Saturday, October 07, 2000

George Hits Japan



And now for the final entry in the George Trilogy, as our hero arrives in Tokyo...



I can't remember the last time I was doing something peaceful like getting off an airplane that I got shoved so many times. Then the cab ride from the airport to the hotel was damn expensive and the parts of the city that we drove through didn't look like a place worth driving through. But things get worse...

The meter on the taxi is ticking away, the city is just a mass of concrete with no style at all, and we finally get cleaned out of cash when we get dropped off, and the ride cost us 25000 yen. 25000 yen is roughly equivalent to 250 dollars. The hotel looked ok from the outside, but it had all the signs of being a low budget place to stay. There was no driveway to the main lobby, no doorman, and no bell boy to tote the luggage upstairs for us. All of these things were standards on my previous trips for this company. At check in we learned that the front desk staff doesn't speak good English, and you guessed it, we don't speak good Japanese. We get checked in after a while and head upstairs. The room looks like a jail cell. Very small box of a room with a crapper that spit at me when I went to use it. When I got into bed I found that the pillow must be stuffed with beans, and then the whole thing smelled of cigarette smoke. Needless to say we moved to a better hotel the next day. This one had all the features that I expect to have on business trips.

Saturday, without checking out the weather we joined a bus tour to Mt. Fuji. Along the road it started to rain pretty hard. No problem, it will probably blow over. No such luck, we get there in a serious rain. No problem, I've been wet before. Boy did I get wet, and although I was standing on it, I never actually saw it. The clouds were so low you could see about 20 feet in front of you. The next stop was lunch. They took us to one of the traditional places where you sit on a mat on the floor and cram you legs under the table. It was ok, but being far from decent plumbing I wasn't going to take any risks and didn't eat much of it. After that we went to The Valley of Big Hell. This is where an ancient volcano had collapsed upon itself and now it smokes and bubbles up hat springs of water high in sulfur. Just in time to hike around here the rain started to come down like crazy and we got soaked through and through. The thing to do here is hike up a
bit to this shack that boils eggs in the hot spring water and eat one. Supposedly it gives you seven extra years to live. They looked pretty bad but tasted like normal eggs. The trip back to Tokyo was on the bullet train. I was a bit disappointed with its speed because it didn't feel like it was going fast, but it shortened a 3 hour drive into 36 minutes. Not too bad. We had to walk back to the hotel from the subway station that evening. You guessed it, raining even harder now. Joining the rain were high winds and lightning. We looked like we had been through hell when we got to the hotel.

Sunday I found out why the weather just got worse as the day went on. Typhoon #17 approached Tokyo on Saturday and passed by just to the east on Sunday. Sunday was boring as a result of the weather. I did the next best thing and hung out in the bar.
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