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Starting out

Perth to Tokyo to Los Angeles - 23rd and 24th March, 2008

Perth city taken from the International Airport
Perth Airport
On the day of departure I worked till 6am.  A quick nap till 9am and then it was off to Perth Airport to meet up with my mate Glen for our weekly cuppa and chat.  Glen is a fellow bus driver and we chat about stupid passengers and also lot's of travel talk.  Glen is 201 days from his next overseas trip which includes Europe and the USA.

After the chat and some plane spotting - not much going on at Perth Airport on a Sunday morning, or any morning for that matter - I headed off for a chat with son Scott at work and then home at 2pm.

Meanwhile Rayls caught up with housework, packing and other last minute stuff.

The plan is for Scott to pickup Rayls and me at home at around 8pm and go to the airport via my work where Ryan is working in the Swan Transit Radio Room.

Next update possibly from Barstow on Tuesday 25/3 (sorry 3/25).

We made it!

On our way to departures - Perth Airport
Finally we are off!
It's Monday evening 24th March and we are in Barstow, half way between LA and Las Vegas. Going via Tokyo was a great idea. The day room at Narita Airport was a great success. Both flights were good although the American 777 flight was much more crammed than the Qantas 767 flight.

LA traffic was a bear and we were pleased to get out and into Barstow.

Already we have had two lots of American hospitality - we met Robert in Wal-Mart Barstow who gave me my first 'bless you' after I sneezed in the tissue section - Robert liked the irony in that!!!!  It ended up in a great 30 minute chat about our respective countries (and a few other things). It was a nice moment, we will probably never see Robert again but he is a young man who made an impression on us.

Then it was to Dennys where we were served by Trena - a young black woman who also made an impression. We chatted for some time about tipping. She advised us of how the tax system works, she pays tax on tips whether there is one or not. The IRS assumes there is one and so she pays a percentage on what they assume she got. If there is no tip, or a small tip, she still pays tax on that assumed amount and she can actually lose money. Amazing. Trena is a lovely mother of 5 and a battler and she was very interesting to talk to.

There is many more details on our first day but 10:10pm and we are both very tired after little sleep since we left Perth. More details and photos coming soon.

Perth to Tokyo

Narita Web Cam, our flight just left of centre. It was raining.
Narita Airport Web Cam

All went well on the first leg of our holiday.

Scott drove us to the airport and it took just minutes to check in. After a brief chat Scott was on his way home and Rayls and I headed through Immigration into the departure lounge. At this time was feeling a little down, sad to leave his son's and of course the family dog, Hunter. However, he was soon back to normal.

Our flight was pretty full and we were soon boarded and on our way right on time. This flight was Qantas QF79.

The flight was pretty uneventful. The service was good and the flight smooth enough. We both managed some sleep, Rayls more than me.

We arrived in Tokyo's Narita Airport (it's actually around 60 kilometres from Tokyo) in very wet conditions but a few minutes early. With an 8 hour lay over I had already booked a day room. We had a couple of hours to kill before the day room was available - leaving the day room a couple of hours after our arrival gave us time for flight delays and time to look around the airport.

The day room was a great success and we both managed some sleep and a very refreshing shower before the departure on our next leg to LA. The view of the airport from the lounge in the day room area was awesome.

This was the first time we have flown to LA via any other place than Sydney. It was done for costing purposes, it is a little cheaper to go this way, as well as for something different. It allowed us to depart Perth at the International Terminal instead of the Domestic Terminal. The 8 hour lay over was a concern, some young adventurous people use the time to race into Tokyo and have a quick look around. We are neither young nor adventurous and used the day room and we both agreed this was a good way to go in the future. No terminal changes and a very easy transition from one flight to the next.

Tokyo to LA

After we left the day room there was a short train ride from Terminal 2 to it's satellite terminal. It's around 300 metres/yards and the train just goes up and back, so no delays. We had a short wait at Gate 91 before boarding our American Airlines Boeing 777 flight AA170 to LAX.

Once again we left on time - although there was a long taxing period to the runway and then a 10 minute wait for flights ahead of us to depart and other flights to land.

