Our Thanksgiving Asia adventure was beginning to come to an end as we boarded our flight in Kuala Lumpur to begin our long trek home. No need to feel sorry for us though, as we were headed to Tokyo for lunch and planned other stops along the way to keep things interesting. (For our full itinerary, check out this post.)
We left Kuala Lumpur (read about our adventures in KL here and here) around 11PM and had a fairly short 7 hour flight to sleep on our way to Tokyo. Although we were able to fly Business Class, it was a bit too short for a decent sleep. We took a quick shower at the airport, and after stocking up on some delicious Japanese snacks, we were all set for the train ride into Tokyo!
We’ve stopped over in Japan a few times in the past when flying to and from Asia, and always love coming back. The efficiency, cleanliness, and respect for everyone and everything is truly unmatched!
Making the most out of our layover, we planned to meet an old friend from Univerity here for lunch. I studied with him in Canada and he recently moved to Tokyo. Arriving in Tokyo a bit early for our lunch get-together, we spent about 10 minutes trying to find our way out of Tokyo Station and walked the streets around Ginza which are every bit as impressive as one would expect.
Meeting up with my friend was an excellent way to finish off our trip, made even better by satisfying our love for sushi! We wanted to have the true Japan experience and had asked Yusuke to find the perfect restaurant for us. He took us to a sushi restaurant called Surugawan Sansen which is located on the 8th floor of the Exit Melsa mall. It's fair to say that this was one of the more adventurous meals we had, especially as a few ingredient names were lost in translation and became ‘mystery’ fish.
Our culinary experience started off with a shrimp and egg soup served in a tiny soup dish...
... followed by some sort of snail and other mystery seafood. We struggled a bit with the idea of eating a snail and didn't realize what we had asked for when we requested a typical Japanese experience. It was surprisingly tasty though once we got used to the texture.
Our main was a plate with a variety of sushi, including more mystery fish - culinary heaven for all raw fish lovers.
The meal was topped off with some excellent matcha ice cream which Bettina was thrilled about. It's fair to say that Bettina is seriously obsessed with all things matcha: matcha tea, matcha kit-kat, matcha mochi (she's also obsessed with mochi in general), matcha everything.
After lunch, we had a few more hours until we had to get back to the airport so we decided to explore Ginza a bit more and walk to the Imperial Palace.
Walking around the city was a bit of shock as it was hovering around 0°C and we were used to the 30°C and humidity of KL! Luckily the sun was shining!
Before we knew it our Tokyo for lunch break was over and we headed back to Toyko-Narita to hop across the Pacific for coffee in Vancouver! After a bit of confusion on whether or not we would have to pick up and transfer our luggage at YVR and getting told two different things from two different people, our bag was once again on track to get back to Chicago! Soon, we were too and made ourselves comfortable aboard JAL.
Because we can't have a layover in Vancouver and not see my family, we got out of the security zone to meet them for a quick coffee and treat from Tim Hortons.
From there, it was one more quick stop through Seattle on the way back to Chicago. We did eventually make it home, only 43 hours after we started the journey back. In total, we took 4 flights to get from Kuala Lumpur back to Chicago with 3 layovers.
I would like to say that we slept for days but given the way we plan our trips - maximizing the amount of things we see while taking minimal vacation days - we had less than 8 hours until we had to be back at work!
We can safely say we had an amazing adventure and maximized our time off! What was your craziest trip? Let us know in the comments below!