I've been back in the UK for a little over thirty six hours.
What are thirty six hours? That sentence makes no sense to me, just a bunch of numbers.
Twenty four hours does not a day make. We chased the sun for all of that time, seeing no night, only the sun. The extended day, the changing of the hands on the face of my watch going back, then further back and trying to work out what time my body thought it was punched a hole right through my head, made my stomach churn, turned my legs to jelly and my feet to water-filled balloons.
I am glad to be back, really I am. I just wish I could have missed out the entire return journey. In honour of that journey, a journey which seemed to turn everything on its head, I will begin to recount my all-Nippon-holiday from the end. Backwards is sometimes good. It certainly feels good today.
We woke up just before six am, though it could have been half past five, I'm not sure, on the final day of our three week trip to the land of the rising sun. I hate early mornings, but managed to get up out of bed without too much fuss. Having been to a Sento the night before, we didn't bother with a shower (dirty pigs, I know), just got dressed, took the cases downstairs had an English breakfast (a cup of tea and a fag), said goodbye to Alan and Junya before hitting the road.
Making our way to the airport via local trains and the Narita Express was not fun. The Japanese race has a world-wide reputation for politeness. It's all quite true. They are very polite. But not all of the time. Their politeness and selfishness thresholds may be higher than other people from the West, but once they cross that line, it's everyone for him or herself.
There are markers on all platforms in Japanese railways stations. Passengers know where the train is going to stop and form an orderly queue where the doors are going to open.
Until the doors open.
Depending on how busy the station and/or train is, passengers will either leisurely make their way onto the train or pretend they are in a rubgy game; heave people out of their way, push in line, stamp on toes, elbow people in the ribs or simply shove other passengers onto the train. Japanese people, in the main, do not apologise or excuse themselves if they drop their case on your foot or whack you in the face with their bag. There are many, many words for sorry and excuse me. Just think about the nature of the Japanese people, their culture; their adoration of formality, good manners and etiquette. Yet they are loathed to use such terms. They could come across as arrogant. The only counter measure is to remember that these people are differnt. They look differnt to me, they act differently to me. Their alternative behaviour does not necessarily make them rude. At least that's what I kept telling myself.
Perhaps one should look at the Japanese landscape and see how overcrowded the very few flat areas of the country are to understand why the Japanese people behave in the way which they do. Personal space is limited and so excites other forms or behaviour, quite different to practically every other country in the world.
The flight to Copenhagen was horrendous. Cattle and other farm animals have more right to space in transit than human beings do. At least there was in flight entertainment. What a shame, though, that it was all shit. I had two brief naps of about ten minutes each. I spent the vast majority of the rest of my time staring into empty space. No wonder I'm going md.
A four hour wait in Copenhagen airport was not long enough to utilise by taking a trip into the city and too long for the airport alone to entertain us. As last time, we spent about twenty minutes simply travelling along the travelator. It's a great alternative to tapping your fingers on a desk, biting your nails or twiddling your thumbs.
On arriving in Edinburgh, with our sight of the sun finally lost, after almost twenty four hours without sleep, we were home.
I felt like death.
My eyes felt like they'd been stung by gnats and were painful to keep open.
Typically, the taxi driver taking us from Edinburgh airport to our home was chatty. Call me a bitch if you must, but I let Ian do all the talking. Well, it's not that I let him. I was actually physically unable to do anything else.
A quick shower... We were in bed by 22:00 and asleep a few minutes later. I slept like a baby, waking at a reasonable 08:00 the next day. After a small breakfast of Weetabix, coffee and orange juice, I had a wash, got dressed and we made our way to Muiravonside to get the puppies!
My sleep pattern isn't back to normal yet. I was in bed and asleep by 22:30 last night, which is early for Minge, but wide awake at 05:00. Perhaps I'll have a better night tonight.
It's good to be back.
Things I miss about Japan:
Things I don't miss about Japan:
It all seems so long ago now, dear reader.