Hong Kong and Japan November 2000  

(Hyperlinks are for pictures)


The trip started with an early morning flight (about 7:00 AM) from Indianapolis.  The first leg of the trip was to Cincinnati, where I would catch a flight going to Portland via Seattle, then catch another flight from Seattle to Nagoya.  In Cincinnati, I asked about the particular flight I was to catch and was told that I could probably change the flight to Delta flight 75, direct to Portland and Nagoya.  The flight had plenty of empty seats on this leg and, since it was direct, would arrive earlier in Portland.  It was also the same flight I would have caught in Portland to go on to Nagoya.  Note that this does not mean that my travel agent dropped the ball.  The routing he provided gave me the fare I got, which would otherwise have been higher.  Changing the flight en route this way, however, did not cost any more money, so things worked out well.

The original plan called for my father to meet me in Portland at the airport.  I tried to call him to let him know that I would be early, but didn’t reach him.  Since I got to the airport an hour before I was originally scheduled to be there, I stopped at a Wendy’s to get lunch. I then went to the gate where my original flight would have brought me in and waited.  I met my father and his brother there and we had a bit of time to visit before I had to board my flight to Nagoya.


The flight to Nagoya wasn’t too bad.  The air was mostly smooth.  The only real problem was that the person sitting next to me slept a lot and that kept me trapped in my seat when I would have preferred to get up and walk around a bit.  I spent the time reading and listening to CD’s on my portable player.

Eventually, the plane landed (of course it did or I would not be writing this).  I passed through immigration and customs quickly and was met by my wife’s parents.  There was a bit of a problem when I got my luggage.  The latch on one of the pieces had opened and would not securely close.  I got it jimmied together a bit so that we could get it back to Sumie’s parents’ house.  We stored one piece of my luggage—the display booth for the Replitech Asia trade show I would be going on to—and took the rest, including the broken piece, with me to their house.  After cleaning up a bit at their house, they took me out to dinner at a “Western Style” steak house called “Bronco Billy”. To be honest, it wasn’t very western, at least in the menu selection.  At least I have never seen sirloin steak covered with thin slices of toasted garlic on the menu in the US.  Still, it was good.  The only down side was that I lost a filling—the legacy of cheap dental work when I was younger.  Fortunately, my wife’s parents were able to set up an appointment for me for the next morning.  I wasn’t in pain, so there was no great problem.  After dinner, I took a shower, watched television at their house for a bit, and then went to bed.


Thanks in part to not sleeping at all on the plane, I slept quite well and woke up about 9:00 AM local time.  Sumie’s mother and I went to the dentist first.  It turns out that the lost filling had been leaking and there was some decay under where it had been.  That meant that the dentist could not use an ordinary filling but had to take a cast to prepare an onlay.  Fortunately, I was going to be back in Japan in good time so we could go ahead and do that.  After the dentist we went to a hair salon to get the hair cut I just didn’t have time to do before the trip.  Finally, we went to get lunch and to replace the broken suitcase.  After lunch and with the new suitcase I packed, leaving things that I would need only in Japan behind and taking things I would need in Hong Kong with me.  We went to the airport where we collected up the display booth’s case and I checked my baggage and got my boarding pass.  Cathay Pacific, unfortunately, allows only one checked bag on flights within Asia so I had to pay an excess baggage charge on the suitcase—22500 Yen (about $200).

The flight to Hong Kong was crowded and long since it involved an hour long stop in Taipei.  However, the meal service was good and the flight attendants were always going through the cabin asking people if they wanted tea or coffee.  The seat pitch was longer than I have seen in some airlines so I was reasonably comfortable, particularly with my short legs.

At Hong Kong, immigration and customs was little more than a glance and a promise.  To get to the hotel, I took the Airport Express train (train and baggage claim are on the same level—very convenient) and then a taxi from the Hong Kong end of the train to the hotel.  I was staying at the Harbor View International House.  The room was a little on the small side, but otherwise comfortable.  The bath was in a combined Western/Japanese style.  Meaning that bath and toilet were in the same room, the bathtub was the short and deep style I’ve seen in Japan, the floor was  raised and drained so one could wash outside the tub in Japanese Style, but there was a holder for the shower head up high so one could stand in the tub to shower in Western Style.

