One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Won at Busan Immigration

All Air Busan BX 123 passengers were already standing in cabin aisle to prepare to get off the plane. After one of flight attendants coordinated with ground staffs, finally an aerobridge perfectly sticked in the fuselage and the door was safe to open. Not long , then I followed the lead of passenger line to get out of the cabin.

Throughout the aerobridge, my worries weren’t as bad as when I entered Narita International Airport a few days ago. “I’ve been to entering Japan several days ago, It isn’t possible if I can’t enter Korea,” I thought to calm myself. I continued to steadily walk through corridor after corridor at arrival hall of Gimhae International Airport Terminal 1. Continued following signboards to immigration counter. After finding it, I immediately stucked to back end of one of the queue lines. I still look relaxed and full of smiles. And didn’t think that the drama had just started

I took the leftmost queue, tourists from China seemed to dominate in front. They looked very smooth going through immigration staff. “Looks like this will be easy”, I finally came to a conclusion. I was now at the head of queue, waiting for a female Chinese tourist to finish her process at counter. The bespectacled male officer quickly approved one by one Chinese tourists from earlier.

“Neexxxttt”….He called out with his eyes still staring at computer screen

Immigration Officer : “Have you been to South Korea before?”

Me : “Not yet Sir, this is the first time”

Immigration : “Where did you visit before South Korea?”

Me : “Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan, Sir”

He started suspiciously watching me.

Immigration : “Which other countries have you visited?”, he handed me a paper and pen for me to write

I started writing one by one until I copied eleven names of countries I had been to.

But his reaction was so unexpected, he just shook his head. I didn’t lose the initiative when he behaved like that. From inside my backpack, I took out my old passport which had one of its covers cut off, “You can check it out here, Sir”.

Immigration: “I don’t need this”, he pushed my old passport with his index finger at me as a sign he didn’t want to see it

Damn…..“Dag dig dug”, my heart started beating above its usual rhythm.

Immigration : ”Please take out your wallet!”

That short snapping made me automatically crouch with my hands rummaging through all contents of my backpack with an added panic. I got my wallet in a few moments, indeed I put my wallet in the innermost part to be safe.

I started to stand up and handed over my worn out wallet….Hmmhhh, a wallet with peeling leather upholstery on some ends. Made me helpless. The immigration officer began to open my wallet and counted each sheet in it. He shook his head when he only found 120,000 Won notes.

He started to stand up and walked out of immigration counter box and started to close the queue with a standing barrier and hung the words “CLOSE” in the middle. All tourists who queued behind me were asked by him to move to a counter next to him. Every tourist regularly moved while sadly looking at my misfortune, some looked astonished and curious.

“Wow,” my voice began to wry.

The immigration officer immediately stepped back into the counter and put my wallet in front of him. He started to stare at me intently.

Immigration : “Do you bring an ATM?”

Me: “No, Sir”…. My mind refuted, “Isn’t it that I already have a Visa, why bother?”

Immigration : “Credit Card?”

Me: “No, Sir”….My mind was muttering again, “Isn’t it important that I have enough money to travel in Korea?”

Immigration : “ID Card?”

Me: “No, Sir”….I thought back to fight, “Isn’t the ID Card for tourists a passport?”

Immigration : Browsing firmly with red face, “Aiissshhhh….No ATM….No Credit Card….No ID Card….You only have a small amount of money…. You can’t stay in Korea”

“Ouch, Deportation”, I thought to myself instantly.

Immigration : “What do you do in your country?”

Me: “Marketing”

Immigration : “Show your business card!”

Me: “I don’t bring it, Sir”

Immigration : ” Aiissshhhh …”

He started rubbing his forehead and eyes, not believing he had met a tourist like me. Now he had closed my passport. He stood back up and called his friend. Quickly his friend came over and started talking seriously leaving me on the verge of being deported.

I didn’t know what they’re talking about, it was definitely about me. I noticed he kept shaking his head and his friends occasionally looked at me like a suspect….Aahhh, this situation was really uncomfortable and made me nervous. But I tried my best to put on a calm face. I even prepared to clarify before he decided anything.

OK, he had finished his dialogue with his friend and sat back at the immigration counter. Before he uttered a word, I began to make a final plea. No matter what the result….

Me : “ I have a return ticket, Air Asia 5th January, from Incheon to Jakarta. I will stay at Kimchee Guesthouse Busan and Kimchee Guesthouse Seoul….these are my itinerary and my budgeting during in Korea.”

The immigration officer was angry and put a finger to his mouth… “Shhhhhhh”, a sign he was asking me not to babble too much in front of him. But the good thing was that he was willing to read my itinerary and budgeting sheet.

Me : ”Please Sir, I am just a backpacker…..just for sightseeing Korea this time….No more….Please…..I will go home….Believe me!”, I begged begging.

The immigration officer looked back at me, this time he really looked me in the eye, maybe he was testing my honesty. He seemed to be starting to feel pity. He started flipping through each page of my new passport and my old passport which a second ago he pulled from in front of me.

Immigration : ”OK, You can….You can….But promise me to return to your country!…. Or you’re in big trouble”

Knock….The arrival stamp was clearly affixed on my passport….Oh, what a beautiful moment that was.

I was very relieved

This was a valuable lesson that in the future I would become a backpacker who was more detailed and prepared things very well. After that incident, I always carried a business card, ID card, credit card (even though its limit was small) and an ATM (even though the values were minimal) every time I traveled to another country.

Thanks to good preparation, I was greatly helped by the existence of that cards when facing similar random checking at Woodlands Checkpoint in Singapore seven months after this incident.

The incident was over, I stepped out of immigration counter triumphantly.

Welcome Busan, Welcome South Korea!

Peach Aviation MM6320 from Tokyo to Osaka: 15th Airline

My departure time for East Asia Tour Volume-2 was only a day away. There was still one stage of my itinerary which was still scattered and unfinished, i.e the deadlock of my transfer mechanism from Tokyo to Osaka. Three months ago, I wasted a cheap bus ticket from Tokyo to Osaka for 5,700 Yen just because I kept thinking and looking for other options. Some time later when the weekend came, the price of bus fare increased to 9,700 Yen. While the Shinkansen ticket price reached 14,000 Yen.

It mean that apart from the bus, the Shinkansen was also impossible for me to choose. The bullet train was too expensive for my pocket. Inevitably, I have to go back to rummaging through information about Japanese transportation.

