Friday, March 2, 2007


so, where to start. well, as you all know. or, most of you, atleast, i got to tokyo safe and well. what a trip it was indeed. february 26th, 27th and 28th al blended together in one big day. so let me start and try to recollect the events proceeding today, march second.

"wow... that's all i can say. what a trip that was. a fourteen hour flight. yes, your eyes ain't fooling you. FOURTEEN, 14! a walk down the road trip it was indeed. landed at taiwan's taipei airport safely 'round 'bout 530 in the morning, local time. i took all my luggage with my as carry-on, so i didn't even have to pay baggage-claim any mind. i checked my taipei-tokyo ticket and noticed i had a good 3 hours to kill until the clock read 0855, so i decided to roam around a little bit. first, however, i needed to find out what gate to go to, as the guy at the counter in frisco didn't put that on my ticket. they probably couldn't tell me yet. they didn't list it on the 'puter screens yet as it was still ways off, so i went to the ticket counter and the lady told me to go to d2. take the 'sky train'. dig. so i went and waited for this 'sky train'. within a few minutes it got here and i realized i was truly in asia. it was like a spacecraft compared to the things they got in holland, both in terms of speed and layout. trippy, man! so i get of 30 seconds later (!) and proceed to security. yeah, the whole nine yards...... all over again. but they's pretty darn righteous in taiwan, man! 'specially compared to america. empty your pockets, take off your (wooden) shoes, take your laptop out and let everything go through the ray-x machine (like charles... but differen, dun' play the keys neither) and leave. but this time, no hassles. darn people in america took my toothpaste. another 10 dollars down the drain; i'd stacked up a little. i went and exchanged some loose us change for what ever local currency they got over in taiwan and got 4 dollars worth of that, npd, or something. so i went on and searched for my gate, d2. found it....but it didn't reach the free wifi network. i'd seen a sign for that by a small coffee shop at gate d4, so i went and got me some hot tea at the coffee shop and sat down to chimp some. send the folks back home some 'spiel, to let 'em know all was well, and all of that. the tea took up all but 45 cents of my 4 dollars, but atleast i got free hot water refills. so i made sure that i got my money's worth. must have gotten about 5 refills. after the 3rd time i just gave my remaining 45 cents to the lady at the counter, since she'd been so kind to me, and i didn't have any more use for this taiwanese money anyway. my laptop's battery died at around 730 so i whipped out the ol' cassette player and listened to side two of soundgarden's badmotorfinger. man, i DIG that record a bunchload. if you never paid this band no mind, like i did, get your head out of that hole and go get it, somehow, somewhere! roamed around for a little bit more, finished the 'journey to the east book' i got with scotty and boarded the plane, finally. the two and a half hour flight seemed like a second compared to that fourteen hour hellride to taiwan. they got me a vegetarian meal... steamed conserved vegetables. wasn't too bad, just a little dead-tasting, well, conserved! got little 10 minute chunks of eye-shut and konk, listened to the sabbia soundtrack on tape a bit and filled out the visa-waiver form. the flight-crew handed me a survey paper, too (why me and not the chinese people too, hmm....., why not the other 外人(foreigners)?) hmm..... so i filled it out, good way to kill the time, i figured. they gave me a free deck of china air playing cards, so all was well. all'd a been well even if they hadn't. by the time we got to tokyo it was 130 in the afternoon, local time. that's one hour ahead of taiwan, and eight or nine ahead of you folks in the country of amsterdam. again, no baggage-claim (LOVE that, man! traveling light is the way to go) so i went on to customs and immigration (or was it the other way around? i don't remember since i skipped the baggage claim alltogether, so i don't know if it comes before or after customs). man, that line was FAST! holy mozes, america should learn something from these people man, talk about efficient, and friendly, to boot! same thing with the immigrations officer. a few kinks here and there in my story, but atleast she was reasonable and listened to what i had to say. gone before i knew it. no fingerprints or pictures neither. damn america, i'm sorry all you americans reading this, but damn the american immigration attitude. these japanese people really proved me that you can do exactly the same thing with KINDNESS and REASON! same thing for the customs officer after that. "where'd you come from?" america "can i see your passport" most