It had been a long day and I was tired so I crashed almost immediately on checking into the room.


Woke up about 6:00 AM local time.  Couldn’t get back to sleep and would soon be getting up for breakfast anyway so spent the morning getting caught up in a couple of email accounts and watching TV.  At about 7:30 I called Don but his line was busy.  Called again about 7:45.  Don and I went down to the hotel buffet for breakfast.  There were a mix of different kinds of foods there, including standard American fare (eggs, sausages, etc.) and other things.  The sausages were kind of bland, but overall the food was okay.  Not great, but okay.  After breakfast, Don and I walked around the area a bit.  He had spent the previous day exploring so knew where a number of important things were.  We bought some drinks and snacks for our booth at the convention and for our rooms (never pay wet bar prices for cola!).  We then went to set up the booth.

At the convention we found that only the basic stuff, that comes with renting the booth space, had arrived.  None of the rest had been delivered.  While Don went to complain about not getting our stuff, I worked on setting up the display.  The tables we needed for the base display (a Nomadic Instand and several placards mounted on velcro) were there so I could do that.  The new placard was one I had high hopes for attracting attention: “’DiscTrack Plus saves our company money,’ Xavier Font, Pioneer, Spain.” The printers had screwed up slightly in making its background a brighter yellow than that of our other text placards, but Don and I hoped that would work to our advantage by drawing attention to it.

By the time I had finished setting up and cleaning up, the two counters and our wastebasket had arrived, but the computer monitor was still late.  It had actually become surprisingly late and Don and I decided to take the ferry across to Kowloon for dinner. [Hong Kong Pictures]

Kowloon was not the most pleasant experience.  Dinner was okay.  Not great, but okay. (I was to learn that this was going to be a recurrent theme throughout the trip.) The streets, however, were very noisy and very stinky.  The exhaust fumes were strong enough to give me an upset stomach and a sore throat.  This tended to spoil dinner a bit.  The food in Hong Kong is flavorful, but perhaps too flavorful.  The strongly flavored, heavy sauces that they use on food is best in small doses.  But the portion size was such that you were really committed to eating a goodly amount of this heavy food.  I tend to prefer the Japanese style with many small dishes of different things.  More variety and if something is excessively rich or otherwise unpalatable, you have plenty else to choose from.

After dinner we walked back in the general direction of the ferry.  We were frequently accosted by folks looking to sell fake watches—and they openly admitted they were fake—or get us to come into one of the topless bars.  Not my idea of a good time.  The noise and exhaust fumes were just as bad as they were before dinner.  All in all, this trip was a real disappointment.

Things were more quiet by the waterfront.  OTOH, it seems to be a “make out” spot since I saw several couples clinging to each other so that one could not tell where one individual ended and the other began.  If we ignored this particular “show” there was a nice view of the city lights on the Hong Kong side.  I didn’t have a camera but Don took several pictures.  Shortly after this, we went down to the ferry (very cheap--$2.20 Hong Kong, which comes to about $0.30 US).

Back at the convention center our monitor still had not been delivered.  We went to the contractors to complain and were told that it was accidentally delivered to the wrong booth.  You can believe as much of that as you like.  However, we did get it delivered and a check run to make sure that it would work with our laptop computer for our animated PowerPoint slide show.  Then back to the room and to bed.  I had actually managed to get through the whole day without zonking from jet lag.


First day of the show.  Don and I left the hotel a little early because we wanted, among other things, to get some floppy disks.  While we were out, we got breakfast at a chain called “DeliFrance.” The options consisted, basically, of different types of roles, croissants, and sandwiches filled with different things.  Note that if you ask for tea and you don’t specifically tell them otherwise they will put milk in it.  Still, it provided a reasonable breakfast at a reasonable price—not great, but okay.  (There’s that theme again.)  At the show, Don wanted to attend a couple of technical sessions while he wanted me to do some specific computer work while waiting for the show to open.  I did so and got the booth set up and ready for business.

