The Trip Begins

Day One… Heathrow 11:50am

Tokyo skylineWe’ve just arrived at the ServisAir lounge in Heathrow Airport. In news that will shock anyone that knows us we’ve actually arrived early — so early in fact they didn’t let us check our bags in. We had to go and have a much-needed coffee for an hour first. But anyway, we checked in without hitch despite a last minute panic over bag weights — we were atually about 10kg under our joint weight allowance! Could have put a few more books in the bag after all.

Our flight’s in a couple of hours, so we’re chilling out in the lounge. We’ve never been to a pay-for lounge before (I once was blagged into the BA one by Jez), but I’m pretty impressed. It was about £17 each, but it’s help- yourself to drinks and snacks and I’m sat on a rather comfy leather armchair. I’m trying to wangle free Wireless Internet access but it looks like the 4 or 5 providers that are in range actually understand how to do wireless security properly — bugger. As a result I’m writing this in notepad, and I’ll cut and paste it into the website at some later date.

We’re rather apprehensive about Japan. Unlike all the other places we’ve ever been to, Japan’s language and culture barrier is seemingly insurmountable. We’ve been told not to expect that people speak English, and that English menus and signs are a rarity rather than the norm. My foreign language skills aren’t exactly exemplary, but it’s amazing how far a smattering of half-remembered German, Latin and French will get you on the continent. In Japan though the alphabet itself is completely opaque to me; I can just about say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ but as for reading anything I’m stuffed.

We’re not even sure what we’re going to do in Tokyo yet — we’re hoping to see the Emperor’s Palace, I want to visit Akihabara, and we have a few other ideas of areas of Tokyo to visit. Sadly the Sumo events are all over so we can’t see them. We’re in Tokyo for two and a bit days so we should be able to get a fair amount done.

It’s been so long since we booked this trip that we’ve put it to the back of our minds. Ness has been very busy at work too, so we haven’t had a chance to really think about things. Now we’re relaxed like this, the excitement is really growing. It’s really going to be the trip of a lifetime!

Day Two — Tokyo 1pm local time

Just made it to the hotel. What a fantastic place we’ve booked — we’re 35 floors up in one of the nicer areas of Tokyo and the view is simply astonishing. The trip from the airport to the hotel was easy — everyone is really friendly and goes out of their way to help you. When we arrived, checking in was simple and the porter spent a good 10 minutes explaining how everything worked and where we were and trips around and so on! As our guide book said not to tip, we didn’t — but we did feel a bit uncomfortable about it! So, Walter Yamaguchi (if you ever google your name and see this!) — thanks for your help, you were very helpful indeed!

Rather annoyingly my phone isn’t working — so Mum if you’re reading this, sorry I haven’t texted — it doesn’t work here!

A Japanese Bog The first of the many shocks was the loo — it’s some crazy device with ‘Bidet’ and ‘Splash noise’ buttons, and blinking lights and whatnot. Ness is scared to use it but I’ve just managed to return from it unscathed! It’s really going to be quite something here — just going to shower then hit the Shinjuku district and see what it has to offer!

Filed under: New Zealand Trip
Posted at 05:08:51 BST on 15th October 2006.

About Matt Godbolt

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