Arriving in Tokyo – How I almost got hit by the trains!

December 7th was the day of my flight from Frankfurt to Paris to Tokyo. I was already so excited when I had to say goodbye to my parents and my best friend at the airport. And when I boarded the tiny jet to Paris I remembered that it was getting real.

The plane was so tine, it was the smallest plane I ever flew in. But it was comfy, no turbulences, and they even gave snacks.

In Paris, I actually had to rush to my gate since I had to take a bus to my gate area. When I arrived at my gate, people were already queueing to board. This was it! That should be my flight to Tokyo! I still couldn’t believe it.

My excitement disappeared very quickly though after realising that my seat neighbours – two french guys- were acting a bit awkward. That made me feel awkward. I can’t really explain it, but sometimes, people act in a rather awkward, distant way that makes you feel stupid and awkward yourself. I don’t know if you know what I mean. I also couldn’t sleep properly because the guy next to me (I had an aisle seat) turned to his right side, facing my direction and his knees were bordering to my area. So if I wanted to sleep I also had to turn to the right, the aisle side, which meant that many people heading to the toilet were bumping into my knees and shoulders. That was extremely annoying! I just hated this flight so much! I think it was one of the most uncomfortable flights I ever had. At least, the japanese school class heightened my mood a little bit with all of them wearing their school uniforms… on a long haul flight. That’s what I call discipline! :’D

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When I arrived in Tokyo, finally, I picked up my suitcase and went to look for a sim card. I found one for 7 seven days and I bought it. It was without a telephone number, only internet. But I would get a proper Sim Card in the city anyway.

First, I had to go to the office of my share house to sign some papers, read about the house rules and pick up my key. Actually, it wasn’t really that far away from my share house, but it was just annoying carrying around a big ass suitcase with you everywhere. It really sucked the energy out of my body and by the time I was done at the office, I could feel how tired I was getting. Luckily it was still bright outside. When I took the train back to the metro stop I had to get out at, I missed it and had to get out at one stop after. Luckily, the trains here in Tokyo come in 5-10 minutes and I also didn’t have to change the platform.

When I finally arrived at my metro stop, I struggled to find out how I was supposed to walk. I thought I had to cross the train tracks. The barrier was still down, and as soon as it opened, I slowly walked and stumbled across the tracks with my suitcase that is almost as big as me. I haven’t even crossed 1/3 of the tracks when the sound was ringing again. The barriers were coming down and I was still in the middle of the tracks. Actually, I wasn’t really standing on a track, but like a pathway between the tracks. Still, it seemed like I was in danger.

Luckily, a police man saw me and came for my rescue! He put the barrier up with his hands and took my suitcase, running, and me running behind him. When we were finally safe and sound I had enough! I spotted a taxi right in front of me, another streak of luck for me. Thank you for your prayers, dad! I think they actually helped :)

So I entered the taxi and showed the driver the address. He started driving but after a few minutes he stopped and searched on his gps again. Then after around 5 minutes he stopped and told me that I should better pay the 800 yen first before he drives around without knowing exactly where it is which would make it more expensive to me in the end. That was really nice of him to say that. So I paid and after that he tried everything to find my share house. He also asked a little boy on the street if he knew where it was. I was getting stressed and desperate. It was past 3pm at that time. The only meal I had was on the plane at 7 or 8am. I was starving, at the same time I was tired as hell and I just escaped death. And now it seemed like my share house was impossible to find. I was already imagining myself sleeping on the streets and was about to cry. I decided to look up the directions on Google Maps myself.

And then a miracle happened. We actually found it!!! I was so happy! And the taxi driver was really happy as well. When I asked how much I had to pay he said “daijobu” (it’s alright). I was even more touched and felt my eyes water. He was sooo sooo nice!

