Goodbye Taiwan, Hello Japan

Flight changes aren’t a good thing as a rule but when our flight from Taipei to Fukuoka was changed from 6:30am to a mid afternoon one we were pleased. It meant we could take a leisurely breakfast at nearby Caffé Bene. We liked their menu and ambience.

Note the ubiquitous row of motor bikes and scooters in front of the cafe. Our hotel allowed us to store our luggage after the noon checkout so we went for a quick look around the shops between our hotel and the area around the main station. About 13:00 we grabbed our cases and took the train out to the Taoyuan International airport. On our arrival we checked our flight was still going, as the Departures board was a mass of red cancelled signs. The good news was our 16:30 China airlines flight (code shared with 3 other airlines) was flying and on time according to the board. We started to drop our baggage but had trouble. Apparently it expected our names on the tickets to include our middle names too. Fortunately a very helpful China Airlines staff member soon had it sorted. After thanking him, we headed around to check in. The guy on the counter explained to us that he would need to check with Japanese immigration officials to check we would be allowed to enter Japan. Clearly the corona virus situation was hotting up. He came back quickly and said we were good to go. By this time we were quite hungry so we went upstairs and bought some takeaway lunch in the virtually deserted food court. Not long after we saw our plane come in. We noted the ground crew had barely any luggage to take out of the hold.We sat around for about another half an hour then embarkation started. We had seats in row 8. All passengers were told that masks were compulsory except for when food or drink was offered. The flight was about one tenth full. Sadly the view out the window for most of the journey was like this.On our arrival in Fukuoka we were very surprised our temperature was not taken and only a few questions were verbally asked at Immigration. Also very few people were wearing masks. We made our way to an ATM and took out some Japanese Yen before catching a transit bus from the international terminal to the domestic terminal. From there we could take a train directly into Hakata Main Station. (Hakata and Fukuoka are twin cities with the Naka River dividing them.) Once there we navigated our way out of the massive station complex and soon worked out which way to go. Trickily we had to collect the keys for our apartment hotel, the Grand Residence Hotel Hakata, at another sister hotel. It was about a ten minute walk. After checking in and collecting our keys and a map we headed off to the Grand Residence Hotel Hakata, a further twenty minutes away. Sadly we ended up walking two sides of a triangle from the station to reach it. On arrival we were very impressed with the spacious set up in our apartment with its neat bathroom and well appointed kitchen and a good sized area for the bedroom/diningroom table. So the walk had been worth it. Nearby there were a few cafes , restaurants and convenience stores, something not lacking in Japan based on our previous experience. We walked a few minutes to the nearby Lawson store and purchased a few items for breakfast and something to eat for a late dinner. Because of the time difference we weren’t that tired but eventually went to bed, keen to see what Fukuoka had to offer the next day and how things would be due to the ever developing corona virus situation.

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