Friday, March 12, 2010

Narita International Airport, Hotel Ibis and Washington Hotel - Japan Through My Eyes part 4

The volume of people inside the airport will strike you, but you'll soon realize that the efficiency of its personnel allows commuters to enjoy a stress-free experience. Another curious observation--a lot of multiracial couples! Now that's what you call "melting pot." Here's a pet peeve you've got to efficiently handle head-on--travelers who'll ask you to "carry" their baggage overloads to avoid check-in penalties. Protect yourself from probable immigration inconvenience and danger by leaving your Good Samaritan act at home. Just say no. Remember, those strangers may look like angels, but what they're carrying may be the last thing angels carry during flights.

Narita International Airport's Departure Lounge (Terminal 1, Satellite 5) - This photo only courtesy of wikipedia's JKT-c.

Terminal 2. This photo only courtesy of wikipedia's c.

Narita International Airport - In the 1960's, when the Haneda airport near Tokyo bay - called Tokyo International Airport - became too overcrowded and busy, the government started seeking alternatives to address the problem of congestion. Unfortunately, they couldn't expand via landfills by the sea. It was too costly and it would crowd the air space that was relatively near the American base! So they started looking for a suitably flat area elsewhere. Despite socialist riots at that time (mid-60's), eminent domain was used by the government to secure this Narita land! These days, Narita Airport has two separate terminals with separate underground train stations. In 2007 alone, it served about 37.5 million passengers! Compare that to last year's 24.5 million passengers served by our Ninoy Aquino International Airport!

At the lobby, Hotel Ibis.

The hotel has a classy but narrow facade and a similarly narrow lobby that displays photographs of guest luminaries from Europe and North America. On the opposite side of the room, you'll see pamphlets and flyers. Check them out for your travel, dining and entertainment options.

Hotel Ibis is located in the heart of upscale Roponggi Hills. Roppongi has been well-known as a multi-cultural center for many years. The embassies of many nations are concentrated around this area, resulting in a high number of overseas residents and visitors.

Hotel Ibis is just a few walks away from the following sites::
1. - National Art Center
2. - Tokyo Midtown – a multipurpose community with malls all around
3. - Roponggi Hills – 11 hectares of prime property.
4. - Mori Art Museum – This is located at the 53rd floor of the Roponggi Hills Mori Tower.
5. - Striped House Gallery
6. - Ark Hills – a futuristic city redevelopment
7. - Suntory Hall - The first hall dedicated solely to classical concerts. One of the world's largest pipe organs sits directly in front of the stage.

Good reputation, courteous staff who will help you any way they can. The regular room may cost you something in the (P5,000) vicinity, and whether they're standard or deluxe, you'll find that these rooms are narrower than many standard rooms you've been to in Asia, which is a wonderment. After all, Japan is one of Asia's richest cities and financial capitals.

The welcoming facade.

Clean and glossy.

Just hook your laptop into the room's Internet cable. You don't have to buy those darn prepaid cards at the lobby. It's free! The room is narrow, but unless you plan to do some dancing inside, you'll feel comfy and safe in their narrow "cubicles" for sleeping.

There's not much "leg room" for people with long arms. Keep those long upper limbs closest to your torso, people. You'll love the subtle scents that'll waft from those shower accessories. And, the bidet! If you haven't tried them yet, this is your perfect chance to experience the visceral pleasures it offers. Whoa, mama. When the water hits your skin, you'll know what I mean.

Washington Hotel, our second hotel in Tokyo. You like your entrances grand and glorious? Sorry, folks, you won't get that here. That's all the (narrow) entrance you'll get. A few feet further out, you're free to smoke, and you'll find some local and European companions blowing those cigarettes--and lungs--away.

Clean and efficient. But, this is the wonderful Japanese way we're talking about. You'll have robes and extra sheets and those sparkling white slippers. When you check out, their staff won't even check if they're still there. When it was time to say goodbye, all you have to do is punch in your card key as you would an atm card, and that's it. No frills, no bother. That's how lovely and trusting they are. Don't you just love that? Posted on their tiny refrigerator door, you'll see a list that offers what the ref offers inside, including "Coca Cora."

You'll have everything there but you'll feel like those rice cakes with no leg room inside their plastic covers. That's all the extra space you have. If you're the six-foot European backpacker, this'll do, but if you get a kick out of the comfort a spacious room gives, forget it.

Ah. My favorite "facility." That's actually a massage table that'll give you different options--shiatsu, swedish and the like. Just turn off the lights, press a button, shake off that tension from your body, and snooze away.

The lift. Know where you're going. Don't be afraid to ask. Better yet, end those questions with a smattering of memorized Japanese phrases.

A lot of coffee and soda conveniences--if you can figure out those Nippon-charactered instructions.

As you take your lazy strolls in Tokyo, you'll see a lot of small parks with a variety of fountains.

Traffic can be very bad, but still orderly. Go figure. The southeast asian and south asian countries can learn from this. Their cabs have those GPS machines. Make sure you have the address of your destination. The driver will punch it in and, voila!, you're off to wherever you wish to go. But taxi trips are ultra expensive. If you can figure out what those signs at the train stations mean, by all means, take the train. It's faster and you'll have a lot of options, with less probability to blow your limited budget.

Outside Narita. If it looks like there aren't people around, don't be fooled. There's a small representation of the United Nations behind those walls.

Of course Tokyo is a travel hub. You'll see planes and carriers you never knew existed. And, yes, they have those massage chairs elsewhere in the airport, as well. For a fee, of course.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

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