William Chow's Personal Web Page

This is my first ever trip to the orient in 2005. This is the beginning of my adventure into China.

Leg one of the trip took me literally months to plan. Now you are probably wondering why in the first place I have decided to go to China first and not Japan. Well, it is because I have met someone on the internet. Now, normally I am a rather strong believer that this is probably some joker, or pediphile, or bored hacker or some police agent or something like that. But our relationship has spanned a year now, so I felt it is time to get off my ass and figure out once and for all, whether or not she is really real or whether or not it is some big set up or practical joke. After all, my chances of meeting a real woman sitting behind ICQ or MSN is probably about the same as getting struck by lightning the day you the lottery. So what does she look like? Well, have a look for yourself.


So on with today's story. So after a lot of consulting with friends, and even some professional help, I got my ass in gear and got the papers ready to get me there. The tickets cost me around $1500 Cdn return. There is also like $300 Cdn in fees/taxes/chargers, and I also bought insurance, so my total was just under $2000 Cdn. I chose a flight with ANA (All Nippon Airlines), since they have a seat sale. However, they don't fly out of Vancouver. I was going to need to take a connector plane to San Francisco to swap planes. Also ANA only flies 3 times a week to Shenyang, so I was going to need to stay overnight in Narita Japan. All right, a chance to look around in Japan!

Bright and early in the morning of Feb 18th, 2005 at 5:30am I go to the Vancouver International Airport (strangely located in the city of Richmond). It was a flight with Alaskian Airlines. Everything was cool until we ran into a problem with oil for the engine. The flight was delayed 30 minutes. For me this is deadly because I need to catch my connecting flight at 10:40am. Well, sure enough, I landed in San Francisco at around 10:30am. Fortunately for me, just as I was getting off the loading platform, an ANA flight person was standing there asking for my name and holding up a sign with my name on it. She rushed me through the airport to a gate at the other side of the terminal. We even blasted through US customs. There was a lineup exiting the US, but we were able to bud in right to the front of the line. We were rushing so much I had walked too fast through the machine and I had to go through again.

They scanned your carry on bags, your computers separately, and now recently they now scan your shoes seperately.

It was great with all this running I made and caught my plane. However, my check in baggage didn't make the connection.

So this is not suppose to be a page where I get paid to do endorsements but for anyone who wants to fly to Japan and doesn't want to pay the extra for JAL, I would definitely recommend ANA. At first, I just thought they were another discount airline that flys cheap to Japan. But when they had sent a representative to get me at San Fransico, I was already impressed. Not only did the rep guide me all the way through the SF airport, she also helped me through customs and she also got me my free hotel stay coupon voucher that I was suppose to get that the ANA table, and she also got me my boarding pass. This is truly impressive service. However, it didn't stop there. When I got on the plane, they had a really cool entertainment system all set up for me to pass my time away. The food was great. It certainly made it easy to pass 11 hours of sitting in the stupid plane.

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So I arrive in Japan. A nice and functional airport. It was kinda low tech when I got off the plane, they shipped us by BUS to the main arrivals terminal. At which time, they ushered me through customs. It was interesting to see most of the staff wore masks over their faces to keep the diseases away (or inside).

Anyway, I was able to easy follow the icons for bus and go outside to find the free hotel shuttle buses to go to the Hotel. ANA has its own hotel called the ANA Hotel Narita, which they house all the overnights. Narita for all those people, it kinda reminds me of a real farmland remote hick town. More hick than Langley and more sparse then probably Mission. The shuttle stops are very well labelled just like the San Deigo Airport. My bus was the number 25 but there were others to other parts of the city, and to other hotels. After a short 5 or so minute ride through what looks like Richmond or Surrey farm land, I arrive a hotel literally in the middle of goon docks. Nice hotel inside.

The rooms inside were small but very functional. You have to pay for everything of course. Even the coffee machine with the coffee was 300 yen, and the cup of noodle was 250 yen. I used the phone to call up my friend Matt. I later will find out that the call was 122 yen.

Alright, Matt was busy with a wedding but he said he was free around 10:00pm. I made an arrangment with him to walk around Shinjuku. I remembered that one of those shuttle buses will get me to Shinjuku Station. So since the airport was expensive as silly, I hopped on to the bus and went down to Shinjuku Station. The Narita Express JR train was 3500 yen but has lots of various stops which I might miss, so I played it safe and bought the shuttle bus for 3000 yen which only stops at Shinjuku Station and two hotels near Shinjuku.
The bus ride was not too bad. I caught the bus at 5:15pm and I got there around 7:00pm. I was going close to freeway speeds. The lanes were narrow and the turns are very narrow. So it would be like landing at the Abbotsford airport and taking a shuttle bus to Vancouver Downtown because around Narita, it is so sparse and full of nothing.
Shinjuku Station is a very popular shopping area. My major concern was to go and get some fast food. Now, you wonder why would I get fast food when I am in a foreign country like Japan? Well number one, I hate Japanese food (ie. I don't like sushi, most of their noodles, and most of their frys); number two, I am not ajusted to their water or diet, so I don't want to have stomach complications for eating raw foods (and that includes uncooked vegatables and fruit) and number three, I will know what the hell I am ordering.

