day one hundred and forty-six: february 22, 2016: a loooong day in transit
The afternoon before, we flew to Kuala Lumpur since flights to Tokyo were significantly cheaper and KL was a good hub for future travel. After our one night stopover, we boarded our ANA flight to Tokyo on time on the morning of the 22nd. After settling into our seats and taking off we were both comfortably watching movies when there was a sudden jolt and a bit of noise. It wasn't characteristic of typical turbulence and to be honest, we were pretty scared, momentarily clutching each other's hands. About 5 minutes after the incident, the flight attendant came on the intercom and announced that the right engine failed. Yikes! She said that we had to turn back to KL because we wouldn't make it to Tokyo on one engine. Of course, we were thankful to be safe, but bummed to be delayed. We were told that everyone would be sent to an airport hotel and rooms would be arranged and flights were being rebooked for everyone.
As we exited the plane, Allie asked if I had checked other flight options. I quickly pulled up Google Flights and saw there was a flight direct to Tokyo on AirAsia. I pulled one of the ANA representatives aside and asked if we could be rebooked on that flight, but she told me that they wouldn't be able to since it was a different carrier. I replied by asking if I purchased that flight on my own whether our existing flight would be refunded. She said yes. So we came up with a game plan, Allie would head to the AirAsia counter to try to buy tickets for two of the last five seats available and I would head to get our bags and head to the hotel just in case she wasn't able to get the tickets.
As I arrived at the hotel with our bags, it became clear that no alternate flight arrangements had been made yet for any of the passengers and that Allie's idea of looking at other carriers was probably the right one. After I got confirmation from Allie that she had the tickets in hand, I talked in detail with one of the head representatives there from ANA and got his business card and rushed over to the AirAsia terminal. Crisis somewhat avoided right? Nope...not quite.
The new flight would put us into Tokyo late in the evening, successfully missing our Chuo bus to Myoko and too late to take the Shinkassen train either, which meant we'd have to stay the night in Tokyo. Lucky for us, there was an early 6 AM train we could take to arrive in Myoko Kogen by 830 AM and still hit the slopes on time. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself, first we had to get on the new flight. We boarded on time. Both of us fell asleep, exhausted from the already long day. We woke up about an hour later and to our amazement we were still on the ground. The flight attendant announced that there was something wrong with the plane and that we would be switching planes. Another delay! Thankfully, the last one of the day. We boarded another plane and were off to Haneda. We landed after midnight and cabbed to a hotel we found near Tokyo Station to make our walk easier in the morning. So about 24 hours later, we were in Myoko Kogen throwing on our ski gear. Yes, I know, things could be a lot worse, so I'm definitely not complaining.
days one hundred and forty-seven thru one hundred and one hundred and fifty-one: february 23, 2016 thru february 27, 2016: myoko kogen
We met up with a bunch of people: my brother and his wife, Jason and Paula; their friends, Oliver, Denny, and Margaret; our family friends, Craig and Wallace; and our friend, Garett.
The strong El Niño this year brought a lot of precipitation to certain areas of North America, but sadly took away significant moisture from Japan this season. Our first day was a day of spring skiing at Akakura Kanko as we kept our fingers crossed for the snow forecasted for the following days. Sadly, Wallace had a minor heart attack on our first day of skiing at our early lunch stop for ramen. Thankfully, the ski patrol and ambulance were able to get him to a local hospital nearby to get him proper treatment. Not a great way to start a trip, but at least he's ok now.
The next day we woke up to a blanket of famous Myoko powder outside our windows. We would quickly learn that a forecast of 7+ cm actually would end up being 40+ cm. Better than the opposite right??
Needless to say, we had a great second day at Myoko Suginohara repeatedly skiing thru the trees off the side of the run where we technically weren't supposed to be.
It continued to snow all day and into the night and we awoke to yet another morning of 40+ cm. We had read the place to go on a big powder day was Seki Onsen, so we hitched a ride from our ryokan hosts and got there early before the lift (yes, singular) opened. There's actually two lifts at Seki Onsen, but the second lift doesn't open until 1030 AM.
As we waited for the first lift to open, we did a little celebration snow dance in preparation for the big day.
*This is a picture of the resort owner, who runs the resort with his wife and son.
Not a ton of pictures from Seki Onsen since it was a big powder day. After riding up together on the first chair, we all quickly scattered without saying much. No friends on powder days, right?
By early afternoon we were all wiped out from doing powder laps so we stopped at the only place to eat. The food at Seki Onsen did not disappoint. Possibly the best katsu-don I've had.
Post lunch, I think we did one more run before heading to a small onsen to soak our tired bodies.
The following days, we skied at Ikenotaira and our final day at Akakura Kanko again. Sadly, there was not much more snow in the forecast but we still had a good time.
Next stop, Tokyo for a few days!