Still, the struggle was not over yet. When I entered the share house, no one seemed to be at home. I was on the second floor so I had to carry my stupid suitcase up the tiny stairs. And then it happened. I hit 23kg on my tiny toe and it was one of the worst pains ever! I had to scream and felt the tears in my eyes again. I was cursing this suitcase and the effed up tiny stairs. I quickly went into my room and what do I see between my fridge and my bed?!! A FREAKING DEAD COCKROACH!!! I sat down on my bed and cried. It was all just too much! It was the worst arrival of my life. I couldn’t believe that this was reality! In my imagination I was full of energy, easily finding my share house and then quickly leaving to explore Tokyo, see the busy Shibuya crossing, the loud streets, the colourful neon signs, eating Ramen on my first evening. None of them happened. The worst things that could ever happen happened to me. Murphy’s Law! I was hungry, tired, almost died, spent half an hour finding my share house, hit my f*cking suitcase on my toe, and now this disgusting cockroach was in my room. Although it was dead, I just couldn’t take it anymore. After crying my eyes out I tried to calm down. I heard someone outside so I looked and it was the cleaning man. I asked him if he could please remove the dead cockroach in my room. He laughed and said sorry and took it away in a tissue.

It seemed like as soon as the cockroach was gone, my thoughts were getting a bit more positive as well. I took off my clothes, and put on my pyjamas that I luckily put into my hand luggage.

I was tired, thirsty, as well as hungry, but I could surprise the hunger and the thirst. But my body just couldn’t stay awake any longer. I fell asleep right away, at around 4pm and woke up at 10pm. I slept 6 hours through. When I woke up my throat was dry and hot. I needed water! It was rainy outside but I really needed water. I knew there was a 7/11 around the corner so I prepared to go outside. After I just left my house, I saw 3 vending machines right next to our share house. I didn’t feel like walking in the rain so I just took a bottle of water out the machine. So convenient, seriously! Things were slowly starting to get more positive and easier now. I think sometimes, one just needs a good rest, and then everything just turns to the better.

In general I was still very lucky and thankful. Although I had a difficult start (Maybe that’s a bit of an understatement here), I had the chance to experience the kindness of japanese people right away. Everyone was extremely kind and helpful. More than I have seen in any other country. And after all, it was my suitcase’s fault that all of those bad things happened to me.

So this was my adventurous arrival in Tokyo. I hope it wasn’t too much or too boring for you guys. I just wanted to describe all my experiences coming to this city. And when I have negative experiences and write about it, you guys can be prepared if you ever plan to come here.

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To sum it all up, here are some Do’s and Don’ts when arriving in Japan:

Do’s:

  • Eat something small at the airport, or take some food and drinks with you to eat on the way. The commute from the airport to the city can take a bit longer than you expect.
  • Buy yourself a Suica or Passmo Card. It’s a rechargeable metro card. So much more convenient when using the metro on a daily basis. You can also pay with that at conbinis (7/11, Family Mart & Co.) or use it to buy drinks at vending machines (not all of them though).
  • Use Google Maps to navigate the metro system. The metro system in Tokyo is the biggest I have ever used (I have already used the ones in Beijing, Shanghai, London, Paris and Barcelona), and if I didn’t have Google Maps, I would have lost my way even more often. Either check the directions at the airport and screenshot everything. Or get yourself a sim card or pocket wifi for your stay. It’s gonna be extremely helpful! Trust me.

 

Don’ts:

  • If you can, try to take a middle sized suitcase with you and maybe a bigger backpack to carry on your back. The streets in Tokyo are not really suitcase friendly.
  • Take care at the tracks! Don’t walk slowly! Some people even run to cross it, because not even after 1 minute the bell rings again and the barriers close. The safest option to cross to the other side is actually by using the metro passages. They also have elevators, so that’s better for suitcases.
  • Make sure to sleep on the plane. I know, sometimes it is not possible, but if you can, definitely do it, please! You will be more wake and energised and positive when you have to navigate through the city to find you accommodation.
  • Don’t force yourself to walk to your destination. If you seriously are exhausted and can’t take it no more, just take the taxi. No money is more important than your wellbeing. And who knows, maybe you will encounter such a nice taxi driver as I did as well :)

 

This was everything about my arrival. I am sorry that you guys had to wait for such a long time until my first post. I was quite busy with all the bureaucratic stuff and editing photos and videos.

