As Heather has pointed out to me (thanks Heather :-), It has been quite a long time since my last entry into the blog, but something has happened that has made writing much easier. We have bought a laptop for use in the UK for both my and Annmarie’s studying and for doing other things like looking for work (which is something I am currently doing properly) etc. For those who might be interested it’s a Compaq Presario 2100. So this now means that I can write up entries before hand and then upload them onto the web when I next connect to the net (the internet café nearby has facilities for bringing in your own laptop and connecting that to the net).
We are currently holed up in sunny Glasgow (the friendly city is the official catch line I believe). We are staying in what should be our last fancy hotel for some time (the Radisson SAS, I highly recommend it, especially the breakfast buffet) as we are currently looking for somewhere more permanent. We have looked around for a 2 bedroom flat in our perceived price range, but being the snobs that we are, we are now looking for 1 bedroom flats so we can be in the west end (there‘s just a better class of people there). It now looks like Annmarie will not be working for the short term (it‘s going to take longer than we originally thought for it to get settled), so we have dicided to change our plans and head up north. Annmarie thinks Londoners are all too sullen and grumpy anyway, and thinks that the Scottish seem much cheerier in general. So now it looks like I am looking for proper daytime work in the country of my birth.
But, of course, everone is probably more interested in the previous couple months travel. The previous entries were all rushed attempts at getting something up, so maybe I should just turn the clock back to the beginning and recap the whole trip…
Tokyo was everything that the clichés make it out to be. It was bewildering, energetic, chaotic, enormous yet full of a strange sense of calm and tranquillity. It sometimes felt like those odd little bits of film you see occasionally where a single figure sits still amongst a bustling crown with the film sped up. Other times it just felt like we were back home, that there was no pressure of the largest city on earth.
Of course our trip there was not without drama (what journey to somewhere as exotic as the orient would be devoid of such things). Oddly enough, it seemed that most of our problems came from following the standard tourist travel advice (combined with not realising that when your on holiday, other people have weekends).
When we arrived in Narita airport, we were of course tired (flying with 2 kids is hard work, even when they behave) and in a foreign land. We were also over half an hour behind schedule. Once we got through customs (the most thorough and detailed customs check of the whole trip) and put our bigger bags into storage at the airport, we needed to get to our hotel.
It wasn’t actually a hotel though, it was a actually a nice, budget version of a traditional Japanese inn called a “ryokan”. This is a word that we seem to never have pronounced correctly once in the whole time we stayed in Japan. Every time we told someone we were staying in a ryokan, we got strange, confused looks till we changed it to “small hotel” then we got looks of relief and recognition.
Anyway, we were in Narita airport, with bags safely stowed. I had already planned that we catch a train called the Narita Express (or the limited express, depending on times) from a station located conveniently under the terminal, out to a station in Ueno, from where we would switch deftly to a subway train on the Oedo line, and travel three stops to the neighbourhood in which our accommodation was located then walk, probably for only maybe five to ten minutes to arrive at our destination. As it happens, we now know that had we followed this course, I would have been just about right with map reading for the final walk aside.
Instead, Annmarie just wanted to get there as quickly as possible…