Right, so some people aren’t aware that my hair color has changed yet again. It’s now black and I’m pretty damn fond of it, if I do say so myself. Here’s a none-too-flattering picture for those that think I’m fabricating my own personal reality again. (Hmmmm, I just realized, that means I should make a new photo for the About Me section. Time to break out the lightsaber again.)

Now that that’s over with, Happy New Year to everyone. I hope everyone had a great holiday season with an appropriately painful hangover to ring in the next trip around our favorite little Ball o’ Fusion. Mine was actually spent waiting for a crosswalk signal to change in downtown Hong Kong while me, Bob and Wendy tried to find the huge street party that we could hear everyone at a few hundred feet away. It wasn’t until we actually got to said festivities that we realized that the reason all the cars were honking their horns back at the crosswalk is because New Year’s had passed about four minutes ago. We celebrated with, “Oh. Well, uhhhh…. Happy New Year, I guess.”

Regarding to the trip to Hong Kong, I can sum it up in the following words: Hong… Kong… kicks… ass! The trip on the whole was pretty good, so I guess I’ll just start at the beginning and spread it out over the week.

Bob (more on him later) booked my tickets for me since we were pretty sure that we could get them cheaper from the US than from any of the corrupt, bastard travel cartels…oop, I mean agencies… no, I mean cartels, which are about the only way to get a ticket anywhere here in Japan. They work this way: they buy every ticket on every flight they can, then refuse to sell it to you unless you sign up for one of their fascist, hysteria-infused tourist packages that insist on cramming every last second of your vacation full of what they think would be fun. I’m surprised that none of them have coined the motto “Hurry up and have fun!!” for their company.

Anyway, Bob did get me a cheaper ticket, bless his soul. But, he booked it out of Tokyo, damn him to hell. Being that I was leaving two days before the biggest holiday on the Japanese calendar (that’s New Year’s, by the way) there were no domestic flights left to Tokyo so I had to take the bullet train up to Tokyo, which is about a $500 round-trip proposition, so my “cheaper” ticket wasn’t really helping me much any more. Ah, but who cares, I’m not hurting for cash and it’s not like I wasn’t going to go to Hong Kong at this point to ring in the New Year with my boys. So off I went.

I got to Tokyo Station around 11pm which brought me into town with plenty of time to spare before my 9:30am flight the next morning. As it happens, 11pm is the time of day that happens almost immediately after the last train to the airport has left. Hooray, a night in Tokyo Station. No wait, it gets better.

I found a waiting area downstairs near the subway and recharged my iPod in a wall outlet while feeding my head with a Carl Sagan book. I ran into a girl from New Jersey who was also waiting for the first train to whisk her away to an Army base up North where her boyfriend was waiting for her. At the time I sat down, she was being incessantly chattered at by some homeless looking guy who didn’t seem to care that the Japanese ability she had wasn’t enough to either grasp nor care about whatever it was he was talking about.

Around 1am a station cop came around and announced that they were closing the station and we needed to get out. I told him that bad jokes weren’t appreciated in my culture and he replied that uppity vagrants weren’t appreciated in his. I then promptly asked where the exit was.

When packing for the trip, the weather in Hong Kong seemed pretty warm according to Yahoo! Weather, in the 50’s and 60’s so I didn’t bother to pack nor wear anything more than undershirts and button shirts. So when we got outside, I was not happy to find that it was dead-of-winter cold in Tokyo these days. Amanda from New Jersey huddled up in her coat, scarf and gloves and I put on an extra shirt. I went to find some food and a warm place to sit for an hour and when I came back she was talking to some Japanese guy named Ryutaro. He was about as well prepared as I was for being ousted by Five-0 so while Amanda sat on her suitcase and chilled out to her walkman, Ryutaro and I did the pee-pee dance to keep warm, even though we didn’t really need to pee-pee.

Eventually Ryutaro went to a nearby 7-11 and came back with, bless his heart, little heat packs for all of us. I shook that little bad boy up and jammed it in my pocket (the heat pack, not Ryutaro) and was good for the remaining time until the doors opened, releasing the light and warmth of heaven (a.k.a. Tokyo-eki) upon us. 4 1/2 hours in the freezing cold. You’ll pay for that, Bob. Mark my words.

After that, it was short work to get to the airport find my plane and we were off. The in-flight movie was M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. I really like this guy but this movie pissed me off. I mean, it was well written and really creepy, but the way the whole faith thing was handled really pissed me off. It might have had something to do with the book I’m reading now, but let me see if I got the movie’s moral straight; when something doesn’t go your way, it’s not God’s fault, but when something does go your way, all praise be unto Him. Gee, that’s a pretty good deal for God. Get it right and people think you’re awesome, fuck up and they’re willing to blame it on chance. Sounds to me like this is just supporting superstition and doublethink but again, perhaps I was biased. In any case, Shyamalan has Unbreakable under his belt, so he still kicks ass in my book.

After the movie, the plane landed.

Next Time: The Landing, in which the plane…. well… lands.

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