Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Spanking Haneda

Just got back from a short trip to Tokyo. That place is forever full of people.

On one train ride towards the city center at about 9:00 am in the morning, which was way past the morning rush hour, the train was packed.

As more and more passengers flooded in, I occasionally found my body firmly compressed against that of a young lady.

Fearing that she would scream 'chikan!' (molester!), I made sure that my two hands were up in the air, holding the bars for all to see.

Believe it or not, she appeared to be blissfully dozing off in the crammed train.

The weather was really pleasant. A very warm 25 degrees in the afternoon. Weird weather right in December. As they say, global warming in the works?

Haneda Airport had just opened its spanking new Terminal Two on 1st December.

All Nippon Airways, my favorite Japanese airline (there is not much to choose from, anyway) is the primary tenant, along with the minnow, Air Do.

Japan Airlines gets to occupy Terminal One by itself.

The airport has three runways while a fourth runway is in the planning stage.

It serves mostly domestic flights. So, there is quite a bit of inconveniences for passengers with international connecting flights.

Due to the distance of Narita from the city center, some top guns believe that there is no reason why Haneda should not revert to serving the international flight segment.

Terminal Two boasts about 90 shops, covering a variety of restaurants, souvenir shops, cafes, and bookshops.

The crowd was unbelievable. I happened to fly in on the first weekend after the opening (Saturday, 4th December 2004).

The observatory deck was like an amusement park. There were so many couples, hugging lovingly of course, and families with little kids running around.

I was with my missus on the return leg. Though the crowd was slightly thinner, the lines at the restaurants were just as long.

We managed to slide into a tempura restaurant. My eyeballs almost popped out of their sockets upon seeing the set menu my missus ordered.

It was one paltry piece of mixed vegetable and seafood tempura, spherical like a hamburger patty.

Along with this, a tiny bowl of miso soup, and some skimpy Japanese pickles. The most delicious part of the meal, she said, was the hot roasted tea, served with compliments.

All this, at the equivalent price of a full buffet dinner (fresh seafood, all kinds of mouth-watering cheese, a range of sweets and desserts to fill you up for days, sushi, deliciously steamed giant grouper, beef steak, Chinese barbeque duck, etc. etc...) at a top five star hotel at Saigon.

The cost of living in Japan, once again, baffles me to no end.