Anyway, I wandered into a mall building called Terikensikisu. It is like 12 stories of shopping with smaller specially departments in it. Kinda like the Hudson's Bay on Granville Street Skytrain Station. The two speciality stores that caught my eye was HMV and some Electronics Store. So I had to use the escalator for 11 floors to get to the Electronics Store. It was nothing too interesting except that has all the various things like cameras, MP3 players, video games. Blank CDR and DVDR Media is a little more expensive than what we can get here. Video games were deathly expensive, same price as you would buy it in the US. Rumble Roses was 6800 yen, Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball was 3800 yen.

HMV is pretty much the same as our HMVs we have here. I sifted through various categories in the store. I was dissappointed they had no DVD music videos to buy. They didn't have any Shizuka Kudo at all, they did have one live concert DVD of the Gogos, they had a Bangles DVD but it was 1800yen and since the USA version is coming out soon there was nothing to get. However, in their super discount bin, I found Arnold Schwartznegger's Kindergarden Cop for 900yen and that classic movie "Porky's" for 900 yen. I also looked at the box sets of TV shows. They had boxes for ER seasons 3-8 and even Greatest American Hero. However, the boxes looked like inkjet photocopies and they were still charging 5800 yen for a box of ER and 3800 yen for GAH. Lucky I bought an official GAH box already for $33.00 CDN.

Anyway, I went back outside to the street where I found a McDonalds. I went in and ordered a Big Mac Combo for 698yen. The burger was about the same if not bigger than our Macs. However, the meat lacked saltiness and the tomato was bigger. The fries was about the size of a regular size fries. The drink was small, maybe even kid's size. I ordered Coke, which had about the same kinda acid punch, not as sweet as Canadian stuff. However, it had a really funny almost styrofoam after taste to it. The bottled coke didn't have this taste as I later found out.
I wandered around the area to kill time before I run into Matt. I found many video game stores, magazine stores, adult video and manga stores, personal electronics, even a Macintosh store.

Of these, I found a used video game store which had some cheap 100 yen CDs, which included a Dreamcast Street Fighter Vs Marvel and some weird random Karaoke DVD which has "Love Phantom" on it... I also found a used video game store that had cheap discontinued Mega CD, PC Engine Hu Card and PC Engine CD and Sega Saturn games for under 500 yen. Of couse, I had most of them but it was neat to shop.

Equipment is cheap. Playstation ones were 1500 yen, Dreamcasts were 3000 yen and there were lots to be found around here. Fat Playstation 2's were also quite available for 17800 yen, Slim Playstation 2's were 15800yen.

In the Macintosh store, I was thinking of buying the Aircard for my iBook G4 for 8800yen. However, it is about the same price in Vancouver anyway.

Of the restaurants I noticed around here, there were 2 Starbuck's Coffees around Shinjuku Station, the McDonalds of course, KFC (which 4 pieces of chicken was 900 yen), Wendy's (hot chicken sandwich was 590 yen), there was Stackers restaurant too.

The area had two arcades which were useful, one was the Sega arcade which had your usual 4 player Gundam and 4 player Z Gundam, etc... The other one had the drum game and guitar game. It was 200 yen to play, so it is a bit expensive. No Para Para or DDR machines around here.

Ok, I ran into Matt at Shinjuku Station South Entrance. I spotted him despite I was starting to pass out while standing. He was still nicely dressed from the wedding he went to. He suggested to kill some time at the arcade. It is here he showed me the lastest craze of RPG coin slot games, the Hokuto No Ken Slot game, and some of the crane games, where he was able to win me a maid Ghost In The Shell figurine.

He was also able to show me where a good dojinshi and SMUT shop was but of course, this is the wrong time for me to buy it. Also I have no idea what I need right now.

Anyway, Matt took me to a nice techie A La Carte restaurant. It was a nice cozy booth style restaurant. The cool part was that each table had a flat LCD touch screen menu. You ordered things by pressing on the pictures. SQUIRREL, has nothing like this! So cool. I let Matt do the ordering. We ended ordering some green salad, and a few skewers of chicken and pork, and some beer. In the end it costed 5000 yen which is way too much but I would expect that from a place like this. But it was nice.

At this time, we were wandering around the "Red Light District". Oh yea, lots of guys and even some cute girls would come up with pictures of women. They would try to sell us "women services" for even as cheap as 4000 yen for an hour... Hm... Interesting... But I am already spoken for, and right now that would not be an efficent use of my yen but if you are visiting Japan, it is so hard to avoid/miss when you walk around this part of town at this time at night.

So since we had two hours to kill before catching the first train to Narita. For all those people who think Tokyo has a great night life. Well, I will dispell that myth now. Yes, there is lots of night things to do like music, movie, bars, girls and food. However, like Vancouver, the train and bus transit system shuts down around midnight and won't start up again until around 5:00am. So for all those people who think Vancouver lives in a curfew state HA!!! Anyway, we decided against karaoke and we decided on an Internet cafe for 2 hours. It was 800 yen per hour, but you get free drinks and manga to read. And for an extra 100 yen, you can get a cubical that has a "couch" like seat for the computer. So this is a great cheap place to pass out for the night in case you miss the last train.