I started tracking how many commercial airlines which Land of Rising Sun owned. Previously, I had booked one of their airlines to move from Kaohsiung (Taiwan) to Tokyo, that airline was Vanilla Air. But this airline in fact set a fairly expensive price for Tokyo to Osaka route, around 10,130 Yen.

From my persistence in exploring cyberspace, my mouse touch found another LCC (Low Cost Carrier) airline belonging to Japan, namely Peach Aviation. The airline’s attributes rely on a combination of orange and pink colors, forming a pale orange color known as peach. I started looking for a route. Finally I found Tokyo-Osaka route for 7,150 Yen, a slightly cheaper price than taking the bus, Shinkansen or Vanilla Air.


Preparing for take-off with Peach Aviation MM6320.

The incident of delay and accidentally drinking alcohol became a bad memory before I left Tokyo. However, I started to smile when my flight number was mentioned in airport announcement. I started queuing in line. I began to imagine the beauty of Osaka Castle in every second of my queue. Until I arrived, my boarding pass and passport were checked by a female ground staff who was very young.

“I’m sorry, this is not your flight. Your flight will be depart 30 minutes later”.

“Are you sure?”, I half asked.

“Yes, sir. This flight is MM320 and your flight is MM6320, almost similar”.

“Oh God, I’m sorry. This is my wrong”, I slapped my forehead while trying to hide my embarrassment.

I stepped back from the queue and sat in one of empty rows of seats that had been left by prospective passengers to enter the plane. I was still watching the queue until the last person entered the plane. Now I was back waiting….

30 minutes later…..

Unmistakably, this was my flight, I made sure flight number information on the LCD screen was correct, then I matched it with the same number in my boarding pass….Yup, this was MM6320. I immediately entered the queue. Then at the queue gate, I gave my boarding pass and passport to be checked by one of ground staff. Finally, I was allowed to enter the plane.

The cabin dominance with a peach color made the room so cheerful, slightly reducing my fatigue in struggling with delays. Every cabin crew was so quick to help passengers put their luggage into luggage compartment. Several times, a flight attendant didn’t hesitate to take off her shoes and stood into a chair edge to push some large luggage and tidy it up in luggage compartment.

After preparation, Peach Aviation MM6320 began to crawl towards runway accompanied by a demonstration of flight safety procedures by cabin crew. Moments later the flight captain asked for permission to take off. Shortly after, the Airbus A320-100 sped away from Narita International Airport from Terminal 1.

The sky in Tokyo seemed to be clear that night. I didn’t feel any turbulence during 1 hour 35 minute flight. Osaka is Japan’s third largest city, 500 km in west of Tokyo. Throughout flight, most passengers prefered to close their eyes, but I still turned on the reading light because I was interested in the abundance of tourism information which contained in Peach Aviation’s inflight magazine. I took pictures one by one of that tourist information sheets, I needed it while in Osaka. Apparently my activity was noticed by a flight attendant from behind. Even at one time she came to me.

Hunting for information on board.

“Do you still reading, Sir?” .

“Yes, Ms. I need some information from this magazine”.

“Oh ok, Sir. It doesn’t matter. I just make sure”.

She smiled and sat back in her flight attendant’s seat at back. Even after that, I made sure that throughout the flight I never turned off the reading light. On 23:53 hours, flight captain started talking into his microphone to simply announce that the plane would soon be landing at Kansai International Airport Terminal 2. All passengers rushed up, got ready and tidied up every seat. The cabin crew continued to check back and forth according to safety procedures for landing process.

I still didn’t know about actual conditions down there because I was sitting in aisle seat. I was able to feel when the plane began to lower and occasionally rocked to stabilize its position. Until finally the smooth pounding of plane’s wheels informed me that Peach Aviation had touched the runway of Kansai International Airport, in Terminal 2 to be exact.

There was no welcoming aerobridge, all passengers must descend the stairs and be picked up by Narita apron shuttle bus to the terminal building.

Arriving at Kansai International Airport Terminal 2 on midnight.

That night, I decided to spend the night at Kansai International Airport Terminal 2 and would leave for downtown on the next day.

Alternatives for airline tickets from Tokyo to Osaka can be found on 12Go or the following link:

Narita International Airport Terminal 1: Alcohol….Oh, Alcohol

Narita International Airport Terminal 1 entrance

Paying 1,000 Yen to the driver with tie, receiving a receipt, ending with taking a back seat, I was now ready to explore the Higashi Kanto Expressway. This was the same street I passed by for the first time after arriving in Tokyo a few days ago.

Taking 70 kilometer asphalt road and within an hour, I felt asleep along the two prefectures passed by JR Kanto Bus, namely Tokyo and Chiba. I woke up when the bus had arrived at Narita International Airport and stopped for a while at Terminal 2 to dropping off some of its passengers. Now I was stricken with worries when the bus had passed Terminal 1. But I was trying to stay calm and go with the flow of bus.

I was lucky when I saw Terminal 1 nameboard far ahead. Yups, it turned out that my stop point hadn’t been missed.

On 4:41 p.m., I was dropped off at the drop-off zone by JR Kanto Bus driver, then rushed into one of Narita’s entrances. I was increasingly confident with the presence of Peach Aviation logo on logos board of airline which operating in Terminal 1.

“I’m at the right terminal”, I cheerfully thought.

But another challenge came, I was still five hours away from scheduled departure. The self-check-in counter hadn’t let me print my boarding pass yet.

“Okay, I would just wait”, I patient myself.

Two and a half hours of waiting at a departure hall seat, I finally managed to do self-check-in process on 19:25 hours. I grabbed a boarding pass and steadily stepped towards the gate. Upon arrival, it turned out that the gate was still not ready.

Peach Aviation counter.
World Sky Gate_Narita as the new branding of Narita International Airport.
Narita International Airport Terminal 1 floor plan.

Until finally, I decided to look for a minimarket to hunt for dinner. I found Lawson in one of the corridors and entered without a second thought. I quickly took a pack of onigiri for 248 yen and the cheapest mineral water for 103 yen and took it to the cashier.

After paying, I continued to walk to the observation deck, then sat in one of its chairs to enjoy the plane traffic of various airlines which were busy going back and forth at Narita International Airport. The outdoor observation deck was blown by a cold winter wind that consistently chilled the body.

