Archive for June, 2003

Lying on my bed typing….

Japan Time: 9:00am, June 27
Vancouver Time: 5:00pm, June 26

I finally made it. The trip itself, turned out to be a little more adventurous than I had planned, however.

When the plane landed in Tokyo, I had an hour and fifteen minutes before I was suppose to board the next plane (to Nagoya). However, I was getting conflicting stories about my luggage. In Vancouver, they told me I had to pick up my baggage in Tokyo and check it in all over again. I had to do this so as it went through the Narita customs. So, I’m following this massive crowd of people to the baggage claiming area, and this Japanese airport guy tells us to go down this other hall… in Japanese, of course. I swear he was looking directly at me when telling everyone to go down that hall. Well, that was away from baggage claims, and in the time I figured out I really did have to go pick up my baggage at LEAST one more flight-full of people had lined up to claim baggage. I knew I would not have time to do whatever it is I had to do. I also got confused about International and Domestic flights. Anyways, I lined up at a help-desk (took many tries to get the right one) and explained my situation. They were very nice, spoke very good English, and got me transferred onto the next flight to Nagoya. I took Kato-san’s (the one who was going to pick me up) cell phone number out of my wallet, got someone to assist me making the call with one of Haseeb’s calling cards (arigatou Haseeb!), apologized many times, and had time to spare.

Two highway tolls (totalling 1000yen ~ 12$CDN) and 30 minutes later, we were at the dormitory. The Sanyo Solar Ark is pretty cool – that’s right across the street from the dormitory. First thing I noticed: the smell. Second thing I noticed: it wasn’t pretty. I was sweating profusely by the time we had found my room and hauled the luggage up there (5th floor, no elevator). Kato-san was extremely nice; he asked me if I was hungry and how much I could eat. I said, “a little,” so he took me to a convenience store to get something to eat. I got out my wallet and paid for my stuff (warm lemon tea and Japanese pickle sushi) right away, because I’m sure he was going to. Maybe I just should let him, but he’s already done (and is going to do) so much! He’s taking me out for lunch today, and then there’s a welcoming party for dinner with me and a few other interns and new employees. Anyways, Ben had left a welcome note in my locker so I went and knocked on his door after saying bye and thanking Kato-san. Just then, John stepped out of the door next to Ben’s, and they gave me a guided tour.

After saying goodnight to Ben and John, I spent a long time unpacking until I was satisfied. I really wanted to have a bath, but first, I had to use the toilet. There are three stalls in each bathroom, two bathrooms on each floor. First stall I looked at scared me: squat-toilet. Second stall: squat-toilet. Oh great, I thought, I’m gonna have to learn how to use one of these…. Thankfully, the third stall turned out to be a westernized toilet. If you don’t know what a squat-toilet is, it’s basically a trough in the floor which you squat over and do your thing. It’s got the same flushing function as a regular (western) toilet, but you never touch it. Even with the westernized toilet, there are water soluble paper covers to place on the seat. Yes, it took me a while to figure that out. And there’s nothing to dry your hands with! I will have to get a hand towel or something.

It was somewhere around 2:30am Japan time, and I had not gotten more than 4 hours sleep over the last (couple?) days. But, I forced myself to try out the bath, because I needed it. Badly. The baths are very interesting. You sit (naked) on a small stool with a hole in the centre, facing a mirror. There is a shower head in front of you which you use to get yourself wet and wash yourself with. Surprisingly, I didn’t seem to mind this, at all. However, there was no-one else in there at the time (there is no such thing as a wall in Japanese baths, it seems). There is also a deep, piping-hot bath in the same room as all the stools and mirrors. And I mean HOT! It must have taken me 5 minutes to get in that sucker! No wonder Japanese have no hair, they scold it off! I felt much better after the bath, and went to sleep shortly after.

Waking up this morning, I immediately turned on the air conditioner in my room. Slowly, I got dressed, slipped into my glossy green slippers that were provided, and went to the cafeteria for breakfast. Lucky for me, Ben and John were still there to tell me what to do! I had scrambled egg with bits of ham in it, a bowl of rice, and a bowl of miso soup. That filled me up and cost 200yen (about $2.40 CDN). I’ll probably just get the egg or the rice and soup (unless I’m *really* hungry) in the future.

I *did* end up forgetting something else (I had previously forgotten the AC power adapter for my laptop, but my big brother was kind enough to drop that off at the airport); my CD player’s AC adapter!! Now the 17$ rechargeable batteries are useless. Oh well, I don’t imagine I’ll be using it much. I can just buy regular AA batteries here.

On a Boeing 747 somewhere over the Pacific Ocean

We’ve encountered some turbulence and the captain has told us not to panic. The oxygen masks have leaped out from hiding in anticipation. … Just kidding. =) While there is minor turbulence at the moment, but it’s nothing to get worried about. I say this, of course, being an expert on the matter. ^_^

So, this is it. The plane lifted off around 1:30pm, so I’ve been in the air for six hours, so far; four more to go! I won’t see Vancouver or any of its familiar faces for about a year. Friends and family will be missed dearly. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t shed a tear today. But, I’m also really excited about my trip! So far, on the plane, I’ve had the opportunity to fill out a “Health Questionnaire” and a “Disembarkation/Embarkation Card.” Fun stuff. The airplane food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good, either. Okay, maybe it was a little bad – but that’s to be expected. I ate it. Some of it was pretty good. Vegetables, however, just didn’t pan out in the air. I’ve had a bit of sleep (in-voluntarily – I collapsed holding a pencil in one hand and a book in the other trying to practice my Hiragana and Katakana, and woke up in the exact same position an hour or so later). My body forced me into sleep because I robbed it of it last night in favour of packing, I suppose.

I’m wearing my N-95 SARS mask, right now. I haven’t seen anyone else wearing one, but I’d feel guilty if I didn’t wear it and the Sanyo folk had “advised” me on doing so. Actually, I completely forgot about it until I woke up from my nap with those fun forms to fill out. 😮

I’ve got an aisle seat. This, I learned, is probably a good thing. The seats do seem very narrow, and I barely got any room for my feet + notebook bag. My other carry-on (only supposed to have one) is in the compartment above. I’m at the very tail of the plane. Bathroom is not more than 12 feet (no… I should use metric system!) … *long silence* .. FOUR metres behind me. How do I scratch my nose through this bloody mask?! >.< I've played a fair amount of cards with my neighbour. He's going to Hong Kong to visit family and (surprise) “shop.” =) Aaaah, pirated goods truly do have impressive drawing power. They've played two movies that I'm aware of: Just Married (what I saw was pretty lame) and currently, The Recruit (looks good, but I missed the beginning). Currently listening to: The Cocteau Twins. But, they just don't sound the same with the constant scream of the engine. And man does this thing move! Lifting off felt pretty cool. 51% Notebook Battery remaining. Gonna save some for later, I think. If all goes as scheduled, I'll be arriving in Tokyo about 2:30pm Thursday June 26th Japan time, and 11:30pm Wednesday June 25th Vancouver time. Gonna go back to the paper to see if I can pick up any more Japanese. =) *enqueues KMFDM*