Chapter 5: Holiday

The summer vacation is just around the corner. I want to visit the parents of my overseas childhood friend, but I don’t want to go there alone, and my parents are still away.

Students who did the recent test badly are required to take remedial lessons, which would eat up the holiday period, partly because that there would be no lessons for quite a while after the holidays due to preparations of the upcoming cultural festival. Fortunately, nobody in my class failed, which is considered quite rare.

Me: Hey, everyone! Who wants to go to that country with me for the holidays? I will be paying for all the expenses! I am heading there to visit the parents of my childhood friend who lived there but passed away back in May. You guys need not follow me around when there and you would be staying in a hotel in the downtown district there.

Seems that only a few people responded.

Yukari: That Country? oh, おk(^O^) I don’t have any plans anyway.

Nagisa & Saeko: Me too!

Kyousuke & Minoru: If you let us, we can protect you girls from harm.

Hirano-san: I’ll will be bringing along with my cousins along if you don’t mind…

Saeko’s clone, whom she calls Mamiko, remains silent and emotionless. Her eyes are telling me that she wants to say something, but can’t even move her body. I assume Saeko is bringing her along. I then counted how many people there are. If including me…. 8 and then….. er,

Me: Hirano-san, how many cousins are you bringing along?

Hirano-san: One in Middle school, and the other two in primary school. Their parents have no plans to go anywhere. The oldest, who is the same age as me, is busy with work around that time.

So 8 plus them… 11 people. Not sure about the middle school one, but 2 of which are below 12 years old. The cost of travel is… who cares. I would still have a lot of it left.

Me: Okay, meet me around the news stand of the busiest station in the city in the morning of that day. Bring whatever you want, as long as it’s allowed by the customs of both countries. Be sure that you have a passport that is not expiring in 6 months as you would not be able to come along if you don’t. I will prepare the tickets for the entire journey for all of you.

I ended my speech. I purposely gave a date that is more than a week from now to give them ample time to get a valid passport. Saeko seems to be wanting to ask me something.

Saeko: Forgive me if I’m being rude, but may I know where is this money that you are helping us to pay the expenses for comes from?

I can’t say that it’s from inside the briefcase under my parent’s bedroom that was directed by a letter to me from my parents containing several hundred millions of yen from an unknown source. I myself am shock when I first found out about it.

Me: Oh that? It just a very small portion of money I inherited from my grandparents. They were quite rich.

Saeko eyes tells me that she doesn’t believe me, but did not say anything else. Come to think of it, since when did I know her? I tried hard to remember, but nothing came out of it. How strange.

Me: Well, I’ll see you then.

Later in the day, I started to make a list of things to pack, and then figure out a route to get to the international airport from the station I told to meet them at. Referring to the rail network map, it seems that I would need to travel and transfer across multiple lines until the busiest station in the capital before taking a direct line that goes straight there.

There is a Shinkansen line at one of the cities along the way, but the frequency is so terrible that if I were to take the subway train to the same place, including waiting time, it would eventually be the same duration. The total time it would take is more than a day, so I would need to book the hotel from the day after we started our journey. I don’t intend to stay there on the first night though, so it looks like I would book a room a day latter than the rest as I know that at least one of them would tag along with me.

I then proceeded to book the railway tickets, airplane tickets and the hotel rooms. Since the train system of the visiting country can only be bought at the ticket machine there and is valid only on that day, I would only need to prepare the cash of that country’s currency that the machine accepts. I know that there are stored-value ones that are value-for-money per trip of the same distance, but that would be practical only if staying there for a long time.

What else should I pack? Hmm… I don’t want to pack too much. Things like food can be bought along the way, so I should pack some snacks.

“Does my devices work there?”, “Do I need an adapter?”, “Does my bank card work there?”, are some of the questions I asked to myself. I have traveled overseas before with my parents, but it’s them who manages this kind of problems. Now, it’s only myself.

When the day came, I did some final checks, lock up all the possible entry points, and made my way to the specified meeting point. Just to be safe, after taking more-than-sufficient amount of money for the whole trip, I had deposited all the money that was lying under my parents’ bed into my bank account which I can withdraw overseas from. Of course, since it’s a huge amount and could possibly withdraw overseas, I had to head to the bank the day before. This luggage bag is big and heavy, good thing it has wheels.

The meeting point was around the newsstand of the busiest station. The reason why I chose this place was that it’s not so crowded and that the only train line that stops at stations outside the city that is transferable to several other lines in the direction of the international airport. Besides, I checked where my classmates are staying and that they would have to pass through this station anyway. It seems that I am early and that there is no one else here.

Girl 3: Yo! Haruna-chan!

A familiar voice called me. It was Saeko and, behind her, the twin she calls Mamiko.

Me: Oh, Saeko. You’re early. Where are the others?

Saeko: All of our classmates are on the way now, but Aiko-chan is having problems bringing her cousins here, so they could be late. They are too exicted.

After some time, all of my classmates had arrived. What is Hirano-san doing that is taking so long? It’s now some time past the meeting time, and everyone is getting impatient. I had counted delays like this as part of the traveling time.

