2014
05.28

SYNOPSIS:  Transit from Tokyo to Okinawa.  This is a “pause-picture” blog.  No need to read it.  Enjoy some aerial images from the Tokyo Tower.  

Contrary to Mali, transit in a country like Japan is uneventful and honestly, quite boring.  So the day went by predictably:  Walk to the subway, wait, take a train to the airport, wait, fly to Okinawa, find the tourist information, load up on local pamphlets, take a subway close to my destination, walk to the hotel.  And before you know it, the whole day has gone by.

So I won’t draw this out.  But here are a few points I noted in passing.  First of all, there is no question that you can take public transport to the airport (I always feel sorry for international travelers who arrive at Detroit with perhaps similar expectations…).  The subway to the airport leaves every 15 minutes, costs about $10, and takes 80 minutes.  But then there is also the fast train.  It leaves every 40 minutes and takes only 40 minutes, but it costs $20.

With my luck I arrived just after the fast train had left.  I had to decide what to do since I definitely did not save any time.  But despite that and the additional costs, I opted for the fast train in the interest of “data collection”.  I want to get to know as many different types of transportation as possible.  And one of these days I will devote a whole blog to that.  So far it does not look good for the Germans…

It was also interesting for me to compare costs.  $20 got me from downtown Tokyo to the airport.  And only $56 flew me all the way out (a 3 hour flight) to Okinawa island.  But to get off the island, nothing under $200 seems to be available.  It almost looks like as if “they” want to trap you here.

My new home is another hostel-type budget hotel.  Rooms are shared and furnished with bunk beds.  I got one of the smallest rooms with only one bunk and since the hostel is not filled to capacity, I don’t even have a roommate.  Lucky me, since again there is no more than 3 feet of space next to the bed and about 5 feet at the head of the bed.  Just enough to park my suitcase and to hang up my movable “closet” which I construct with a rubber clothes line and inflatable hangers.  Of course, there is no closet in a room like this.  A 2-inch pillow on the floor is my “chair”.  Thankfully, I had the other bed’s pillow and blanket to pile up to be able to sit.  I am not so good anymore sitting on the floor for long times…

But the atmosphere here reminds me of my hitch-hiking days.  All young people, backpackers or exchange students from around the globe gather here and hang out in the common area cooking, drinking, singing.  I am the oddball in all respects.  Agewise for sure, but also for the reason I am here.  It seems like everyone comes to this island to snorkel, dive, vege out at the beach.  It’s a resort island.  That there is a UNESCO monument spread out into nine parts seems to be unknown and certainly unnoticed.

Oh, well, that’s what I came for.  The task at hand seems more complicated than I anticipated.  I expected a small island with a few quaint villages.  Instead there is never-ending urban sprawl and a density that comes close to Tokyo.  Getting from one end of the island to the other in search of tucked away cultural treasures will be a challenge…

But I will face that tomorrow.  Good night.