Posts from 2009

Cherry blossom overdrive

2009-04-05 16:25:04 2009-04-05 16:26:05 2009-04-05 16:32:20 2009-04-05 16:33:39 2009-04-05 16:43:28 2009-04-06 05:53:35 2009-04-06 05:55:24 2009-04-06 07:28:52

Hit Akihabara yesterday but got there early (before 9am) which meant that everything was closed but it meant I could explored the strip without the crowd. Went into a coffee shop for a spell before going to a couple of arcades once they were open. Also couldn't help going into shops like AsoBitCity and Sofmap as it seemed a waste not to...

After that went to Harajuku for food then wandering the back streets where I got thoroughly trapped in a people jam. Headed back to the hotel with blisters playing up then went to Hie-jinja for a bed of sedate cherry blossom watching, a big difference from the crowds of Ueno.

Met up with the rest of the group in the evening and had some excellent food and drinks. Evidently still had jet lag as I was up at half two in the morning! Cest la vie. First day of the full tour now. Tsukiji was earlier (much earlier) for some awesome sushi.

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Why hello jetlag

Not enough time to upload photos from yesterday, I only took some ones around a shrine I visited as Akiba and Harajuku aren't exactly photogenic. It's strange how jetlag can make some things seem so massive, in the late night fugue I began to question all manner of things, aspects of my life etc. Those twilight hours and likely compounded by fatigue and isolation made everything seem so huge and important, and I instantly wanted to retreat back and go for the familiar. Thankfully my pragmatism kicked back in and now I'm off to the fish market for an early start.

My brain was working so well but it seems my typing dexterity is hindering me getting across exactly what I mean. More later!

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Crikey... I'm in freaking Tokyo

2009-04-04 16:04:04 2009-04-04 16:07:12 2009-04-04 16:08:41 2009-04-04 16:12:32 2009-04-04 16:14:41 2009-04-04 16:16:02 2009-04-04 16:17:15 2009-04-04 16:21:10 2009-04-04 16:29:18 2009-04-04 19:50:49 2009-04-04 20:00:12 2009-04-04 20:13:02 2009-04-04 20:13:49

And these keyboards are very strange to type on, I accidentally hit the Japanese key a short while ago an the level of panic I felt when I couldn't change it back was great. I also keep missing the shift key but that's likely because of my lack of coordination at the moment.

Won't write a huge epic rundown of what happened so in short: journey was fine, planes delayed slightly but not by much. Manchester terminal one security is like one of the circles of hell described by Dante, an utterly dehumanising experience. SAS flights are just like every other really but I managed to sleep somewhat. Landed and met up with the tour leader and a couple of others from the group, got straight into my room so had a shower and felt slightly more human. Went over to Ginza and had a wander around (read: got lost) and then headed to Ueno park for some Hanami. The park was packed but everyone was having such a good time it was hard not to get swept up in it all. Managed to get some tea and met up with the two from before again and went to Ueno again for some night shots, shame it was raining a bit. Got to sleep at nine, slept pretty much straight through till six, no sign of my aeroplane throat this morning.

Now, to Akiba and Harajuku!

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The night before the lost day

Hmm... this could be tricky

Hmm... this could be tricky.

Maybe organising it would help.

Chaos in motion

No, that really didn't help...

Nothing for it I guess.

Compressed havoc

That was surprisingly easy.

Sure it probably weighs over twenty kilos, but what's a dislocated shoulder between friends?

The madness begins...

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3 days to go - Travelling

Travelling for me is somewhat akin to shooting stress into my eyeballs, minor part going from point A to point B and major part stress management; it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I experienced the joy of travelling as an experience rather than a means to an end, but that's an aside. There is a definite period - dependent on the type of journey - where my stress is maximised and occupies a space somewhere between short-term "let's go over here!" and long-term "right so I need to be at this place at this time". That zone is where I don't have enough time to prepare and more than enough time to fret and obsess. The long term planning allows me to purchase things that make me feel like I'm prepared and most importantly of all, plan for ifs.

My brain mostly works on the idea of "if". Given time to gestate, certainties and decisions are questioned and scrutinised; for instance, on a journey to London for a meeting at 1:30pm I know the train I should be catching but if something happens with that train, I can catch another one however many minutes later. Having multiple ifs is when I'm most relaxed, and mostly they come from doing the journey before or planning for it or having as few immovable times and places as possible. This mentality usually translates to showing up at whatever transport station is the most important in the journey (train stations and airports fall into this category) with "ample" time to spare. Ample time usually equating to three or four times longer than I really have to wait: the more time I'm sitting twiddling my thumbs is more time that could have been used up on ifs.

For a long time, I scoffed at document wallets; the ones touted in shops of sundry right next to the "luxury passport holder" and neck pillow (ensuring you get the minimum amount of sleep for maximum amount of neck discomfort). I then realised that document wallets serve the purpose of compartmentalising items which in turn compartmentalises the part of my brain worried about the location of all items on my person at all times, thus reducing my worry. I could, as an example, just fling everything into a backpack and extract items and documents as and when I needed them; however, my backpack also contains a magazine and food, I'll have to navigate them (sacrificing precious seconds) to get at just one item. Conversely, keeping everything together potentially makes it easier to pilfer, unfortunately thievery is a game stopper and one has to balance the mental anguish of keeping items safe with alleviating angst. I still scoff at single passport covers however because they serve no other purpose than to kill a cow (another cow potentially if your passport is already leather bound) for your style or to satisfy your lust to "bling" your travel documents.

I have, if anything, mellowed out somewhat from my earlier days of borderline neuroses. This has mostly come about due to further journeys and understanding how systems work (where to go in an airport, where to look for times, where best to sit and people watch) but mostly by travelling with other people. Time was when I would eagerly stride off on my own if not simply because it meant I would no longer have to encompass other people, with their own whims and timetables, into my carefully laid plans; nowadays I understand the push and pull of journeying with others and in return they brook me at least some leeway with being at places an hour before we can even access ticketing desks.

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