The show was extraordinarily slow—much slower than the previous Replitechs we had attended.  During the day, we had a total of about 6-7 visitors to our booth, compared to the 20-30 we had had at previous Replitechs.  Neither Don nor I were happy with that.  The bright spot, however, was lunch.  At other Replitechs, lunch was a catered, buffet style, affair.  Here, they simply provided tickets to use at a particular lunch place within the convention center.  The food was really good.  The first day, I had a “set menu” with filet of sole with a spicy tomato sauce, steamed rice, mixed vegetables, potato soup with bits of ham, and a chocolate pie for desert.  The total price was $78 Hong Kong which used one of the three tickets I had received for that day’s lunch.  That comes to $10 US.  The price of the lunch ticket set was $75 per person for the three days.  Conclusion is left as an exercise for the student. :-/

The show ran until 7:00 PM on the first day so Don and I went out to dinner immediately afterward.  We chose a seafood restaurant near the hotel.  The seafood dishes they had available were quite creative.  In fact, they were, perhaps, more creative than I cared for.  I ended up with a beef in strawberry sauce dish.  Tasty, but more than a little heavy.  So, I guess the summary would be “not great, but okay.”


Second day of the show.  The exhibition opened a little earlier this day.  Don wanted to attend a technical presentation so I manned the booth from the start.  When he came back, I went to lunch.  I had a similar item to the previous day, only with roast beef with peppercorn sauce in place of the fish.

Traffic at the booth was about the same as the previous day, with about 8 visitors.  While we were there, Don had apparently come to the same conclusion I had about the local food—tasty but awfully heavy—and had asked our Japanese distributor (Hyakusoku-san, of Mediken) for suggestions on a Japanese place that might be good.  Hyakusoku-san did not know of any place himself, but asked one of the local people who suggested a place.

After the show, Don and I took a cab to try the place that had been recommended.  While Don was paying the cab driver, I saw a fight break out on the steps of the place in front of which the cab driver had stopped.  Two men began fighting.  One of them appeared to be trying to use Wing Chun (also transliterated as Ving Tsun) but was doing it very badly.  Still, he appeared to be “Winning” the fight.  However, in a matter of seconds several police bailed out of a vehicle that looked like an undersized SUV and broke up the fight.  Don never even saw it since the police had arrived before he had finished paying the cab driver.

In the restaurant, the food was good but the service was awfully slow.  Since I ended up ordering a second entrée because the portions were a little on the small side that meant it was quite late before we left.  Don chose to walk back to the hotel.  I thought he was slightly out of his mind.  But then, he hadn’t seen the fight and I had.  I was wondering if we might wander into a “bad neighborhood” all unknowing.  Of course, since you’re reading this, you can infer that we made it back safely.  No more adventures that night.


Last day of the show.  Went to DeliFrance again for breakfast.  At the show, we had about 6 visitors, but the hours were shorter so I think that qualifies as about the same traffic level.  Lunch was again excellent.  This time I ordered a Chinese set.  There was rice with a sauce consisting of large pieces of tofu, bits of meat and some green plant that I could not identify.  It was quite tasty.  On the side was a bowl of soup with quail and something else I could not identify.  Again, it was quite tasty.  Had we paid the regular prices for these lunches rather than buying the tickets from the conference, this might have qualified as great.  As it was….

After the show Don and I went to a Japanese place right next to the hotel.  We ate early because I had made arrangements to visit the South China Athletic Association’s judo class.  We took a cab to the club and found our way to the class.

They have sessions Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7:30 to 9:00 PM. Wednesday was not possible, but I thought I would stop by on Friday to at least take a look. I arrived early and a number of students were already there and either warming up or doing light randori between themselves. The instructors were very friendly and seemed to be genuinely concerned to keep things safe for the students. That encouraged me, so I asked if I could train with them and they said yes.

