Last Day in Japan

Last day in Japan: October 17th

Ness in the palace
gardensWe were so muggy this morning. I think the jet lag finally exacted its revenge — it took a nuclear bomb to wake me up. Thankfully Ness was able to get up and then crow-bar me out of bed before we had to check out at 11. Check out was simple and friendly (as ever!) and though we tried our best to ignore the tab, it was obvious we’d spent a fortune in the various restaurants and bars. All worth it though!

After a traditional (not) breakfast of beef curry and Nasi Goreng, we hit the underground system, our plan being to visit the Imperial Palace and gardens. I was utterly determined to suss it out so we didn’t wimp out and buy a one-day travelcard, and instead made an attempt at buying a single ticket to our destination. Miracle of miracles, we got a little ticket each from the machine, and putting it through the barriers we managed to enter the metro. We caught the appropriate train, and then several stops later we changed line. This is where the trouble began…

Unlike the London Underground, the Tokyo Metro seems to have several separate companies running the lines, and in order to go between lines you need to exit the underground through the barriers and re-enter through another, using your ticket at each. Whatever luck we had in getting the ‘right’ ticket earlier had ran out — on our exit the machines swallowed both our tickets. In a stubborn hissy fit I decided we’d walk the rest of the way rather than buy another ticket for the remaining two stops.

As it happened, it wasn’t too far to the palace, and the walk there was a nice experience of Tokyo outside of the beaten track. Lots of smartly-dressed office workers milling about getting their lunch, buying bento (lunch boxes) of rice from the back of tiny little trucks. Tokyo seems full of miniature vehicles, mini vans seem all the range. I guess they’re easy to park and get about in a crowded city.

The palace and gardens were lovely. In my opinion they weren’t a patch on the Meiji Shrine gardens, but they were pretty nonetheless. We spent a happy hour or two wandering about and enjoying some of the highly contrasting views: Beautiful trees and gardens backed onto by immense skyscrapers. The gigantic stone walls about the whole palace were rather reminiscent of some old Sega games’ backdrops — I can certainly see where the Japanese get inspiration for their games from.

On that note (bear with me there is a link) there are spiders everywhere in Tokyo. Literally everywhere you can see giant spider webs and their inhabitants lying in wait for a tasty meal to drop in. Nobody seems in the least bothered by them, so I imagine they’re not dangerous. Good job neither Ness nor I are arachnophobic! But yes, the link…the spiders really do look like the Skulltulas in Zelda — complete with yellow and black stripey legs. I know next time I take Link on one of his adventures I’ll be thinking of our time in Japan!

As time was running out, we got the metro back to the hotel. This time, after asking one of the guards at the station, we apparently bought the right tickets: When we changed lines the machines didn’t eat the tickets. I think I’ve got it sussed now anyway, typically on the day we leave we finally ‘get’ the system. Oh well — next time, eh?

We lunched at the 45th floor restaurant to drink in for the last time the magnificent view. Again, the food and service was exemplary and left us wondering if we’d have too high expectations now of service for the rest of our trip. We finished lunch just in time to get the bus back to the airport — we should have realised when the Japanese say ‘bus at 15:50’ they really do mean ‘leaving at 15:50 sharp’. We’ve checked in our baggage at the airport and we’re now killing time in Starbucks — Ness is updating her (retro!) paper-based journal, and I typing this up ready to post next time we have internet access; which I hope will be at the hotel in Sydney.

Ness awaiting the
plane at the airport On the coach to the airport I was rather sad to see all of Tokyo whizz past. We’ve really enjoyed our time here, and would happily return for a longer visit another time. We’ll miss Tokyo.

Our flight to Sydney is overnight, and we arrive at 7am, and we’re hoping we can drop off our bags at our hotel then. We’re booked in for the Bridge Climb after lunch, so it’ll be quite late before we actually check in and get access to t’Internet.

Sydney: 9.45am October 18th

We’ve just arrived in the hotel in Sydney. I’m absolutely knackered after being totally unable to sleep on the plane. The guys behind us were extremely noisy, and then when they inally shut up (a woman screamed at them) I just couldn’t get comfortable. Nor could I switch off — I was getting worried about not having enough sleep, and that anxiety turned into insomnia! Typical, the worry about not getting enough rest getting in the way of getting enough rest! Stupid brain.

But anyway, we’re here! We’ve checked in and just scraped the flight-filth off our skins (had a shower) and we’re about to pop out for a walking tour of Sydney before taking on the Bridge Climb. Can’t wait!

More pictures…

Filed under: New Zealand Trip
Posted at 00:51:46 BST on 18th October 2006.

About Matt Godbolt

Matt Godbolt is a C++ developer working in Chicago in the finance industry.