You can watch my first video about my arrival here:

 

Thank you for reading and watching!

Merveille.

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Beijing Part 1: Getting lost and overwhelmed

As promised, I am writing about my final trip I did around China in March, before I headed back home last year April. I still had Beijing and Xi’An on my list to tick off, so I decided to do the typical trip to those two cities. I heard many tourists and travellers take that route between the two cities via train, and I decided to do that as well.

That was not all, though. Last minute, before I left for Beijing, my boss told me that I had to go to Hong Kong one last time, because I had to extend my visa once more, for only a few days. That did piss me off, because I have already booked all the planes and trains already, and I could have taken the plane from Shanghai airport. This way, after arriving in Shanghai from Xi’An, I’d have to take the train to Yuyao, my boss would pick me up, take my suitcase, and take me to the hotel for me to catch the bus to Ningbo airport. Such a hustle can only happen in China :’D

During that one week, I took 4 trains, 4 planes, and 2 busses in total :’D If it wasn’t enough, we even planned one last Shanghai trip after I came back from Hong Kong :’D That was insane! Never travelled to so many cities in such little time :’D Almost felt like funforlouis :’DD

Anyway, my flight to Beijing was early in the morning from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. I took one of the earliest trains to Shanghai, and upon arriving at the check-in, I was happy to see a great seat which turned out to be an emergency exit seat. The views from the plane were great. The sun was blasting and the sky was clear blue. A pity I didn’t use my camera to take a photo.

I flew with China Eastern Airlines, and I really liked it. Everything was on time, the stewardesses were friendly and the flight was smooth.

I think everything was just too good.

After landing, I took the metro to find my hostel. I had the directions and I also had the address in chinese. I was doing fine, but then, I completely lost my way. It was ridiculous. I was already on the way for almost 3 HOURS!!! Walking around in circles, asking for the way, trying to stop taxis to take me there. Nothin worked.

Because I was so stressed, I didn’t take so many pictures. I was despairing. Finally, a taxi stopped and took me to my hostel. But he was driving in the opposite direction that I came from. I was starting to get really confused. Then, he just let me out in front of a construction and told me I had to walkd behind it to get to the entrance of the hostel since cars couldn’t drive there. It was ridiculous. Ive had enough. I walked and walked through bumpy streets with my huge suitcase and finally, FINALLY found the entrance. It was very hidden, the taxi driver was right.

I entered, relieved and they were looking for my room on the computer. And the bad luck didn’t stop. They said there was no room unter my name. I was panicking. I showed them the e-mail and the girl understood. I was at the wrong hostel. It had basically the same name.

Happy Dragon is a hostel name that is used for three different hostels in three totally different locations in Beijing. They called the hostel and asked if there was a room booked and they confirmed. The receptionst was so kind to organize a driver for me to take me there. And again, they took me back to where I came from.

As it had turned out, I had the directions to the right hostel, but wrote down the wrong chinese address. So guys, please, if you decide to book a room at Happy Dragon, double check which one it is you are staying at and make sure you have both the right directions and the right address.

I paid for the drive at the reception and was told that I got a room upgrade. I actually booked a dorm, but I got a private room. And I didnt have to pay anything extra. I was so happy, and even happier when I saw how clean and beautiful it was. The bed was soft as well. I was so tired and exhausted that I could just lie down and sleep. Even my hunger couldn’t keep me from sleeping for around 2 hours.

When I woke up, I was still tired, but I had to get something to eat and I wanted to explore the city a little bit. It was slowly getting dark, so I got out of bed, got dressed and left. First, I also signed up for the Great Wall trip the next day.

I walked to the metro, and since it was already around 7pm, the streets were full with people. The metro as well. I thought Shanghai metro was full, but the one in Beijing was even worse. I couldn’t believe when I saw how many people were still getting in.

I somehow got off at my station which was the entrance to the Forbidden City.

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Of course, I wasn’t planning to get inside, since it was already closed, but I just wanted to explore the area. I guess I would have done a better choice if I went to get some street food somewhere.

