July 8, 2009 at 11:51 am Leave a comment

I spent 5 days in Tokyo staying with an American teacher of English i met in Thailand 2 months ago. The flight from Bangkok was only 6 hours, but because i spent my last ‘night’ at the airport – and slept only 2 hours – I was very tired when i arrived my friend’s place. This fatigue lasted for the next several days and worst of all, my lower back hurt (probably from the monster that my backpack evolved into after i crammed in all that junk i bought in Bangkok 20 minutes before i left for the airport)

I spent my days very casually, waking up late, visiting museums and walking, and returning home around 7 to make dinner with my friend. I almost mastered Tokyo’s complex subway system consisting of a million privately owned lines requiring new tickets and exits for the transfers. Every station is almost as busy and large (or busier and larger) as New York’s Grand Central, and usually more complicated. But Japanese people will often go out of their way to help you and even as i stood momentarily paralized by the grandiosity i felt wonder not anxiety.

ticket machines and a map of JUST one of the metro lines in Tokyo

Queueing for the subway. Can you imagine this in NY?

View of Shibuya intersection

On Sunday i attended an earth and peace celebration near Shibuya park. Besides the hundred little booths selling organic stuff there was a stage where musicians played traditional Japanese instruments in non traditional ways and people danced. I danced too of course!

On Monday i set off for Kyoto with a near empty back pack (I left most of my things at my friend’s place) and an atlas of Japanese roads. I found my way to a Mc’Donald’s near the entrance of an expressway and tried to hitch a ride by standing 50 meters from the entrance point. No one stopped.

Holding my umbrella close, i tried another way. I approached the cars as they collected their food at the drive-through. Three women, a mother, her daughter and a grandmother scooped me up and took me 30 kilometers south to a parking space on the expressway. Before they left me they insisted i accept a water and a sweet bun that the daughter had run out of the car to buy in the rain especially for me. After that everything was very easy.

Kyoto is about 515 km away from Tokyo and the road is a straight path on the expressways. Unlike hitching in Thailand almost all the drivers i had insisted on finding my next ride. All i had to do was wait. Six rides and 8 hours later i was in Kyoto. I met 11 friendly people and cannot imagine a better way to have gotten to Kyoto.


My only complaint is that it’s raining every day but otherwise i am very happy :)


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , , , , .

bye bye ราชอาณาจักรไทย Kyoto & Osaka

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