Even though it was uncomfortable because it was cold, I still tried to enjoy dinner, still sat on one of the observation deck benches and continued to be fascinated by the pair of take-off and landing activities of large planes.

I kept trying to show my best smile while chewing onigiri, not wanting to be outdone by happy expressions of passangers around me when they were enjoying restaurant foods with nice aroma which inhabited along the side of observation deck.

The last piece of onigiri was complete. I then opened my bottled mineral water. I opened its lid and without hesitation drank it like a thirsty person. A mouthful of water finally smoothly glided down in my throat. But my eyes bulged because my nose was stung by a foreign smell. A warm sensation enveloped along my throat. And finally, automatically, I profusely coughed.

Not pure mineral water!…A clear drink clearly contained alcohol in it. Finally I could feel the sensation of alcohol even though it was accidentally….I didn’t drink alcohol before.

I still didn’t want to throw away the alcoholic bottled water and put it in my backpack. If later it wasn’t confiscated at the screening gate, let it be a memory while in Osaka.

Finally, after enjoying the airport traffic, I immediately headed to the gate and prepared myself to fly. HHmmhh… As soon as I entered the gate, the delay information immediately approached. Out of curiosity, I directly asked the female ground staff about the validity of this delay. She confirmed that Peach Aviation flight number MM6320 did experience a delay in arriving at Narita and I would have to wait another hour later.

Pretty simple boarding pass.
@Kids park, waiting for the plane to coming for pick me up.

I spent the next hour extra with closing my eyes in the waiting room. I sat next to Kids Park near Terminal 1 gate….

Tokyo Station: Finding Trail to JR Expressway Bus Stop

Preparing to leave Harajuku Station.

A little past two in the afternoon. I started leaving Meiji Jingū via Harajuku Station. I retraced Yamanote Line, turning south through Shinagawa District, then back to north. It covered a distance of fifteen kilometers and costed 200 Yen.

I arrived at Tokyo Station a little past three-thirty in the afternoon and was dropped off at platform number four near Marunouchi North Exit. Maranuochi itself is a business district located in west of Tokyo Station.

I continued down an underground passage and kept looking for directions to get out at exit gate located closest to JR Expressway Bus Stop. Since morning, I have decided to use bus to movimg from downtown to Narita International Airport.

Once down the stairs then I was faced with a long corridor. Right on the wall in front of the last step was a wide yellow signboard. The sign directed me to exit at Yaesu South Exit. That was the closest exit from the JR Expressway Bus Stop. Do you know about Yaesu?….In the opposite direction of Maranuochi then Yaeshu is an area located at east of Tokyo Station.

Location directions in the corridors of Tokyo Station.
Those who don’t want to bring a backpack, please rent a locker.
This is rental locker at Tokyo Station.
Where are you currently?
Automatic ticketing vending machine.

The commercial side of this station is so dominant. Along the underground passage, the station sell locker facilities to passengers. These storage facilities are known as Coin Lockers. This locker type has a rental price which varies from 600 to 1,000 Yen per day.

Along the corridors of Tokyo Station was so crowded. I kept stepping and starting to get disoriented. Unknowingly, I have arrived at Shinkansen Transfer North Gate. Until finally a station staff helped to direct me to the nearest exit. For his services, I finally managed to get out at Yaesu Central Exit.

Yups….Arrived at Yaesu Central Exit.

The time lag for my flight schedule was still long. I also didn’t want to be at the airport too long. So I decided to take a seat in the courtyard of Tokyo Station. I continued to observe the activities of Tokyo residents who seemed very busy. While enjoying the busyness, I consistently opened the skin of guazi and chewed it seed by seed. And because I couldn’t find a trash can, I threw the peel of guazi on the roots of ornamental plants. I didn’t think that an officer to notice my bad behavior. I responded quickly, before he came to me, I showed him the half-filled guazi packaging. Miraculously, he just smiled and nodded. In fact, if he reprimanded me, then I was ready to take that organic trash again.

Guazi skin problem is over….

I got up from my seat and headed for JR Expressway Bus Stop. Arriving at the location, I immediately entered a long queue at the number seven bus platform. Exactly at four o’clock in the afternoon, I boarded JR Bus Kanto which was typical white with blue color.

I handed over 1,000 Yen to the driver, who was very well-groomed and in a tie. After he gave me a receipt, I took the back seat.

Located at JR Expressway Bus Stop.
Let’s got in!

I was getting ready to head to Narita International Airport Terminal 1.

Writing Prayers and Wishes in Meiji Jingū

Get ready for second day of adventure in Tokyo @ Nakano Station platform.

The tragedy of losing my wallet at Nakano Station made me gulp in fear, it turned out that there was still a coward side behind my courage to explore the world. I calmed down for a moment by sipping drinking water from free water station at one of Nakano Station platforms.

The silver and yellow colored commuter of Chūō Line arrived, I took a step into a middle carriage and sat at long bench on left. I deliberately chose to sit right above a console grill heater. That was my habit while riding Japann’s trains which was slipping into the winter.

I continued to follow the Chūō Line towards east and then turned into south after changing to Yamanote Line at Shinjuku Station. Within twenty minutes, I arrived at Harajuku Station after traveling for about seven kilometers. I only had to pay 170 Yen for this trip.

Crossing the long corridor of Harajuku Station, I came out from West Exit directly opposite Meiji Jingū First Torii Gate on the right. But gosh……

Now that I’ve lost my right glove, how could I resist cold air if my equipment disappeared? I retraced my path when I exited the station platform and finally I found one of those gloves in the middle of corridor after automatic fare collection gates. I didn’t know why?, since this morning, I’ve been stuck losing things even though it were found again. Could this be the start of all surprising things ahead of my adventure?

Alright…Focused back to my steps…..

Now I was posing in front of Meiji Shrine gate. The Torii was so distinctive, the inspiration for a famous automotive company logo in “the Land of Samurai”. I walked through smooth gravel as the entrance to the temple. The path had a width of one meter on left side, combined with a one meter wide paving block path bordered by rope for exit route on the right. Meanwhile, in some parts, the path was bordered by bamboo fences which were neatly arranged as high as the waist of an adult.

