Wednesday July 2, 2008
Take BART to SFO & non-stop JAL flight at 1:20 pm, and arrive next day at 3:00 pm Tokyo. Economy class is more bearable than I expected. Good to save money instead of flying business class. The westward flights don't seem to be as bad as eastward flights in regards to jet-lag.
Happy to land at Narita. Customs process is easy, although they are confused why I don't have more luggage than a simple laptop bag. Train & subway system is very daunting, but finally it is overcome. Buy SUICA card for JR train to Tokyo station. Transfer to Marunouchi line. Navigate underground subway maze, walking for 15 minutes until exit 13 at Tameiko-sanno station. Experience Japanese vending machine, buy bottled tea using SUICA card. Check in at ANA Intercontinental hotel. Room rate is considerably low for nice amenities and service. Walk 10 minutes to Roppongi area, looking for simple food. Eat delicious meal of soba (noodles), lobster pieces, egg, and seaweed. Only $5.00, and produced in 30 seconds. Ordering system is interesting: there are plastic models of available dishes in the window, each labeled with a number. There is a vending machine where you select the meal number, and pay with yen. A simple ticket comes out, and you hand it to the cook, who then produces the food. At Roppongi Hills, there is the most incredible structure I have seen. The scale is enormous, with many levels of mall shopping, restaurants, museums, etc. Take elevator to top of Roppongi Hills, at about 50 floors up, with great panoramic observation area. The view is most incredible, with full night-time Tokyo skyline. It is hard to imagine the vast scale of the world's largest city. Head to sleep after nearly 24 hours.
Traditional Japanese breakfast at hotel restaurant. Take Namboku subway line to Komagome, and enjoy the Rikugien gardens, looking at the trees, turtles, and koi fish. Take subway to Akihabara station, and wonder around the immense electronics mall with all sorts of crazy Japanese electronics and accessories. Buy some fast food at a french bakery for lunch. Visit Roppongi Hills again for shopping and chinese food dinner.
Hotel buffet breakfast, drive a couple hours north into countryside, to see ninjas. Also see some temples in Nikko, including the Toshogu shrine. Eat lunch at American diner. Drive back to Tokyo, and look around Ginza area. Buy giant fuji apple for $10. Wonder into Armani tower. Quite an amazing building and experience inside, with very modern features, and amazing service. Look at clothing, casa interior design, and spa. Finally eat amazing Italian meal at Armani restaurant.
Wake up at 5:15 am, and take bullet train from Tokyo station to Atami station. Take 45 minute drive to Futo, and do 2 scuba dives. Enjoy colorful soft corals, and some interesting fish. After a long day of scuba and relaxing in an onsen "hot springs", head back to Tokyo via local countryside trains, and then the bullet train. Eat Thai dinner in Roppongi.
Buffet breakfast at hotel, then go to Odaiba to see futuristic Fuji TV building, Toyota Megaweb, Tokyo Big Sight, Venus Fort, and Ferris wheel. Go to spa on 46th floor at Ritz Carlton for swedish massage, relaxation in hot & cold soaking tubs, steam room, and dry sauna. Eat sushi dinner at Roppongi.
Skip breakfast, and go directly to lunch, and have amazing teppanyaki / steak. Wonder around Odaiba some more, and then shopping at Ginza. Go back to Armani restaurant for dinner. Head to Shibuya area, and look at all the strange fashion. Follow some loud music into a downstairs bar, have a few drinks, and then head back to hotel.
Sushi for lunch. Its really cheap, and OK quality, but somehow I find the sushi in the USA much more enjoyable. Take random subway line, get off at a random station and look around. Go back to Ginza to Apple Store. Look at merchandise, and interesting Japanese style keyboards. Enjoy a rest at a french bakery for iced cafe au lait and fruit tart, while overlooking main busy intersection. Watch the big outdoor LED tv screen showing video of sandy beaches and blue sky, plus tropical fish and coral reefs. Decide enough of big city life in Tokyo, and urgent need for nature. Think about going to China to visit factories, but since visa is expired, not possible at this time. Hear the California wildfires are still really bad, and thus decide to go to Honolulu to relax on beach and scuba dive. Book one-way ticket to Honolulu for the next day. Eat nice Chinese dinner with sweet corn & crab soup, shrimp and pork dimsum, and noodles with seafood. Start reading "The Apple Way" on the Kindle.
Look for Teppanyaki restaurant, but find out it only open for dinner. Eat spaghetti at Italian restaurant instead. Take 90 minute bus ride to Tokyo Narita Airport. Relax at airport until 7 pm flight. Flight is not even 50% full. Really comfortable and easy flight. Arrive in Honolulu at 8 am the same day...
... continuing the same day in Hawaii: Meet friends at airport, and go back to the amazing breakfast place, Boots 'n Kimos in Kailua for the liquid crack macadamia nut banana pancakes. Been dreaming about these for a while. Go to Lanikai beach, which is considered one of the best beaches in Hawaii. Relax on beach for a couple hours, and swim out to a deceivingly distant rock. Enjoy decompressing in the warm waters and blue sky. Much more relaxing than Tokyo. Walk around Waikiki and eat dinner at sushi restaurant.
Skydive at Dillingham airfield on Oahu's north shore. Quite beautiful scenery from 12,000 feet. Thai food for lunch in Haleiwa. Cold drinks by the pool at Turtle Bay resort. Continue driving the long way around the island to scuba shop to rent gear. Drive back to north shore to do a night scuba dive from the shore. See a few cool octopus. Finish the dive at 11pm, and there is a light drizzle.
Loco Moco for breakfast at Cheeseburger in Paradise in Waikiki. Return scuba gear, and relax at the Kahala resort. Lay on beach, swim in ocean, and eat a snack. Go to Apple Store to check out the new iPhone, but they are sold out of the 16gb. Nice dinner at Roy's in Waikiki. Walk around Waikiki.
Breakfast at Subway & Jamba Juice. Check AT&T store for iPhone. No luck. Drive to airport, return car, and take shuttle bus back to terminal to board plane in an hour. Decide I'd be crazy to leave this place so soon. Get right back on shuttle bus and rent another car. Find a nice last minute condo on Craigslist in Makaha on the leeward side. This side of the island is all locals, and has a completely different feel. The socioeconomic status is much less here, but the scenery is great, and the 10th floor beach front condo has a great view.
Absolutely nothing. Sit on private lanai and stare at ocean.
Continue staring at ocean.
Relax on a beach near Ka'ena point. Drive an hour to Honolulu, and pick up some shoes at the mall. Eat some thai food for lunch. "Business meeting" with a customer in Aiea. Meet a great bunch of Scion people at the monthly meet.
Wake up at 4am to do "stairway to heaven" climb 4000 very steep steel steps. This hike is closed, and gated off. They even have a security guard, but if you go early enough, you'll bypass the security guard on the way up. iPhone gets wet from running through dense bamboo forest during a torrential down poor. Angry local Hawaiian see's us trying to hop the fence, and lets the air out of our tires. Eat more thai food for a late lunch. Relax at condo.
Fly back to the Bay Area finally. Looking forward to playing with the truck.