The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
I didn’t end up getting to see the port of Chiba. Much against the advice of Eli, the youth worker at Roseville Uniting Church, I decided that I wasn’t going to book any accommodation for my first few days in Japan. When I got to Chiba I discovered that the pokey hole in the wall Tourist Information booth didn’t have a very good English speaking person. After much hand waving and deliberation I discovered where the cheapest hotel was. After getting lost trying to find it, and then finding I had walked past it about 5 times, I discovered a sign out the front that I said “something something something something 3pm something something something.” Being about 11am, I decided to go shopping to buy my camera.
After having landed that morning, catching a train into Chiba, discovering that I really had packed too much, and generally felling really, really tired, it felt like I had landed into a long running Anime. The fog at the airport, the construction sites, the police and armed guards at the airport edge, birds flying in slow motion.
When I needed some change for the locker I decided to use McDonald’s for a caffeine fix. Over here, they look different but the same. The helpful person immediately whipped out a menu with pictures on it for me to point to, and nod my head. All those Japanese lessons immediately forgotten.
At the station, when I sat down to have a nervous breakdown there were some rather old men, drinking Sake out of glass jars. It was about 11:30am. One walked over to me to me and said “Amerikan?” I responded in my best Japanese, which also happens to be my worst Japanese with “Oosutoraria-jin” which, hopefully means Australian. Better than what I did a little later with the egg sandwich.
I still think I’m down in China Town in Sydney.
At about 2:30pm I walk back to the Supa Hoteru and there is a new sign out front. A very bad sign. A sign in Japlish, which I think meant they were full. At this point I started working out how to get back to Oosutoraria. I lugged my gear back to the station, cursing again about how much I packed and the third thing to do after getting accommodation and food would be to post stuff back home I didn’t need. The Tourist Information booth started becoming even less helpful when they wouldn’t phone up anywhere for accommodation. (Well, most information said Tourist Information places did that sort of thing.) Started calling places. Started hearing the words “furu” – full. Started mild panic. Remembered about a phone number for English speaking help for people like me. Called it. They gave me some numbers for places in Tokyo that I might be able to stay at.
Eventually found a YMCA that had space. I think the only reason they had space was because they aren’t on any map, guide book or directory. They aren’t that remote (2 train stops from Akihabara.)
After all that, the first day wasn’t so great. In fact, it sucked. Big time. Well, it can only get better.
Quick note: I’ve abandoned my attempt to use my own system for updating pages. Blogger seems really easy and took about 15 seconds to set up. Although I don’t know how to back date posts yet. I need to experiment a bit more with it. Will post more soon. Must eat.