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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Just call me Steve Martin!

My face and neck are dripping with sweat as I write this waiting for my next train at Tokyo station. I'm on my 17th hour of travel (in broad sunlight) with just over 6 more to go. To my chagrin, I've overestimated the number of people that speak English, even in Tokyo. But, as I expected, people were very nice and helpful, even when they couldn't help me, the walked with me pretty far to someone that could.

Why is it that every time I fly solo, I end up next to a solo chatty cathy? I'm going to chalk it up to my shinning personality and overall delightful demeanor. I spent my 11 hour non stop flight next to a very nice (and equally quirky) 20 year old girl named Jo. She's a very pale thin redhead with a strong aversion/reaction to meat or any food prepared with traces of meat. She was really sweet and shared stories of her feline babies and love for cosplay. Yes, cosplay. She likes to dress up like Sailor Mercury of the famed Sailor Moon series. Hey, I'm not knockin it! I loved that show when I was a kid! Still, despite our many, many, MANY conversations, I was able to catch up on 2 chapters in my photography book, the movies: How to Train your Dragon, The Rebound, Valentine's Day, and Youth in Revolt, and an episode of Raymond and Friends. I guess you can say this was the most productive I've been all summer!
Jo, yes I had the middle seat...

Just before departing, I made the stupid mistake of watching The Monster Inside Me marathon on Animal Planet. Specifically the acanthamoeba episode. On the first train from Narita to Tokyo, I sat trying to take in the lush green scenery, but with every burst of sunlight through the trees, my eye throbbed. Now I sit here in a dirty, hot, and humid train station with my right eye hurting and throbbing. It feels scratched and sensitive to light. I'm thinking, "God, I hope it's just fatigue." "Let the 17 hours of straight contact wearing be the problem" "Oh crap, isn't that how you get acanthamoeba, dirty contacts?" "I hope I don't have it, that's a hard one to cure." "I don't want to have my cornea scrapped."  Needless to say, chasing the sun for 17 hours and lack of AC has really taken a toll on my body. (It's 33 degrees Celsius or 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% humidity here)
Some landscape on the first train.

A field of some sort.

Near the train tracks
I feel exhausted and nauseous from all the moving, heat, humidity and time change. I write this at 5:55 PM Japanese time,  1:55 AM pst. I'll be boarding my second train at 3AM pst and my third train at 5 AM pst. I'll finally arrive in Tsuroka at 7 AM pst. After a 1 mile cab ride to the apartment, I'll finally be able to wash the sweat and stink off me, just a mere 24 hours after leaving LA. I guess the up side is that I won't have trouble getting to sleep and adjusting to the time difference.

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UPDATE: The second train ride seemed to last forever. 
My reflection on the second train which felt never-ending.

My bags feel heavier as I try to lug them around the station and scramble to find the third train leaving in 5 minutes. Found it! As I move farther from the city, each train gets older, smaller, and more uncomfortable. There are no signs on this train. I have to listen for the word "Tsuroka" when the conductor announces the stops in Japanese. I can't keep my eyes open any longer. I set my alarm clock on my phone to wake me 10 minutes before we're supposed to arrive at the station, but I'm stuck in a state of half sleep and half consciousness. 2 hours go by. We finally arrived. Shit! To get outside I have to climb two flights, walk just 20 feet over, and walk two flights down. With my huge suitcase. And a heavy backpack. And a camera bag. At what my body thinks is 7AM. After what my body thinks was a cracked up day at Disneyland. This last climb felt impossible. Originally Jeff planned on walking back to the apartment from the station. All I could think was "Eff that! I'm taking a cab!"

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