I left Moldova yesterday on a noon flight and had short layover in Istanbul before my overnight flight to Tokyo, Japan. It was very awkward for me to lose my ability to speak the language of the country I was in and there were so many times that I was walking through the Istanbul airport and apologized to someone in Romanian or answered no to someone's question in Russian. Just out of reflex and then it was especially weird if that person later found out I was American. I ended up actually sitting next to a Ukrainian man on the plane and we got to chat with each other in a mix of Russian and English. Though even the novelty of that wore off pretty quickly on our ten hour flight. I can't say that it was really that hard to get through though. I didn't get much sleep but I still don't feel that tired. Well no, that's really a lie. I'm exhausted but not sleepy tired just sore muscle carrying bags all day and walking tired.
When I finally did make it to Tokyo I found that the Japanese love their forms as much as Americans do and I had to fill out an entry form, a customs form, even a form to convert money some money to the local currency. I didn't factor all of the forms into my initial travel schedule so I was starting to run a little late meeting my friend at the hotel and I didn't really have a way to contact him since my phone doesn't work at all in Japan and I didn't really like my chances at finding a pay phone in the modern age of cell phones. I needn't have worried though because fate shined down upon me and as I waited for the train to take me to the center of Tokyo a man who had sat nearby to me on the plane approached me and introduced himself as Ion. I'm pretty sure my jaw hit the floor because the name Ion is one of the most popular names in Moldova and come to find out he was actually from Romania and was now living in Japan as a student. We proceeded to spend the next hour on the train talking in Romanian and he was kind enough to let me use his iphone to call my friend and let him know I would be running a little late. To top it all off though my bag handle broke on my bag so it was no longer possible for me to pull it along by it's wheels and since I am carrying my life of two years with me my bags are quite heavy and my new found friend Ion was incredibly helpful taking turns with me pulling his bag and him carrying my bag as we switched from the train to the metro. We had to separate not long after we got on the metro but we have already made plans to catch up with each other tomorrow.
Because of my unique situation of finding someone that spoke Romanian I had a hard time accepting the fact that I was in Japan. Yes there were pagodas dotting the landscape and yes there were rice fields and signs in Japanese but really everything isn't that much different and in a way I guess you could say I was a little disappointed by just how it easy it was to acclimate to Japan. I had thought that of all places japan would be a place that would finally follow through and provide me with a little culture shock but as of yet I'm still feeling pretty at home, even though I wish I knew more Japanese.
Speaking of Japanese. Not being able to understand the symbols not even in the slightest has been a little frustrating but also a bit exciting because when I order food even though I can usually see a picture of the food before I buy it you can never quite tell what you are getting until you get it but the past two meals I have had so far were amazing. All of the people are so incredibly helpful as well. They are very respectful and helpful and are very patient with me even though I have no clue of anything to say in Japanese though they are very appreciative when I try and use any of the three or four words of Japanese I do know.
I didn't have anytime today for any real sightseeing. We simply walked around a nearby district that had lots of shops and high rises and called it an early night. Though tomorrow I anticipate a busy schedule and if I am lucky I will have more Romanian and more delicious food to eat.
PS My MacBook cord exploded again in a puff of smoke. I smear these things are the biggest fire hazard...Anyway it happened the night before I left Moldova and so I wasn't able to connect to the internet in transit but now that I have arrived in Tokyo the center of all things electronics I was able to repair it...or at least temporarily so that I can keep in contact with everyone, and post updates during my trip.