At last, they arrived. She came with 3 kids: 2 boys and a girl. The boy’s ages seem to be some years apart, and with the girl’s age in between theirs. They seem quite playful with each other and don’t seem to be aware that Hirano-san is joining us for the journey despite their parents being informed in their presence. They ignored us.

Yukari: か、かっ、かわいいい! \(◎o◎)/!

Me: Well, I know it would be appropriate for us to introduce each other now, but we would be having a long trip to the airport and again on the plane to that country. On top of that, the train would be arriving and departing in less than 5 minutes. So, here are the train tickets.

I passed everyone the tickets, boarded the train, and found a seat. People looked at us for a while. Was it because we are traveling in a large group, or was it because of the children? The train arrived as soon we reached the platform.

Now that we are on the train towards the capital, the ride would be more than enough to introduce everyone. Hirano-san started the introduction.

Hirano-san: Okay, these are my cousins. They are still quite young and playful though. So, forgive them if they are rude. (turns to them) Go on, introduce yourselves to these people.

Except for the oldest boy, who introduces himself first, they seemed rather shy.

Boy 3: I’m Shin’ichi, the oldest guy in the family.
Girl 4: My name is I-Izumi. N-Nice to meet you all.
Boy 4: You can call me Kousei…

None of the three children mentioned their family name, but no one (except me) seem to notice.

*****

Everyone, except me, fell asleep and had to be woken up again when reaching the transferring station. I can’t, because I have to pay attention to see if the station we want to alight at is approaching. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even sure if I fell asleep as my eyes kept trying to shut close with my head moving in random directions, and at the same time, know every single station that we went past.

The train soon pulled into our last transfer station, where we would finally take the train towards the international airport. The platform wasn’t crowded, but there are a lot of people walking about at the entrances and transfer areas. Looks like we have to keep an eye on each other, especially Hirano-san’s cousins.

I reminded everyone that we are on the way to catch the plane at the airport, so we could explore the capital on the way back.

Announcement: The train heading towards the international airport will be departing quite soon. All passengers who are heading there, please board the train now.

It seems that the train that heads to the airport is already at the platform when we reached there.

After about an hour, we finally reach the airport. Everyone was excited as most of them have not even been to the airport before, let alone gone overseas. We then made our way to the departure area of the South Wing at Terminal 1. As I proceed to collect our tickets, the lady at the counter asked for all of our passports before she could print the tickets and they did.

I checked the names on their passports: I noticed that all of Hirano-san’s cousins has Miyazawa as the family name and that her given name is indeed Aiko, as mentioned by people close to her. The birth date of the oldest of her cousins clarifies on my doubts as to whether he is still 12, as he is in the first year of middle school, and his birthday is just a few months from now.

Lady at counter: Okay, so here are your tickets. The immigration counter is that way.

I could have bought first class tickets. But looking at the people I’m traveling with that has children, economy class is better with reasons including not disturbing people at the first class area.

After checking-in our luggage and clearing immigration, we proceeded to board the plane. We had to board the plane about 30-45 minutes before the departure time. A bit earlier to get past security and the people queuing up in front of us. The seat belt indicator was soon turned on after what seemed forever and we soon had them on. Some of them are saying about their fear of something wrong happening. There are some stuff attached to the chairs that I don’t really know how it works or require something that I don’t have.

The plane soon started to take off. I could tell by the staff closing the the doors where we entered.

Announcement: Hello, this is the captain of this flight speaking. We are now departing from here to that country. Please ensure that your seat belts are tightly secure. The plane is scheduled to arrive there in 6 hours. Thank you for traveling with our airlines.

The plane was from low speed and suddenly accelerated to a very fast speed, even faster than the train. As it was traveling at high speed, The front was tilted upwards for quite a while and soon leveled. The temperature seemed to be lower that it was earlier. I looked out at the window (along with anyone who never take the plane on a regularly) and saw that the ground is very far below and saw clouds hovering below us. Everyone was excited, though some were uninterested or scared.

During the takeoff, it feels as though I had left my body behind.

Since we boarded our flight at night, most of us just slept thought the entire flight since takeoff. Well, we did spend a lot of time traveling to the airport with some breaks along the way, so this flight is long enough to sleep.

Announcement: “…are now arriving into the country shortly. Outdoor temperature is 85℉ or 29℃ with humidity of 93%. Please stow away or secure loose objects and fasten your seat belts when the indicator turns on for lading. Thank you for traveling with us and hope you would have a nice day.

During the landing, the plane declined downwards and felt a thud from below, followed by rumbling as the plane touched the ground and reduces it’s speed to a halt before the plane is towed towards the terminal so we could just enter the terminal via a bridge from the plane exit.

After clearing customs and collected our luggage, I exchanged my country’s currency for that country’s currency. Amount I received seems to be more than what I thought it would be after dividing by a hundred of my currency.

Saeko: Haruna, do you know which part of this country are we headed to?

Me: Erm…

Chapter 4 Page 12, 13, 14 Chapter 6 →

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