Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 01 2008

In Tokyo

Well, I’m in Tokyo, and wouldn’t you know it; my shoes have started squeaking again.

I didn’t sleep well last night. The anticipation kept me up late and woke me early. I managed to stuff everything I thought I’d need into my backpack and a totebag, lugged them across the bridge through the wet, miserable weather to the MRT station, and made my way to the airport bus station hut on Zhongxiao West Road. It seems odd that it’s only a hut, when they’re planning to build a whole dedicated MRT line out there. But for now, it’s a hut.

My flight was scheduled to leave from the old 60’s-era terminal, which looked dull and old. I noticed a monorail train moving between the terminals, but I’m not sure if anyone was riding it. This was the first time I’ve been made to dispose of all my liquids before going through security, which sucks as I’d brought some throat medicine I had to throw away. The area in front of the gates was filled with people glugging down bottled water they’d just purchased to keep themselves hydrated in the dry airplane atmosphere.

The boarding area seemed to hold more people than could possibly fit on the Cathay Pacific 747, but somehow they managed. I was the last to board and settled into a window seat that seemed markedly smaller than I’d remembered. But as the plane pierced the clouds and I saw the sun and blue skies for the first time in what seemed like weeks, my spirits rose as well.

Wing to TokyoThe flight was about three hours long, and lunch was served. I ate chicken rice while watching cartoons and staring out the window looking for the Japanese coast to appear below. We approached and landed as the sun sank towards the horizon, taxiing slowly around Narita Airport bathed in the light of the sunset. The light was extraordinary, but the scratched plastic of the windows made photography of the scene next to impossible.

Immigration was a breeze. I noticed a lot of boisterous young Americans on the flight that came in just after ours, all dressed in shorts and T-shirts. None of the immigration officials had given me or my passport more than a cursory glance all day, but the customs guy did give me a double take before sending me on my way.

Down in the airport causeway, I had to find a way to access a map to the hotel that was in my email account. There was apparently no wifi in the airport, which surprised me, and the Internet kiosks needed 100-yen coins to operate. I purchased a bottle of water to make change, called up the map image and took a picture of the screen with my digital camera. Hopefully my email account won’t be hacked as a result.

Getting from the airport to Tokyo meant taking the Skyliner express train. The platform was quite chilly, but thankfully the train itself was heated. I wasn’t able to see much out the window, though, as it was completly dark outside by the time we departed. What I did see, however, was quite different from Taiwan. Neater, more orderly, with less steel bars and more window glass. It took over an hour to reach Ueno Station, where I switched to the subway to reach Nakaokachimachi Station, where my hotel was located on the map. The cold really hit me when I exited the station; I’m really not used to this kind of weather. It’s a dry cold, different from that in Taiwan.

I found the hotel, which is a very cheap, very basic arrangement of a tiny room with a single bed, a beanbag pillow, a TV that only works if you insert a coin, and a bathroom the size of a placemat. Still, it’s cheap and central, and there’s wifi, which I’m using to write this on as I look out the window at the street construction below. The workers have erected a big white balloon and bow as they instruct pedestrians to make a detour around their work area.

corner restaurantThis area seems to have a lot of little restaurants that are open late. When I went out for dinner, I found that I really don’t understand anything at all. It’s almost refreshing in a way. Sure, I can read a lot of things, but hardly anyone speaks any English and the only Chinese speakers out there, I’m sure, are all tourists like me. The guy at the restaurant did write down all the different kinds of teas they have for me, which was uncommonly nice of him. Afterwards, when I walked to a convenience store to pick up a few things, I realized that my shoes were squeaking again. It must be the cold.

Tomorrow I might go meet up with a Flickr aquaintance at Harajuku. Hopefully it will be a little warmer during the day.

posted by Poagao at 10:50 am  


  1. even if it’s cold, at least you got sunshine. enjoy it while you can. the gloomy, wet, gray lady that is the taipei winter is right here waiting for you…

    Comment by Prince Roy — February 2, 2008 @ 1:05 am

  2. […] Poagao is in Tokyo this week. I’ve been to Kyoto/Osaka before but never outside of Narita airport in Tokyo. So I’m reading these articles with great interest. […]

    Pingback by TheNHBushman.com | Bushman’s Picks, February 3, 2008 — February 3, 2008 @ 6:06 am

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