Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Aspie Traveler: Japan Day Two-Part 1

I'm not sure what day it is to be honest. I saw sunshine for 22 hours on the flight over the Pacific but Idid make it, I am in Japan, and right off the plane I saw a technology I haven't seen utilized in the US. On the baggage claim carousel the belt that brings the bags to the circular part where you can pick it up stops when another bag is approaching so as not to have two bags stacked atop another. For some reason I thought this to be very awesome.

I got through customs with no problems and when I cleared the doors the amount of English decreased and I knew; I was in a different world. Flying in it felt no different, but any part of the world seems the same at 37,000 feet, but everywhere I looked were symbols I didn't understand and no English to help out. Now here's the thing; I knew what I was looking for but I couldn't find it. There's a certain bus line that travels to Tokyo station for pennies on the Yen but I couldn't find it so I approached the first counter I got to and paid about $30 for the ride.

There were two things I knew coming into this trip and that is all times in Japan are on the dot punctual and do not tip. I broke both of these within five minutes as I awaited my 17:10 bus. The bus at 17:05, or 5:05PM if you're used to that style, came and I asked if that were my bus because the workers were moving my bags. The workers were polite about it but he pointed to the clock as if to say, "Um, hello? It's in five minutes. What are you, new to the country?" When my bus came they loaded my bag in the cargo hold and my hand instinctively went into my pocket to offer a tip and another employee who saw this gave me a look of severe disapproval and I remembered what my sister had said so I took my phone out instead (it doesn't work here anyway) and the disapproval look went away.

The bus ride was about an hour and when I got off at Tokyo Station I was ready to go! But, um, where to? I knew my hotel existed because I had a confirmation and I had an address, but besides that I knew nothing. I was dumbfounded. I did know, from my 15 seconds of pre-trip research, that the hotel was south of me so... Which way was south?

When I went to Amsterdam there weren't that many tall buildings which allowed for easy navigation. My first impression of Tokyo was, "What did I get myself into?" This took "large" to a new level and I was one person not 30 seconds off the bus and I was lost. The bus station worker who got my bag noticed this and approached me and said, "You lost? Where to?" I couldn't pronounce my hotel name if I tried, which I have, so I took out my confirmation page on my phone that had the address and he looked at it in a confused manner. This did not bode well for my confidence that my hotel did, in fact, exist. About 15 seconds passed and he said, "Ah, Damion!" and he hailed a cab.  I handed the driver my phone to see the address and once again there was this lull as he tried to figure out where I was going. Again it took 15 seconds but he punched it in and I was off.

Twenty minutes later I arrived at the hotel and checking in was a breeze using my phone to communicate and when I got to my room I was, well, take aback because it's just enough space and not one square foot more. I knew it would be small but I didn't book at one of the hotels that are essentially sleep chambers stacked four high. I remember seeing those as a featured segment during CBS's 1998 Nagano Olympic coverage which thinking about it I think that would've led to some interesting writing material... Maybe too interesting.


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