Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tokyo (Wednesday/Thursday)

I'm back from Japan and have a week and a half to catch up on blog posts before I leave Germany again. I'm going to back date the posts to match the days of my trip.

Getting to Japan from Bonn takes 22 hours door-to-door: a short walk to the train station, an hour train ride to Dusseldorf, an hour flight to London, an 11 hour flight to Tokyo, a 2 hour bus ride (damned traffic) to the Akasaka district of Tokyo, and a 10 minute cab ride to my hotel. I left 9am on Wednesday, and with only an hour nap on the plane I arrived at 3pm Thursday -- 9 hours away from finally sleeping: ate lunch, looked for some caffeine, tried to go to a park and found it closed, wandered around Ginza with Takemi and Eugene, ate dinner at a hot pot place, saw Takemi's apartment (he has a Wii!).

Some random notes on traveling. I flew a 1:30pm British Air flight from Dusseldorf. I, of course, ate lunch at the airport before getting on the plane. On the plane, however, they gave out little chicken wraps the size of half a sandwich. A direct flight from Chicago to Honolulu is 9 hours and they serve no food. An hour flight, and they served food. Amazing.

At London Heathrow, I went to buy a book (Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, by the way, which I never started and packed in my check-in luggage on the way back). After months of being in Germany, it was very nearly blissful to walk into the tiny airport bookstore and see all the books in English (Yay! English!). The near irony was that all the books were priced in British pounds and 1.) I haven't a clue how much a pound is and 2.) I didn't have any British pounds (hooray for credit cards).

I finally gave my Bose QuietComfort3 headphones the workout they've been craving. I must admit that my expectations were too high. The background level after noise canceling might be similar to being in a car. But I can't imagine flying without noise canceling headphones again. The difference in quality of experience is remarkable and if you -- yes, you -- intend to listen to anything (music, TV, announcements from the pilot), you need them.

Terminal 1 at London Heathrow is a big pain. For one, I went through security twice in the 2 hours I was there. For another, they don't tell you what gate your flight will be departing on until it's basically time to board. There are electronic boards posted around the terminal which lists all upcoming flights and you wait and wait for a gate number to pop up on the board. When your full flight to Japan pops up as "boarding now" with 30 minutes until takeoff and at one of the furthest gates, there's going to be mad rush. When there is an additional security check before the gate, it's pretty crazy.

Finally, on the descent into Narita, there was some turbulence. And for some odd reason, the background music that is piped in when the plane is on the ground and boarding had started. So, I was a little nauseated, and disoriented, and there was music that I couldn't quite hear coming from somewhere. (I'll pause here for any Battlestar Galactica related jokes readers would like to make. Everyone good? Okay.)

1 comment:

Eugene said...

(I'll pause here for any Battlestar Galactica related jokes readers would like to make.)

My name is Eugene, and I am a recovering addict....nooo! Gimme more!

The sad thing is that every time I think about Battlestar Galactica now, I can hear the Cylon theme playing in my head. You know, the one that goes "ding ding ding ding ding ding" in monotonic tones? Yeah, that one.