The flight from EWR to Tokyo was 14.5 hours, and boy are my arms tired. All jokes aside, springing for business class for my big 6 flights was the best move i could’ve made, what some people may not know is that int’l business class tickets also come with Lounge access. This is certainly nice to have when you want reliable wi-fi and don’t to pay $3 for a bottle of water.
The flight itself was with United business/first so we had good food/service and the best of all, lie flat seats! I finished my meal roughly an hour or so into the flight. I went with the Cioppino, but probably should’ve gone with the chicken, as I had that before on my last (and only) first class experience and was thoroughly impressed. I skipped desert and went straight to bed with the aid of a friendly sleeping pill, getting 6 hours of sleep in a pretty comfortable setting.
The movies on the plane were pretty awful, I watched World War Z, This is the End, and Hangover 3, and i got through what was probably half of Jobs, but had to turn it off because it wasn’t that good.
Upon landing in Tokyo, my first impression is that everything is very clean and organized. I took a train from the Airport to a subway line near my hotel, and then one subway stop to my general area. The NE’X train has reserved seating, so on my ticket it said I was in Car 5 and seat 7a, so you know exactly where to stand when the train arrives and makes for a very efficient boarding process. From there it was a ~5-10 minute walk to my hotel, that would not have been made possible without the help of my data connection and Google Maps. There are plenty of Directional/street signs marked in English, but I wouldn’t call it the easiest city to navigate thus far.
My first attempt to withdraw money made me a bit nervous as I tried to withdraw 30,000 yen, I got a message saying the card was invalid or expired. My gut reaction was to try my other card but I didn’t want to pay the exorbitant $5 fee with Chase. I remembered some advice from my friend Brendan that not many ATM’s accept American cards, but 7-11’s do. So in my travels looking for my hotel I found a 7-11 and voila, Yen in my pocket. Cash is required for most purchases here so that could’ve been an interesting start to the trip.
I then checked into my hotel where the man at the desk spoke little to no english and I speak little to no Japanese, so there was a lot of pointing and nodding and hoping for the best. I’m only in this hotel for 2 nights, and will look for other accommodation tonight…
I figured I’d go out and walk around the neighborhood I’m in to see what’s around and get something to eat. I walked aimlessly for an hour or so trying to find a hole in the wall ramen shop that also had pictures of food I could point to, but alas no real luck, until finally i found something that had people sitting at a counter and a menu with tons of visual food options. I sat down and asked for a menu (in english of course, making a sign gesture with my hands) and the man behind the counter rifled through some things behind the register but found nothing, finally a colleague of his brought me out to the front where I had seen the picture menu, and he then pointed to a vending machine where I make my choice of whatever food I wanted and then pay the machine, and it spits out a ticket, which you then give to the waitstaff. I ended up getting what I thought was going to be spicy ramen, but it ended up being a spicy-ish pork dish with a side of broth. Overall I was pleased, but not what I expected. I’m sure there is plenty more of that to come!
I’m up bright and early today ~ 3AM in hope’s of making the Tsukiji Fish Market, as it opens @ 5AM and the first 120 people get to see the Tuna Auction, that’ll be followed by a fresh sushi breakfast, reports to follow. I just need to figure out how I’m going to get there since the subways are closed until 5.