28 Feb 2010
Got up a 7am and left for the airport at 8am. Checked in online but still had to queue for the bag drop. While in the queue the Virgin rep was trying to sell upgrades to Premium economy for £290. I didn't fancy that but I did go for the extra £75 to get the seat on the exit - worth it for a 12 hour flight.
Sat next to a really nice woman (although she looked like a girl!) called Yuka. She was coming home after spending the last week in London learning how the British handle social problems. Apparently Japan doesn't really have a plan for social care, the homeless, young offenders and a whole host of other things. Britain does it best. Spent most of the flight chatting with her, watching films and trying to sleep (without much success).
Also got friendly with the Virgin air stewardess who sat directly opposite me during take-off and landing. She was a Japanese national living in London on a work visa. She spent 4 days a week flying around and really loves her job. It wasn't just her job she liked; she loved the fact she could live in Liverpool Street (London). I gave her a little kiss when I disembarked. It was just one of those kisses that felt like the right thing to do.
Lost Yuka after customs and picked up an English bloke who was on a conference. He had been to Japan a couple of times and help me find the station. The train map looks like you've taken 6 tubs of paint and splattered them with a shotgun - it was a proper mess of colours.
Found the right platform, on the train which left exactly on time. In fact everything leaves on time and sets off on time. The train had heated seats. Handy because I was sitting next to the door and it was snowing!
Arrived at the hostel about 4.30 in morning UK time. As predicted there is a German waiting in my room! Went hunting for food with the German. He had been here for 2 days already and I was dead on my feet so I let him lead. Couldn't stay awake after about 7 so went to bed. Had a wonderful nights sleep. When I woke up and looked at my watch it was 9.30. Wow, I thought, that was easy, bit it was still dark outside. On checking my phone clock, it was 21.30 - had only slept for 2 hours! Bummer so back to sleep for another 10+ hours.
Photos on my FaceBook page.
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