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: https://www.radarbox.com/).

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: https://12go.asia/?z=3283832

I am Waiting for You: Narita International Airport

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Ketika “Si Ayu Maeda” berdiri dan mengangkat mikrofon, itulah momen bahagia bagiku. Aku tahu, dia akan memberitahukan bahwa Vanilla Air JW 130 segera mendarat di Narita International Airport. Bagaimana tak bahagia, Jepang yang sedari dulu hanyalah angan dan menjadi sesuatu yang tak terpikirkan tergapai, akhirnya berlabuh juga aku di gerbangnya. Hasrat akan Jepang juga disebabkan oleh kebodohanku sendiri yang menyiksa diri dengan tak segera mengunjungi negeri itu setelah memahami ritme dan kebiasaan dunia backpacker. Aku lebih berego untuk menyisir Asia Tenggara selama 3 tahun, bahkan edisi perdana ke Asia Timur pun lebih memilih Hong Kong, China dan Macau sebagai tujuan perdana. Jepang sengaja menjadi dessert petualanganku di Asia Timur. Ya benar….Negeri itu menjadi puncaknya bersama Korea Selatan. Menjadikan kisah kali ini terasa spesial.

Melekatnya aerobridge di pintu pesawat menjadi penanda langkah pertamaku menjejak Jepang. Terminal 3 Narita International  Airport menyambut hangat walau kutahu suhu di luar ruangan mencapai 2o Celcius….”Mudah-mudahan darah tak mengalir dari hidungku”, gumam pertamaku ketika menyusuri garbarata.

Nervous dan takut, itulah yang kurasa ketika menyusuri arrival hall menuju konter imigrasi. “Bagaimana jika mereka memeriksa jumlah uang yang kubawa?”, “Bagaimana jika mereka menolakku masuk ke kota?”….Kecamuk amatiran itu masih saja menghantui. Maklum, bagiku Jepang serasa beda kasta.

Is this your filst time in visiting Japan?”, wajahnya datar tapi tak sangar menyidikku.

Yes, Sir”.

How long will you  stay in Japan?”, pertanyaan standar.

4 days, Sir

Hoooohhh….Just foul days. Very sholt time”, dia masih membolak-balik detail pasporku, melihat rekam jejak petualanganku.

Ale you alone?”, mulai menaruh paspor di sebelah kanan tangannya dan fokus bercakap denganku.

Duh alamat….Jangan sampai dia nanyain uang sakuku”, aku membatin pucat.

Okay, what will you do in Japan?” mulai menginterogasi.

!@#$%….^&*()?…..,”:}{[]/”, tanganku bergerak kesana kemari sembari bercerita panjang lebar tentang semua rencanaku. Aku menjadi tak khawatir sedikitpun karena akulah pembuat itinerary yang bisa diandalkan…..Yup, itinerary yang kelewat ngirit.

Good….Good….Good, nice toulist”, sekelumit sunggingan senyum sempat kulihat walau dia segera menyembunyikan. Petugas imigrasi memang begitu, pasang tampang galak adalah prosedur pertama.

Do you bling your itinelaly?”, pertahanan terakhirnya, sepertinya aku akan dengan mudah menjebolnya.

This is, Sir”, dengan muka cerah, aku menyerahkan enam lembar itinerary, lengkap dengan detail waktu, tempat yang akan kukunjungi, biaya yang akan dikeluarkan, dan alamat setiap destinasi ada di dalamnya. Dia sudah kukalahkan dengan telak.

Hoooohh….You will go to Osaka too”, manggut-manggut tapi masih saja membaca lembar demi lembar.

Yes, Sir. That’s nice city to visit”.

Yes…yes..yes….Good, welcome to Japan”, dia membuka kembali pasporku dan menaruh arrival stamp di atas visa waiver mungil berwarna pink itu.

Yesssssss….Aku masuk Jepang.

Uppsss….Pemeriksaan belum selesai rupanya.

Stop, please!”, lelaki paruh baya berjaket hitam dengan resleting yang dibiarkan terbuka sehingga terlihat jelas sweater abu-abu tebalnya menghadang langkahku.

Put your bag….Thele!”, dia menunjuk tempat menaruh tas sembari menenteng dua hand-held metal detector di kedua tangannya. Tanpa basa-basi dia menyapu backpackku dengan alat itu dengan tangan kanannya dan kemudian sapuan tangan kirinya menyusul.

Hand-held  metal detector pun berlapis begitu”, gumamku mengagumi ketatnya Narita.

Can me inspect you?”, dia menunjukkan selembar kertas bergambar rangkaian standar pemeriksaan seluruh anggota tubuh dengan cara meraba.

Yes, sure!”, aku melepas winter jacket bekas asal Pasar Baru itu.

Hooohh…you don’t need to take youl jacket off…..Hoooohh…..Do you using t-shilt? Sulely? This is Japan, you will fleeze with your t-shilt…..Hahaha”, dia terkekeh ramah.

