Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 1: Arrival

A numbing 18 hour flight. Left home at 7 o'clock in the morning. I was kind of anxious because my ride didn't show up. I hate to call people in the morning, but I really had no choice. I called and woke her up. Which was a good thing, because for some reason, she though I was leaving at 7 o'clock at night. 30 minutes later, I was getting to the airport in record time.

Arrived way too early. No traffic meant that I got there a full 3 hours ahead of the flight. I decided to sit around. I did download Professor Layton on my DS, so I decided to play with some puzzles. It was half an hour later before I spotted Paul.

By then, it was 8:30 and I was hungry. I had not slept and I was hungry. I wanted to go to Tim Hortons for a chili combo, but for some reason, it was cash only. I had a loonie to my name. Everything else was in Yen. In the end, I ended up getting an overpriced bagel with cream cheese that I put on my visa. $2.50 for a bagel? Please.

Soon enough, we had our flight. Went to Chicago for a 2 hour stopover. We got to go in to American customs using the diplomat lane because every other lane was full. They let us pass right through. No troubles there.

After a mind numbing eighteen hour flight, we arrived and my luggage was easy to spot. Excellent piece of luggage by Dukine. A giant duffel bag on wheels. Custom and immigration was dull. No surprises or anything. Well, one problem. As I was getting off the plane, I went to the washroom, and realized my travel wallet was missing...with my American Express, and all of my money. Frantically, I rushed back to the plane, and was stopped by a steward. Apparently, you're not allowed back onto the plane as soon as you stepped off. However, since I knew when I dropped it (I must have moved too much in my sleep), I got it back right away as it was just below my seat.

That aside, getting to Asakusa was not hard. We were at Narita, so we bought a Suica + N'EX combo ticket which meant we only paid 1500 yen for a trip that should cost more then twice that. However, because we got off at Ueno station instead of Tokyo station, we were worried that we couldn't get out.

So with our limited Japanese skills, we tried asking the ticket collector, but we failed our speech check. So we went to the main ticket office to see if we could do anything. However, they just said that there was nothing they could do. We really didn't want to go back to Tokyo station because it was rush hour and it was already hell trying to get our luggage across.

For some reason, because they were special tickets, it never occured to us that we could just use them like regular tickets. After ONE WHOLE HOUR of standing around, it was a light bulb moment where we tried it at the machine, and it let us pass through. I don't know why we didn't just try it in the beginning.

Then we took the subway to Asakusa to stay at the hostel. It was Asakusa Smile. Not far from the Asakusa station, it was still pretty out of the way of the main city, but close enough with the train/subway.

We dropped off our stuff, and we proceeded to the temple. Asakusa temple is one of the famous temples in Tokyo. After I took some quality shots of the place at night, I made a wish with a 500 yen coin. The storm gate and the temple really felt tranquil, especially in the aura of busy Tokyo. It was strangely calm and not many people were there, partly because it was a weeknight.

Leaving the temple, we sought to find something to eat in Asakusa. Given that it was the first day, we really didn't want to find something too expensive. After walking through the temple and lots of Yakiniku (korean bbq) and Fugu-ryori (blowfish cuisine), we settled to a place where you get tickets from a vending machine and then showed it to the cook. It was Fuji-Soba, or Fuji-noodles, which was a chain apparently in the area. The noodles were cheap, but good. It was a combo, so I had a bowl of rice with some kind of fried tempura bits and egg as well as udon in dashi soup. It was good for 500 yen.

After that, we decided to try some Takoyaki. We circled the temple and streets three times because we remembered there was one we saw on the way to the temple. The lady seemed in a hurry to close up and we should have took that for a sign. After trying to order in Japanese and fail, we ordered by pointing to the sign (which we read in Japanese). It was undercooked. We still finished it as we sat looking at the river at night in our first night in Tokyo.

With the Takoyaki finished, we went to a family mart for drinks and snacks. Paul resisted the temptation of getting a snack. Instead, I got some salted ume (plums) and a CC Lemon drink while Paul got Calpis Water. If there's one thing that I miss most from East Asia is Calpis. Its a yogurty drink that's pretty much my favourite drink of all time. Anyways, I let him try a plum and he spat it out immediately. He said it has to be the worst thing he tasted ever. Oh well, more plums for me.

Okay. Let's Start

Once a day, I'll copy what I wrote on the trip to this. So 16 days. Most days will be short though.

Expect a new one every day before midnight EST.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm sorry but the posts are still not ready yet for my Japan vacation.

But I'll leave you with this thought.

How much heavier is a 20Gb hard drive after it has been installed filled with 20Gb of data?