With an assortment of flights under my belt now I felt it safe to say that there are a broad range of experiences to be had, naturally ranging from the good to the bad. Now considering the shape of recent events over the South China Sea I feel it unjust for me to say that my flight from London to Colombo with Sri Lankan Airlines was that of a bad one. If your flight manages to make it from A to B then you can be more or less asserted that your flight was actually a good flight. The only thing I have to question is why no matter what mode of transport I go on am I always stuck next to the old lady throwing up into a bag? Its almost a regular event that happens in my life. The only thanks I have is that there is some versatility in the fact that the old lady is a different old lady every time and not the same one. Because of course that would just be plain weird.
The opportunity for zero sleep on the flight was there for the taking and I shamefully took it. Mostly against my will. And upon arrival in Colombo it was a small matter of waiting around for 11 hours at the airport for my interconnecting flight to Tokyo. Now if you ever get the opportunity to be stranded in Sri Lanka’s International Airport, don’t take it, just stay at home and kill yourself. I don’t think I’ve ever been so bored in all my life, it was so dull that I couldn’t even fall asleep on a bench like a bum. So I just sat, stared at the wall a bit, read some words, got some escalator up skirt (2 points right Gav?), stared at the wall some more and let my mind just generally drift off into the realms of oblivion. Of course this gave me plenty of time to worry about whether or not my bicycle would make it all the way to Tokyo, and if it did would it still be in one piece? What would happen if my bike would not be accepted on the bus or train from the airport to the city centre even though I was pretty much assured it would be? What if? What if? And why the fuck was a pan pipe album of Tina Turner’s greatest hits blazing out over the speakers? I considered buying a bottle of Johnnie Walker, which would have sorted out my predicament. But then of course I would need my head upon arrival in Tokyo, my bike wasn’t going to find its own way to the hostel. So I nullified all thought and just went back to some good old fashioned wall staring.
I boarded flight UL454 humming ‘Private Dancer’; it was lodged deep and would be there for days to come. But I wouldn’t let it get me down considering I had the entire middle row 66 of seats all to myself like a greedy little whore. It was a leg and ball space party like no other. The plane itself seemed a lot more dapper and plush with a swanky touch screen TV and anime health and safety guide sequences to appease the Japanese. I felt like the red carpet was well and truly out. And best of all, no random old lady trying to throw her guts up all over my shoes, bonus!
Again I failed to nod off, my body trying to punish me for whatever reason. I remember going to the planes toilet at one point and looking at my tired and worn out face, my eyeballs looking like I’d squeezed a whole sachet of Tomato Ketchup into each of them. Pretty minging to say the least, I really needed to get my head down.
At the other end upon arrival in Tokyo I was greeted by my bike and bag all seemingly intact and in one piece. This was of great relief to me and thus remained three more hurdles, getting my bike into the city centre, piecing my bike together and then trying to find my way to my hostel. There was some ‘umming’ and ‘ahh’ing’ at the counter to the Narita Limousine Bus service when I showed them my wheels. The lady at the counter was declaring that it was too big and might get damaged as it wasn’t in a box. I lied and said I’ve done it before and there was no problem. She purchased my bullshit and I in turn purchased my ticket to Shinjuku at a quirky Y4000 (£24’ish)….ouch!
The super highway into Tokyo was like a race course as the bus driver weaved the bus through the surburbs and into the city centre past sky scrapers, around hairpin bends and through tunnels like Schumacher….Ralf Schumacher. Again, I began to fear for my bikes general well being, to get it this far and for it to get battered now would be a major blow. I walked up to the bus driver and kicked him square in the bollocks and told him to slow down…oh no wait, that bit never happened. Alas, it was again all out of my control.
The bus pulled up outside the Shinjuku Hilton, as I was taking my bike out from the cargo hold from under the bus a lady working at the Hilton came to assist me, obviously assuming that I would be staying at the Hilton on this fine night. I informed her that I was staying elsewhere but maybe one day I’ll be back. She looked me up and down and then laughed quite vindictively. I was hurt.
So from outside the Hilton it was the moment of truth as I unravelled my bike from its johnny and pieced it back together. Everything seemed…perfect! Had it really just survived a 6,000 mile journey across the globe? It was almost an emotional moment, I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or jizz, or a little of each simultaneously, sociably I chose none of those. A wry smile eventually being enough to cater for the moment.
The prep work and background research I’ve had to do alone before even sitting on a bicycle saddle has personally been enough for my head to explode.
See excerpt for example:
The physical part hasn’t even begun for me yet but it does finally feel closer than ever before. The build up to getting here has been a major distraction for me and has been a heavy burden upon my mind for many months so it feels good to finally be here in Tokyo. I won’t set sail for another couple of weeks yet until the weather spices up a bit and my body-clock sorts itself out, which in itself gives me a bit of time to make any last minute alterations and prep myself just that little bit further. And as I cycled my way to my hostel through the busiest metropolis in the world everything for a moment just felt so right.
I should really be here right now, I really should. I’m doing the right thing….right?