Kurentangkan tangan dan dia mulai memeriksa. Oh, sopannya orang itu, untuk memeriksa begitu saja minta izin. Nilai sosial pertama yang kudapat dari Jepang di kunjunganku.


Aku mulai bingung dengan semua sistem transportasi negeri itu. Banyak sekali tersedia jenis kereta menuju kota. Mulai dari Narita SKY ACCESS Line, Keisei Main Line atau JR Sobu Line train, namun aku tak pernah tahu dia akan melewati jalur mana menuju Tokyo. Tombol-tombol Ticketing Vending Machine tak mudah kupahami, tak seperti biasanya aku begitu. Aku serasa tertelan kecanggihan negeri itu.

Tarif kereta menuju pusat kota.
Salah satu Ticketing Vending Machine.

Sudahlah….Aku duduk menenangkan diri dahulu di sebuah sofa empuk warna cerah yang diletakkan di sepanjang sisi dari koridor arrival hall yang alasnya didesain seperti lintasan lomba lari. Pintar, menegaskan itu adalah jalur untuk orang berjalan di dalam terminal bandara. Sembari duduk, sedih aku melihat harga makanan di sepanjang food court Narita, mahal minta ampun.

Onigiri….ya….Onigiri, itu yang termurah. Aku harus mencarinya di minimarket”, perut laparku tiba-tiba beride. Aku mulai menapaki “lintasan lari itu” dan dengan cepatnya menemukan gerai Lawson di subuah pojok koridor.

Dasar memalukan!”, aku mengutuki diri sendiri ketika diminta mundur melingkar mengikuti jalur antrian yang sungguh tak kuperhatikan.  Seorang ibu pengantri terdepan tersenyum melihatku mundur melingkar melewati sela-sela rak minimarket.

Aku keluar Lawson dengan sebuah kemenangan karena menemukan makanan murah pertamaku di Jepang. Kuberanikan diri untuk duduk di sebuah meja makan di sekitar food court Narita untuk menyantapnya.

Dua potong onigiri seharga 248 Yen (Rp. 32.000) untuk makan siang waktu itu.
Kenapa ya waktu itu aku memfoto tempat sampah segala….Hadeuh!.

Bus…Ya, bus….Tak usah kau pikirkan kereta termurah ke kota. Bus tetaplah transportasi terhemat di seluruh belahan dunia”, aku terus melihat sekitar mencari konter tiket bus sembari menyelesaikan potongan terakhir onigiriku.

Tak sulit, aku melihat mejanya di ujung kiri depan dari tempatku terduduk. Aku segera menghampiri nona muda penjaga konter dan tak ragu meminta selembar tiket menuju Tokyo.

Youl bus will depalt on 5 minutes…Hully up”, ucapnya ringan ketika menerima Yen dariku. “Sial, cepat amat”, batinku menyembunyikan ketegangan. Aku tak mau berdebat apakah tiketku akan hangus ketika aku tertinggal bus itu, karena jam keberangkatan yang tercantum di LCD meja konter memang jam 11:30.

Tiket airport bus menuju pusat kota seharga 1.000 Yen (Rp. 130.000).

Dengan cepat aku fokus mencari tanda atau logo bus. Aku menemukan gambar bus itu dan berlari kearahnya. Tak sadar, aku tak memakai winter jacket dan ketika tiba di pintu menuju shelter bus, aku terhenyak. “Gilaaaa” batinku menjerit, udara 2o C itu menembus tulangku tanpa ampun. Sejenak aku tak bisa bernafas. Tergopoh aku kembali memasuki ruangan dan banyak orang memasang muka aneh melihatku. “Please, Donny….Ini bukan daerah  tropis lagi, bodoh”, aku menghela nafas, sejak tadi aku masih berefleks bahwa udara di luar masih sama dengan udara Kuala Lumpur yang tiga hari lalu kukunjungi. Kupakai cepat jaketku dan kutatap dari jauh sopir bus itu yang berdiri di pintu bus belakang. Dia melihat jam tangannya dan menoleh kesana kemari menunggu seseorang. Aku berlari kearahnya. “Come on, Sil….I am waiting fol you”, ucapnya singkat sambil menunjuk pintu depan. Aku melompat di pintu depan dan bersiap menuju Tokyo. Seharusnya aku tak perlu panik, sepertinya dia diberitahu petugas konter bahwa masih ada satu penumpang yang akan menaiki busnya….Dasar ndeso.

Anyway….Welcome Tokyo.

Kisah Setelahnya—->

Namanya Maeda….Vanilla Air JW 130 dari Kaohsiung (KHH) ke Tokyo (NRT)

Jalur pernerbangan Vanilla Air JW 130 (sumber: https://www.radarbox.com/).

Pramugari ayu berbalut seragam biru dengan bunga di selipan telinga kanannya itu terlihat paling muda….Juga paling cantik.  Senyumnya juga paling ceria.  Berambut pendek  kecoklatan sepanjang bahu tetapi sedikit lebih panjang di potongan sisi kirinya dan sudah barang tentu, paras oriental menjadi penyempurna keelokannya.

