Things got worse after I posted my entry last night. My nose and throat really started bothering me, and I spent the night huddled and sweating into the blankets. I felt a bit better in the morning, however. Checkout was at 10am, so I gathered up all my things from the little room I’ve lived in for the past 12 days, and walked to the Skyliner train station in Ueno to buy a ticket and store my bag while I took a last look around.
I walked up past Ueno Park to a nice traditional neighborhood behind a temple, and then around to the bridge over the train tracks. It was cold and rainy, and I didn’t feel much like spending much time out in it. I had some tempura at a little place underneath the railroad tracks and bought some throat lozenges at a drug store. “Throat medicine?” I asked the woman behind the counter. She got some for me. “Suck?” I asked, and she made a sucking motion with her mouth. I suppose if I were straight this would have seemed really sexy.
It was time to catch my train to the airport. Looking out over Tokyo’s suburbs in that weather make me think of Taiwan, though the differences are huge. The houses in Japan mostly have pitched roofs and are individual units. The biggest difference is the care people in Japan put into their abode’s appearance, though Japan is dirtier and less orderly than was my impression 17 years ago. I kept falling asleep on the train, my interest in the view out the window fighting with my urge to pass out.
At the airport, the line at the ticket counter stretched about a mile, and there was no line for no checked baggage, so I asked about it and was let through. It’s a good thing, too, because the line was moving so slowly I definitely would have missed my flight. Then security, immigration, spending the last of my Japanese change on duty-free water and things.
The rain outside the embarkation lobby was heavy, and planes on the runway shot huge clouds of mist behind them on takeoff, while those landing seemd to have collected clouds on their wings. We spent a lot of time in line to take off, but finally we made it up through the clouds and into the permanent blue. Other than an annoying kid kicking the back of my seat and the fact that my screen didn’t work, it was a good enough flight. I noticed a chink of paint gouged out of the wing, which looked pretty unsightly. Since I was all stuffed up, my ears nearly exploded on the descent part of the trip. I kept holding my nose and blowing, and eventually managed to relieve some of the pressure.
Taipei, I found when I stepped out of the terminal, seems every bit as cold as Tokyo, though the difference in humidity is noticeable. I took the bus in, expecting to cringe at the sights of Sanchong and Nankan on the way, but instead I found myself happy to be back in my own country. Next to the spaghetti-like entanglements involved in taking the Tokyo Metro, Taipei’s MRT seemed ludicrously simple, the simple child’s version. It was good to understand what everyone around me was saying, and I was happy to get back to the Water Curtain Cave, messy as it is.
And that’s my account of my 12 days in Tokyo. Thanks for reading; I’ll start working on the photos and video of the trip, but be warned; it will take a while because I got a lot of stuff there, and also because my cold is back. I thought it was gone, but no; it was just lying in wait. Clever things, colds. Clever, but cruel.