Lost will be the theme of today’s travel post. I am lost. I am lost for words at how beautiful this country is and I’ve barely stepped foot in it. I’ll start at the beginning, the day began well because I didn’t miss my first flight to Cairns – winning. I was then given an emergency exit seat which I desperately need being tall. Call me old fashioned but i’m not partial to my knees scraping and banging for hours on end while my calves cramp.
So far so good right? Well it was only going to improve because the flight to Japan from Cairns was even better. When the lady asked me if i’d prefer a window or an isle seat I didn’t realise that by saying isle I was guaranteeing 8 hours of luxury. I walk in and I’m row 10 – first class stops at row 9. Essentially I had all the leg space and luxury of First class, without having to pay a dime, and all I missed out on was some microwaved food. I didn’t believe it was real at first and it wasn’t until we were actually airborne that I realised no one was coming to remove me from my comfy seat.
The flight itself was without a single bump beyond taking off and landing. It was probably the smoothest flight I’ve been on. I went without food because Jetstar require you to pay or prepay and I would do neither. I’d already been shafted earlier in the day by a low exchange rate at one of the travelex stores.
Then I arrived in Tokyo – my goodness. The city lit up the horizon and it was marvellous to see. Then there’s the people; everyone is unbelievably polite and helpful and eager to speak to you. It was when I witnessed the traffic police bowing to the bus driver as he went past that I knew I was in a new and slightly bizarre realm. The train cop also bowed when entering and leaving a carriage and it’s so refreshing to see that respect is ingrained into their culture.
I also happened to get physically lost and this is where the adventure really began. It started with wandering around Narita Airport looking for how to catch the SkyLiner (Note to others who haven’t been – Terminal 2 is the best place to start). Once I caught the train I learnt the embarrassing fact that the seats are assigned and reserved and as I apologised in poor Japanese to an elderly man who demanded I give up his seat in Car 3 1D I realised I was meant to be in Car 7 11a…oops. I then fretted about which station I had to get off at…again that was fine because I was chasing Ueno Station which is where the train terminated. It was at Ueno Station that I truly lost my way.
You have to understand that in my early days in Brisbane I used to get lost on our public transport; Tokyo is a whole other monster. Once I started to get a slight idea of where the hell i need to go, thanks to the 20 people that I had to stop and ask along the way, it seemed fine, until the different levels to each station kicked in. My, my, my what an ordeal. Everyone was so lovely and willing to point me in the right direction. One lady couldn’t speak English very well and was so distraught at not being able to help me that she nearly broke down in tears and she bowed a deep solemn bow as my elevator went up and away from sight. What a lovely gesture.
Once I got on the right line…the train terminated. It began all over again. By this point I’m all hot and bothered (seriously, if this is winter then I’m going to be just fine! Everyone’s rugged up and I’m comfortably sporting a t shirt and jeans) and getting later by the second. With more guidance and a few stop offs at local stores to ask for directions as I bang my head and my bags into their doors I found my hostel.
The Emblem Hostel – it really is beautiful. The staff are lovely, and we already have banter (he thinks i’m nuts for not having a jacket on) and you can’t say no to complimentary breakfast every day. The dorm room is kind of a capsule set up and although it’s not spacey it is extremely comfortable and relatively soundproof. The cafe and bar are superb, the showers are wonderfully clean and the toilets are space-age in design. I’m not ashamed to admit I might have got a bit of a fright when it flushed all by itself. The people staying here – as is usually the case with travellers – are lovely and I’ve already met a few in the wee hours I’ve stayed. All in all ….what a bargain.
So far so good everyone, I am alive, and in desperate need of ZZZ’s.
More tomorrow 🙂
BTW I’m now on Insta – https://www.instagram.com/jamescameronwatkins/