Wanderings

International Travel Log

Singing in the Rain

International Travel Log
JAPAN – JANUARY 2009

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4:58 p.m. Tokyo
It’s a crazy, beautiful, twisted place! I’ve been lost in the rain all day. My inner Geisha finally told me to come in from the cold and take another bath.

I find that I discover some of the best things in life when I am utterly lost. And so when Jay and I set out at 8-something this morning with a crisp map under grey skies, we were looking forward to losing ourselves in Tokyo. Which we did. For about six hours.

Truly. Tokyo confounds. Even standing directly underneath the street-sign indicating the intersection of Showa Dori and Eitai Dori, we still couldn’t tell which end of the map was up. With no sun or shadow to serve as a compass, and a cold persistent rain, we stubbornly went every wrong direction we could manage, until we managed to ask for enough direction stumble upon some truly delightful experiences.

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Land of the Rising Sun

International Travel Log
JAPAN – JANUARY 2009

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6:19 a.m. Tokyo
I am in the Land of the Rising Sun, waiting for the sun to rise. I’ve succumbed to the realization that my jetlag is a far superior warrior in my battle for sleep, so I’ve brewed for myself on perfect dose of coffee which I am sipping from a pristine Noritake china cup while I watch the emerging morning through my window to this world of undiscovered wonders.

This isn’t going to be nearly enough coffee. I’m going to have to go to Starbucks. Which means I’m going to have to put on some clothes and go outside. Which means I’m going have a go at learning how to use the bathtub.

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Tokyo at Night

International Travel Log
JAPAN – JANUARY 2009

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We disembarked the plane, which landed perfectly, precisely at 4:00 p.m. as scheduled, then proceeded to stand in several wrong lines for an hour or so here and there throughout the airport. Our suspicions were aroused when we got to the place where we were instructed to dispose of our liquids and gels. Then confirmed by the Brits behind us who revealed that we were “actually in the line for Bangkok”. Yup. We made a joke of it much to the delight of all those Bangkok bound and high-tailed it through immigration and out of the airport.

I’ve got a new sticker in my passport. I love that!

A charming white-gloved chauffeur was waiting for us when we emerged from baggage claim. (It seems that I may be the object of much amusement for the locals, based on the amount of luggage I’ve brought. I think I’ll send some stuff back with King Daddy when he goes home in a few days.) The chauffeur stuffed all of our stuff in the car and we went zooming toward Tokyo.

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Up Up and Away

International Travel Log
JAPAN – JANUARY 2009

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6:31 a.m. MInneapolis
Shortly I’ll be on my way to the airport. Frankly, I’m nervous.

I believe I’ve packed most of what I think I need, although I’m more than certain that upon arrival in the busiest city in a country boasting the world’s second-largest economy I’ll be able to procure anything I might desire. Except a big gloppy American cheeseburger. Which is why I ate a big gloppy American cheeseburger yesterday for lunch. It was one of the top five cheeseburgers of my life.

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Tightly Wound and Fully Packed

International Travel Log
JAPAN – JANUARY 2009

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It has JUST become crystal clear to me that I am in the midst of the last-minute rush. I’m sporadically and spastically calling in people to do errands for me while I pack everything I own that is either black, blue, or grey into my two suitcases.

I am humbled and grateful that my client has been gracious enough to accommodate all of my last-minute scheduling requests, and I’ve posted an updated itinerary under “Schedule of Events”.

What else? I have no idea… my head is spinning!

Oh! Here’s Kellee at my door with a hot cup of Firefly coffee and some perspective! I’d better go let her in… she’s good for slapping the sense back into me.

Watashi no hobakurafuto wa unagi de ippai desu

International Travel Log
JAPAN – JANUARY 2009

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I am doing my best to learn a bit of Japanese prior to my departure. I’ve been spending sporadic moments with my recommended Ten Minutes A Day language tutor, and have put word stickers on most of the objects in my house, with the exception of the cat, who would not suffer the indignity.

But the very best bit of exposure to the lexicon I’ve encountered so far is courtesy of my novelist-buddy Steve. This morning I nearly broke myself in two laughing at the content of the e-mail he sent me, which read thus:

“I think [this] is an idiomatic expression of happiness. At least that’s the story I’m sticking to. ~ Steve”

What he sent – Watashi no hobākurafuto wa unagi de ippai desu – translates specifically as “My hovercraft is full of eels.”

I’ll do just fine communicating in Japan.

Hoteru

International Travel Log
JAPAN – JANUARY 2009

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As of the early morning of January 5th, there is still quite a bit of confusion about where and when I’ll be staying. I refuse to be freaked out by this. All the travel I’ve been doing over the past few years, mixed with the knowledge that my hosts in Japan will be the consummate purveyors of attention to detail, assuages my fear that I’ll be camping out in a capsule hotel in the railway station. Plus, my agent Kris, who is nothing short of the most fantastic handler on the planet, has me well in hand. I’m completely full of adrenaline at the adventure of it all!

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Preparing to Take Wing

International Travel Log
JAPAN – JANUARY 2009

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Saturday night prior to my Wednesday departure, and I find myself standing on that hesitant borderline leading up to preparedness. I’ve made a list – several pages of list actually – in a ridiculous little book whose cover is peppered with round, quirky, cartoon birds. Their earnest expressions are slightly daunted, and they look like they are trying to remember that one thing they forgot to write down.
So I write it all down.
Errands to run, clothes to pack, loose ends to tidy… I write it all down so I remember before there’s no time left for forgetting.

Fortunate Star

International Travel Log
JAPAN – JANUARY 2009

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January 2009 finds me under a fortunate star… I’ll travel to Japan for work and for adventure, from Tokyo to Kyoto and back.

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