Saturday, 10 November 2012

Continues from Day 18: Tokyo and flight home

An hour or two before we were due to land I woke up and we started filling out our arrival card and getting our stuff in order for arrival at the Gold Coast airport.

Arriving in Australia and clearing our customs is always much more stressful than doing it in a foreign country since our regulations are so strict and the questions we have to fill out are so vague.

Do you have any drugs, goods that may be prohibited or subject to restrictions, such as
medicines, steroids, firearms, weapons of any kind or illicit drugs?
I have to tick yes to this one because of the medicine but it makes it sound like I'm a drug dealer packing heat.

Wooden articles, plants, parts of plants, traditional medicines or herbs, seeds, bulbs, straw, nuts?
This one gets us because what exactly is a part of a plant? Cotton? Paper?

Also, lots of things are made out of wood.

Soil, items with soil attached or used in freshwater area se.g. sports/recreational equipment, shoes?
Yes for this one because we've walked on dirt. It's not a lot of soil but it's there.

What is a freshwater area? Doesn't this include anything that's not the ocean or a desert? I don't know if geothermal water is classed as fresh, maybe it depends on whether or not it's meteoric or not.

Have you been in contact with farms, farm animals, wilderness areas or freshwater streams/lakes etc in the past 30 days?
What is a wilderness area?

The freshwater streams or lakes gets me though, it seems like it'd be really hard to avoid water. Anyway we have to tick that one thanks to the foot bath in Nobribetsu.

Not long after we finished filling in our cards the plane landed, we got off and went to collect our bags.

Near the bag collection area was some bins and a sign saying that we should either finish off all fresh food or bin it. Kate had bought a ginormous apple for the plane trip and took this opportunity to eat it. It was apparently very delicious and juicy but she couldn't finish it all and had to bin the remainder.

There was some sort of big hold up with the bags and we had to wait ages.

After a fairly long wait the machine started and a few bags came out and we thought we'd be on our way soon but those few bags were it- and for the most part they just kept going around and around with no one claiming them.

We were waiting so long that the customs officials who were waiting to inspect us in the next section actually came around in order to do some pre-processing of us. One of them had one of those really cute beagle sniffer dogs and was taking him around to everyone for a sniff.

At the time Kate and I were at different ends of the airport and when it was her turn to be sniffed I was really shocked to see the dog take an intense interest in Kate. It was going crazy and there was lots of "Good Dog!! Good dog!!" from the officer. The beagle got a good stiff of our carry on baggage and was especially interested in Kate's bag. Eventually the dog sat down next to Kate to indicate it had found the culprit.

I was getting ready to explain that no I didn't know who this drug dealer is and I have no idea why she put her bags near mine when I went off to go to the toilet.

When I wandered closer to see what the fuss was about I overheard the interrogation and it seemed that rather than drugs they were interested in fresh food. Kate explained that while there was an apple in her bag she'd already taken it out and disposed of it and there was nothing else in there.

 Kate told me that the lady was very suspicious and asked questions like "are you sure you threw away the apple" and she had to reply saying that yes, she was very sure. This eventually seemed to satisfy the lady although Kate wondered why she didn't get open the bag or get Kate to open it.

Eventually after about forty five minutes we heard lots of thumps and lots of baggage started circulating. In our travels we've had a few instances where our bags were the first to come out (Osaka and London), unfortunately this time this didn't happen and we had to wait a further six or so minutes until our bags arrived.

Once we had them we went over to customs and were asked to stand in line. The dog went ballistic again at Kate and the same lady was again super suspicious though after a minute realised that they had already gone through this earlier.

Kate has always had a harder experience getting through customs than me. The previous year she raised a few eyebrows because of the amount of boxes of Pocky chocolate stuffed in her suitcase. They were also suspicious of her cereal and was asked to describe what it was (e.g. cornflakes, coco pops), the best she could come up with was "Whinny the pooh", which was sufficient.

After passing through customs we exited the airport and went over to the bus stop.

Since we were in Australia now it was about ten minutes late, when it did show up we had a bit of trouble with our big suitcases but it wasn't too bad and we were not the only ones with luggage.

One thing that was really annoying was that we had stupidly left our Go cards (IC card) at home which meant we had to buy paper tickets for our trip back to Brisbane. This meant that the trip cost us over $20 each when it would've only cost $5 if we had remembered our cards.

We caught the bus to a nearby train station and then caught the train all the way back to Brisbane. I remember being surprised by the Australian English announcement on the train. After about 2 hours on the train we arrived at a station near (for Brisbane) our house and were picked up and taken home.

And that completes our trip!

Thank you everyone for reading about my adventures in Japan!


  1. Mate great blog!

    I am from Brisvegas as well and am going to Japan at the end of the year and this has certainly been helpful.

    Was wondering which place is better to stop at Aomori or Hakodate for a night?


    1. Hi, thank you for the feedback!

      I hope you enjoy your trip, I'm sure you'll have a great time!

      If you had to choose between the two I'd say Hakodate as it has an amazing "top three in Japan" night view of the city and bay from the top of Mt. Hakodate. After visiting the other two I'd say that the one from Hakodate is the best as well. Fort Goryokaku is also quite nice as well.

      Hakodate also has a better selection of hotels; we only really found one that suited us at Aomori. Also cheesecake.

      Aomori is a good base though for exploring the prefecture though (e.g. Hirosaki, shimokita peninsula). The float and art museum are also worth a look.

      What would be best for you though probably also depends on how much time you have and what you're doing before and after these cities. They're about two hours apart by train though there's only a limited amount of trains you can get.

      Travelling all the way from Hakodate to Sendai or from Aomori to Sapporo would be quite long trips.

      If I had to pick I'd say Hakodate :)