Dołączył: 23 Mar 2011
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|Wysłany: Pią 11:49, 25 Mar 2011 Temat postu: A Trip to Japan_272
This time I was on an official trip to Japan. The Thai Airways flight from New Delhi had a stop-over in Bangkok and the onwards flight was about 3 hours later on United. I was already so tired that I was sleeping all the way till the landing announcement over Narita Airport. The food was not to my liking at all but I did not mind till they allowed me to sleep peacefully.
Narita Airport arrivals terminal is not big comparing to Bangkok International Airport. After collecting my baggage I moved to the airport bus terminus. The details of the buses were already provided by my colleague in Japan and faced no problems in locating it. I was also told that buses are the cheapest mode of transportation and I paid only US$20 for a journey of approximately 200 kilometers. The normal train charges for this distance could be US$55! The bus were very much Japanese with announcement systems in Japanese and English. My destination was a hotel in Hitachi City which is located north of Tokyo but much south of the snow-capped Osaka. The first shock as soon as I reached Japan was that I had lost signal of my cell phone I kept trying to search for signal but it was not to be as Japanese mobile signals are on a different frequency and does not support the rest-of-world frequencies. Luckily I had my laptop with VPN connectivity and thereby access to the whole world through it. I was also carrying a sprint calling card which all telephone billings on my credit card and probably the cheapest form of staying in touch with the world in Japan.
The only challenge was to find the sprint access code in Japan which the hotel in this small town could not help me- it was 0066-33 which my hotel provided during my stay in Tokyo. Next thing of mention is the level of automation down to the toilet seats. It feels like traveling in a rocket which all the automatic functions build on the toilet seat - the flush controls, person's weight data all are controlled on the toilet seats. I somehow fit myself in the room but was surprised to see that some burly Americans were also able to adjust themselves in similar rooms. Early morning I did realize why people call Japan - "The Land of Rising Sun". It was quite bright at 4 o'clock in the morning itself! Japanese, well known for their timing reached my hotel at 8:23 AM as promised without even half a minutes' delay. The day was consumed in professional discussions. I walked back to my hotel room which was only a short distance away. The streets were very clean and looked uncluttered. A few stores were dotted on the streets with only very few cars plying around. A Macdonald was located close-by and I knew where to go if I did not get appropriate food in my hotel.
I was taken out by my hosts to a typical Japanese style restaurant. This was located at about 20 minute's brisk walk from my hotel. Shoes had to be deposited at the entrance as per Japanese norms. We were seated on chairs but the traditional Japanese custom is to sit on ground. The first serving was 'Tempura" which was mouth watering and I could relate it our very Indian "pakodas" as a close equivalent. Further on, steamed fish and steamed rice were on menu. I tried my hand with the chopsticks but it was difficult for handle for me. Duck and chicken were other delicacies to come besides "Sushi". To provide the final touches to dinner, "Saki" was served; an alcoholic beverage is made out of fermented rice with a live fish in it. The glass had to finished bottoms-up in one gulp. It was difficult to convince my hosts that I am a complete tee-tolar but they understood and did not insist on it. My host was a young Japanese executive who was a Black Belt in karate. Sports is an essential part of Japanese life and they show the same discipline in sports as in other fields. I observed Japanese to be very hard-working and made their great nation not by chance but by continuous and sustained efforts. The commitment to society of Japanese people is exemplary. I learnt that all the citizen volunteer for the security watch-keeping on a regular basis and my host was on that service last night after finishing dinner with me and between catching the train the morning. Traveling on Japanese trains was my next experience. The train timings were accurate without even half a minute deviation. The reservation counter opens later so I took the first train leaving at 6:03AM from Hitachi city in an unreserved compartment. The compartment was very clean and at this morning hours enough seats were available for everyone.
Way back in 2001, Japan was so advanced that internet services were already available on mobile connections. Almost 60% people were carrying laptops and were busy on the internet while traveling. All baggage had to be deposited in the compartment near the door. The view outside was similar to an Indian countryside -houses with sloping roofs to prevent accumulation of snow but strong enough to withstand the frequent earthquakes in this city. Tokyo was much larger with both large streets as well as smaller ones which were off the main streets. It looked like buildings everywhere with the ease of space lost. Walking on the streets one could find lot of stores selling everything from household needs to air tickets to electronic items. I bought a very cheap use-and-throw camera there for US$5.
The shops were clustered with all of them having display windows. Browsing through these shops, one could find some surprise buys. Nobody understood English so I had to get used to the place and explain my requirements either through sketches or by making gestures. Unmanned vending machines were lined on the streets selling packed water, red bull and cold drinks. All the shops accepted mostly cash and many of them regretted credit cards' payments. I used the taxi service a couple of times in Tokyo and they were so expensive that only my heartbeat was running the meter down. The minimum charges were US$6.5 and the meters raced away your money. Anyways, that was the only option left to me to reach the airport back on time. So, I spent a hefty US$80 for which I would have paid no more than US$8 for a bus ticket!
For us, Halloween was here. Some of the older folks were concerned about tomorrow night, which was really Halloween night. We had been told, "Tomorrow night you are not leaving this house." The story was the same with all of us. There was a conspiracy among the older folks. They had it in their heads to spoil our tricking, but our plans were already made, and we had taken what our folks had said into account. We would do our tricking on this night, the night before Halloween and forget about the treats of tomorrow night.Our plan was for all of us to get out of the house as quickly as we could after supper. If your folks raised suspicions, then you were to sneak out before supper. After all, what is a meal missed when the fun of Halloween was about to begin?
Just before supper, Wizzer gave our signal then hollered for me from outside the kitchen door just like we had planned. Mom never could say no to Wizzer. I had never told Wizzer about this, but one day I had heard Mom say that she felt sorry for him, what with him being a change of life baby and all. It wasn't my intent to spy on her. This particular conversation was overheard at one of her gabfests with her friend Julia. I was only trying to do what I had been trying to do with no luck at all for as long as I could remember. Namely, it was to see Mrs. Wetzel sleeping and doing something that took some watching and being careful. Just now,coach jewelry, they was pitting and peeling peaches and getting them ready for canning.
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