Monday, March 3, 2008

Konichi Wa!

I'm finally here! In Japan!!! It was a heck of a long journey, but we made it to the other side of the globe, safe and sound.

To recap, last time I posted it was Friday afternoon, and I had just had one of those crazy, busy days that just seem to never end. I attended Phil's grandmother's funeral in the morning, and in the afternoon I had a last minute appointment that I couldn't reschedule and that I absolutely had to go to. I arrived home at 5:30 in the evening, to two screaming crying children no less, and rushed through supper and bed time. By eight o'clock I was ready for bed. Had I packed yet? No. Sigh.

I managed to get everything packed (well, almost everything, we forgot the maple syrup and peanut butter we had bought to give as gifts, and I forgot my watch), and by Saturday morning we were ready to go. We left the house at 7:30 to make sure we were at the airport 2 hours before our 10:00 AM flight. Of course, the flight was late taking off due to snow. I wasn't worried though, because our connection in Toronto wasn't until 2:25 PM.

Of course, I took the opportunity to get some knitting done on the plane. This picture was taken on the flight to Toronto (I'm still in reasonably good spirits at this point). Man, it had been a long time since I had been on a plane! 5 years in fact (since our honeymoon). Things have changed. There are personal entertainment devices on every seat, and First Class is crazy! They've got, like, their own sofas and stuff! To think that when I used to fly out to Toronto once a month to see my Dad, they still had the ashtrays on every seat (but you couldn't smoke, I'm not THAT old!).

Anyway, I needn't have worried about anything, because of course our flight out of Toronto was late taking off. We we supposed to take off at 2:25, like I said, but I think it must have been around 4:30 when we finally got off the ground. It was a looooooooooooooooong flight, let me tell you (13 hours). Surprisingly, I didn't do much knitting on the plane. Just enough to make sure that I forgot my Serendipity sock pattern (Rockin' Sock Club) on the plane (Aaaaaargh!!!!!). The flight just sucked my will to live (and knit). Seriously, 13 hours is a long time to be sitting on a plane, dudes. I'm just sayin'.

By the time we landed, and finally got our luggage, I was really concerned that we would miss the train to Yokosuka ('cause after all that, we still had a 3 hour train ride to look forward to). I had intended to get my Japan Rail Pass right away, but we were so pressed for time I didn't want to risk missing the train. In retrospect, I could have waited, because the train was about 10 minutes late. Anyway, we finally arrived at the hotel at about 11:30 PM local time (on Sunday, March 2nd), putting our total travel time, from door to door, at 26 hours.

After a quick call home (via Yahoo Messenger), we hit the sack, and woke up at around 11:45 yesterday morning. We decided to just walk around Yokosuka and get our bearings.

Of course, it wasn't long before we ran into the local Mall. We had to pick up an adapter for the laptop (it uses a three prong plug and the outlet only had two), so we walked around a bit, and all I can say is that things were just familiar enough to feel strange. It all seems like a normal mall, and then you walk into these shops that sell just a huge variety of, well, crap :) We also located what's probably the local WalMart, so that's where I'll go for things like juice and toiletries and stuff.

The mall is close to the water, so from there we strolled through Verny Park and watched a Navy Destroyer dock. There was also a submarine at the dock, which Phil found very cool.

From there we strolled around some more, found a place to eat, then went back to the hotel. Phil was asleep by 6:00 PM (wuss). I, on the other hand, toughed it out until 7:30. HAH! Of course, I was up at 10:30, then at 2:30 this morning. At 5:00 I gave up trying to sleep and got up. So I think it's going to be a long day!!!

Phil is working today, so I'm going to take my first solo day trip. I'm heading to Yokohama, which is about a 30 minute train ride away. I'll get my Japan Rail Pass, then walk around and enjoy being on vacation.

Random impressions so far:
  • (Young) Japanese Men are very effeminate. They're very slender and well groomed and coiffed. Quite the metrosexuals.
  • Pachinko Parlors: the things are everywhere, and they're packed. Japan must have a major gambling problem. Seriously.
  • Muzak everywhere: even the street lights have little tunes, to let you know when to cross. It was really starting to get on my nerves yesterday. I'll get over it.
  • As suspected, Japan is full of Japanese people. And they don't speak English. A lot of the signs for streets and train stations are also in English, which gives you the impression that people speak the language. They don't, and it's a major barrier.
  • Wax menus: most of the restaurants here have wax replicas of their dishes (even of drinks) in their main windows, so when you go in, all you have to do is point. Makes it easier to order, but the downside is that all the food looks like it tastes like, well, wax. Not very appetizing (but I can't complain, the food has been great).
  • Surgical masks: lots of people wear them around town, and it seems perfectly normal. Are they hypochondriacs, or are they just good Samaritans that don't want to contaminate the world with their germs? I only ask because I'm still really sick, and I feel vaguely guilty every time I cough.
That's it for now (quite the wordy post, I'm sorry!). It looks like it's going to be another lovely day here. I'll try to remember to take lots of pictures today (Robyn!). Sayonara!


birana said...

Thanks for your funny trip descriptions. It ‘s long 13h! You’re better having a good seat and a nice flight partner ;-) I love you random impression it’s very

Caroline said...

Thanks for the update! I really envy you. I can't wait to see more pictures. Have fun!

Knit & Purl Mama said...

Sitting down now to read about your trip!

You are too funny with your observations. I wonder why they all wear masks around town.... weird!