The class started with lining up and bowing in. Then we did warmups perhaps a little longer than we do in Indy (but then, this class was longer than the Indy class and the workout was more physically demanding then one of our usual sessions). After warmups, breakfalls, and rolls, we paired off to do uchikomi drills. These were self directed--work on whatever technique you want to. I spend the time working on Ouchigari and my partner worked on One arm shoulder. However, he did an interesting variant that I would like to try myself. Standing with a straight right grip (right hand on the collar and left hand holding the sleeve) he would drop the left hand, shoot it under, and pivot to the right--the reverse of a normal One arm shoulder.

After the uchikomi, we did newaza randori. This was very demanding so I took several breaks to catch my breath. Nobody pressured me to keep going even when I was tired. My partners would often ask if I was okay. While I am in better physical condition than I was when I started your class, I still have a long way to go. I had to take breaks frequently. After working with three different partners (including the head instructor, Nelson Lem) we went to standing randori. I worked with two different partners--a black belt and a brown belt. I think the black belt was taking it easy on me because I only got thrown a couple of times with Hiza garuma, and my ashiwaza succeeded with surprising frequency. I think I now know how the juniors feel when they work with me. The brown belt, however, seemed to be going all out and I held my own pretty well. I never got a good throw against him, but he only threw me once. Unfortunately, that throw was associated with a minor accident. The mat was very crowded. There were about 40-50 people there and the mat was a bit smaller than your dojo. I heard the call of "matte" just as I was going over, but it was too late. I came down right at the edge of the mat, but the arm I was slapping with hit the hardwood floor just outside the mat. I was not hurt except for maybe a little bruise on my fingers from hitting the floor and after a short break to make sure that I was okay, I continued--a little farther from the edge of the mat. However, I had to stop soon after as I was just too tired to continue.

On the whole I had a good time. I think I prefer the format in my home classes where more time is spent on learning good technique, but the chance to actually practice what I've learned against resisting opponents in randori is also good. The main problem here was that there was just too much for my level of fitness. I need to practice more and harder before I can be in condition to take about a solid hour of randori.

After Judo the instructor invited Don and I to join them for dinner.  He always takes some of the students out to dinner after class and we were welcome to join them.  Don and I had already eaten but we agreed to maybe have something to drink with them.  The atmosphere was quite friendly and Don and I were made very welcome.  My main thought was that, wherever you go in the world—if it’s even slightly civilized—there is judo.  This visit to the dojo and with the judoka after class was the highlight of my trip to Hong Kong.

We walked back to the hotel and, after a hot bath, I sank into exhausted sleep.


I slept in a bit, then Don and I went out to a late breakfast.  After that, I packed quickly and Don and I went out for lunch.  Finally, we got a cab to take me to the Airport Express train station and Don to where he was going to begin his walking around exploring.  The airport express was on the way to Don’s destination, so naturally the taxi driver dropped Don off first (choosing a route that maximized his fare, of course).

At the train station they had counters for the airlines.  I was able to check in for my flight and, most importantly, check my suitcase (so I didn’t need to lug it around on the train and through the airport).

Unlike the incoming flight, the returning flight was direct.  There was more paperwork to fill out when I came into the country than when I came from the US.  In addition to the entry card, there was also a questionnaire with health questions for quarantine.  The customs inspection was more thorough than in previous times I had entered Japan.  The inspector had me open my suitcase and he went through it.  Maybe they have a higher expectation of contraband coming in from Hong Kong than from the US.  Truth to tell, I don’t know enough about crime in this part of the world to say.  That’s not the kind of story I write.

Anyway, Sumie’s parents were waiting for me at the airport.  After a modest drive to Yatomi, we had dinner then I took a bath and went to bed.


I had the morning in Yatomi.  Sumie’s mother and I visited Sumie’s uncle (her mother’s younger brother) in the hospital.  I’m afraid that I really, really don’t want to get sick or injured in Japan.  The hospital was not a place I would like to spend any time.  The walls were discolored and scratched up.  Perhaps they were clean and the dingy look was merely paint worn thin.  I hope so, but the look did not set my mind at ease.  After the visit we went to the manga store and bought some of the Yawara series I’ve been collecting as well as a series Sumie likes.  We had lunch in the “food court” of a Japanese department store.  Lunch was ramen and okonomiyaki.  As in most places here in Japan, the food was quite good.  Some more shopping and looking around and an early dinner and I had to board the Shinkansen for Tokyo.

