Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998
Day 20. This is it. This will probably be the last email from Japan. Hope
this has been enjoyable for all of you. We got up moderately early,
showered and dressed. We then packed our bags; I was surprised how
empty those things were! I'm not used to having so much space after
cramming so much stuff into that one suitcase for so long. We carried
the suitcases downstairs and checked out of the ryokan. I asked
if we could leave our bags there for a few hours while we went shopping,
and she said ok. We gave her the last of the Texas books and the big
silly guidebook for other guests to use. We didn't, but hey.
went to Ueno and Takachimachi for some last-minute shopping and
breakfast at a panya. We were in search of one district in particular,
and were constantly stopping for directions. After my wallet was
succesfully empty, we ate at a restaurant in Ueno station before
returning to the ryokan. The okaasan called for a taxi which we
rode to Tokyo station rather than trying to lug our oversized bags into
the subway and through Ueno station and on a JR train to Tokyo
and down more stairs and... It was very strange because since we had
only ridden trains, we didn't get a good real-world idea of where
stations and areas existed. Suddenly, after we passed Ueno
Station, we found ourselves right next to the Akihabara Animate
where we were yesterday. We didn't even turn; it was right down
the road from our ryokan, just out of sight distance. It was a weird
feeling knowing how difficult it was to get somewhere by train, but how
close and easy it was by car. But in a car, there's nowhere to park.
walked in to Tokyo Station and were constantly meeting our three-week
nemesis: stairs. Yuck. Kel couldn't carry the big bags (although neither
is as heavy as they were on the trip) so I did my He-Man impression
and carried them down multiple staircases. We found our car and sat
for 20 minutes. The Narita Express arrived, and we had 8 minutes to
board so we took our time. We loaded and stored the luggage, and I
got out the tickets to find our seats. Taihen!! It was ROW 11, not CAR 11!!
We raced into reverse gear and tore down the track - luggage wheels
smoking from the speed - all the way to the OTHER end of the train
and car 1. We crammed on the bags and found our correct seats. "I don't
like you," said Kel. I told her we were too cozy and we needed a little
last minute terror to remind us of the trip. "I don't like you," she
repeated. We got to the airport, checked in and now we're boarding.
Plane leaves at 4:45am CDT, so we're probably gone by now. Just in
case they take my battery again.
See ya'll later. Hik.
Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998
After it all...
Well, we're back. Everything went really smoothly on the flight back.
They didn't take my batteries after all. But the cable did break again
when I was trying to send email, so I did my best MacGyver impression and
fixed the cable there in the airport. And Kelly said I shouldn't worry
about bringing my pocketknife. Hah! She has learned the valuable lesson
of the pocketknife. A very handy device for everyday. :)
We boarded the
plan to Los Angeles after mulling around in an extremely crowded airport
terminal for an hour or so. There were Japanese tourists everywhere who
were snapping pictures of each other in the airport (not to propagate a
stereotype or anything). We sat in virtually the exact same seats, but
actually had a Japanese man sitting next to us this time, so we couldn't
stretch out so much. It wasn't so bad, except he left his tray down (and
he had the aisle seat) and went to sleep for most of the ride, leaving us
stranded unless we wanted to bother him. I noticed that the Japanese
passengers were mostly getting western meals, while Kelly and I got the
Japanese ones. Guess everyone is trying to get away from the norm.
watched Man in the Iron Mask, and tried to watch Krippendorf's Tribe, but
the didn't play it again when we could watch. I flipped channels
virtually the whole ride, but I couldn't sleep no matter how much I tried.
The good news is that the ride seemed VERY short. I can't explain that. I
wanted more so i could watch more of the movies!! Go figure. We went
through customs in Los Angeles without much trouble. Walking down to our
terminal, Kelly was happy to read all the signs - she wasn't used to not
having to look for the English translation. It was an odd feeling; she
said she would look atthe sign and expect to not be able to read it and
start looking for English!
We wandered through the magazine shop,
catching up on US events over the last three weeks. It's funny how many
things happen in three weeks! Imagine if we were gone for longer. I was
not doing well, having not slept in quite a while. Kelly was perfectly
fine, for some reason. We got on the plane and sat in the very back. The
flight back didn't seem long to me; I slept a lot finally. We arrived in
Houston and Kel's mom was waiting for us. I was disturbed to hear an
announcement and not be able to understand any of it (it was in Spanish).
My mom met us in the baggage claim, and we left; Kel went home with her
mom , and I went home with mine. It was the first time being separated in
23 days! Very weird.
I had dinner from Boston Market and was reminded of
the rudeness of the American service industry. How wonderful. I talked
with my mom and dad until 1 am, when I finally hit the hay for a nap. Eyes
popped open at 4:30, but I rested until 5 (7pm to my body). I got up,
gathered our stuff and said bye to my wonderful parents. I drove over and
picked up Kelly, then we headed back to Austin. We were both hyper and
danced to our new J-Pop CD's on the way back. :) I dropped off Kelly and
headed to work. I was fine until just after my great Tex-Mex lunch at
Chuy's. Then I started fading. I went bowling with Eureka, but by 7:30
or so, I was about to pass out. I returned home and slept on the
couch until Kelly called me at 10, then went into the bedroom where I
slept until 5. I could no longer sleep after 6, so I watched TV after
that. Jetlag sucks. -- M
Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998
It's taken me about a week to adjust back to normal hours. Sleeping is
still bizarre. It seems that going over it wasn't hard to adjust; coming
back it was downright impossible. I'm really missing the country at this
point. I want to play my game again, get some more okonomiyaki (I tried to
make Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki on Sunday, but it's still not right.
Must watch the tape again.) and watch our cool game show. I miss the 7-11
rice balls, the good service, no tipping ;), plastic food in the windows,
and train commutes. Even Kelly has been missing Japan. As much as she
wanted to come home, she's anxious to go back. Bianca's planning on it
next year, perhaps we'll join her for a shorter period than this time.
We've learned a lot about Japan, and for travelers like ourselves, we're
going to turn this site into a fountain of knowledge, our own personal
weekend traveler guidebook. Won't help much, but it will help those who
are doing the same thing as ourselves. At any rate, I hope everyone who's
read this has enjoyed it. I hadn't realized how much I had written! By
the way, yes, it was all done on a PalmPilot, and almost all in graffiti.
Kel's was done on the keyboard widget for the most part.
Special Thanks To:
Monty for helping make the trip possible and supporting us in our
Casey, Toren, and Cindy for doing the technical part of setting up a
PalmPilot for Internet email and letting us borrow it.
Our parents for caring about us, and taking us to and from the airport.
Bianca for worrying and helping us along the way.
Michael for taking care of our zoo and bills and being brave
enough to tell a bank that the ATM screwed up making a withdrawal on
someone else's ATM card. ("Are you the primary cardholder?" "No." "Where
is the primary cardholder?" "Uh, in Japan." "Uh-Huh.")
Colin for handling the technical support and email on the US side.
Everyone for reading this and dealing with the smallest insignificant
details we included. It's good to know people cared and worried about us.
Thanks a lot. -- Marc and Kelly