From Kuala Lumpur we flew to Japan and had a long layover in Tokyo before heading to Portland. Being lovers of Japan, ramen, Japanese food, and everything to do with it, we took advantage of our layover and jumped on the quickest metro to a small town outside of the airport to get some local food and walk around a bit.
I honestly couldn’t tell you the name of the place that we ate at, but it was just a few stops from the airport via metro and it was open 24 hours for ramen. So, nothing was amiss when we showed up at 7am for a bowl of ramen and some gyoza, the only challenge was that the whole menu was in Japanese with no pictures. To make it even more challenging, you had to press buttons of what you wanted on a machine that looked kind of like a vending machine, put your money in, and then magically someone will appear at the bar to deliver your bowls of soup and dumplings. After some roughly pieced together Japanese that I studied in high school, we were happily slurping on delicious fatty ramen broth and noodles. The ramen in Japan is amazing. There is no other way to describe it.
We are big on a specific kind of ramen called “tonkotsu ramen.” Tonkotsu refers to the type of broth, which is used a rich, fatty, pork broth that has been brewed for hours in order to reach optimal deliciousness. We’ve tried a lot of other bases like miso, shoyu, shio, and chicken, but tonkotosu is far and beyond the best we’ve ever had, no matter where we are!
After our little adventure we headed back to the airport to get on our final flight home. Everything seemed fine, we boarded and waited for our pilot to initiate take off. But before we could go, we got a bit delayed by a fellow who decided to tell off a flight attendant. Our flight ended up being a bit delayed because our pilot demanded the guy to be removed from the flight because he has a zero-tolerance policy. After that hiccup we were off. I noticed the plane making some weird noises after take off but didn’t think much of it until our pilot came over the intercom announcing we had to have an emergency landing back in Tokyo after we dumped some fuel because we were having trouble with our landing gear.
Once landed an hour and half later, we were greeted with Delta’s full staff giving us McDonalds, snacks, and beverages for the inconvenience. Honestly, I was impressed, good on Delta. They announced that the flight would not be able to go back up that evening and we would have to wait until the following day to get to Portland. With that inconvenience though, they provided a hotel for the night, dinner, lunch, and Delta $125 credit. I thought that was great service and more than enough for compensation. However, we did encounter MANY unruly Americans complaining about this that and the other thing, so that was a bit exhausting.
We used our extra time in Tokyo to catch up on sleep and eat as much as possible before heading back to the airport for yet another shot at our flight home. Fortunately, we were able to enjoy another noodle meal, some Japanese whiskey and snacks before boarding our flight. This flight was luckily on time and without any problems. We were also impressed with the inflight service and food Delta provided on an international flight. They gave us headphones, blankets, pillows, toothbrushes, and some of the best airplane food and cocktails I’ve ever had. Overall, happy with the experience, but we were absolutely exhausted by the time we got home, nearly 4 days after we had started traveling home. Scott’s mom was kind enough to pick us up from the Portland airport and from there we headed home for our two short weeks back in Oregon before continuing our trip abroad.
After visiting Tokyo briefly a few times now for long layovers we are completely sold on coming back. We love everything about Japan and are ready to plan a longer trip there hopefully in the future. Ultimately to eat lots of good food, go to some bath houses, see some Shinto shrines, and the beautiful landscapes!