The train ride was the most unpleasant part of my trip in Japan.  The train was very crowded and there were no seats.  As a result, I had to stand the entire trip to Tokyo—two hours.  I got to Tokyo station utterly exhausted.  Fortunatly, a cab driver was readily available and I was able to get to my hotel quickly.  It did not take long to get checked into my room and I crashed hard (after setting up a wake-up call for the next day).


This time was dedicated to working with our distributor in Japan, visiting companies to attempt to sell our DiscTrack Plus software product.  Details of this are company information and not for these trip reports.  Had little time for sightseeing except on the evening of the 20th.  Returned from company visit a little early and had some time to visit Akibahara in Tokyo.  That’s an area with lots and lots of electronics shops.  In addition there were bookstores and some Manga (Japanese Comics) shops.  It was interesting and I would love to come down some time when I have the time and the money to do some serious shopping.  In particular there was a Sony subnotebook PC that I saw with a battery life of 7 hours.  Considering the short life of the battery on the laptop I’m typing this on, I could really appreciate that.  I have also come to appreciate that a large keyboard and screen are secondary considerations on a travelling computer.  The weight penalty that comes with them is paid for every time you have to lug them around.  I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m recommending a laptop computer.  Which reminds me.  The budget probably won’t handle a late model computer, but it might be a good idea to see if I can find a used Pentium class laptop computer for Sumie.  That will give her something of her own for her schoolwork and she can carry it with her when she goes to school.

Returned to Yatomi on the 22nd.  I missed the train where I had reserved a seat, but since Tokyo is the terminus, everyone gets off the train there.  In the unreserved seats, it’s first come-first served so by getting in line for one train, skipping it and waiting for the next, I was in the front of the line for the second train (I wasn’t the only one using this strategy).  That meant I got a seat and was able to relax all the way back to Yatomi.  Sumie’s mother met me at the platform in Nagoya and shepherded me through the local trains to Yatomi.


A holiday in Japan, same as in the US.  Sumie’s mother took me to a shrine with a marketplace around it.  Most of the shops were food places, kind of like a large farmer’s market.  There were also some souvenir shops and knick-knack stores.  At the shrine, you throw some money into the well and make a wish.  There was also a large tray/rack for food offerings.  I followed local customs (when in Rome, be a roman candle) and my wish was simple—to spend a long life with Sumie.

That evening we visited Sumie’s uncle again and did some more shopping at the manga store.  I wanted to find a gift for a friend of mine who has been really helpful to Sumie with fixing up the yard while I was gone and I also wanted to find a new manga (to me anyway) by Takahashi Rumiko (creator of Maison Ikkoku and Ranma ½) which I discovered in picking up the big, telephone book sized, weekly “Morning” in Tokyo.  I got the first two volumes of that series for myself and bought a complete set of the Manga “Living Game” for my friend.  I have a set of my own and like it very much.

For dinner we went to a Korean barbecue that Sumie, her mother, and I visited the last time we were in Japan.  At the barbecue you order different things and it is delivered prepared but uncooked to your table.  There is a gas barbecue pit at the table which you use to cook the food.


Another day of work.  I met a representative of our distributor at the Shin-Osaka station and we went to visit a company there.  After that, we had some time so the representative and I went to see Osaka Castle.  Many people, when they go to see a place like that see the current calm, peaceful surroundings.  I’m a writer.  I see the men dying in the moat as they try to storm the castle through the rain of arrows coming from the walls.  I see the waters red with their blood.  I smell the stink of death and fear.  I see a place where men died by the thousands and where a boy of eight was sentenced to death simply because he was born to the wrong person on the wrong (i.e. losing) side of a war.  Isn’t being a writer charming?  I bought some postcards and picked up a brochure.  I’ll see if I can get some pictures up.  They won’t show what I see.

