Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Yokoso! Japan: Day 08

Tokyo Station

After checking out of the hotel, the first order of the day was to walk over to the Tokyo station and dump my bag in a locker.



Trains, buses and taxis. The colour of Tokyo's streets. I saw a nice 1980's-generation Toyota Supra all polished and looking brand spankin' new too.



Here's a curious little tricycle. Notice how the glove is conveniently fixed to the handlebar.



Navigate this! Last look at Tokyo Station.

Good Morning Tokyo!

Feeling pretty satisfied after managing to squeeze my backpack into a small-sized locker (the big ones were all taken), I headed by foot towards the Imperial Palace.



Some skaterboys and skatergals along the way. Could Sunday be hobby day?

Ater a short walk, I reached what I presumed to be the main entrance to the Imperial Palace Outer Garden. Its a huge park.



Old Japanese dude trying to get some pictures of the fountain at the park entrance. Hmm, wonder if I'll end up like that some day.



Imperial Palace



The picture pretty much says it. No entry. The Imperial Palace in Tokyo is still the actual residence of the Emperor.



Smile everybody! The backdrop of their photo would be the view below.



The bridge leading to the main gate of the palace.

Imperial Palace Outer Garden



The place where the citizens of Tokyo get to have a change of pace. This large open space was a sight to behold.



Cycling is big in Japan. No need for fancy sub-10kg titanium-framed bikes with 28 gear ratios. All it takes are a few "ah pek" bicycles and a relaxing ride in the park for the family is possible.



This scene triggered another "I wish Tirak was here" moment.



It was time to head back to the train station. My parting view of the Outer Garden. Byebye happy cycling people of Tokyo.



Sunday really is hobby day!



My, what small wheels you have. Okay, at that moment I was wishing I had my trusty Kona with me.



Artist painting "Tokyo Station Hotel".

Harajuku



I had barely an hour to take a quick walk through Harajuku. The place is famous for cosplay artistes and wannabes. Didn't really see that many though.



Did come across one of the very-cool carpark systems. Its like something out of the movie "I-Robot", where the car is driven onto a machine which lifts it up and inside the building like a ferris wheel.



The latest teenage fad in Tokyo seems to be crepes. All the crepe shops I came across had a queue outside.



On the way back, I came across a protest march. The only thing I understood was "NO WAR!". Way to go, dudes! Peace!



The long line of protestors walking down the main road outside the Harajuku JR station. For a moment, I was reminded of the pro-democracy march in HK last year. But this one was much quieter and smaller.

Last minute shopping & Sayonara

After lunch, I picked up my backpack from the locker in Tokyo Station and caught the Narita Express to the airport. The queue at the Thai Airways check-in counter was extremely long, and I could not find the premium traveller entrance. Right on queue, one of the airport staff came out holding a sign for Gold, Business or First class travellers. Great!

I love travelling free on frequent flyer miles *and* getting premium service on top. It makes me feel like I got one-up on the airlines, although in reality they probably made so much money from my flights that this would be but a drop in the bucket for them.

I had about 45 mins to do my gift shopping. The duty free shops in Narita Airport were one of the most comprehensive I've seen. They had a complete selection of souvenir-food from all over Japan. Perfect for the backpacker not wanting to lug around gifts throughout his/her holiday.

The flight back from Tokyo to Bangkok was a bit different than usual. For the first time, I got a seat on the middle row of the plane and had 3 Japanese tourists as neighbours. It was interesting hearing them refer to the airline meal chilli as "Thai curry".

Thinking about the great time in Bangkok those Japenese guys would be having, it suddenly dawned on me that this was the start of their holiday and the end of mine. "Not bad for my first real holiday", I thought. I'm gonna miss that feeling. Hope I don't get addicted to it.

Click here for more pictures from Tokyo

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