We have arrived in Tokyo. The time adjustment is crazy, but the logistics are smoother than predicted. All the little things that you take for granted are up for grabs when traveling in a non-English speaking country, and I was predicting doom and disaster for the most minor needs and requirements. The greatest concern was getting lost. Other concerns were bizarre bathrooms and money conversion. So far, due to the Droid’s superpower capabilities, I have been victorious over these challenges. Of course, this is only Day 1.
1. Money – A nifty money conversion app solves switching from Yen to USD and back. I have a hard enough time with simple addition much less converting a dollar to 84 cents. So my 6,000 yen adds up to about 72 bucks. My 110 yen water was about 1.30. That was easy.
2. Getting to the hotel – The worst thing I anxietized about was getting to the hotel from the airport. Multiple trains and scary kanji make this sort of thing daunting. The YouTube videos of Tokyo’s mass transit trains produced trauma. There are actually people whose jobs are to shoehorn people into the trains. Rows of people four to six deep stand in front of the doors, and some bell-hop looking men wearing white gloves (because Japan is a low-contact culture, maybe) push, shove, and wedge everyone in. Luckily, we didn’t arrive during rush hour.
BUT the Droid was amazing. We used it to find the hotel. When we came out of the train station, we were disoriented, but the Droid’s GPS found our direction and route. This was good after 20 hours of travel.
The GPS isn’t all the Droid provided. We also had seen the Google street views before we boarded the flight, so we knew exactly what the neighborhood and hotel looked like. This too was a good thing since we were about to pass out.
3. Google translator – This nifty app lets you just type in what you want translated and it spits out the translation in both Japanese and Kanji. (Maybe? Ah, American ethnocentrism…) Still, the Kanji on the toilets and TV remote control are confusing.
4. World clock – This nifty little app helps keep track of Baton Rouge time in Tokyo. That way I know exactly when I should be asleep and why I’m experiencing jet lag.
Of course it hasn’t been smooth sailing all the way. After purchasing an international data plan for the Droid, which gives us unlimited access to the internet (a necessity for getting around and for using these apps), we had difficulty using it. We made something like three phone calls to Verizon to get it straight. Verizon has a new system that sends users alerts for every 50.00 worth of charges they incur. This is a great system designed to prevent the insanity of bzillion dollar phone bills inflicted on hapless tourists. Unfortunately, this system doesn’t sort for what data plan you have, so our phones have been pinging left and right and getting in touch with Verizon to find out what was what was a major headache.
And unfortunately everything in Foursquare is in Japanese, so I cannot conquer Japan and proclaim it as my fiefdom.
More to come, I’m sure….