In front of the gates of Meiji-jingumae Station “Harajuku” (Chiyoda Line) as part of Tokyo Metro Subway Network. But I didn’t take the Tokyo Metro.
In front of the Meiji Jingū Torii.
Sake drums (kazaridaru).
Wooden wine drums.

Meanwhile, an old officer removed leaves from road using a backpack-leaf blower. Leaves just needed to be pushed aside to road side and allowed to become natural compost, so environmentally friendly.

Within four hundred meters, on the right, I was blown away by neat arrangement of kazaridaru dedicated to Meiji-tennō and Shōken-kōgō. While right on the left side was an arrangement of wine drums made of wood.

Arriving at the main Torii of shrine, every visitor must wash their hands at Temizuya with water using a long-stemmed dipper. This ritual of self-washing or misogi aimed to purify the body and mind before standing in front of a deity to pray.

Temizuya (shinto shrine pavilion for purification) in Meiji Jingū.
In the middle of temple.

For a moment I stopped after passing through main gate, I was amazed by the size of the Meiji Jingū . This was a shrine dedicated to the spirit of Meiji-tennō , the ancient ruler of Japan.

Meanwhile in some parts of the temple was being renovated. Workers in white carpenter uniforms, complete with various carpentry equipments on their waists and wearing safety helmets, were seen standing on the step ladder, busy making repairs.

While at the end of the shrine, tourists could be seen queuing up at a shop which sells ema and omamori boards. The shop seemed to be guarded by beautiful women dressed in white and red kimonos, they looked polite and graceful to serve the visitors.

While I was busy writing a prayer on a piece of paper, then I put it in a box. While some tourists wrote prayers and hopes on the ema board they bought, then hang it on the spot provided.

The carpenters were on duty.
Shops selling omamori were amulets that were believed by the Japanese to bring good luck and safety.
What was I praying about?
An ema board, a small wooden plaque decorated with handwritten art which expressed hope.

It didn’t feel like an hour and a half walked until I finally finished exploring all parts of the temple. This was my last destination in Tokyo, because I would soon be heading to Narita International Airport to catch Peach Aviation flight number MM6320 which would depart at 21:35 hours.

I finally decided to head straight to Harajuku Station and rushed to Tokyo Station, because I was planning to take JR Bus Kanto to the airport.

Let’s go……..

Get ready at Harajuku Station….To Tokyo Station.

Tokyo Shuttle from Narita International Airport to Tokyo

I jumped from the front door and then white and slanted eyes faces were intently watching me. It was nice to be able to mingle with the middle class citiziens on the bus. I and all passengers would move towards downtown Tokyo. Then I sat down in the third row from back, right next to window pane. I was helped by the presence of an electric socket to increase my smartphone power, but unfortunately I couldn’t use the Wi-Fi.

Bus with green and white color combination consistently emited a mixture of emissions and water vapor from its exhaust at the freezing limit of Narita’s air. The color combination of red-green name was very striking to remember that transportation mode brand which shared the same ownership with the giant private railway company in two prefectures of Chiba and Tokyo. Keisei was the name of that transportation company.

The “Tokyo Shuttle” as the bus was called, would travel for an hour to Chiyoda District where Tokyo Station was located. Down the city streets for 65 Km, bus passed Higashi Kanto Expressway.

Higashi Kanto Expressway in Chiba Prefecture.
JR Bus Kanto passed by.
Willer Express Bus which pursuit it.

The toll road were bordered by guard rails and each segment only consists of two lanes. An ordinary inter-district toll road. Some of trees which looked barren due to dormancy became a frequent sight on this trip, leaving the finger of branches pointing at the sky.

Meanwhile, giant sutets consistently straddled toll road, supplying electricity between cities with valor. Going further, my journey began to show wide and clean canals maintained with several low, medium and high apartments at a distance which couln’t be called close together.

When most of the passengers fell asleep and were swallowed by bus speed, my thoughts were getting worse. I couldn’t feel the smooth stamping of driver’s gas pedal which managed to hypnotize all passengers to sleeping.

“Will it be as easy as turning my palms when looking for a train to Nakano?”

“How to find a button to buy a one day pass at the station later?”.

“Can I endure stifling cold out there?”

I was drowning in my own anxiety in whole way. Unabled to fully enjoy beautiful scenery out there. In fact that all time I had miss Japan. Hmmh….

The shorter of distance from downton, the scenery changed. The canals which were still clean were crammed with apartment and office buildings which closely lined up along the canals. But still, everything looked neat, clean and orderly. That nation was really civilized.

Entering Koto District, Tokyo Prefecture.
Ariake-nishi canal.
Heikyu River.

I arrived at Tokyo Station and was dropped off at bus stop in the shape of a rectangle with 5 feet which placed on its two sides, on the edge of Sotobori-dori Avenue right in front of Tekko Building. I had never found any definitive directions to station gate.

Not even looking for clues, I had been struggling against Japan’s winter air. It became even more surprising why local residents just walk around in a layer of office clothes, without gloves, without covering their heads and ears. Unliked me, who had a second layer of jacket with an additional t-shirt in first layer of my clothes, winter gloves and earmuffs. Still I trembled against the freezing temperature.

I continued down the street without Latin clue. Until I found the first Latin writing since I got off the Tokyo Shuttle bus. “Tokyo Station”, I slowly read a large signboard above station building. “TOKYO STATION Yaesu North Entrance”.

Let’s heading for Nakano.

I thought I’d better get into the station and got some warmth than freeze out there.

It was time to think about heading to Nakano.

Video link of this trip:

Transportation from Narita International Airport to Tokyo city can also be found on 12Go or the following link:

I am Waiting for You: Narita International Airport

When “The Beauty” Maeda stood up and raised the microphone, that was a happy moment for me. I knew, she would tell us that the Vanilla Air JW 130 would be landing at Narita International Airport soon. How could I wasn’t be happy, Japan, which had always been just a dream and had become something unattainable, finally this moment anchored me at its gate. The passion for Japan was also caused by my own stupidity of torturing myself by wasn’t visiting that country immediately after understanding the rhythms and habits of backpacker world. I was more selfish to exploring Southeast Asia for 3 years, even the first edition to explorind East Asia, I prefered Hong Kong, China and Macau as my first destination. Japan deliberately became the dessert of my adventure in East Asia. Yes, that was right….That country was at my east asia exploration peak with other county, i.e South Korea. Make this story felt special.