Namanya Maeda….

Entah, kalau dirunut, dia terletak di silsilah yang mana dengan Tadashi Maeda, seorang Laksamana Muda yang berperan penting dalam kemerdekaan Indonesia.

Nama Maeda disejarahkan sebagai sebuah Klan Samurai di Jepang. Memiliki sifat jujur, berani, setia dan memegang teguh komitmen pada kebenaran.

Berburu Yen di Kaohsiung International Airport.
Bersiap check-in.
Yes, boarding pass ditangan.
Menuju gate setelah diinterogasi cukup lama di imigrasi.

Pagi itu, dia menjadi yang tersibuk di atas Laut China Timur. Seorang keluarga asal Tiongkok terlalu keras kepala mengakuisisi deret bangku demi berkumpulnya satu keluarga kecil dalam penerbangan Vanilla Air kali ini. “Si Ayu” Maeda terus membujuknya untuk duduk sesuai nomor yang tertera dalam boarding pass. Ternyata suara lembutnya tak pernah berhasil membujuk keluarga itu untuk berpisah hingga separuh waktu penerbangan. Bahkan Maeda merayunya hingga berjongkok di depan penumpang itu.

Entah kenapa sampai sekarang pun aku masih teringat dengan si Maeda ini,

Maeda menjadi sebuah bonus dari penetapan pilihan pada maskapai yang sebenarnya aku tak mengenal baik sebelumnya. Pencarianku pada situs penyaring penerbangan berdasarkan beberapa kategori, memilihkanku pada maskapai pengakuisisi Air Asia Jepang ini. Di kemudian hari, tiket seharga Rp. 800.000 itu menerbangkanku dari Kaohsiung di Taiwan menuju Tokyo.

Bahkan waktu-waktuku sebelum bertemu Maeda ini tak seindah yang kubayangkan. Aku memaksakan diri tidur semalaman di Kaohiung International Airport di sebuah selasar Departure Hall.

Bangun pagi….Bahkan masih terkantuk pun, karena terbawa obrolan dengan penumpang lain hingga lewat tengah malam, aku bersungut-sungut menuju meja check-in setelah menukarkan sisa New Taiwan Dollarku dengan Yen.  Konter check-in bernomor D18 dengan LCD bercantum nama maskapai menyelesaikan proses itu dengan cepat.

Gate 30, tempat menunggu Vanilla Air JW 130 datang.
Boarding yang membahagiakan.
Cari bangku bernomor 27D.

Masalah lain muncul,

Di meja imigrasi, terjadi agenda klarifikasi segala yang membuatku dipisahkan dari antrian dan di dudukkan pada sebuah bangku di ujung deretan konter.

Why do your visa look like this”, Visa Waiverku dicurigai.

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

Wait, let me check to my boss!”.

Wanita muda itu tergopoh meninggalkanku menuju sebuah ruangan. Aku masih tenang saja menantinya kembali, hingga 15 menit lamanya.

Ahh…Aku pasti lolos”, batinku.

Ok, sir, It’s valid”, celotehnya membuyarkan beku mukaku yang sedang mengamati sebuah pojok bangunan terminal.

Setelahnya, dia melepasku untuk memasuki sebuah koridor berplafon lengkung dangan pohon-pohon artifisial di sisi kiri menuju ke gate nomor tiga puluh.

Itu dia “Si Ayu” Maeda.
Disembarkation Card dan Customs Declaration untuk memasuki Jepang.

Lalu bagaimana dengan keluarga Tiongkok yang sedari tadi dibujuk “Si Ayu” Maeda?

Bersyukur, pimpinan pramugari turun tangan membantunya dan berhasil memisahkan keluarga kecil itu sesuai prosedur penerbangan.

Mengesankan! Vanilla Air menjadi maskapai  nomor empat belas dari dua puluh delapan jenis maskapai yang telah kunaiki. Bersyukur tentunya bisa menikmati jasa penerbangan milik anak perusahaan ANA (All Nippon Airways) ini.

Pagi itu pilot menjelaskan ada sedikit badai yang berasal dari Laut Filipina, tapi syukurlah, turbulensi itu tak berlangsung lama dalam perjalanan. Pernebangan menggunakan Airbus A320, sejauh 2.500 Km, berselang tiga jam dengan ketinggian 37.000 feet ini sungguh menyenangkan. Mungkin saja, karena ini adalah titik kulminasiku dalam menjelajah Asia. Siapa sih yang tak berhasrat mengunjungi Negeri Matahari Terbit itu.

Pukul sebelas lebih beberapa menit akhirnya aku tiba Narita International Airport.

Yuk berpetualang di Tokyo!

Alternatif untuk tiket pesawat dari Kaohsiung ke Tokyo bisa dicari di 12Go atau link berikut: https://12go.asia/?z=3283832

Kisah Setelahnya—->