|Date of departure from Wellington, NZ: 24th July 2005
Destination: Tokyo, Japan. For a three day JET orientation.
The kiwi JETs i travelled with left Wellington for Tokyo on the 24th July a day after we were meant to due to Air New Zealand strikes. Personally tho i wasnt complaining as it meant i got to spend an extra night in wellington with karen.
The departure was early sun morning so it was very nice of the whanau, nick and karen to make an appearance to see me off. Farewells of this kind are never fun and this one proved the norm. Tearful, sad, and painful.
The flight to tokyo from christchurch was made longer due to a terrible terrible selection of movies on offer by our lovely friends Air New Zealand. Miss Congeniality 2!!..WHY!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!! Luckily for me i passed the time playing possibly the best travel game on the planet. Celebrity guess who. Well its not officially celebrity but thats what i like to call it. Flat 6 from across the road gave me travel guess who but with a difference. the pple are all the crew from caroline st and friends!! excellent job. very professional finish. I played a number of games with Byrie on the plane, drinking of course. If i remember rightly i am also the guess who reigning champion... tho i may be making that last bit up for effect..not sure.
The rest of the time was passed through reading the excellent harry potter 6 that karen so graciously got me to take on my trip. Excellent choice as it was nice light reading but as everyone who has read before will know.. a bloody good read!!
Touch down in tokyo was followed by what i am sure to get used to by the time i leave. an hour and a half queue to get thru customs... "i swear that body board is NOT MINE!!..."
On the upside tho it offered me my first chance to use some japanese. however, being replied to in the most monotone / god i hate foreigners way was a little off putting. I put it down to her simply being awestruck in my presence. Poor girl.
Once thru customs and all my internals in place i was greeted by a massive smothering of heat!! Oh yes! sooo humid and hot. just what i wanted. Went to a vending machine for my first experience of what has now become an addiction more crippling than smoking... "what do you mean there isnt a vending machine for the next five metres?!!" is what i often mumble while walking along now trying to get my next hit of cold goodness... All products here are in the coolest shape bottles and things. Totally diff to the ones back home in NZ.
We were kickin it on the bus waiting for the other kiwis to get thru customs when from nowhere it started to pull out and move. i instantly spun round to see who was driving and thru shock yelled out "holy sh*t theres no driver!! crazy japanese buses!!" only to then realise there was in fact a driver her was just very short... well sorry.. he was japanese! oops.. pretty funny moment tho for all of us onboard. dont think the driver had a clue what i had said either so no harm done.
Once in tokyo we all dumped gear and headed straight out to have a look around. Hotel we were at was in the suburb of Shinjuku which for those in the know is the `skyscraper` burb of tokyo. nice central place to be put up. oh the hotel wasnt too bad either. just a 5star two towered 45 story in each kinda place.. nothing like the new base backpackers in wellys im sure..
Spent the next couple of days half at orientation stuff and half skipping things to have a look around the city. We made it to Akihabara and also Shibuya where we hit up the tower records 8 story place. Very cool. Akihabara is the electronics spot of tokyo and offered a lot of jaw dropping moments while cruising round the shops. still cant get over the choice of keitai (cell phones) on offer here and how advanced but cheap they are.
Was a lot of fun picking our way round the train systems too and all done with minimal problems. Altho teresa and i both managed to be stuck on the inside of the system with lost tickets!!
Night life in tokyo was pretty cool tho we all spent some time hanging with our new prefectural groups (regions) so the kiwis split up on the monday night. Drink of choice for anyone visiting japan is Nama Beru (draft beer) much cheaper than other beers and tastes good too.
Tuesday night was supposed to be embassy night but due to a typhoon (that was less windy than your avg wellington day!!) the embassy trips were cancelled so the kiwis all met up anyway and went out for dinner and then all you can drink karaoke! Karaoke here is so so much better than back home as they give you your own room so you can sing your heart out without making a tool of yourself in front of a whole group of strangers!! We all cranked out the classics, YMCA, the gambler.. etc. etc. neon style blue light and glowing paint everywhere made for a very nice environment. Great crew of kiwis too.
Wed morning was an early start (in hotel lobby after breakfast by 5.30am or something. Not sure of details just know that it was the earliest of ALL the prefectures! crazy.
We all made it on time tho and grabbed a bus to the airport for our domestic flight to Saga. I made the mistake when getting of the bus at airport of picking up my backpack, handheld bag, laptop bag, tennis racquet, and bag full of books and things and deciding that surely the checkin counter isnt too far and ill be right without a trolley like everyone else... After all i went to the gym for a mth or two at the start of the year to get massive so this`ll be easy. Put it this way. LONGEST WALK OF MY LIFE!! made none the easier by wearing a shirt, tie, pants. Note to self. Trolleys are provided for a reason. Use them next time!
We hung around for a little while enough time for me to assess the `deep burn` in my arms and soak up some more vending machine goodness before we boarded what was titled a limousine bus tho was actually just a bus?! for a ride to the plane. I was fortunate to be seated just one seat from the window on the right hand side which i knew would offer great views of tokyo and also Mt Fuji. I was not disapointed and managed to snap a couple of pics. Fuji had no snow obviously as its summer but the sky everywhere was reasonably clear tho there was a little cloud directly above the summit. very strange.
The flight was relatively short, just over an hour. and when i wasnt looking at the spectacular view i was deeply engrossed in the adventures harry and co were having!!
Finally we felt the uniquely airplane thud as the tires hit the ground and we had arrived in my new region of saga!!
Excitement soon turned to semi boredom as we took another bus into the city itself and then to the hotel where were sat thru a brief welcome ceremony before i along with some others sat around waiting for our respective supervisors to arrive. Before long Tanaka-sensei picked me up and we drove to Takeo where i was to head straight to my new school and meet my principal. Hmm could think of better circumstances to meet my new principal than having been out drinking the night before, up at about 4.30, had bus rides and flights etc, dressed in hot shirt and tie and sitting amongst the even hotter weather than tokyo, oh and i hadnt eaten since about 5 either.. Was ok in the end tho as it was a very brief visit and luckily no welcome party like some pple had to endure!! After that i was taken to get changed then get some food finally! before being taken to my new pad to be left alone with no air conditioning!!!
Once there i was left to the unfamiliar feeling of being left to my own uninturrupted thought and for the first real time since arriving in japan i felt totally alone within about 30 seconds a deep longing, for karen to join me, kicked in that hasnt subsided for a moment since then. This two months is going to be so so long!