certainly, it's a dutch one "do you have anything to report, the guitar maybe?" no sir, i do not. the guitar is my own and has been for quite some time now "ok, have a good day" you too sir, thank you kindly. and that was it, no hassle, nothing but righteousness from these japanese folks. i went ahead and got some money out of an atm and bought me a ticket on the keisuke limited express headed for 上野(ueno) (i had to transfer at あおと(aoto) to get to my station 浅草 (asakusa), however). dig them japanese trains bunches, man. there where these three girls sitting across from me being quite giggly and embarassed, 'twas rather interesting. for some reason they kept staring at me, and they didn't even see my wooden shoes. interesting it was indeed. ooh, woah, japanese countryside. makes me feel nostalgic, and i've never even been here. look, a windmill! a dike (the immobile ones) with trees! it looked like holland there for a little bit, what a trip! made me feel really good. i must have smiled for the entire 90 minute trainride. didn't seem that long at all, probably because i was reading all the ads and signs in the train (looks more like the dutch metro than the train, but it's design is much better, japan's). so much of my japanese came back to me just doing that. helped me out a bunch, cause when i got to aoto station, i wasn't sure what train to transfer to. so before i jumped in the train on the opposite side of the platform i asked a lady あの、これは浅草ですか?(is this the train to asakusa station? or litterally; is this asakusa? yes, japanese is a trippy language, vague, alot of implied stuff. i dig it much). turned out to be the right train, thank god. didn't took too long to get to 浅草(asakusa), but when i arrived, the battery in my laptop had died again. darn, and it had the map to the hostel on there, too! so i roamed around for a good half hour before i dared to ask anyone for directions, mainly because i'd forgotten the name too! after that bit of roaming, however, i finally broke down and walked into a big fancy hotel and asked the reception-cat (in japanese) for directions to the cheap traveler's hostel around this area. there should be three of them in this general area. after a little deliberation he finally took me out through the back exit of the hotel and pointed me to the main facility of the three hostels. so i went there and asked for directions to the annex, since i wasn't staying at the main building. after about a 3 minute walk i arrived and did the check-in thing. put my stuff in my room, put the 'puter on charge..... oh, cool little spiel about the 'puter;
about a week before, on the train from baltimore to north carolina, i left my laptop's adapter! yes, a fuckin' bummer indeed. so i went on ebay and found a cheap used powerbook adapter. it's got the american plug, which is kind of cool, since it kinda folds up and becomes more compact. what's also cool, however, is dat the apple adapter is both 110 and 230/240 volts. so you don't need a power converter, just a different plug. what's even cooler is that japan uses the same plugs as america, but 240 volts as opposed to 110. so i didn't have to buy nothing! cough...hmm, going on a tangent there, max. you must be tired typing this.
after i put my stuff in the room i went out again, back to 浅草 (asakusa) station and got on the train to 渋谷(shibuya). had a couple of districts noted down on my mental notepad, 渋谷 being one of them, and because the 銀座(ginza) line goes directly to 渋 i just went with it. you might have seen the famous 渋谷 crosswalk on tv or the internet sometime, it's kind of famous. looks like this;


i roamed around for a little bit, got my self aquinted with the area a little bit and all of a sudden i stumbled on ibayashi, a big wel know tokyo-chain guitar store.... done the right way, unlike guitar center in the us. so i strolled around the store for quite a little while and eventually descided to try my luck and just talk to some of the musicians walking around - in japanese, again. told them a little about myself, that i was looking for musicians, etc. they helped me out, showed me what ads to read in the guitar magazine (in japanese), and where just real kind to me. when one of the guys gave me his email adress and it read mojo hand i asked him where he got that from. and he told me 'lightning hopkins'. so we got talking about the blues and all of that. we ended up going to a coffee shop (japanese and american coffee shops are much more true to their name than their dutch counterparts of the same name) and talking untill 23h. when i went back to my hostel my head was pounding. man, all those new influences. all those characters, using this language for the first time in well over a year, the 72 hour day I'd just had, trying to wrap my head around it, a walk down the road trip indeed. man...