The 18 hours of travel and 4 a.m. wake-up hadn't phased me yet. I was in Japan!
While in line for customs I kept eyeing the other travellers. I was told there was a group of 15 of us travelling to Hiroshima but had no idea what they looked like or where they were coming from. So I played the game in my head "Who looks like a travel writer?"
When I arrived in the departure lounge for Hiroshima the game continued. Was it the guy with a backpack slurping a fresh bowl of soba noodles? He looked like he knew what's up. Or the two elderly men beside me? Or the group of rowdy teenage girls (I couldn't decide if this would be amazing or horrible.)
It wasn't until I sat down on the small plane to Hiroshima that I realized how exhausted I was. Everything hurt, from my toes to my head. I curled up in various positions while the man beside me snored away.
Eventually we landed in Hiroshima, and after grabbing my bags I found the man holding the HIDA (Human Resources and Industry Development Association) sign as anticipated. And at long last - I got to meet my fellow travellers!
All of my guesses were wrong. While I had anticipated other Canadians or Americans, I discovered my group consists of journalists, photographers, and travel show producers from across the globe - Thailand, China, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines ...and even a Parisian.
We were split into two shuttle busses and my jet lag didn't stop me from being the loudest in the group until I crawled into an awkward ball and tried to sleep.
An hour later we arrived at our pier side hotel in Onomichi. We were welcomed by Yuki from HIDA and recommended to run and grab dinner before the restaurant closed.
After a plane ride of protein bars, fruit and chocolate, I was excited for a real meal. I was quickly reminded of the struggles of being gluten free while travelling and dodged some potential glutting thanks to our guide. I'll definitely be travelling with a restaurant card from now on!
This morning I woke up early and walked over to Lawson, my favourite convenience store, to admire some of the novelties and stock up on coffee and water for my room. I don't know why, but the excitement always really sets in for me when I see all the different products and food.
I'm off to have breakfast and then meet my group! Sayōnara!