After walking around the area, I quickly got bored and felt my hunger. I took the metro again, this time to find a restaurant somewhere. I didn’t have to walk too far from the metro station. It was a modern american-korean-mexican fusion restaurant in a Hutong. The area was very quiet and old but it looked very authentic.

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Nachos and a salad, Although I was pretty hungry, I didn’t want to eat anything too heavy at that hour.

When I was soon finished with dinner, the only thing I wanted to do was go sleeping in my warm, comfy bed. I took a taxi and enjoyed the late night views I got from Beijing. A beautiful, big city with a huge history, but very overwhelming for me. I saw the beauty of Beijing, but it was still very confusing to me.

What about you guys? What were your first expressions of Beijing?

Thursday, June 4th 2015 – Friday, June 5th 2015: Frankfurt, Germany to Ningbo, China

hat day we prepared to leave for Frankfurt with my father and my mother. My sister and brother couldn’t join us because they had to work the other day. When I had to said goodbye to my sister it really was an emotional moment. She suddenly started crying and I had tears in my eyes as well but I held them back and started to laugh because I didn’t expect that :D
Well, after that teary goodbye we entered the car and made us on our way.
When we finally arrived in Frankfurt we visited some family friends who live nearby. We had dinner with them and visited them for the last time to say goodbye. My father was getting sadder and sadder after each hour that passed.
It was the first time that I had been to the airport in Frankfurt. It is quite big since it is the biggest in Europe, but I didn’t lose my way once. It really was easy to find. Well, before I got to the gates I had to say goodbye to my parents and our family friends. I think I will never ever forget this moment in my life because it really was one of the saddest moments, but also one of the moments in which I realized how much I am being loved :’) Before, I have seen my father cry only once and it was when his mother died. This time was the second time I saw him cry and I felt so sorry and it really made it so hard for me to leave :’/
My mother seems to be stronger than my father. She was sad as well and had tears in her eyes, too, but she didn’t cry.
Well, after I managed to calmly get pass the passport control I searched my gate. I had to walk a little bit longer because it was at the very end of the floor. I had a view on the plane I was going to fly with and it looked huge. I have never been in such a big plane. When I entered the plane I noticed that it has 2 floors. I didn’t have to go upstairs, but I was happy that my seat wasn’t way in the back but just right on the wing. I sat next to two guys who had to stand up to let me in because I had my seat next to a window seat. One of the guys who was sitting right next to me was watching some chinese TV show on his ipad mini all the time, Holding the screen so close to his face that it almost touched :’D He already wore glasses and I thought that it was no wonder xD
Well, anyway, the plane started to take off and after that I watched Whiplash. I was a bit disappointed by the movie. It was hyped quite a lot but I found it quite boring.
They served food in the middle of the movie. It wasn’t that bad but there was a chocolate cake and OMG that was perhaps the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten *o*
After I had also finished the movie at about after midnight I decided to sleep a little bit which was very uncomfortable. I have problems with sleeping on planes. I think it is the most uncomfortable place to sleep in. I always woke up and once or twice I woke up from the turbulences which frightened me out of my sleep.
Well, at about 4pm we should land in Hong Kong. Until then I also watched an episode of Sherlock Holmes which I liked better than Whiplash.
When the plane finally prepared for landing I had a beautiful view of hong kong. I definitely have to visit that city once before I return back to Germany.
Hong Kong Airport is meant to be huge but I had no problems finding my way around at all. On my way to my gate I also saw the stewardesses of Fly Emirates who looked so beautiful in their arabic style uniforms. Apart from models and actresses, being a stewardess is an occupation I really admire. They are always so beautiful and dressed in nice uniforms, they are friendly and handy and get to travel to many places. As a kid I wanted to be a stewardess as well. But I don’t know why I gave that up. I think because they don’t earn so much.
Well anyway, I looked for my gate in Hong Kong but it wasn’t known yet. I asked at the information desk and they told me that it would be announced after 5pm. So I walked around a little bit and looked at all the shops.

