One hundred and ten degrees of longitude separate St. Petersburg, Russia, and Tokyo, Japan. For eight weeks in 2005, I'll be crossing this large chunk of the world solo. I've set up this blog so that family and friends can keep track of my whereabouts, my activities, and my well-being. It might also be useful for someone planning a similar trip. Please bookmark this page so you can check up on me at your leisure.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The swing of things, part 1

I made it back to Toronto safe and sound.

The flight from Tokyo (Narita) to Chicago (O'Hare) was eleven hours long, the longest of my life, but it went by much more quickly than some other trans-oceanic flights I've been on. I attribute this to the following facts: I had a row of seats to myself, with no screaming baby, gregarious boor, or sneezing wretch beside me; the American Airlines staff were friendly and responsive; the seat was comfortable; and on this Boeing 777, there were small TV monitors in the backs of all the seats, and you could choose what you wanted to watch and when you wanted to watch it from a touch-screen menu. I watched Batman Begins for a second time, and then Fantastic Four, which was plagued by a bad story, bad dialogue, bad acting, and bad special effects.

I believe that the name of our captain on the Tokyo-Chicago flight was "Zane Lemon." This has got to be one of the all-time coolest names.

Even though there was never any chance of me leaving the Chicago airport during my stop-over, I still had to go through U.S. customs and then airport security procedures after landing. I barely made my connecting flight. I was struck by the contrast between the way Japanese people tend to act in public and the way North Americans tend to act. I watched airport employees' and passengers' tempers flare in the long and slow-moving security line-up. Ugly words were exchanged. Sighs of exasperation and disgust were heaved. Bags were kicked and shoved viciously. After spending two weeks in Japan, these open displays of hostility and other negative feelings were kind of shocking.

The short flight from Chicago to Toronto was only about half full. We were encouraged to move around and sit wherever we liked. I saw nothing wrong with my assigned seat and so stayed put.

Jess picked me up at the airport with a handful of balloons, including a large Homer Simpson balloon that she had combed the city in order to find.

One thing I've realized after being home for a few days: Toronto is not really a big city. Moscow, Shanghai, Tokyo -- those are big cities.


Blogger nekochan said...

Hi Aaron
Thanks for sharing your trip. I symbled upon your blog as I was researching for my trip to Kyoto next month!
I'm really excited about the trip and glad to have gotten some insights from your blog.


5:03 AM

Blogger language said...

Congratulations on your safe return and your new stock of experiences!

2:03 PM


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