Since we had come into Thailand over a land border and the Thai government decided to change visa lengths for land crossings in December, we were only given a 15 day visa. Knowing we needed to be in Thailand until March 4 when we fly back to New Zealand, we began researching where we could fly in/out of so we could get a new, 30 day visa. Turns out we had enough miles to get to Japan, and - this is the miracle - there was availability! Had to spend a couple of days researching hotels, trains in Japan and restaurants, but managed to get it all organised.
So, after a night in at an airport hotel in Bangkok, off we went to winter - a real winter that is, not the 35 degree C (90F) winter of SE Asia, but the 5-10C winter of central Japan.