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Soon I found a place to sit

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When my gate was announced, I started to walk into the direction of it. I had to walk quite a bit and then I had to take the bus to the gate :’D in that moment I realised how big that airport was.
I have to say that I really liked Dragonair. It had no turbulences at all and the food was really good. I had a rice dish with chicken and they served green tea.
My flight had a delay of 1 hour so I landed at 9pm instead of 8pm. And until I got out of the Passport control which was a long procedure I had to wait for my suitcase a while although most were already out and I was really afraid that they had lost my luggage but finally it came out and I got out. I saw Chris, the guy who should pick me up and we took a taxi to go to the hotel he had organized for me. I had to stay there for one night and the next day Chris would pick me up again and take me to Yuyao, the place I was supposed to teach.
The hotel room was nice but I think the drainpipes were stinking a bit. And then therr was a guy and a woman having an argument when I decided to go to sleep.
Anyway, it was a long trip and I was quite excited for the next days which I can promise were not boring at all :’D

Die Vorstellungen eines kleinen Mädchens/Pictured by a little girl

Ich hatte immer dieses Bild von Deutschland. Es war nicht dieses typische Bild der sauerkraut-essenden, Lederhosen-tragenden, ernstschauenden Deutschen. Es war viel eher ein modernes Bild. Es war das Bild eines Landes, das sich durch neuere Technologien kennzeichnete. Das sich durch symmetrische Bauten, durch saubere Oberflächen, meistens aus Glas kennzeichnete. Ich befand mich gerade am Flughafen. Ich war noch klein, vielleicht 6 oder 7 Jahre alt. Meine Eltern waren auch dabei. Ich mochte es mit dem Flugzeug zu verreisen. Man bekam immer sein eigenes Essen und ganz viel Spielzeug mit dem man sich 3 Stunden lang beschäftigen konnte. Ich mochte dieses Handpuzzle, das man verschieben musste. Und den Lufthansa-Plüschvogel fand ich auch toll. Aber am liebsten malte ich im Lufthansa-Malbuch. Ich musste mich immer selber beschäftigen, weil meine Schwester während dem Flug immer schlafen wollte. Sie war fast 2 Jahre jünger als ich. Ich jedoch wollte nie schlafen. Entweder wollte ich mich mit den Flugzeug-spielsachen beschäftigen oder aus dem Fenster schauen. Immer wollte ich an der Fensterseite sitzen. Meistens saß meine Mutter mit uns zusammen und mein Vater musste alleine irgendwo anders hocken. Aber manchmal saß ich auch mal mit meinem Vater und meine Mutter mit meiner Schwester. Mein vater zeigte mir dann am Fenster über welches Land wir gerade flogen. Ich glaubte ihm damals natürlich. Jedoch muss ich heute darüber lächeln und zweifle daran, ob er es wirklich gewusst hatte. Jedenfalls befanden wir uns am Flughafen. Fast der ganze Flughafen bestand aus Fenstern. Man konnte somit die dunkle Nacht draußen sehen. Doch es war gar nicht gruslig. Ich fühlte mich sogar sehr wohl, weil der Flughafen so hell beleuchtet und riesig groß war. Nachts verreisten nicht mehr so viele Leute, deswegen war der Flughafen nicht so überfüllt. Wie es schien, mussten wir etwas lange warten, da mein Vater sich immer Kaffee holen ging. Dabei merkte ich diesen blonden Mann. Er hatte leuchtend-blaue Augen, war groß und schlank und war schick angezogen. Er sah reich und auch etwas älter aus – wegen den leichten Falten um seine Augen. Ich dachte, so sehen bestimmt die Piloten von Lufthansa aus. schick, blond, reich: deutsch. Ich schaute den Mann an und stellte mir vor, er wäre mein Ehemann. Er holte sich ebenfalls Kaffee. Mein Vater stand hinter ihm. Gleich würde mein Vater meinen zukünftigen Ehemann sehen. Ich musste lächeln bei so einem Gedanken. Natürlich war das alles nur ein lustiger Gedanke. Aber ich denke es wäre bestimmt nicht schlecht in Zukunft so einen Mann zu haben. Nachdem der Mann Milch in seinen Kaffee getan hatte, entfernte er sich langsam vom Kaffeeautomaten. Dieser Kaffeeautomat war ebenso wie der Flughafen und der blonde Mann das typische Bild von Deutschland, das ich im Kopf hatte. Der Mann saß nur ein paar Sitze von uns entfernt. Ich schaute ihn wieder kurz an und blickte nun auf meine Eltern. Sie hatten beide dunkles Haar und dunkle Augen. Meine Schwester genauso. Ich hatte auch dunkle Augen, aber meine Haare waren komischerweise sehr hell. Ich hatte noch nie zuvor gefragt warum das so war, aber es fiel mir eigentlich auch erst jetzt ein. Ich lächelte nun zufrieden. Ich hatte wahrscheinlich eine Gemeinsamkeit mit dem Mann. Wir hatten beide hellere Haare. Ich fasste nun an mein langes Haar, nahm eine Strähne in die Hand und schaute es an. Ich wollte in Zukunft auf jeden Fall schön und klug werden. So könnte ich vielleicht eines Tages einen schönen, Piloten heiraten, der oft an so einem Ort wie dem Flughafen war. Ja, das wäre bestimmt toll…

