David Chart's Japan Diary

October 1st 2003

Hong Kong International Airport

Well, the first leg of the journey went smoothly, although it's a really long flight. The flight path goes almost directly over Tokyo as well, which is a little frustrating. Still, only another four hours in an aeroplane to go.

The airport here is quiet, although that may be because it's only just gone 8am local time. As I type, a few more people are passing through. I'm sitting at my gate, looking out of enormous windows which give a spectacular view of the mountains. I don't know which mountains, but they look very impressive. It's a bit cloudy, so they're shrouded in mist. Very evocative...

It's nice to get out of the USA and to a country where airport security is less intrusive. I can see the reasons for all the checks, but it does slow things down substantially. On the other hand, Hong Kong took my temperature, so they're clearly still worried about SARS. It makes sense; if it does flare up again, clamping down very quickly would be a good idea. There's also a special 'Hong Kong Welcomes You' offer on at the moment, giving tourists discounts on all sorts of things and entry in a prize draw. I guess the tourism industry here still hasn't quite recovered.

One problem with transiting via a third country is that I have no Hong Kong currency. I imagine that I could sort something out, but I don't have that long here, and I'm not really awake enough to take the trouble. I'll just buy something to eat in Japan, probably at Narita.

I did manage to get some sleep on the flight over, but I should really stay awake now to minimise my jet lag period. I think I'll be wanting an early night tonight, so I hope I have no trouble finding my way to the ryokan.

Unless I decide to write something in flight, the next entry in this Japan Diary should actually be written in Japan. That'll be novel.

Keisei Skyliner, Narita Station (IN JAPAN!!!)

The Skyliner The Skyliner pulling in to Narita airport station.

I'm in Japan. The flight from Hong Kong was fine and on time, and Japanese immigration had an absolutely enormous queue. It kept moving, though, as one would expect in this country. My baggage came round the carousel pretty much immediately as I reached it, and I shipped the big case to Okazaki from Narita airport, using QL line. I'll let you know whether they were any good after I get my luggage... It was only 1700Y, [Ah, train pulling out of station.] which is about 10UKP or $17. Definitely worth it to not have to maneuver that case any further. I've managed to do most of my admin so far in Japanese, and I intend to keep that up.

The train arrived about ten minutes before it was due to leave, with all the seats facing forwards as it arrived. They let people off, closed the train while the cleaner went through, and then all the seats turned through 180 degrees so that they were facing forwards again when the train left. That was fun to watch through the window.

The platform has markings saying which car is at that point, and the train stopped with its doors exactly at the markings. I had been told that Japanese trains did this, but seeing it was quite different.

There are going to be fewer photos initially than I had planned, because my Compact Flash card is on the blink. The camera can only spot it one time in five or so. I'm going to buy a new card and sincerely hope that the problem is with that, rather than the camera.

Once I get off this train, I'll be properly in Japan. Airports are all in English anyway, and the train announcements are bilingual.

But I'm here.