Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
297Trip End Dec 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
I have earplugs, an eyemask and a slighty blocked nose, but still, all I can smell is feet. Boys feet. Yuck.
The others got the last train back from their night out at about 7 an have had even less sleep. Ursula ended up waking me up at 10.45 as I'd overslept and we had to check out by 11, else be charged another night.
11:57 It's a beautiful sunny clear day today, and quite warm too. It would have been a perfect day to go to mount Fuji or even Nikko. I regret not getting there. This week has been a little disappointing in the amount I've seen, and I really wish I'd had longer, especially now it's sunnier as it was so grey the days I was out.
My japan railpass for 14 days cost around £350, and I had intended to use it this week. But alas no. It doesn't even get you cheap underground fares. Today will be it's first usage. A single to Kyoto for Bliss was £100, so after I've done my trips to there, Hiroshima and back to Osaka, I will have had more than my money's worth. Although I wish I'd only bought a 7 day pass now, so I've wasted a bit of money on that.
I think I prefer to travel alone when I'm in a place for such a short time, I can't be held up by anyone or chased out if I want to sleep. But no more of my journey will have this restriction on it I think because through china we are all being directed and when I get to hong kong I will be a nomad with no time pressures and an even lighter rucksack.
12:33 I found ny way to Akihabra and then on to Electric town. I had forgotten it was Saturday and found it was very busy. There were games, game shops, computer shops, anime, components stalls down alleys. There was also lots of noise from girls in small skirts handing things out, men shouting to attract you in, music blaring.
13:16 Seen enough and not wanted anything. Can't afford what I do want. So back to hostel and off to Kyoto I think. There's not much more I can do here I think.
14:57 We have arrived at Tokyo station, it's buzzing and carrying all my bags I'm trying to misbalance. We find our way through up to the platform. It's so efficient that the same platforms are always used so you know where to go, not only that but the platform has both overhead and painted floor telling you exactly which carriage is where so you can be in the right place for when the train arrives. We have half an hour before it is due so I've bought a cheese an ham sandwich from the shop next to us. It was about £4. I'm looking forward to eating some cheaper local food at some point I hope.
15:20 The train has arrived, the front looks like a flat nosed platypus. The carriages all have round windows like aircraft. An army of ladies in pink arrive by each door ready to get on and clean as the train stops. The seats in the train always face forwards because the cleaners swivel them around! Amazing!!
We took off pretty fast from the station, we have 3 seats in a row and masses of leg room. Our seats even go back quite a way. Here I am on a train again, for two and half hours this time. Kyoto is 350 miles away and I'm looking forward to seeing what we will pass on the way there. We'll also make a couple of stops on the way so this really is a fast train. I watched the driver walk from one end to the other and he was dressed as smartly and similar to a pilot.
There are so many little differences here, you can still smoke in restaurants. The train has a smoking car. The streets are impeccably clean and lined with bicycles, none of which are chained up but there is enough respect here not to interfere. Even the underground has lots of posters which anywhere else woul be vandalised or ripped down. People go out of their way to help you and if they can't speak English you can be dragged around collecting half a dozen other people until they find the answer. Everyone bows to each other, I love this. Whats more, people seem relaxed and calm and not rushing everywhere. There are lots of areas of green, or trees, even in the middle of business areas there are always little gardens and carefully nurtured trees. You often come across little churches or shrines, again with beautiful gardens for people to enjoy and just be silent in. I can't even remember the last time I saw anyone resembling a chav. You know, wearing a tracksuit with hands down th front as hands in pockets seems to have gone out of fashion. Or jeans with the waist hanging off the bum. Did I mention, I was in London once, following a lad who's jeans were literally hanging onto the top of his thighs. He had a steep slope he ended up sort of trotting down, and as he did his trousers completely fell down round his ankles. I laughed and thought that said it all and maybe he'd pull them up properly now. Nope, back to same position.
We're really making tracks now, going superfast! Passing through the outskirts of tokyo as well as flats there are lots of little houses all tightly together like in china, or possibly hong kong as I imagine it.
I looked out of the window on the right and finally have seen mount Fuji. It's a funny looking one because it is so like a stereotypical volcano. There doesn't appear to be any snow on it, but the light isn't great from this angle.
We're travelling a route by the sea, we keep going into tunnels but pop out to see houses all by the sea, and an island in the distance.
20:12 Well this is a shit hostel. On minus sides- the 2 lounges are smaller than my bathroom. The top lounge is the smoking room. Yuck. The kitchen is literally under the stairs with the washing machine. The microwave is in the hall on top of a fridge. There are 3 showers in the whole building, all on the ground floor. A nasty smell has been following me all day and I hope it's not me!! It's a sicky feety smell, and not nice. I'll get a shower tonight and see if it goes away.
The plus side? I have a bottom bunk with a feather duvet, and we seem to be in a pretty central location in Tokyo. And I have a spaghetti dish for dinner, from the supermarket...when in Rome...no wait I'm in japan...where sushi is STILL expensive!
Incidentally, because the bottom lounge is full and the top one is thick with smoke and I'm trying to eat, I'm sitting on he floor in the 8 bed dorm. Its like being at school. No, it's not like being at school because of what I described above and because at school we had room to swing a cat, or indeed a pet gerbil. Here, not so much.
22:10 In bed now, writing and watching the Kings speech...