The aerobridge attached to plane door marked my first step to Japan. Narita International Airport’s Terminal 3 warmly welcomed me even though I knew the temperature outside had reached 2 Celsius degree….“Hopefully the blood doesn’t flow from my nose”, I firstly mumbled when I was walking down the aerobridge.

Nervous and scared, that was how I felt when I walked down the arrival hall to the immigration counter. “What if they check the amount of money I brought?”, “What if they refuse me to entering the city?”…The amateur worries still haunted me. Understandably, for me, Japan felt like a country with different caste in my eyes.

“Is this your filst time in visiting Japan?”, his face was flat but not too scary when investigate me.

“Yes, Sir”.

“How long will you stay in Japan?”, standard question.

“4 days, Sir”

“Hoooohhh….Just foul days. Very sholt time”, he was still flipping through my passport details, looking at my adventure track record.

“Ale you alone?”, began to put my passport in his right hand and focus on talking to me.

“Upss, address …. Don’t let him ask for money in my pocket”, I palely thought.

“Okay, what will you do in Japan?” started interrogating.

“!@#$%….^&*()?…..,”:}{[]/”, my hands moved here and there while telling at length about all my plans. I wasn’t worried at all because I was a reliable itinerary maker….. Yup, an itinerary that was too economical.

“Good….Good….Good, nice toulist”, I saw his smile even though he immediately hid it. Immigration officers were like that, putting on a fierce look was the first procedure.

“Do you bling your itinelaly?”, his last defense, looked like I would easily break through.

“This is, Sir”, with a bright face, I handed him six itinerary sheets, complete with details of the time, places I would visit, costs to be incurred, and the address of each destination on it. I’ve beaten him.

“Hoooohh….You would go to Osaka too”, nodded but still read page after page.

“Yes, Sir. That’s a nice city to visit”.

“Yes…yes..yes….Good, welcome to Japan”, he reopened my passport and put the arrival stamp on the tiny pink visa waiver.

Yessssss….I entered Japan.

Oopsss….The inspection hadn’t finished yet, apparently.

“Stop, please!”, a middle-aged man in a black jacket with its zipper which was left open so that it was clear that his thick gray sweater. He was blocking my steps now.

“Put your bag….Thele!”, he pointed to a place to put my bag while carrying two hand-held metal detectors in both hands. Without further ado he swept my backpack with that tool with his right hand and then his left hand followed.

“Hand-held metal detectors are layered like that,” I muttered admiring Narita’s tightness.

“Can I inspect you?”, he showed me a sheet of paper with a picture of a standard series of inspections of all limbs by touching.

“Yes, sure!”, I took off the used winter jacket from Pasar Baru.

“Hooohh…you don’t need to take youl jacket off…..Hoooohh…..Do you using t-shilt? Sully? This is Japan, you will fleeze with your t-shilt…..Hahaha”, he kindly chuckled.

I spread my arms and he started checking. Oh, how polite that person was, for checking me he asked for permission. The first social value I got from Japan on my visitation.


I was starting to get confused with all this country’s transportation system. There were many types of trains available to the city. Starting from Narita SKY ACCESS Line, Keisei Main Line or JR Sobu Line train, but I never knew which line I would take to get to Tokyo. Ticketing Vending Machine buttons were not easy for me to understand, not liked I usually do. I was swallowed by this country sophistication.

Train fares to downtown.
One of the Ticketing Vending Machines.

Never mind…. I sat down first to calm myself down on a brightly colored soft sofa which was placed along the side of arrival hall corridor whose was designed like a running race track. Smart, insists it was a path for people to walk inside airport terminal. While sitting down, sadly I saw the price of food along Narita food court, it was expensive for me.

“Onigiri….yes….Onigiri, it’s the cheapest. I have to look for it at the convenience store”, my hungry stomach suddenly had an idea. I started to walk on the “running track” and quickly found Lawson booth at a corridor corner.

“What a shame!”, I cursed myself when I was asked to circle retreat in a following the queue which I really didn’t notice. A woman in the front line smiled when she saw me back in a circle past the shelves of mini market.

I left Lawson with a win for finding my first cheap meal in Japan. I ventured to sit at a dining table around Narita’s food court to eat it.

Two pieces of onigiri for 248 Yen for lunch that time.
Why did I take a trash can photo at that time!

“Bus…Yes, buses….Don’t worry about the cheapest train to downtown. Buses were been still the cheapest transportation in all parts of the world”, I kept looking around for bus ticket counter while eating the last piece of my onigiri.

It wasn’t difficult, I saw the table at far left in front of where I was sitting. I immediately approached a young lady at the counter and didn’t hesitate to ask for a ticket to Tokyo.

“Youl bus will depalt on 5 minutes… Hully up”, she lightly said when she received Yen from me. “Damn, so fast”, I thought hiding the tension. I didn’t want to argue whether my ticket will be forfeited when I miss the bus, because the departure time listed on the LCD counter was 11:30 hours.

An airport bus ticket to downtown for 1,000 Yen.

I quickly focused on finding the bus sign or logo. I found the picture of bus and ran towards it. Unknowingly, I wasn’t wearing a winter jacket and when I arrived at the door to bus shelter, I was shocked. “Crazy!” I screamed, the 2o C air pierced my bones mercilessly. For a moment I couldn’t breathe. I rushed back into the room and many people had strange faces looking at me. “Please, Donny….This isn’t the tropics anymore”, I sighed, since I was still reflecting that the air outside was still the same as Kuala Lumpur air I visited three days ago. I quickly put on my jacket and watched from afar the bus driver who was standing at the back door of bus. He looked at his watch and looked around for someone. I ran towards him. “Come on, Sil….I am waiting fo you”, he briefly said, pointing to the front door. I jumped at the front door and prepared to head to Tokyo. I shouldn’t have panicked, I think he was told by the counter staff that there was still one passenger who was going to board the bus.

Anyway….Welcome Tokyo.

Her name is Maeda….Vanilla Air JW 130 from Kaohsiung (KHH) to Tokyo (NRT)

Vanilla Air JW 130 flight path (source:

The beautiful stewardess in a blue uniform with a flower in her right ear looked the youngest….Also the prettiest. Her smile was also the happiest. Short brown hair along the shoulders but a little longer on the left side and of course, an oriental look was completing her beauty.

Her name is Maeda….