After the castle, it was getting a bit late so George (my companion) showed me to the train and helped me get a reserved seat back to Nagoya.  I called Sumie’s mother and told her which train I would be on.  The ride was about an hour and Sumie’s mother was waiting for me.  I had a bit of a scare, however, since she was waiting at the far end of the platform and took a while to find me.  I was wondering if I’d been forgotten or if maybe we’d got our signals crossed.

That evening two of Sumie’s and her mother’s friends, a couple of high school girls who live close by, stopped in.  This bothered me a little bit, not because I minded the visit, but because it had a bit of the flavor of “let’s see the strange gaijin.  Maybe he’ll do tricks.” To an extent I felt like a monkey in the zoo.  That may be partly my own perception though.  I forgot to pack one of my key medicines—treatment for depression—and, although it’s got a long half life, it had been working its way out of my system.  I was more easily upset than I would normally be.  However, I was aware of the problem and, for a while, I could keep it under control.  It would only be a few more days before I get home.


Slept in a bit then went with Sumie’s mother to the Nagoya Zoo.  I’m not terribly happy with this zoo.  It’s of the more “old fashioned” kind where animals are kept in modest sized cages with only a little effort at giving them a “natural” environment.  It’s probably okay for the Tanuki, but not so good for larger animals.  A “sky train” monorail ran around the zoo with stops at the two ends.  We took the train from the entrance to the far end of the zoo and visited the children’s zoo.  This had a “petting zoo” area with goats, a “show” where a live marmot was passed around for children to hold, and an aviary with areas with Japanese squirrels and Asiatic chipmunks in addition to the birds.

After the children’s zoo we went to a pond where paddle boats were available for rent.  We rented one and spent about 20 minutes paddling around the pond.  Well, I paddled and Sumie’s mother rode.  Reminds me of the time Sumie and I took a sea kayak during our honeymoon in the Bahamas.  I paddled and Sumie rode.

We didn’t have that much time at the zoo.  We had to take the train back to Yatomi where I had a dental appointment to finish the job of fixing my lost filling.  Although the work was somewhat extensive for replacing a lost filling, it was inexpensive—about $70 total.  And, unlike the hospital, the dental clinic was spotlessly clean and showed the evidence of a great deal of care being made.  Also, the dentist knows how to give the novocaine shots painlessly and does so, which is more than I can say for some American dentists.  After the dentist we went to the store to pick up the pictures Sumie’s mother had taken at the zoo.  While there we stopped by a game center and I played a couple of games—one where I’m using a gun to kill zombies and another which uses the same characters from Street Fighter II but with updated graphics and gameplay.

Dinner was at the Tsuboi’s house and I went to sleep late after spending some time on the computer and in reading.


My last day of “freedom” before one more day of work then returning home.

I slept in.  After breakfast, we went to Sumie’s uncles house (another uncle—older brother of her mother).  It was a bit of a drive and we actually arrived in time for lunch (which was the plan, actually).  Lunch was an assortment of things, first crab and sashimi, then a dish that was different vegetables and seafood boiled at the table (kind of a seafood version of sukiyaki).

After lunch we went to Meiji shrine, which was near there.  This is one of the “big three” shrines of Japan which date back to the Nara period.  The shrine was surrounded by a garden of sculpted trees (think of Bonsai, only “full sized”) and winding, gravel covered paths.  There were many families there with their young children, participating in shichigosan (or is it “nanagosan”?).  This is a custom in Japan of taking children at the ages of three (san), five (go), and seven (shichi or nana) in kimono to a shrine for blessings.  The girls’ kimonos were in bright colors, while the boys were more in dark hues.  Sometimes the women with the children (I presume their mothers but I didn’t ask) were also dressed in kimono or yukatas, although somewhat less elaborate than the children’s.  As at the previous shrine where one tossed money and made wishes.  And, as before, I followed local custom.  Three guesses what my wish was and the first two don’t count. (Hint:  read what I’ve already written about this trip.)

After the shrine we went back to the uncle’s house where we had “stage 2” of lunch—leftovers from the sukiyaki-like dish cooked in with rice.  And after finishing that, Sumie’s mother and I returned to her home.

