Thursday, September 18, 2014

2014.09.19. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

It's 5:30 am. I'm not really a morning person and I'm not getting ready for a surf session with good friends. I'm in a hotel half way around the world from my home in Brooklyn. It's been a few days away and I find myself in the hot, humid climate of Singapore. It all started at 5 am in Brooklyn on september 15. Last minute packing is becoming one of my fortes. I'm never ready to leave for a trip because somehow in my brain, I know I am going to travel but the preparation of packing always gets put off to the end. Somehow the idea of going to the trip always makes me feel excited that some new adventure is waiting for me around the corner and the part that I love to ignore is the logistics of actually packing and getting myself on board and sitting and waiting and sleeping and getting off and doing it all over again after I've managed to drag myself off the subway to the airport. This trip has been a big journey adventure in so much that I wanted to/ had to travel on the cheap. I took my overweight carry on luggage, two rolled up 10'x 5' canvases and a backpack that carried all the extra things my luggage wasn't big enough to carry and rolled out the door at 10 am for a one o'clock flight from JFK. I arrived at the terminal at 11:30 and proceeded to check in my bag and enter security. Of course, in my haste to pack at 5 am, I did forget one very important aspect of air flight security. I made a mental note while packing to make sure I absolutely do not forget to pack my OLAF two bladed Cutter in my check in bag. What I did forget was that my Leatherman which was neatly packed away in the check in bag was suddenly re-packed into my carry on bag because I wanted to make space for other items. Mind you, the leatherman was actually packed in another smaller bag that contained soft goods and nothing of danger. Had I checked more carefully initially in that smaller bag, I would have easily just taken the tool out and repack it to my check in. Here is where an old wise saying sticks to my mind... measure twice, cut once. Yes, this is not carpentry, but yes, it is about not being hasty. Let that be a lesson for all my traveling friends who are hasty in their packing. The next few hours on the plane is me replaying the loss of my tool. It is a big deal for me and I still reflect on it. A very hard lesson to learn indeed. I see that security guy's face light up and his poker expression giving away to success when I realized I had not enough time to exit the security and re enter... or did I? This little moment in my life replays itself over and over again... 14 hours later I arrive in Incheon, Korea. This was all part of a brilliant plan, but I won't let you in on my secret until the proper time. At 7pm Incheon time, I board another vessel for my destination, Narita Airport, Japan. The 2 hour flight is without incident and during the travels I am in between sleep and restlessness. So far, I've clocked in 4 movies and had another travel epiphany! I like to put my overstuffed backpack under the seat in front of me because somehow I think I am going to need access to the bag during transit. It is kind of a security blanket issue for me. I want that bag there under the seat so I can get at it in my whim but I've begun to notice a trend of not going for the bag in my past few airplane travels. On the plane, I want to just sleep, eat, watch movies and zone out. And anything I want from the bag, I can easily take out and put it in the pocket in front of me. This is a revelation! Apparently, there are lots of little lessons being taught me in all kinds of different scenerios. But they are all kind of the same lessons. I've never been a very quick learner even though I like to think I am. Give me directions on a map and I'm pretty good at finding my way back and forth after once though. Different skill sets, I bet. My final destination is Yutenji, Tokyo, Japan. My friend is very accommodating. While he is on a business trip, he lets me crash at his flat. Getting out of the air terminal one at Narita takes an hour of waiting on line at the customs/immigration window. After getting my luggage and rolled canvas, I quickly make my exit without incident and plow through the gates. At 10 ish, there are no more limosine buses to Shibuya/ Ebisu, taxis are like $1,000 rides (of course, I am completely exaggerating but it is still expensive.) and the metro is a great option. I've been to tokyo a few times and I know the train to tokyo is pretty fast. Dear reader, I am not sure if you know that in tokyo, metros and subways all stop after midnight for a daily maintenance that sees the trains sleeping for a few hours. Arriving at 10 pm might not seem so bad but tokyo is big and where I needed to be was going to be at least a couple hours away. So in my haste, again, I buy a ticket for Tokyo Station and board what I think will be a 60 minute express ride to Shibuya. Incidentally, Shibuya Station is a 30 minute train ride from Tokyo Station. The train I jump aboard on, although heading to Tokyo is not the express I was hoping for. I get on the 'RAPID' Service train from CHIBA to Tokyo. Rapid in this case means, if you live in Chiba, which is like living in New Jersey to New York and your daily commute is from say 2 hours from the border, your train probably can skip some of those smaller residential stations and try to hit the major residential stations insted. In this term, a local train from Tokyo to Narita is about a 2 hour plus train ride is cut down to an hour and a half. Again, a little bit more research might of put me on the right express train but what I think I know and what I know