Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Trip

Tokyo is an amazing city. I was there for seven days (six really, the last one was just at the airport) with a friend. We had enough time to visit the major sections of the city, but not enough time to visit any other cities. Hopefully I'll go back again to visit some of the other places.

We used the subway system to get around and at first it was incredibly confusing. The subway map of all the lines looks basically like a crazy drawing by a small kid. Lines going everywhere, different colors, transfers, etc. We also walked a lot; at least 5 miles per day. I would say a good 15% was because we were lost, but the rest was just walking around the different sections.

Each major prefecture seemed like a separate city. Shinjuku and Shibuya reminded me of NYC (I've never been, just what I've seen on tv); lights and big buildings everywhere, and crowds of people. Roppongi had all the clubs, Ginza has all the upscale department stores, and Kasai really didn't have anything but our hotel.

Basically each day we got up and left around 11 to check out a new place. Then we made it back to the hotel to rest for a little while (1-2 hours). Then we went back out to enjoy some of the night sites (like Shibuya) and made it back to our hotel by 12. We made it back before 12 because that was the time of the last subway run. You may have heard how they pack in the subways and this happens to be true. One night we got on the train for its last run and they literally pack everyone in. Some of the subway guys would actually use a baton to gently shove people into every nook they could find. It was definitely a sight to see; I would have taken a picture but I couldn't move my arms.

I won't make this too long, so rather than writing paragraphs I'll write some short lines.

Everyone there was extremely nice and even though they knew limited English they helped as much as they could. For instance when we were trying to find our hotel I asked someone working at 7-11 and he left the store and walked us two blocks to our hotel

McDonald's is odd: they have a McTeriyaki burger (but they also put mayo in it, which is a bad thing) and instead of chicken McNugget's they have fish ones!

Food: the food was great and the prices were decent ($7 on the low end). They had a good amount of pork and the sushi was fantastic.

Expenses: most of the prices really didn't shock me because they were right around San Francisco prices. The one thing that did eat into my wallet was the subway prices. The tickets on the low end were $1.30 while went into the $3 range on the high-end. Now it appears to be cheap, but to get to a place across the city might need two or three transfers. Since we were checking out a few places per day, we had to buy a lot of subway tickets! Each day we were spending about $10-$15/day just on the subway. Going to the airport was even more expensive since it was outside Tokyo (one way was about $13 with one transfer).

Sizes of things: everything is pretty small. At one station I had to walk with my head at an angle because the ceiling was at about 6'2" (I'm 6'5"). I also had to duck going into doorways and I did bang my head a few times (ok many times...).

Electronics: Akihabara is the electronics center and it was amazing. The phones they have there are extremely more advanced then the U.S. phones. Each phone has amazing screen quality with the capability to play really good games (like House of Dead) and they almost all had cameras built-in (good cameras too, like at least 2/2.5 megapixels). They had many minidisc players (they are popular there), all the new mp3 players, and extremely small digital cameras. Sony had two great products (I think they are either in the U.S. or will be shortly). One was a really small mp3 player and an incredibly thin 5.1mp digital camera.

Overall the trip was a great time and hopefully I'll go back soon.

I didn't have internet access so I have no clue about anything that went on the last week. I checked my stocks and a few did well although UNTD was downgraded (it didn't phase me though). Some of the stocks I were watching had some nice moves. Today I slept for about 13 hours, so it wasn't really a normal day. I should be better tomorrow. I searched for jobs tonight, and I'll apply to them tomorrow. I also need to reschedule an interview for the associate trader job.
Back to normal!


Neville said...

I don't know much about you, but if you're white....were you treated like a GOD there?

Alpha said...

hey Nev,

I am white, but I definitely wasn't treated like a god there. Everyone was incredibly nice, but at times it felt like we weren't even there.
It's odd feeling alone while surrounded in a city of 20 million people. But at times, that's what we felt. People just looked at us, but also tried not to pay too much attention.