Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Japan Travel Log - Departure & Day 1

My flight, MH88 to Narita, Tokyo was scheduled for take off at 11.30pm on April 9, 2008. My husband and I left the house at 8:30pm after long goodbyes and hugs to my 3 boys. At the airport, we met up with my travelling companion and student, Ivee and her family.

Very quickly, we checked-in our luggage...mine was just right at 20kgs whilst Ivee's weighed in at 25kgs...heheh. Luckily no extra charges. Then we quickly proceeded to the check-in gates ourselves to take the shuttle across to the departure gates. It was while waiting for the shuttle that I suddenly realised I had not turned the combination locks of my luggage....which meant that it wasn't locked! Too luggage was probably already on its way to be loaded onto the plane.

I was anxious, to say the least. Not because I had anything valuable in the luggage but mostly because I'd die of embarrassment at the thought of my 'personal effects' spilling out of the luggage should it open. (blush blush)

But Ivee reassured me that it was a very secure piece of luggage and even though it's not locked, it won't likely open unless the clamp locks were flipped by someone. So I had no choice but to let the matter go and concentrate on enjoying the journey ahead.

After about 6 and half hours, we landed in Narita. It was about 7.30am local time. The weather was chilly and wet, but refreshing. My first glimpse of Japan was this photo corner saying 'Welcome To Japan'. So I did the 'touristy' thing and took a picture ;-)

Say Chee......ser!

Passing through Immigration took another hour. The queue was unbelievably long. We had tourists from Australia, Thailand, Malaysia... Japan is definitely very popular during this season...when the sakura blossoms.

Finally we walked through the last of the checkpoints and out into the Arrival hall where Hiro was waiting for us. (Oh, by the way, my luggage arrived intact. Whew! What a relief!)

Quickly, he whisked us to the parking lot and transferred our stuff into his car, then off we drove towards Tokyo and our hotel (which is actually in Omori and not Tokyo city centre).

At the parking lot waiting for Hiro's car

We couldn't check into our rooms until 4pm (it was only about 10.30am), we 'dumped' our luggage with the concierge and got back into Hiro's car for a 'tour' of the neighbourhood. Whenever we passed a Sakura tree, or a lovely traditional japanese house, we'd 'ooh' and 'aah' in unison...heheh. We were so engrossed with the sights that we forgot to take pictures...sigh.

Negotiating through some very narrow backstreets.

Anyway, then we headed to a building called Omori Bellport where according to Hiro, people gather every 1st Friday of the month, from 6:00pm to 9:45pm, to line dance away the evening. It's popularly known as American Pop Night. They would dance in the open space right in the middle of the building.

American Pop Night (Picture courtesy of Hiro Suzuki)

Hiro & I at the centre of the 'dancefloor', Omori Bellport.

By now, I was famished, so we headed to a typical Japanese restaurant. There was a McDonald's on the 1st floor of the building, but we were having none of that. We wanted authentic Japanese food!

If in case you're wondering where my travel companion, Ivee, has disappeared to since she's not featured in any of the photos so far....she's busy being the camera woman. She's quite a 'photo-holic'...Ivee hor.

enroute to the Restaurant, what a burst of colour!

"I think I'll have this."

(Good Gosh, look at the static buildup in my hair. Talk about bad hair days. This is simply frightful!)

We had a lovely Japanese lunch. The rice...hmm...smacking delicious! I had loads and loads of it. Oh pooh! to the calories. I'll worry about that when I get home.

After lunch, Hiro had to leave us because he had work to do. So he dropped us off at the Omori main train station where there were some departmental stores, so that we could explore and maybe do some shopping. I had the hotel call card with me which had the location map of the hotel on the flip side, so Ivee and I were quite confident we could get back without any problem. How wrong we were!

Window Shopping

The railway network, connections & stops

After some window shopping, we noticed that it had begun to rain, yet we weren't quite finished exploring. There were more quaint little shops along the road outside of the station. We figured we'd explore these shops as we headed back to the direction of the hotel. And since it was raining, Ivee and I each bought an umbrella (500 yen).

'Dancing in the rain....' under my transparent umbrella.

We thought we were going towards the hotel, but after about half and hour of walking we realised that we were 'lost'. All the landmarks matched up according to the direction Hiro gave us but there was no hotel in sight. This was then we decided to ask for directions. Sounds easy right. Not, if you don't speak Japanese. Luckily, I knew my left (hidari) from my right (migi), and Ivee could also muster up a smattering of Japanese words. With this limited vocabulary, it took us a whole 2 hours to finally find our hotel LOL.

So happy we found some real-life tulips!

We pounded the pavement of one particular road at least 5 times. The good news from that is that we discovered a lovely Ramen shop. Which we came back to in the evening to enjoy a delicious hot ramen meal. I told Ivee, this road is officially 'our' road now. I know it like the back of my hand.

Some of the other streets we got 'lost' in.

The vending machine from which you 'ordered' your meal. Drop in the required amount into the coin slot, press the button showing your meal, out pops a ticket which is passed over to the cook. Neat huh!

The hot delicious ramen. And Gyoza on the side. Yum Yum!

Enjoying my meal :-)

All the while, it was pouring. Finally, we found a police kiosk and asked the policeman on duty for directions. Thankfully, he speaks English and we finally found our hotel.

I must say, it was quite an adventure! And I'm not the least disappointed that we had to experience it. In fact, I'm glad we did. Wonder what will happen tomorrow.


Y-Maeda said...

Hello nice to meet you.
KO-N-NI-CHI-WA (^_^)v
I am Japanese.
I saw your wonderful site.
Please link to this site !

Hiro said...

Hi. Congratulations for your safe return to your hotel from the first advemture in Japan.

I think usaually travelers can't eat anything just after landed into overseas country. (grin) At least me. But ...
Eating big Sushi lunch just several hours after entered into Japan!
So 2 hours walk after that could be nice to your health! (grin)