I don’t know, if traced, she is positioning in the lineage with Tadashi Maeda, a Rear Admiral who played an important role in Indonesia independence.

The name Maeda is historically known as a Samurai Clan in Japan. Having honest, brave, loyal and upholding commitment to the truth.

Hunting for Yen at Kaohsiung International Airport.
Got ready to check-in.
Yes, boarding pass was in hand.
Headed to the gate after being interrogated for quite a while at immigration.

That morning, she was the busiest over the East China Sea. A Chinese family was too stubborn to acquire a row of seats for a small family to sit together on this Vanilla Air flight. “The Beauty” Maeda continued to persuade them to sit according to number listed on the boarding pass. It turned out that her soft voice had never succeeded in persuading that family to part until half the flight. Even Maeda seduced them with squat in front of the passenger.

I didn’t know why until now I still remember Maeda,

Maeda was a bonus for choosing an airline I didn’t really know well before. My search time on a flight filter site based on several categories, settled me on this Air Asia Japan acquirer. At a later date, tickets which cost about 6.780 Yen finally flew me from Kaohsiung in Taiwan to Tokyo.

Even my times before I met Maeda weren’tt as beautiful as I imagined. I forced myself to sleep in whole night at Kaohiung International Airport in a lobby of Departure Hall.

Waking up early….Even still sleepy, because I was carried away by talking with other passengers until after midnight, I grumbled to the check-in desk after exchanging the remain of my New Taiwan Dollars into Yen. The check-in counter numbered D18 with an LCD with the airline’s name on it quickly completed my check-in process.

Gate 30, the place to waiting for Vanilla Air JW 130 to arrived.
Happy boarding.
Look for seat numbered 27D.

Another problem arose,

At the immigration desk, there was an agenda to clarify everything that made me separated from the queue and seated on a seat at the end of counter row.

“Why do your visa look like this?”, my Visa Waiver was suspected.

“It’s a new waiver visa for Indonesian e-passport holder, Mam”

“Wait, let me check to my boss!”.

The young woman hastily left me into a room. I was still calm waiting for her to come back, up to 15 minutes.

“Ahh … I will pass this process”, I thought.

“Ok, Sir, It’s valid”, her chatter broke my frozen face who was observing a corner of terminal building.

After that, she let me go into a corridor with arched ceilings with artificial trees on  left leading to gate number thirty.

That was “The Beauty” Maeda.
Disembarkation Card and Customs Declaration to enter Japan.

Then what about the Chinese family who had been persuaded by “The Beauty” Maeda?

Thankfully, the lead flight attendant stepped in to help her and managed to separate that small family according to flight procedures.

Impressive! Vanilla Air is number fourteen of twenty-eight airlines I have rode. Grateful of course to be able to enjoying flight services of this subsidiary of ANA (All Nippon Airways).

That morning the pilot explained there was a slight storm coming from Philippine Sea, but thankfully, the turbulence didn’t last long on the way. The flight using an Airbus A320, as far as 2,500 Km, three hours later at an altitude of 37,000 feet was really fun. Maybe, because this was my culmination point in exploring Asia. Who doesn’t want to visit the Land of Samurai?

On eleven more minutes, I finally arrived at Narita International Airport.

Let’s have an adventure in Tokyo!

Alternatives for airline tickets from Kaohsiung to Tokyo can be found on 12Go or the following link:

Sejuta Tiga Ratus Ribu di Imigrasi Busan (2nd Edition)

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Segenap penumpang Air Busan BX 123 sudah berdiri di cabin aisle demi bersiap menuruni pesawat. Setelah salah satu pramugara berkoordinasi dengan ground staff, akhirnya juluran aerobridge menempel sempurna di badan pesawat dan pintu telah aman untuk dibuka. Tak lama kemudian, aku mengikuti langkah barisan penumpang di depan untuk keluar dari kabin.

Sepanjang menapaki aerobridge, kekhawatiranku tak seburuk seperti  saat aku memasuki Narita International Airport beberapa hari lalu. “Masak iya, sudah ke Jepang, ndak bisa masuk Korea”,  pikirku menenangkan diri. Aku terus melangkah dengan mantap melewati koridor demi koridor di arrival hall Gimhae International Airport Terminal 1. Terus mengikuti tengara menuju konter imigrasi. Setelah menemukannya maka aku segera menempel di ujung belakang salah satu baris antrian. Aku masih terlihat santai dan penuh senyum. Dan tak menyangka bahwa drama itu baru saja dimulai

Aku mengambil antrian paling kiri, para turis asal Tiongkok tampak mendominasi di depan. Mereka terlihat sangat lancar melewati staf imigrasi. “Sepertinya ini akan mudah”, akhirnya aku membuat kesimpulan. Aku kini berada di kepala antrian, menunggu seorang turis wanita Tiongkok menyelesaikan prosesnya di konter. Petugas laki-laki berkacamata itu dengan cepat memasukkan satu demi satu turis asal Tiongkok sedari tadi.

Neexxxtttt”….Dia memanggil dengan mata masih menatap layar komputer

Petugas Imigrasi     :     “Have you been to South Korea before?

Aku                              :     “Not yet sir, this is the first time

Imigrasi                      :     “Where did you visit before South Korea?

Aku                              :     “Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan, Sir

Dia mulai mengawasiku dengan tatapan curiga.

Imigrasi                      :     “Which other countries have you visited?”, dia menyodorkan sebuah kertas dan pena untukku menulis

Aku mulai menulis satu-persatu hingga tersalin sebelas baris tambahan nama negara yang pernah kusinggahi.

Tapi reaksinya sungguh di luar dugaan, dia hanya geleng-geleng kepala. Aku tak kalah berinisiatif ketika dia bersikap demikian. Dari dalam backpack, kukeluarkan passport lama yang telah terpotong salah satu covernya, “You can check it out here, sir”.

Imigrasi                      :     ”I don’t need this”, dia mendorong passport lama itu dengan telunjuk jarinya ke arahku sebagai pertanda dia tidak mau melihatnya

Alamaaattttttttt….”Dag dig dug”, jantungku mulai berdetak di atas ritme biasa.

Imigrasi                      :     ”Please take out your wallet!

Gertakan ringan itu membuatku terjongkok otomatis dengan tangan mengaduk-aduk isi backpack dengan imbuhan kepanikan. Aku mendapatkan dompet yang dimaksud dalam beberapa saat, memang dompetku kuletakkan di bagian paling dalam supaya aman.

