Friday, 24 December 2010

007 Still Out East!

Our intrepid explorer is still out there, all contact has been lost, so we are not sure where he is at the moment! He could be anywhere between here and Japan, which really doesnt narrow it down a great deal! So we are hoping to hear from him soon to make sure he is home and safe, but untill then here is his latest update of his time spent out East!

In any event, and where ever he is, you can be sure he's eating chicken and drinking beer!

Day 20 Tokyo – 10.00am, 12 Celsius and sunny.

First I must apologise for the typos in the last report. English was never a strong point of mine and evidently proof reading is not up there either.

As suspected I have now developed a really bad Korean Kough, no doubt caught from my first taxi experience in Seoul. (probably not helped by swanning around in short sleeves in sub zero temperatures either). It seems every time I head to Asia that some global pandemic is happening. Bird flu several years ago, then the old swine flu. Thinking about it, being in an enclosed environment is probably a great way of spreading all sorts of pestilence. Plains, Trains and Taxi’s being prime examples and I hate to say it, getting back on some form of topic, Caravans!!

The Japanese and Chinese seem to take more precautions than most by wearing masks. One recent flight looked more like an away day from an operating theatre. At most airports now they have heat detectors pointed at you as you enter immigration checking for a fever. Just as well I don’t travel so much this way in August or it will look like a bad case of Bubonic plague.

As it says at top am now residing in downtown Tokyo. Landed at Narita which just has to be the best kept airport anywhere. Pristine does not begin to describe it, well it does actually as that’s the first thing I have just said, anyway, very clean and very organised. Even the hedges have beautifully Topiary . . . . . . Or is that a long nosed marsupial . . . . That would be Tapir . . . . . or is that Tobermory . . . . . The clever Womble?? I have lost it now.

Anyway, very easy to get into town on the friendly limousine bus which does what it says on the tin and runs very much on time and the nice locals enter into lots of kowtowing as the bus pulls away from the stop. Don’t think that will catch on in the UK.

Later I shall head to the local convenience store to try and track down some Paracetamol which might be a whole lot easier said than done. The last lot of self head pointing in Seoul I think just conjured up pictures of lunatic on day release. I shall attempt to get reception to write on piece of paper to ease things along. Which reminds of some craze about 15 years ago when in Middle East. For some reason when looking around the gold souks (markets) of Dubai, the husbands amongst us thought a really nice gift for the spouses back home would be their name written in Arabic in 21 Carat gold suspended from a chain. (Hard to imagine that being quite such a gift these days). Anyway, I did wonder why my friend Peter asked the jeweller to write what he was going to make the pendant look like, then said Peter scooted out of the shop to next door and came back a minute later and said okay, “go ahead, Teresa will be very happy”. I enquired what that was all about and turns out it would not be the first time the loved one back home has had Camel Sha**ger or words to the affect draped around their infidel neck. Best hope that works with the paracetamol and instructions don’t call for insertion into opposite end!!

Speaking of opposite ends, the toilets here have more extras on that a well spec’d Ford Mondeo. Wish I took a photo of the one in Seoul as it appeared to have many options including water spraying, temperature, direction and pressure. Best of all the seat was heated!! Did think about taking a pillow in there and trying to kip!! You will have to make do with photo of lower budget job here in Tokyo. And as the immortal Alan Partridge once said when viewing a house with a posh toilet . . . . "I do like that toilet. It's very futuristic, isn't it? Very, sort of, high-tech, space age. I can imagine Buck Rogers taking a dump on that. In the twenty-first century".

Ended up in Popeye Beer Cub last night which is a cool little, dark wood panelled establishment not far from hotel. It has some 40 beers on tap from around the globe and is certainly a place the locals like to patronise. Getting in and finding somewhere to stand was extremely difficult. I did wonder how on earth the barman kept pace with what was being ordered and more importantly where it was meant to be heading. Well, each order was written separately on slip of paper and put in a dish. The barkeep would pick up the paper, dip them in water then stick them to his arm till he had about 10, then once poured he would transfer the paper to the glass. Simple and clever.

The strongest brew was 14.3% Iwatekura Barley Wine and it looks like the most expensive was Nasukougan Nine Tailed Fox Barley Wine at 525 Yen for 50ml, which even with my poor maths works out at £41 a pint!!

The Japanese Yen is a very strong global currency. Looking back at some records for 2007 show 234 Yen to the British Pound, at airport yesterday got 119 Yen. (Tourist rate is 130) So in space of 3 and bit years assuming no price increase, things have almost doubled in price. This makes doing business sometimes very easy as our goods are comparatively cheap against the locally manufactured product but the double edge sword is exports are fearsomely expensive.

While we are dabbling around the subject of business, the business card is very important out here. It’s always handed over with ceremony and presented with two hands. It should be received and reviewed. I did hear tale of some British chap who lost a very important customer by taking and pocketing straight away the company’s President’s card. Probably ranks right up there with that other Japanese faux pas, “This fish isn’t cooked mate!”

I have been pratting around with the TV remote here which is written in Japanese as you would expect. I had been stuck with Sharps finest leaping 10 channels at a time and having a grand total of 10 channels. Looked at the great oracle that is Google and the TV has only been out a matter of months so no manuals seem available. Call me old fashioned but one has to be a tad careful clicking buttons willy-nilly in hotels as before you know it you can have a dose of Frankie (Vaughn. . . . . !!) on your itemised bill.

Sunday is a day in Tokyo (and probably the rest of the country as well come to that) where the women, particularly the older ones like to wear the traditional Japanese dress and go out for lunch. Very smart they look as well. Minding my own business, slurping some Asahi Super Dry beer the couple next door struck up conversation by asking where I was from etc and why was I so far from home. She (a lady of advancing years and excellent English) asked if I had a family and would I be home to see them for Christmas. Turned out she was married once but widowed, so I jokingly asked her what she was looking for in her next husband. She said she would very much like to marry a ‘Constant Penis’. Well, I thought, you are not setting your sights very high and even I could be in there. Then she continued how much she had loved the work of Irving Berlin, ah the penny dropped . . . . . ‘Concert Pianist’.

Finally, I suspect from Tokyo, unless I happen to end up anywhere noteworthy tonight as being taken out by several locals . . . . It’s a really beautiful sunny day, almost like spring, the temperature is not too cool and the sun is shining brightly. What I will not miss from here are the incessant Christmas Carols. The Koran airline Triple Seven was playing Rudolf the Red Nosed Rein Deer as we taxied to the stand and I could not believe it when identical version was playing in the lift heading up to room after checking in. Outside my room is a speaker which is belting out numerous compilations 24/7. In all fairness I have not heard any repeat versions, though there have been many, many a rendition of the same song!! When I can’t sleep at night and if you listen hard enough it’s a good game to work out what is actually playing, luckily for the insomniac in me it’s as effective as counting the proverbial sheep.
Hotel Beer Vending Machine

In the heart of Sumo Town

Land of the rising, no its the setting sun.

Multi function toilet

Popeye Beec Club - Tokyo

Space at a premium in Tokyo if you want a garden

Tokyo Tube Map

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