Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Happy New Year

First entry of many to be ripped from the pages of my travel diary

Last year for New Year's Eve, Kevin and I had dinner at his house and fell asleep early, too early to fulfill our plans of, ah, fulfillment. This year yielded a similar sleepiness.

After arriving at the hotel, I fell asleep within the hour. I saw a few wacky Japanese shows and commercials before giving up.

Customs and immigration was no big deal at all. I showed my passport and they looked at the little form and I was gone. I didn't really have anything to declare--probably the most valuable item I brought was my CD book. There are 24 CDs in there that'd do all right on the used CD market, although without cases... Anyway. I still doubt it's over the 200,000 yen limit or whatever.

I met a guy on the shuttle bus also staying at the Holiday Inn, also booked for my flight to KL tomorrow, and also at least as bewildered by the whole experience as me. He is Malaysian, but going to school in Pennsylvania. He doesn't like the snow. We're meeting up to catch another shuttle back to the airport in the morning.

I got here far too late or any exploration of Narita or even the airport. I was exhausted. I crashed, on the hardest mattress I've ever slept on, wearing the hotel-provided kimono/robe thing. It's a logo product. I'm just glad to be out of the clothes I was wearing.

Also, I stunk. I felt bad for the Chinese woman on the plane next to me. She was going to visit Beijing and Shanghai for the first time since she left seven years ago. She's been working in computers in San Francisco for a few months, but first lived in Vancouver, where her parents still live.

I don't think I'm really in Japan. Someone trying to make me believe so would need a much more elaborate ruse than this Holiday Inn, exactly like the others but with more characters.

OK, certain things are odd. Like the hot water thing. It eluded me at first, especially with the Zojirushi branding. In the state, Zojirushi only sells rice cookers. Here, apparently, they do everything. And there is always green tea. And the only coffee is INSTANT. Ew. Maybe I'll bring a packet of that back to my boss for a laugh. Maybe I'll have to try some myself. But probably it sucks. Instant coffee crystals are Bad News Bears.

Did I mention how much green tea they served on the plane?

I hope my stupid phone card calls weren't long distance. It costs a lot more to call to the US than it does to call from it, apparently. Or my card just has shitty rates for Japan.

I've slept nine hours. That's fantastic. Now I just have to figure out how the hell to adjust to Malaysian time, or at least Winnie and Meesh's time -- or as Kevin accidentally called them, Minnie and Weesh.

Sipping green tea now. What to do, what to do... repack bags for maximum usefulness in case I have to check my larger pack again? Read the new issue of Mother Jones? Watch more TV I can't understand? See if there's a net cafe I can use?

We'll see.

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