Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Leaving Tokyo

The Park Hyatt is a very swish, modern hotel, although I think it's been open about 13 years now. It occupies a number of floors starting at the 41st and going up in the futuristic-looking three linked tower complex which houses a lot of commercial tenants. This is similar to the hotel in Nagoya. The Park Hyatt seems odd, though. As a pedestrian you go in on the ground floor, walk up one flight to a mini-reception with road access and, if you pass muster, you get taken up to another reception area on the 41st. From there you get taken to your room. Mine was just one flight up on the 42nd with impressive views of Shinjuku. After a shower and a light meal I lacked the energy to go out again so I had a long bath, re-organised my luggage and slept soundly in the king size bed.

Up at 5.00am, shower, check out, down to the 2nd floor reception to await my 6.00am car pickup. Didn't happen (I don't yet know why) but there was a Limousine Coach leaving for Narita, so I thought I'd better be on it. It's raining, very overcast with low cloud. I think that's been forecast all week, but I've only seen a few spots. The Japanese seem to take umbrellas everywhere, if not to keep the rain off, then to keep the sun off. Tokyo really is huge - it impressed me on the way in by night but in the day it seems equally improbable. There's plenty of traffic on the freeway but it keeps moving and we make good time to Narita.

I manage to get off at the right terminal and quickly locate the check in. The airport seems very quiet and it's a matter of moments before I'm checked in. All the staff are helpful and friendly and speak either good or very good English. Security and Passport Control is equally prompt. I invest in a couple of books for the journey (plus I've a Herald Tribune the hotel gave me - the 'Trib' really is a good read) and make my way to the ANA Lounge which Aseana use here (I think the flight may be a 'code share' with ANA). Quite a few business travellers about but it's a spacious, well-laid out lounge so that's no problem. I have a bit of breakfast to keep me going and then come to their internet lounge to post this.

My impression of Narita is very favourable based on my experience. Anything more different from the hell-hole called Heathrow would be hard to imagine. As I've commented, I'm equally impressed with the railways, not just the Shinkansen but all the public transport. And the people - you would expect people in hotels to be polite but it applies to everyone I've come across. You only have to stop to read a sign and a complete stranger will offer assistance.

Once again, I'm forced to re-evaluate my prior perceptions. It's very refreshing to be in a place where respect and consideration for others is not completely lacking. But people I talk to think England is wonderful because so much of their development is tied up with English ideas. It's embarrassing to say, well, things may have changed a little. However, the flight awaits so we must postpone the philosophising until later. I'm on my way back!