We rested at home for a while then Sumie’s mother went to visit her brother in the hospital while I went with Sumie’s father to an onsen (hot spring/public bath).  I’d been here before on my last trip.  The bathing and changing area is divided into two areas—one for men and one for women.  In the men’s area, you first enter a changing room where you remove your clothes and put them into coin operated lockers (10 yen, about 9 cents at the current exchange rate).  Then you enter the bath house proper.  There, there are several large tubs, some with air jets bubbling in them and others still for soaking.  Around the edges are small plastic stools and low showers.  At about foot level are twin taps for hot and cold water operated by push valves.  Push the valves and water flows out to fill plastic tubs which you can pour use as washbasins or use to pour water over yourself either to wet or to rinse.   The shower also has a push valve which has a delayed shutoff.  Push the valve and water sprays from the shower for several seconds.  The important thing is to wash thoroughly before entering the tubs.  My recommendation is to wash with water as hot as you can stand.  Then, when you get into the tubs to soak they won’t seem quite as hot as they would otherwise.  The hot soaks you can get here are among the best things I have found when you’re not feeling well with, say, a cold, or if you’re stiff and sore from overwork or too much exercise.

After the onsen we returned to the house for dinner, some television, and then bed.


One more work trip.  I had an appointment with a company that would be representing us for analytical services in the Kyoto region.  Sumie’s mother accompanied me until she’d done a “hand off” to the company representative.  There was a bit of a problem along the way.  Once I’d gotten through the gates, I’d put the Japan Rail pass into my jacket pocket and zipped it up.  In the train I fell asleep for a bit (this had been a very tiring trip and I was running pretty much on empty).  When I got out of the train we were getting ready to go through the gate and, when I checked the pocket, it was open and the JR pass was gone.  While there was no problem getting out, there was the concern of getting back to Nagoya.  Still, that wasn’t too much of a problem.  There was just one last trip and that was to return to Nagoya.  I had enough cash money to cover that.

Dealt with several issues at the client.  Lunch was at a little restaurant called “Al Dente”.  As one might guess from the name, it was an Italian place and the same place my boss, Don, had gone for dinner when he was here.

Work went well and the people at the company put me on a taxi to the station, with a voucher from the company to pay the taxi driver.  At the station I set about to wait for Sumie’s mother to arrive to pick me up.  I was a little early but when I’d tried to call her portable phone she hadn’t answered.  No real problem.  Just waiting.  Anyway, because of the busyness of the trains there weren’t any seats available for the return to Nagoya.  That meant standing through a 45 minute train ride.  Then getting on a local train to take us to Yatomi again there were no seats and we stood for the 15 minutes or so that ride took.  By that time I was really pooped.  Sumie’s mother had called her husband to meet us at the station and we only had to wait a few minutes for him to show up.  I was so tired.

Anyway, when we got back to the house, we had dinner, I read a bit, then went to bed early.


Return day.  Slept in a bit but Sumie’s parents woke me when Don called.  He had a question about making our DiscTrack Plus product for shipment.  I answered that and brought him up to date on the previous day’s work.

With Sumie’s mother I made one more trip to the manga store.  We also stopped to pick up some drinks for me to carry on the plane.  I then took the rest of the afternoon resting while Sumie’s mother packed my suitcase (plus one for Sumie’s stuff which I am bringing back with me).  Since I had been off my medicines I was getting more easily upset, but I was able to keep it under control.

We drove to the airport and I only had minor panic that the traffic would keep us from getting there on time.  However, we were in time and, after checking in, we went up to the airport restaurant to have a light snack (some chicken drumettes and french fries).  I was, quite frankly, too tired to appreciate them.  Eventually, it was time for me to go through security, passport control, and board the plane.

The flight was an MD-11 and we were “light” (meaning lots of empty seats.  There was no one sitting next to me so I had room to stretch out.

I met with my father and his wife in Portland for a bit before heading on to Cincinatti and Indianapolis.  My wife met me at Indianapolis.  She had planned to bring one of our dogs along (the oldest--Kinuchi) but it turns out that another of the dogs had sneaked into the car so I was met by two when I got out to the car. (She didn't bring them into the airport, of course.)

And so, at last, I was home again.

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