Monday, February 28, 2011

My Trip to Tokyo; Part one

Me in (Red gho) during the photography session

As far as I can remember, It was in the fall of January 2007, that I got a nomination letter from my office to participate in my maiden ex-country seminar. The seminar was on "Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Enforcement in Asia Pacific region" and it was scheduled to take place in Kashiwa, Chiba in Tokyo city,. The seminar was expected to  last till 16th March starting from 12th of March.

The idea of trip to Tokyo, just after my probation period in civil service was too much to believe. As much as it has been a subject of pride for me, that much has also been the subject of envy and covet for my friends. Viewing things form the perspective of a beginner, it honestly enthralled me; -realizing a trip to my "dream land" was especial in its fullness.

With just one month, there was hardly any time left to be wasted in waiting, so began my pre-departure formalities in rage and earnest. It included included exchanging e-mails on regular basis with the organizers and collecting countless "no objection certificates" from various agencies to get my passport processed.  Apart from those processes, It also included lot of cumbersome papers works at my head office too. By virtue of working away from the Head office, I also had the liberty to travel frequently and  complete the formalities before deadline. I was even entitled to make my travel and allowance claims from my office. I  remember exaggerating my travel claims which enraged my boss. I also remember how my boss nearly ate me up; -raw for this conduct.

In a weeks time, I got the visa for Japan and I was almost through with, so called the pre-departure formalities. The post departure, however haunted me day and night. It brought to me more questions than I could ever answer. Questions like how would the telephone booth in Bangkok look like and where would it be located in the airport ?  How would I get a taxi and how much would they charge me ? How would I catch my flight to Tokyo next morning sort of  things continued to preoccupy my thoughts until I finally got introduced to man from Thailand who works for Thai airways through one of my cousin. We initially met on phone, completely stranger to each other.

I bought my air ticket but on credit from Tashi Tours and Treks. I promised to reimburse the same when I  get back.

With my trip lurking and ever nearing, my state of confusion augmented further. I sent countless e-mails to my counter part with regard to the transportation arrangements. I Googoled every day about the travel tips, particularly relating to Japan and Narita International airport. I made incessant phone calls to my stranger friend in Bangkok and spoke to him about my zero knowledge about international travels. We discussed and  made numerous arrangements so that he could identify me and pick me up. He told me that, he would come in green T-shit to pick me up. I agreed without any qualms. I also called up my head office; -many a time  to make sure that I was well fortified for my upcoming trip.

Finally on 10th of March, I boarded the flight KB 126 at 1015 local time. As I took my seat No. 6F, I could sense the flow of emotion through my central nervous system, The sense of satisfaction was overwhelmingly  immense and that I lacked words to describe. All I could do was sit  aback and  silently thank my parents for the sacrifices they have made for my education.  I Thanked my King and leaders for having created a system of Education that has brought me thus far. I thanked almighty god for having me born as a Bhutanese. I thanked my supervisors for having me nominated for the trip and I also thanked my teachers for the lessons they taught me with all their heart and head. That was it. I have spent more than half of my life in schools and colleges, perhaps to see myself in the position I was in.

Minutes before the actual  take-off, the flight attendants, who were (are) considered as the finest and most good looking ladies in the country, gave us the pre-flight briefing, which included welcoming of passengers on board and  in-flight safety demonstration. It was my genuine but humble privilege to have been served by those beautiful ladies. They served all the passengers in most amicable way. As my fellow passengers got themselves engrossed with tea, coffee. lunch and liquors, I was lost in mesmerizing sights of dazzling clouds, whose splendor held me spellbound. An hour later, our flight landed In Zia International airport in Dhaka to pick up the joining passengers.

From there, it was a long flight. However, we finally landed in Bangkok at around 1330 local time. The  enormity of airport was way beyond my comprehension. There were thousands of passengers scurrying in all the directions. There were also passengers who apparently looked lost and nervous; just like me.

As soon as I got out from the pick-up van, I looked around for the telephone booth but sadly I was directed to the terminal door by the security personnel. I, some how managed to reach the immigration check point by following fellow passengers. Since I was carrying an official passport, I was accorded faster clearance there. I also got through the Customs check and finally I was out of the terminal building. I started looking for my friend, who promised to come in green T-shirt to pick me. To my utter dismay, there were virtually thousands of people in green T-shit whom I believed had the same purpose; -pick up the passengers like me; lost and lonely.  I finally approached a lady, whom I mistakenly took her to be an information desk personnel. I told her that I wanted to use her phone for a while, but she insisted me to buy a new sim card or else use the public phone facilities provided I have some Thai coins.  Later, I availed my request when she finally discovered that I  was a coin-less and sim-less man. She dialed my friend's number and he instantly responded. It was a relief beyond my imagination.

It was even greater relief, when he finally started calling my name "Kusang" for Kuenzang. He kept his words and as promised, he was in green T-shirt. He has even booked taxi for me. We needed no formal introduction because we knew each other well through our telephonic conversations. He was a man in his late 40s. He looked not so tall and not short either. He spoke fluent English in his Thai ascent. He had a look of scholar and face of an aristocrat; (the high society people as referred in Thailand)

We went straight to his residence.We stayed a while in his room discussing things like; my flight timing the next day and the amount of money I have for the trip. He sounded very insecure, when I told him that I have USD 300. He  inquisitively asked me as to whether that amount would suffice my trip.  I told him that I am on official visit and that I have nothing to spend on. With that little chit chat session, It was time for us to go out for a dinner.

Soon two of us joined a group of people. Most of them looked Thai but there were also people from Europe and China. He introduced me to them and all of them approvingly welcomed me to the group. He told me that they were all millionaires; -so called the high society people, and true to his assertiveness, they were all decorated with expensive garments and jeweleries.

Moving to the dinner, it was all about duck; duck skin, duck flesh and duck limb etc.  People talked more and ate less. I thought to myself that, perhaps, that was an aristocrat way of dining.

In hours time, dinner was served and bills were paid, two of us bid them good night and headed out to explore Bangkok city in its full night glamor. He took me to the departmental stores. He also took me to the night club where naked ladies used their female reproductive organ in performing stunts. Stunts that entertained animal-like humans. The gross misuse of those organs shocked me bitterly and I immediately told my friend about my displeasure and that its not a place worthy of spending our precious time. We came back home and went to bed.

From there it has been a  history  and story in making for me. Next morning, my friend dropped me till airport. He also told me to take some money form him, for which I refused. I told him not to worry about me and that I will be back on 17th of March.

I got myself checked in with ease. It was a scheduled flight TG 643 that would take me to Tokyo. I was supposed to take gate No. "G". Obviously I expected to find it after I cross gate "F". I kept on following countless "F" gates and  finally reached to end of  "F" line. But  still couldn't  find gate  "G". I immediately realized that my assumption and hypothesis has gone wrong some where. This called for my immediate reverse move. I almost took an hour to get back to my initial point. Exhausted and almost broken; I got there and  came to know that I missed my gate by a margin. It was still Ok because I did not miss my flight.
30 minutes later, I boarded the flight and I  was  about to begin my longest journey of my life. After enduring long and sleepy flight journey of more than 6 hours, the flight finally landed in Narita International airport. I got through Immigration and Customs swiftly and waited for someone with my name tag to show up in the lobby. I waited for hours and still there was no sign of any one with whom I have discussed about my transportation arrangements.


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