Farewell East Asia

My last day in Tokyo was spent shopping. It was wet and I was rushing around going from one part of the city to another, sometimes doubling back when I didn’t find what I wanted in a place. It was like musical chairs, wondering where I’d end up at the end of the day.

Sometimes, as always in Japan, there were unexpected delights. For example, I came across someone freshly preparing ramen noodles in the window of a restaurant. I was the only one watching and it was mesmerising. She remained focus on the task at hand.

Once the musical chairs ended, I checked Google Maps for the nearest suitable restaurant, and it suggested Vegan Bistro. When I got to the location, I saw a place on the ground floor that had “vegan bistro” written outside it. It looked different from the photos on Google Maps. After some head-scratching, I realised that the restaurant wasn’t the Vegan Bistro; it was hoping to capitalise on its more well-known neighbour, which was on the floor above.

Once settled in the restaurant, I chose ramen, which was good but not, surprisingly, as flavoursome as the bowl I had at teamLab Planets the other day. The gyoza packets, however, were tasty. Next to me sat three people talking about going to university soon. It sounded as if they hadn’t met for a while. I saw that they had ordered this elaborate drink with vanilla ice cream perched on top. The colour changed when they squeezed lemon juice into the drink. I asked them if it was sweet, and they replied it wasn’t. One of them reassured me that she didn’t like sweet drinks.

It was my last day and I decided to order one for myself. It tasted like a lightly flavoured fizzy drink with a hint of vanilla, which gradually melted into the liquid. The lemon added a tang. They were right: it wasn’t too sweet.

My flight to London (via Hong Kong) was in the afternoon the following day. There was a direct route from my ryokan to the airport, which meant I didn’t have to go into the centre of Tokyo.

On my way to the airport, I saw mothers wheeling their children to school. The children were in trolleys with hats on!

On the first leg of my flight, I realised that I might see Mount Fuji again from the plane. Sometimes, when you’re on a place, you can track where you are on Google Maps. Google Maps lets you keep an offline copy of maps. I had downloaded most of East Asia in case I found myself with no Internet access. I searched for Mount Fuji and found that it was going to be on the right side of the plane. I was sitting on the left and went to the back of the plane to look at the other side. The sky was sufficiently clear to reveal Mount Fuji. Excitedly, I pointed it out to a flight attendant standing near me and she replied, “You are lucky to see Mount Fuji!”

When I mentioned to my friend from Hong Kong that the return flight to London (going west) was slower than going east, she didn’t believe me. She soon found out when she returned to London! I think it’s related to the wind direction.

The flight from Hong Kong to London seemed to go on forever. It didn’t help that there were two young women sitting either side of me and talking to each other, sometimes looking straight ahead. They were not from Japan. I asked them if they wanted to sit next to each other and they replied that one preferred the window seat and the other preferred the aisle seat. I was stuck in the middle.

For the last hour or two of the flight, I walked around the plane. There’s only so much you can read, watch, or listen to; and I’d already slept a fair bit trying to adjust to the British time zone. Sometimes I stood at the back where the flight attendants were. Perhaps for the first time, I appreciated how hard they worked. It was nonstop. No sooner had one meal finished than they started preparing for the next offering. I was so bored at one point that I was tempted to ask them if I could help.

By the end of the flight, some of the flight attendants were familiar. When we said goodbye, I mentioned how hard they worked. They laughed.

It was good to be back in London.

2 thoughts on “Farewell East Asia”

  1. You were indeed lucky to see Mount Fuji! We went to Lake Kawaguchi for a full day and didn’t see it through the clouds until we were on the bus back to Tokyo, haha

  2. Haha – it’s hit or miss. I was pleased the idea came to me that I could track Mount Fuji from the plane!

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