Aku mulai berdiri dan menyodorkan dompet usang itu….Hmmhhh, dompet dengan kelupasan kulit pelapis di beberapa ujungnya. Membuatku pasrah tak berdaya. Petugas imigrasi itu mulai membuka dompetku dan menghitung setiap lembar isinya. Dia bergeleng kepala  ketika hanya menemukan uang kertas sebanyak  110.000 Won (Rp. 1.378.000).

Dia mulai berdiri dan beranjak keluar dari immigration counter box dan mulai menutup antrian dengan standing barrier dan menggantungkan tuilsan “CLOSE” di tengahnya. Segenap turis yang mengantri dibelakangku dimintanya berpindah ke antrian konter di sebelahnya. Setiap turis berpindah teratur sembari melihat dengan sedih atas kemalanganku, beberapa tampak heran penuh rasa ingin tahu.

Waduuhhh”, suara hatiku mulai kecut.

Petugas imigrasi itu segera melangkan memasuki konternya kembali dan menaruh dompetku di hadapannya. Dia mulai menatapku tajam.

Imigrasi                      :     ”Do you bring an ATM?

Aku                              :     “No, Sir”….Batinku menyanggah,”bukannya aku sudah punya Visa, kok dipermasalahin sih?”

Imigrasi                      :     “Credit Card?”

Aku                              :     “No, Sir”….Batinku kembali berguman, “Bukannya yang penting uangku cukup buat mengelana di Korea?”

Imigrasi                      :     “ID Card?”

Aku                              :     “No, Sir”….Kembali batinku melakukan perlawanan,”Bukannya ID Card bagi turis adalah passport?”

Imigrasi                      :     Menggelang tegas dengan muka merah, “Aiissshhhh….No ATM….No Credit Card….No ID Card….You only have a small amount of money…. You can’t stay in Korea

Aduh, Deportasi”, batinku memvonis diri seketika.

Imigrasi                      :     ”What do you do in your country?

Aku                              :     ”Marketing

Imigrasi                      :     “Show your business card!

Aku                              :     ”I don’t bring it, Sir

Imigrasi                      :     ” Aiissshhhh ….”

Dia mulai mengusap-usap kening dan matanya, tak percaya telah bertemu turis semacamku. Kini dia telah menutup passport. Dia berdiri kembali dan memanggil temannya. Dengan cepat temannya datang menghampiri dan mulai bercakap serius meninggalkanku yang sudah diambang deportasi.

Aku tak menahu apa yang mereka bicarakan, yang jelas itu pasti tentangku. Kuperhatikan dia terus menggelengkan kepala dan temannya sesekali melihatku bak tersangka….Aahhh, suasana ini benar-benar tak mengenakkan dan membuatku gelisah. Tap aku mencoba sekuat mungkin menampilkan muka penuh ketenangan. Bahkan aku bersiap melakukan klarifikasi sebelum dia memutuskan apapun.

OK, dia telah usai berdialog dengan temannya dan duduk kembali di bangku konter imigrasi. Sebelum dia mengeluarkan sepatah katapun, aku mulai melakukan pledoi terakhir. Tak peduli apapun hasilnya….

Aku                              :     ” I have a return ticket, Air Asia 5th January, from Incheon to Jakarta. I will stay at Kimchee Guesthouse Busan and Kimchee Guesthouse Seoul….these are my itinerary and my budgeting during in Korea”, Aku memberikan lembaran itinerary dan budgeting padanya, Aku memang selalu menyusun keduanya setiap melakukan backpacking ke luar negeri.

Petugas imigrasi itu marah dan menempelkan telunjuk ke mulutnya….”Sssttttt”, pertanda dia memintaku untuk tidak banyak mengoceh di depannya. Tapi hal baiknya adalah dia mau membaca lembaran itinerary dan budgeting itu.

Aku                              :     ”Please Sir, I am just a backpacker…..just for sightseeing Korea this time….No more….Please…..I will go home….Believe me!”, aku mengemis memelas.

Petugas imigrasi itu kembali menatapku, kali ini benar-benar menatap mataku lekat-lekat, mungkin dia sedang menguji kejujuran. Sepertinya dia mulai menaruh rasa kasihan. Dia mulai membolak-balik setiap halaman passport baru dan passport lamaku yang sedetik lalu dia tarik dari hadapanku.

Imigrasi                      :     ”OK, You can….You can….But promise me to return to your country!…. Or you’re in big trouble

Cettoookkkk….Stempel arrival itu terbubuh jelas di passport….Oh, indah sekali momen itu.

Hadeeuuhhhh…Leegggaaaa banggeeetttt.

Inilah pelajaran berharga bahwa dikemudian hari nanti aku akan menjadi seorang backpacker yang lebih detail dan mempersiapkan sesuatu dengan sangat baik. Setelah insiden itu, aku selalu membawa kartu nama, KTP, Credit Card (walaupun limitnya kecil) dan ATM (meskipun isinya minim) setiap melakukan perjalanan ke negara orang.

Berkat persiapan yang baik, aku sangat terbantu dengan keberadaan kartu-kartu sakti itu ketika menghadapi random checking serupa di Woodlands Checkpoint di Singapura tujuh bulan setelah insiden ini.

Insiden telah usai, aku melangkah meninggalkan konter imigrasi dengan kemenangan.

Welcome Busan, Welcome South Korea!

Peach Aviation MM6320 dari Tokyo ke Osaka: Maskapai ke-15

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Waktu keberangkatanku menuju tur Asia Timur Jilid-2 tinggal sehari lagi. Masih ada satu tahapan itinerary yang masih tercecer dan belum tuntas, yaitu buntunya mekanisme perpindahanku dari Tokyo ke Osaka. Tiga bulan lalu, aku telah menyia-nyiakan tiket bus murah dari Tokyo ke Osaka seharga 5.700 Yen (Rp. 775.000) hanya karena terus berfikir dan banyak mencari pilihan lain. Beberapa waktu kemudian Saat akhir pekan tiba, harga tariff bus itu meningkat hingga 9.700 Yen (1,2 juta). Sedangkan harga tiket Shinkansen  mencapai 14.000 Yen (Rp. 1,9 Juta).                                                                                                                   

Berarti selain bus, Shinkansen juga tak mungkin kupilih. Kereta peluru itu terlalu mahal untuk ukuran kantongku. Mau tak mau, aku harus kembali mengobrak-abrik informasi tentang transportasi Jepang.

