Nov. 2nd, 2014

gurdymonkey: (gurdymonkey2)
Yeah, it got me a cheap fare, but flying from Tokyo to San Francisco via Incheon is kind of a stupid way to spend an afternoon. I'm in freaking Korea with not enough time to actually do anything interesting about it!

Yesterday's train trip to Tokyo went off without a hitch. Never did see Fuji-san because it was rainy and misty. Josh was across the aisle watching a samurai movie on his laptop and a fascinated six-year-old boy came over and decided he was his new best friend.
We found a place for Cori and Andy to store their luggage at the train station, then we took the subway to Ueno Park. Found a surprisingly good Italian place in the train station to grab a bite of lunch, then we spent the afternoon at the Tokyo National Museum. I need to organize my photo batch - and not everything I tried to take pictures of came out well, but their on-view collection was full of interesting and wonderful works and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As with one of the buildings at the Kyoto National Museum, the architecture imitates Western museums of the 19th century, so it was this Beaux Arts pile with Lalique-looking lamps in the central stairway. I will say they have an above-average number of comfortable (if low) seating spaces to rest in if one's feet start to give out, and the ubiquitous soft drink and ice cream vending machines in the basement beside the rest rooms.

Cori and Andy had a flight that evening, so we parted ways with them at the train station, then hopped the subway to Asakusa (pronounced A-SOCK-sa), to check into our hostel, a modern, funky place called Khaosan Laboratory. We went two doors down to meet some SCA friends at a great little okonomiyaki place called Sometaro. Okonomiyaki is a sort of pancake made of batter, cabbage and whatever else one wants to add to it. We ordered several different kinds, grilled them on our own hibachi table, doctored them with everything from soy sauce to mayo, and feasted. I'm glad I finally got to meet Chabi and Stefan - they're cool people. We walked around Asakusa a bit after dinner, found a coffeeshop for a bit of dessert, then we said good night and went back to bunk bed heaven.

Up early this morning for breakfast at Jonathan's, a Denny's-like diner in Asakusa with the usual oddly Japanese touches to their Western menu. It filled the empty and set me up for the walk to the subway line. I said goodbye to Josh and Ellen, who were taking a train in a different direction for another week's adventures, found the train to Narita, picked up the suitcase I'd sent on through Kuroneko (Black Cat), and discovered that my check-in line was being manned by a bevy of Asiana trainees, all petite Asian girls in brown uniforms with perfectly lacquered buns that make them look an awful lot alike.

United had done something weird with my reservation, so I pulled out my cell phone, pulled up the email confirmation with my confirmation number and my trainee was able to retrieve my boarding information. The same young lady turned up again at the boarding gate forty minutes later to take my ticket stub, so I made a point of saying hello and thanking her again.

Asiana's economy class is clean, comfortable and the inflight meal was pretty good. That said, if I had this to do over again, I'd have spent the extra money to fly direct. It's a dumb way to do it and I'm not thrilled with how late I got notification from United of a flight number change.

They should be boarding us shortly for the last leg home.

Japan is amazing. I walked myself lame daily, I coped with humidity and climbed hills and struggled to buy postage stamps without a translator and ate and drank things I'd never tasted before and feasted my eyes on places I'd read about and things I'd never heard of.

I cannot wait to go back.

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