Monday, September 17, 2007

leaving on a jet plane

(Haneda Airport)

Despite being tired and run down, it took me hours to get to sleep last night, and even then, I woke every hour. Ah-bleeeegh.

I checked out of Hotel Mori at 9. It’s a pricey standard western hotel. Clean and neat with good room facilities, but I’m not quite sure the price was justified by the quality or the location. Regardless, I appreciated the space to string up my washing (those travel clothes lines aren’t just for camping, couldn’t have done without it) and the free wifi.

Getting to Haneda Airport from Kamakura was surprisingly easy, and took only an hour. The Yokosoko line to Shinagawa, and from there the Kiekyu line to Haneda. The set up here is you check in, and then go somewhere else to check your luggage, but unlike other airports I can think of, they have more than enough staff on to munch through the queues steadily.

Sitting now at the gate lounge, having finished my bento set. See, I have learned a bit. Instead of waiting till arriving in Tokushima to eat, which would be around 2pm, I have eaten now! Go me. I wasn’t sure if eating at gate lounges was against etiquette, as I could see no one else doing it, but at this point in time I feel it is okay for me to play the stupid lumbering gaijin card.

A couple of observations;

If using the online rail websites such as to plot a route through the train system, do not, do not ever attempt to use a route that gives you only five minutes to switch lines. This might be possible if you’re at a remote rural station with only a handful of platforms all in sight of each other, but at most stations, you’ll spend those five minutes just getting to the exit. Shinjuku especially needs at least, at the very least, half an hour between arriving and departing, because you’ll wander around like a lost dog with no idea where you are.

I’ve been pretty relaxed about train hopping, not looking so much at times, but what lines and stations I need to get where I’m going, and winging it from there.

Dammit. Apparently putting food in my stomach makes it ravenous. Isn’t the opposite supposed to happen?

I don’t know why they play bird song on the station platforms. Twittering is okay on the open air lines, but the sound of seagulls is a bit weird when on the subway.

The first couple of weeks I burned through a lot of money, which worried me, to say the least. Since activating my JR pass, said money burn has practically ground to a halt. My biggest expenses are accommodation, which is expected, and food, which is so much cheaper than all the hearsay will have you believe. Admission to all the shrines, temples and museums has been uniformly tiny. I haven’t bought much in the way of souvenirs, mostly just little bits and pieces as gifts. Having already paid for my rail pass and just waving it as I walk through the gates is majorly awesome.

Oh my god. I think the vending machine behind me has orange juice. Must get some! It’s become one of my small everyday quests to find orange juice for breakfast. The success rate of this quest isn’t great.

Hard to believe I’ll be going home in a month. Even harder to believe that I’ll be driving a car in less than a month. Arghle? The highways don’t phase me, but having seen city streets, and how narrow they are, and how scary people who drive on them are, I’m a tad apprehensive.

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