often conflict and my what I think I know unfortunately gets louder when I am tired and just want it to be done. After arriving in Tokyo Station at 11:30 ish, now it is starting to be a scramble to try to get to Shibuya/Ebisu for my full metro journey to Yutenji. I make my way to Yamanote Line, which is the big circle line that travels around Tokyo. Not the shortest distance by a long mile but the most convenient as I have an over weight luggage with , did i mention that my top handle strap broke as soon as I stepped out the house? Of course not, I try to forget all the uncomfortable memories! For convenience sake and avoiding walking through very long station hallways and staircases, I go for what I know. By this time, I m pretty sure I will not make the last train from Shibuya to Yutenji and use my 'local' knowledge to bridge the distance I have to travel to Yutenji by exiting in Ebisu, one station away. I come off the very close to last train and stumble to the taxi stand for my last transfer for the day...uh.. night. The taxi ride is about 15 minutes and without incident. Although I kept telling myself the flat was in Jiyugaoka, another station away, I know by sight where the flat is and it is actually in the neighborhood of Yutenji. Final time of arrival? 12:30 am, Tokyo time or 11:30 am NYC time. I stay up for about an hour and crash out, only to wake up at 5 am. I have hard Jetlags. When I travel, I don't acclimate at all and time has her way with me. It s not so bad when I am on my own time, but not so cool when I am scheduled for meetings. At 8:15 am, I start out the door to go see my sister in Ginza Section of town. On the yamanote line, it s about a 30 minute ride from Yutenji via Ebisu, but on the subway through long hallways and lots of staircases, it is a 20 minute trip from Yutenji. I see my sister, we hug it out and we catch up briefly before she heads to work and I , some wifi. After about an hour and a half in Ginza, I head back to Shibuya to meet up with my art collaborator friend, Shingo Wakagi. About this time, I m pretty hungry but don't really realize it. We meet up and discuss our up coming trip to Singapore and a couple art projects we are planning to do while I am in Japan. Always good to see my friend. He is very successful and is a model for me in how to make it. Like a book I ve often read or a theory I ve often studied, un-applied, means absolutely nothing. UGGHHH. We go eat burgers for lunch and just chat up on what we've been up to and what we've done. I've been on a very loose GAPS diet since January of this year, 2014. It is very strict and eating out is almost nonexistent. In Japan, although I have access to a kitchen, most people do not cook and supermarkets are not plentiful. It's work to get it together in a foreign place and so, I try to do what the roman's do in rome. I order the double cheese burger with fried eggs and avocado, no buns (grains) and french fries (starch). I am positive in New York, this could fly. I eat like this at home, no problem. In Japan, an hour later , it is giving me big problems. I think the meat is seasoned with something other than salt and pepper, which , I will season my burgers or meat with only salt. The combination of seasonings, the kind of cheese and oils used to cook the food makes me feel like crap. I tried to go to Ukiyo-e Museum in Harajuku. A MUST FOR ANY Ukiyo-E FANS. SERIOUSLY!! Amazing. But with my stomach not agreeing with me and my body trying to eject the food, I spend more time in their very well maintained bathroom trying to throw up and .. so, we skip a few hours and I m laying down in my flat. I ve been sweating bullets and my stomach/body is slowly starting to recover. I was hoping to use this sleeping time to work things but have only managed to just put out fires and keep it contained. I am supposed to fly out for Singapore the next day and all I am doing is trying to rest. Crazy. I get up and check emails and go back to sleep at 9 pm. I finally wake up at 5 am the next day and in order to not repeat the last day's eating experience, I preemptively go to the convenience store and pick up some vegetables, fruits and eggs for breakfast. I make a nice conservative eats and get my self ready to fly out. I get picked up at 8 am and we make our way over to Kaneda International Airport. Our flight leaves at 11 am and it is a 6 hour flight. I take my carry on bag, stuff it in the overhead bin and make myself comfortable. 6 hours later, one meal and 2 pieces of movies later, we arrive in Singapore. Phew.. we jump in a cab and arrive at our hotel. This is the weekend of the F1 Racing. It is supposed to be crowded with crazy loud sounds of formula one race car engine sounds screaming through Singapore at night. We eat in something Quay and stroll back to the hotel. It is tropics here. Feels familiar but the government sounds a bit spooky. They are very much into censorship. There are punks and anti censorship groups here but they don't get far out of this country and their protests gets muffled by the government. Not sure how I got to this point but, Vice should do an article about modern day Singapore... Which brings me to now. If, dear reader, you have managed to keep reading this far, I thank you so much! I am proud of having traveled a bunch in such a short frame of time and I am hoping that I can get myself to doing some art! That is really why I am doing all this travel in the first place. And, although there are no images to accompany this post now, I will get some images uploaded very soon. I am also on instagram and I seem to post up there pretty frequently. Check me out, @surfnuts195. Okay, Over and out!!

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