Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Goal Complete: Visit Another Country

The plane touched down at the Narita airport at about 4:15 on Monday afternoon. From there it was through customs, to the bag claim, and then what seemed like a second customs (2 forms too) and to the bus ticketing counter. I got a ticket to Shin Yokahama Station with 10 minutes to spare. I was warned to make sure and catch the bus at the exact time, and that was a good tip. The buses came and went down to the minute and even pulled away from the curb at the same time…it was like watching synchronized swimming…but with transportation!

The bus was about a 2-hour ride, and as soon as I stepped off Takashi and Noriko were there to meet me. We walked over to the hotel and they got me checked in. I'm VERY thankful they were there to handle that. Got up to the room and they also helped me figure out the water system (turning on hot water). Thanked them and got my things settled in for the evening. Reach into my back pocket for my phone...and…phone…gone.


I even remember thinking to myself on the bus that this is too easy…easier than I anticipated…it's too good to be true and something needs to go wrong.

This was it.

I search everything and everywhere in the room and no luck. There's no phone in the room to call Noriko. I go downstairs to try and use the pay phone and could not figure it out. I don't attempt to ask the gentleman at the front desk because it didn't seem to speak much Engligh. I decide to walk back over to the station hoping the bus is still there. The bus is gone. Go to the ticket office in hopes of a lost and found. They don't understand me. I spend about 20 minutes trying anyways, pointing to my ticket, motioning the use of the phone. No luck. They send me upstairs to the hotel lobby in the building and the front desk clerk calls the bus line to ask and they were closed. They give me a number to call in the morning. I find this all very strange since I was just down in the actual bus station, but I take the number and cross my fingers anyways that there is hope in the morning.

Long story short: my phone is found and they had a courier bring it back to me a day later. This could not have happened without Noriko's help, that's for sure.

First impression observations:

• Everything seems very structured and organized.
• It's more quiet than I expected it to be.
• Everyone drives and walks on the left hand side.
• I see a lot of bright colors in signs, but not in what people are wearing.
• The cars seem small.
• People walk everywhere.
• The toilets are very high-tech. There are buttons just to lift and lower the seat in addition to other buttons that I can only imagine what they do.
• The food is very different, particularly the breakfast I had the first day..the eggs tasted like fish.
• TV is very entertaining and everyone seems very happy and energetic, on TV.
• This is the most hospitable place I've ever been too. Everyone makes sure I am taken care of, food, questions, transpiration, sight seeing, work supplies, etc.
• Everyone is very polite.
• I've only been in meetings with men.

I keep forgetting I am here on business as I am enjoying myself so much. Friday will be the first excursion to Tokyo so I will be curious to see how that compares to Yokahama.

Thankful to be here!

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