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I always had this picture of Germany. It was not this typical pictures of the sourcrout-eating, leather-trousers-wearing, seriously-looking Germans. It was rather a modern picture. It was the picture of a country, that is marked by  new technologies. One that is marked by symmetrical architecture, by clean  surfaces, mostly out of glass. Right now, I was at the airport. I was still young, 6 or 7 years old. My parenst were also with me. I liked travelling by plane. You always got your own meal, and lots of toys, which you could deal with for 3 hours. I liked that drag-puzzle. And the Lufthansa – plush-bird was also great. But the Lufthansa – drawing-book I liked best. I always had to occupy myself on my own, because my sister always wanted to sleep during the flight. She is almost 2 years younger than me. Me, however, never wanted to sleep. I either wanted to play with the airplane-toys, or to look out of the windows. I always wanted to sit at the window. Most of the time my mother sat together with me and my sister, and my father had to sit somewhere else on his own. But someties, I was sitting with my father, and my mother was sitting with my sister. My father then showed me which country we were flying over. Back then, I believed him of course. However, I have to smile about that today und actually doubt if he really knew it. Well, we were now, as I said before, at the airport. Almost the whole airport was built of windows. Therefore you could see the dark night outside. But it was not scary at all. I even felt very comfortable, because the airport was so well lighted and hugely big. During the night there were not so many people travelling, that’s why the airport was not so filled. It seemed like we had to wait long, since my father always got himself some coffee. Thereby I noticed that blond man. He had bright blue eyes, was big and slender and well-dressed. He looked like he was rich and a little bit older – because of his few wrinkles around his blue eyes. I thought that pilots from Lufthansa have to look like this for sure. Chic, blonde, rich: German. I looked at the man again, and imagined that he was my husband. He was also getting some coffee. My father was now standing behind him. Soon my father would meet my future husband. I had to laugh at this thought. Of course, all this was just a funny thought. But I think it would definitely not bet bad to have a man like him in the future. After the man put milk in his coffee, he distanced himself away from the coffee dispenser. This coffee dispenser was, just like the airport and the blonde man, the typical picture of Germany I had in mind. The man was only sitting a few seats away from us. I shortly had a glance at him again and looked at my parents now. Both of them had dark hair and dark eyes. My sister, too. I also had dark eyes, but my hair was strangely very light. I have never before asked why this was like that, but I actually noticed it just now. I smiled contently. Probably I had a mutuality with that man. We both had light hair. I now touched my long hair, took a streak of hair in my hand and looked at it. In future, I definitely wanted to be beautiful and smart. By this, I could maybe someday marry such a beautiful pilot who often has to be present at a place like the airport. Yes, that would certainly be great…