The seats on this aircraft were a litle closer and we both found it difficult to get comfortable. There is an entertainment system on the 777, a TV in the rear of the seat ahead of you. We had no way of knowing what was on and so after take off I surfed the channels and was a little disappointed with what I found. There was 12 channels and some were Japanese. There was a classics movie channel which was showing All The President's Men and a couple of other movie channels which showed more current movies such as Alvin and the Chipmunks. Both these movies were watched in part over and over again but as our mate Glen says in the Travel Tips area of this web site the best entertainment is the flight map showing where we are. I was lucky as Rayls left her TV on the map whilst I watched the movies, glancing regularly at the map on the seat next to me. The map was less exciting than normal given there was a Japanese cycle which left me a little confused.

We approached the cost of the USA just above San Francisco before making landfall 100 miles or so from LAX. The views as we came in were just awesome. About a half hour before landing the captain came on the PA and announced that this was his last flight after 30 years as a pilot with American Airlines - he opened up a bit and after a chat there was a round of applause from all the passengers. Kind of cool, although we then had to go through the Japanese translation. Why is it that it always seems to take the Japanese twice as long to say the same thing that was just said in English. The vast majority of passengers (80%?) were Japanese so you can't knock the Japanese content on the flight.

We had a great view of LA as we came in to land and the captain's last landing was text book. Perfect.

Arrival in LA and on to Barstow

Disembarking the 777 took some time as we had to be bused to the international area. By the time we got to the Immigration area there was a long line of up to 500 people ahead of us. US Citizens have this much shorter line but alas we were 100 people beyond the rather lengthy maze system they have in the immigration area. However things went pretty quick and within 45 minutes we were past the Immigration area and collecting our bags which had been taken off the carousel and were waiting for us. Customs was much easier and within a few minutes we were out on the street having bypassed the area where people wait to meet incoming passengers. Nobody there to meet us!

An Alamo bus was just pulling up as we exited the terminal and we rushed across to board it. There was no real hurry as the shuttle buses come through every few minutes. Bags loaded we headed to the Alamo facility where we waited in line for about 15 minutes before being served. The gentleman behind the counter was very keen to upgrade us to a larger car at $11 a day - no thanks. Then he offered roadside protection at $4.95 a day - no thanks. He was annoyed as the car had been pre-paid and he got no commission from us and made a big deal about making sure we took a compact car from the lot.

There was about 10 cars to choose from and I was tempted by a VW (not the bug type) but we ended up with a blue Corolla because we drive a Corolla at home. There was much going to the wrong side of the car as we started out loading the car and then we took some time to get the GPS to work. Sadly it is in metric which is different to the distances here but we will manage.

We loaded in the coordinates for the Glendale Galleria Shopping Mall and off we want but we were headed the wrong way as for some reason the GPS had locked onto LAX. We fixed that and were soon on our way again. Traffic was OK but roadwork’s near the Galleria were a pain. We had intended to visit a number of stores in the Galleria including a Lego store for our friend Glen back home. We spent half an hour there but decided to push on as we were tired and a little bit queasy.

We put in the coordinates for the Days Inn in Barstow and after 2 hours arrived there at 5pm. It was an OK drive especially after we left LA. We both like Barstow, not sure why but we do. The service at the Days Inn was excellent and we were soon in our room. Our first taste of American differences when we were asked if it was OK if we had a room on the first floor. I had visions of lugging the luggage up a flight of steps but then remembered that in the US the first floor is what would be the ground floor back home.

The room was great and after settling in we headed to the Wal-Mart where we bought bottled water and numerous toiletries and other bits and pieces for the trip. We met up with Robert, a Wal-Mart associate, who gave me a 'bless you' after I sneezed in the tissue section. Sadly the sneeze resulted in me eventually getting a cold but before that we chatted with Robert for some time. Nice guy and we gave him our business card and noticed subsequently that he has left a message in our guest book.

After Wal-Mart we headed off the Denny's for dinner. We were served by Trena, a lovely lady with whom we chatted about tipping procedures and a few other things. Food was good and we enjoyed our stay.

Back to the hotel around 9pm - it had been a long day. A very long day, it started a few minutes after we left Perth and included a 9+ hour flight to Tokyo, a 8 hour lay over in Tokyo and a 9+ hour flight to LA before a 2 hour drive to Barstow. Somewhere between Tokyo and Barstow we had crossed the International Dateline.