Aku mulai melacak perihal seberapa banyak maskapai komersial yang dimiliki oleh Negeri Matahari Terbit. Sebelumnya, aku sudah memesan salah satu maskapai mereka untuk berpindah dari Kaohsiung (Taiwan) ke Tokyo, maskapai itu adalah Vanilla Air. Tetapi maskapai ini nyatanya mematok harga lumayan mahal untuk rute Tokyo ke Osaka, berkisar 10.130 Yen (Rp. 1,4 juta).

Dari persistensiku menjelajah dunia maya, sentuhan mouseku menemukan satu maskapai LCC (Low Cost Carrier) lain milik Jepang, yaitu Peach Aviation. Atrbut maskapai ini mengandalkan perpaduan warna orange dan pink, membentuk warna jingga pucat atau dikenal dengan nama peach. Aku mulai mencari rute. Akhirnya aku menemukan rute Tokyo-Osaka seharga 7.150 Yen (Rp. 970.000), harga yang sedikit lebih hemat daripada menggunakan bus, Shinkansen atau Vanilla Air.


Bersiap take-off bersama Peach Aviation MM6320.

Insiden delay dan tenggakan alkohol secara tak sengaja memang menjadi memori tak mengenakkan sebelum aku meninggalkan Tokyo. Tetapi, aku mulai sumringah ketika nomor penerbanganku disebut dalam pengumuman bandara. Aku mulai mengantri dalam barisan. Mulai terbayang keindahan Osaka Castle dalam setiap detik antrianku. Hingga tiba, boarding pass dan pasporku diperiksa oleh ground staff wanita yang masih sangat muda dan berbadan mungil.

I’m sorry, this is not your flight. Your flight will be depart 30 minutes later”.

Are you sure?”, jawabku separuh bertanya.

Yes, Sir. This flight is MM320 and your flight is MM6320, almost similar”.

Oh God, I’m sorry. This is my wrong”, aku menepok jidat sambil berusaha menyembunyikan rasa malu.

Aku kembali mundur dari antrian dan duduk di salah satu deretan kursi kosong yang sudah ditinggalkan para calon penumpang untuk memasuki pesawat. Aku masih saja mengamati antrian itu hingga orang terakhir memasuki pesawat. Kini aku kembali menunggu….

30 menit kemudian…..

Tak salah lagi, inilah penerbanganku, aku pastikan informasi nomor penerbangan di layar LCD baik-baik, lalu kucocokkan dengan nomor yang sama di boarding pass….Yup, benar ini MM6320. Aku segera memasuki antrian. Lalu di gerbang antrian, aku memberikan bording pass dan paspor untuk diperiksa oleh salah satu ground staff. Akhirnya, aku diizinkan untuk memasuki pesawat.

Dominasi kabin dengan warna peach menjadikan ruangan itu begitu ceria, sedikit mengurangi penatku dalam berjibaku menghadapi delay. Setiap awak kabin begitu sigap membantu penumpang memasukkan barang bawaan ke kompartemen bagasi. Beberapa kali, seorang pramugari tak ragu melepas sepatunya dan menaiki kursi untuk mendorong beberapa bagasi besar dan merapikan letaknya di kompartemen bagasi.

Seusai persiapan, Peach Aviation MM6320 mulai merayap menuju runway diiringi demonstrasi prosedur keamanan penerbangan oleh awak kabin. Beberapa saat kemudian Kapten Penerbangan meminta izin untuk melakukan take-off. Tak lama setelahnya, Airbus A320-100 itu melaju sekencang-kencangnya meninggalkan Narita International Airport dari Terminal 1.

Langit Tokyo sepertinya cerah malam itu. Aku tak merasakan turbulensi apapun selama 1 jam 35 menit penerbangan. Osaka adalah kota terbesar ketiga Jepang yang berjarak 500km di sebelah barat Tokyo. Sepanjang penerbangan sebagian besar penumpang lebih memilih memejamkan mata, tetapi aku tetap saja menyalakan lampu baca karena tertarik dengan banyaknya informasi pariwisata yang tertuang dalam inflight magazine Peach Aviation. Aku memotret satu demi satu lembar informasi pariwisata yang kubutuhkan selama di Osaka nanti. Rupanya aktivitasku itu diperhatikan oleh seorang pramugari dari belakang. Bahkan pada suatu waktu dia datang menghampiriku.

Berburu informasi di dalam pesawat.

Do you still reading, Sir?” .

Yes, Ms. I need some information from this magazine”.

Oh Ok, Sir. It doesn’t matter. I just make sure”.

Dia tersenyum dan kembali menduduki bangku pramugarinya di belakang. Bahkan setelahnya, kupastikan bahwa sepanjang penerbangan aku tak pernah memadamkan lampu baca itu. Pukul 23: 53, Kapten penerbangan mulai bicara dengan microphonenya untuk sekedar mengumumkan bahwa pesawat akan segera mendarat di Kansai International Airport Terminal 2. Semua penumpang bergegas bangun, bersiap diri dan merapikan setiap tempat duduknya. Para awak kabin terus mondar-mandir memeriksa sesuai prosedur keamanan untuk proses landing.

Aku masih tak menahu perihal kondisi sesungguhnya di bawah sana karena aku duduk di aisle seat. Aku mampu merasakan ketika pesawat mulai merendah dan sesekali bergoyang untuk menstabilkan posisi. Hingga akhirnya hentakan halus roda pesawat memberitahukanku bahwa Peach Aviation sudah menyentuh runway Kansai International Airport, di Terminal 2 tepatnya.

Tidak ada aerobridge yang menyambut, semua penumpang harus menuruni tangga dan dijemput oleh Narita apron shuttle bus menuju bangunan terminal.

Tiba di Kansai International Airport Terminal 2 tepat tengah malam.

Malam itu, aku memtuskan untuk bermalam di Kansai International Airport Terminal 2 dan akan berangkat menuju ke tengah kota di keesokan hari.

Alternatif untuk tiket pesawat dari Tokyo ke Osaka bisa dicari di 12Go atau link berikut:

Kisah Selanjutnya—->