Well… I made it…

So I’ve arrived safely in Tokyo.  It was pretty uneventful – I sat for many hours in Minneapolis, but I utilized the Delta SkyClub’s wireless, so I was entertained.  The flight to Tokyo – all 12 hours of it – was fine.  The person next to me, despite having been a bit loud talking to his kid (?) while sitting in the club, said basically nothing the entire trip, which is fine by me.

I spent basically the entire trip with my headphones in, listening to music.  I never even pulled the monitor out to see what options there were for alternative forms of entertainment.  Dinner was the Japanese Set – a main course of salmon, which was great, but the rice was pretty crappy.  The first course was a bunch of vegetables that I won’t be able to identify for a while.  Breakfast was the English Set – cold roast beef, spiced chicken, artichoke heart, and fruit.  Tasted fantastic, especially the very tender roast beef.

As for my music that I was continually consuming, a significant portion of the trip was Iron & Wine.  They came up for a couple of reasons – first, Susan told me before I left that they had a new album out, so I grabbed it via my Zune Pass and got it load up.  Second, I was having an argument with Christine that they weren’t ‘too slow’.  So the new album is very nice, I enjoyed it thoroughly.  As I let the Zune work its way through the whole discography, however, I slid into a pretty deep sleep.  Now, I don’t think this means Christine wins – I had consumed a fair selection of alcohol and food, on top of the fact that they had dimmed the cabin, so it was a combination of many variables.

So yeah – I ate, slept, listened to music.  Not too exciting.  I got to the airport and was the 2nd person in line for immigration, so I breezed right through there.  My bags were some of the very first off the plane, so that was super fast as well.  Next, customs, was a little slower because of questions about what we’re shipping over, but that still wasn’t bad because I was able to get out and buy a ticket for the 5:55p Limo Bus.  We had arrived at 5:20 or so…

The “Friendly Limousine Bus” (photo on my BB, will provide later) took about an hour to get to my hotel and that was after they skipped about 4 stops because of a lack of passengers.  The hotel isn’t nearly as posh as the one I stayed in last time, but I think I’m okay with that, as the price is significantly cheaper.  I got checked in and headed to my room.

I got into the elevator by myself and pressed the floor button, but nothing happened.  I looked around for someplace to slide my card, but found none.  Luckily, I noticed the proximity card pad and tapped it, then the floor unlocked.  I was instantly greeted with the beautiful elevators tones – if you’ve seen Lost In Translation, you know them – and it was a lovely memory.

My room is pretty simple, but what could I possibly need?  It’s where I’ll sleep for the next 8 days.  I spent an hour or so looking for English language programming on the TV, only to find none.  That’s tough.  My stomach decided to rebel a bit, so I delayed going out for dinner for a while.  I unpacked a little bit, found that the TSA had rifled through my suitcase, which was lovely.  I guess an IP phone, wireless router and laptop docking station might look a little strange on a scan…

Eventually I did head out the door, as I had promised myself and others, to seek photos & dinner.  First, though, I needed to secure funding because I had completely failed to bring any significant amount of cash.  I realized that just before we landed when filling out the customs declaration – “how much cash are you bringing into the country?”  “$15”  Later I found that it was only $10.  By the way – $10 isn’t going far in this city, especially when you consider I’d need to exchange it at the hotel at the worst possible rate!

That’s okay, though, I’ll just go to an ATM.  The hotel gave me a map with the konbi (convenience) stores as well as marking the Denny’s (yes, Denny’s.  Photo incoming) across the street as having an ATM.  Easy as pie – just go out, hit the ATM and then eat up.  Ramen?  Sure, sounds great, just get a bit of cash first.

Right.  Cash.

So, I found plenty of ATMs – konbi and Denny’s ATMs.  I even walked 4 blocks to hit a 7-11 (yes, that too) because I’d had luck with the 7-11 last year.  None of them would accept my bank card or my Citi credit card.  I know of a Citibank ATM that will likely accept my bank card, but it’s a subway ride away.  I have about 450¥ to my name at the moment, so I don’t want to ride over to the ATM to find it’s closed.  Oh yeah – ATMs close.  Neat, right?  Plus, it’s in Roppongi, right in the middle of all the clubs and it’s a Saturday night – not a nice place to be right now… at least, not for me.

That’s okay, right?  I can just eat at the hotel restaur… that closed 30 minutes ago.  FINE.  I can have a $15 “American Clubhouse Sandwich” from room service.  Wait – $15?  Really?  NO.  M&Ms, and then going to bed so I can wake up for the breakfast buffet and start over again!

Yeah… a little hiccup, a crappy dinner, but I’m feeling okay about it.  I let things get to me a little bit, but I’m giving myself a little leeway for it being the first night in town.  I could find places that accept a credit card, but they’d likely be a bit fancy or a bit expensive, and I don’t need that tonight.  I’m fine and my stomach isn’t holding up so great anyway.  We’ll start over tomorrow.

Now… it’s getting to be time for people to wake up in the states, so I think I’ll make some phone calls.  If you need a phone number for me, email me… I’ve got several at this point.


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