Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 12 2008


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.

last dayI 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.

posted by Poagao at 10:31 am  


  1. I totally enjoyed your Tokyo travelogue – you observe and describe thinks well, with humor, and write in nice tight sentences, and paragrahps. What a brilliant idea to go spend CNY + some vacation days… all in Tokyo, to really dig in! I spent nine weeks there as a high school summer exchange student, and stupidly, have not been back since – your account just reminds me how fascinating a place it is (and how difficult the Japanese are to fathom), and as you say – even in 12 days, you kind of only scratched the surface. Quite inspirational, I’ve been wanting to do a winter trip to Japan to shoot the “snow monkies” for ages, and hit Tokyo, too. (Will make note that you have to go to the fish market very early to see the action in full swing).

    Anyway – again, great job reporting from the field.

    As a p.s. I’m kind of curious how much would you guess it cost you (on the ground) to be in Tokyo for 12 days? The impression that most people have is that it’s prohibitive.

    Comment by mwalimu — February 12, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

  2. Happy New Year, TC. Welcome home. The Island missed you.

    Comment by Slim — February 12, 2008 @ 3:51 pm

  3. Thanks for the great travelogue TC for the past 12 days. Write me when you have the time or when in better spirit!


    Comment by Hadi — February 12, 2008 @ 7:43 pm

  4. Thanks everyone. It’s good to be back, though the island could have arranged better weather for my return.

    The plane tickets were about NT$19,000, and the room was about NT$1500 a night. Meals averaged about NT$150 I guess, and a trip on the subway was about NT$40 to NT$60 for further places.

    Comment by Poagao — February 12, 2008 @ 9:30 pm

  5. we should meet up this weekend. Wayne is also back and he had a great time too. Maybe you two should put on a joint slide show.

    Comment by Prince Roy — February 13, 2008 @ 5:03 am

  6. Yeah, we should meet up. Hopefully I’ll be feeling better by then. Pictures are going to be a slow business, tho.

    Comment by Poagao — February 13, 2008 @ 5:17 am

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