From Japan to Germany: Tokyo > Vladivostok
In this article, I will tell about the first stage of my journey from Tokyo in Japan to Kaiserslautern in Germany. This stage is the only part I did by plane because of a lack of an alternative. The ferry from Sakaiminato in Japan to Vladivostok didn’t run and all routes via China were taboo anyway due to COVID-19.
After quitting my apartment I went to Narita airport by bus. I felt a little bit like I was ready for an apocalypse. I wore a mask, had disinfectant spray, and wipes with me. I was wearing heavy snowshoes that didn’t fit the weather in Tokyo. I chose my equipment in a way that I could easily carry it for the following three weeks. It was the last week of February and I had many thoughts about the upcoming trip, although I must admit that I hadn’t planned anything in detail except for the travel route. Masks and disinfectants were necessary precautions for me. Many colleagues and friends in Japan thought that it was a good time to leave the country. In addition to that, I had a feeling of sadness, which I always have when I leave Japan without any plans to return. Even though Japan – like other countries – has its problems, I just like being there.
For such “final” departures, where my Residence Card has to be invalidated, I always arrive at the airport extra early. After checking in my backpack, I ate some vegan ramen and bought some snacks for the flight. There were no queues anywhere so I had plenty of time before my departure: time to get rid of my warm shoes 😉
The 1077km on the plane to Vladivostok felt very short, after all, it is only about 2.5 hours. The view out of the window showed snowy landscapes, which made me feel quite excited. The seat belt sign went out and as usual, many passengers jumped from their seats to open the overhead compartments. Most of the time I stay seated because waiting is much more comfortable that way. The passengers who got up were brought back to their seats by an announcement. Before leaving the plane, the body temperature of the passengers was recorded. In addition, questionnaires were handed out where contact details could be given so that the Russian authorities could inform me if someone in the plane fell ill with COVID-19. Three women in protective clothing walked several times through the middle aisle of the plane and “examined” each passenger with a thermal camera. Also later at the immigration desk, several people checked the passengers with thermal cameras. It was relatively busy – at least that was my impression – but I was in no hurry because it was already late and I had booked a hostel in the terminal building.
I have often had the problem that my flight either took off very early in the morning or landed late in the evening. The latter was the case in Vladivostok. In such cases, I usually stay overnight at the airport, if that is allowed. But in Vladivostok, there was a hostel directly in the terminal building for just a few Euros. After getting a Russian SIM card and some cash, I went to the hostel, which was not even five minutes away from the baggage track. A view out of the window showed the terminal hall with its shops. After an improvised dinner, I lay down in my dorm bed which was quite nice and was wondering what was awaiting me on the following day.