep at all. The big kids are still sleeping--will let them go as long as they can as Singapore is one hour behind us (so I only made it to 3am Singapore time, but if they sleep until 6-8 am they'll be totally good for being on Singapore time tomorrow). We leave at 6pm tonight, so another 12.5 hours from now. Starving now and about to go to breakfast--I dearly love Japanese breakfasts. Ah, mackerel, miso soup, and rice in the morning!
The free hotel is a hit. Robert instructed them in how to reconfigure their wifi (they pretended to be profusely grateful for this free advice), and we all liked interacting with the hotel robot--except for Helen, who was completely freaked out when the robot started talking to us in English (I think it detects what language you're speaking to each other and matches that, because it was greeting other people in Japanese). Also, Samantha loves that at buffets here the miso soup is always plain and the "stuff" is on the side for you to add, or not, to taste as you wish. She is anti-"stuff" in miso soup.
I had forgotten that Japan is the land of heated toilet seats (amazing) but also toilets that I need to read the directions before sitting down on (a big drag), lest I get a surprise...yesterday at the airport I couldn't figure out how to turn off the hair-dryer like hot air which blew at Samantha the whole time. Today in the bathroom in the hotel lobby I just could not figure out the flush. Through trial and error I got water from multiple angles, air (cool and hot) ditto, heated seats of varying temps, and finally, through some unreproducible combination of buttons, a flush.
After breakfast we took an Uber to this historical village about 25 minutes from the hotel, in the countryside of Chiba Prefecture, set up to show you what life was like in the 1700s and 1800s. There we found a school trip of fourth graders who had a couple words of English and a lot of curiosity about Marcus. One of their teachers had more English and he and the kids he was supervising played 19th century games with Marcus (top wars, ring toss, stilts, etc) for about 45 minutes of focused attention--to each other and to the physics of the tops and the angle of the ring toss, etc). It was cute how curious the kids were about each other (same age, grade, size). Robert took Helen and Samantha off to see an orchard or something so Marcus was in great form too--"interested only-child mode," rather than "obnoxious big brother mode."
Elsewhere in the village we toasted rice cakes over an open flame while counting to five in Japanese, and sewed little traditional Japanese books. It was chilly (40 or 45) but warmer than it had been in Boston!
Back to the hotel via shuttle bus, and then we went to the airport, where we used their lovely bathrooms, participated in a free kimono-dress-up activity to "experience Japanese culture," ate surprisingly good sushi and donburi at Bowl Bowl upstairs, and played in the little playground before hopping on our connecting flight.
The kimono activity was, of course, not something they cut corners on. Every layer of the outfit was represented, and at one point Samantha had three very serious workers dressing her.
As Helen was soundly asleep on me, I opted out, and just watched and snapped pictures rather than disturb my baby.
On to Singapore!
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Created: 1/22/18. Last Modified: 1/22/18.