Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Japan/SoKor Day 1: Leaving San Francisco

Note to the reader: this blog is being "retroactively posted" after my trip. I made point-form notes in a journal along the way, so I'm gonna be basically transcribing those notes, adding some "flair" and adding photos and videos as I go. Enjoy!

December 11, 2009
Japan Trip Day 1: Leaving San Francisco

This morning I woke up absurdly early to what may be the cheeriest cell phone alarm on the planet. Dee dee dee deedee, deedee dee dee dee deedeedee (So loud and painful at jerk 'o clock in the morning). But I was in no mood for dilly-dallying or groaning and throwing something heavy at my loud cell phone... 'cause it was time to GO TO JAPAN!!!!!! The land of the rising sun was beckoning this man to rise and frickin' SHINE, and so, the dude abides.

The shuttle to the airport was reasonably event-less, except a funny old San Francisco native grandma boarded the bus soon after me and was really nervous about getting to the airport on time. Our angry Eastern European driver was rushing her along and she was quite nervous that we wouldn't arrive by 10am to the airport. I think the driver had made her nervous, and she was 80 I think, so I reassured her that probably he just had a bad morning or was a bit of a jerk, and that we'd definitely get there in time (we ended up getting there before 9!) She was off to Vegas with a friend, which I thought was hilarious. A dude also got on the bus who was maybe a couple years older than me, and he was also going to Vegas for the weekend. The grandma said, "Well, I guess we'll be on the same flight!" Also... hilarious. They both were super excited for me for my big trip to "The Orient", and wished me a good trip.

Checkin was quick as there was almost no one at the airport, since I left super early in December for this "Winter Holiday" trip. Once arriving at the gate, I knew I was getting a taste of what to expect in Japan: one blond girl, me, everyone else is Japanese. Oh wait! There's a brown-haired girl! Ok... 3 gaijin (lit: foreign [non-Japanese] persons)... not bad :) I had heard some funny stories about foreigners sticking out like sore thumbs in Japan (especially in remote areas), and I was happy and keen to start the experience off before even leaving the US.

Then we boarded the plane. It was huge! It was one of those 2 seat + 4 seat + 2 seat planes, I hadn't been on one of those for a while. There were screens on the back of every seat and wands in the armrest for controlling the movie selection (SWEET). Soon after, the stewardesses handed out food menus in English, Japanese and Korean. Menus?!! So fancy. I love international flights! The awesomeness continued when I read that there was an appetizer (what?!) and "Wine, Beer and Sake are complimentary." So yeah, international flights rock.

I also saw my first person with one of those germ masks on. I'd heard they were very popular in Japan due to the emphasis on cleanliness in the culture, and the sheer amount of people in the big cities. Guess I'm gonna see lots more masks!

It was just after lunchtime, but I decided to get a beer on the plane for fun. I asked if they had Sapporo and they didn't, but they had Asahi. The Japanese steward was SO excited that I'd ordered the Japanese Beer rather than an American one. "Japanese Beer is very good!" he said, "I don't feel like Miller Lite anymore!"

The next few hours I spent playing with the cool seat instant-watch things, watching The Hangover (hilllaarrious), (500) days of summer (brilliant, touching, and a little too close-to-home), and most of Inglorious Basterds (they shut off the screens for landing about 15 min before the end of the movie, d'oh! I'll have to watch the rest on the way home). :) I also emo-journalled 6 pages of scribbly emotions after watching (500) days of summer 'cause it hit some pretty strong chords for me.

The customs forms for Japan were hilarious. One section asked: "No: crocodiles, cobras, turkeys, ivory, cactus, etc?" Another asked, "Do you presently have in your possession: narcotics, marijuana, opium, stimulants or other drugs, swords, explosives or other such items?" Swords??! Opium??!? Who would have those on-hand, let alone bring them into another country?! I thought that was totally hilarious for some reason. haha, "other such items".

And then... we crossed the international date line, and I kinda skipped a whole day into the future. Weird.

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