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Wednesday 2 April 2008

The First Encounter of Japan

After a long journey starting at 7:00 p.m. from Kuching on 31st March 2008, I have finally touched down at Narita International Airport at 7:00 a.m. Japan local time on 1st April 2008. Just about half an hour before touching down, I spotted this snow-capped mountain from a distance. It looks like Mount Fuji but I am not sure whether it is.


Narita International Airport is not as nicely designed as the Kansai International Airport, me thinks. While my flight was taxiing to the aero-bridge, I spotted another Malaysia Airlines aircraft. I think this airline fly to Narita twice daily.


Due to the tighter immigration check where every person's portrait and finger prints are taken, there was a very long queue for immigration clearance. My turn was half an hour later since I first queued up, the longest ever besides the other time in Beijing.


There was a representative from the Matsumae International Foundation. waiting for me at the arrival hall. I was so sorry to keep him waiting for me for one hour and forty minutes. He waited for me to guide me to the Narita Express counter to buy the train ticket and showed me the way to the train platform, so, I managed to catch the train at exactly 8:54 a.m.


The trains in Japan are punctual to the minute. There's nothing here called Malaysian time. It stated that the train would arrive at 9:52 a.m., and I stepped out of the train exactly at that minute! Well, I didn't understand a word of the train stewardess but her politeness and softness really put a lot Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia air stewardesses to shame.


I was instructed to go to the Sapia Tower just beside the Tokyo Station for a briefing. I thought I have to look for the place myself, but I heard a very soft voice addressing my name from behind. I turned around and saw a very petite Ms. Kimura holding a copy of document with my photo on it. She's another representative from the Foundation to receive me at Tokyo Station, and to lead me to the briefing place at the Recross room.


After going through the contract details and information on health care insurance with Mr. Nakajima, I was handed the first month stipend and some settlement allowance. Ms. Kimura had headed back to Tokyo Station to receive three other research fellows from Romania, Latvia and Vietnam.

After my briefing, the research fellow from Bangladesh who had his briefing before my turn needed Mr. Nakajima to help him get a trolley for his heavy luggage, but there was no one to care of the briefing room. So, I was handed the duty and played host to the three other research fellows when they arrived with Ms. Kimura.

By the time Mr. Nakajima and the Bangladesh research fellow was back, it was time for me to head back to Tokyo Station again to take another train to Saitama, so Ms. Kimura walked back to Tokyo Station again with me to guide me through. Her job for that day was just walking to and fro the Tokyo Station and Sapia Tower.


I took the Keihin-Tohoku line and boarded the train at 11:28 a.m. It arrived at the Kita-Urawa Station at 12:10 p.m., 7 minutes ahead of schedule. Dr Asamoto from Saitama University spotted me as I was looking for a public phone to ring him, and he sent me by his car to the University.


I am very indebted to Dr Asamoto as he drove me around for the whole afternoon settling accommodation matters and buying the necessary groceries for living. Without him, I wouldn't have any idea on how to bring all the blankets and pillow back to my dormitory!

It was really a hectic but a fruitful day. I can finally live in the dormitory with less worries now.


s@m巧彦 said...

hope to hear more from you about Japan soon! all the best in everything!

Anonymous said...

Look forward to more updates..
i.e food :)
dun 4get ur camera n ur tupperware!

CK Ng said...

Hi Sam and kvct, more updates are definitely coming up! :D

Orange said...

hope your journey going well~ ^_^ good morning.

CK Ng said...

Thanks, Orange. I have more or less settled down in Japan. I have started working already.

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