Tag Archives: traveling

Tokyo Impressions #1: Crowded and Busy

Three weeks ago, my family and I visited Tokyo, and we had a week to get to know a little bit about this metropolis. This trip was my kids’ first time in Japan,  second time for my husband and me. (Hubby and I spent a few days in Kyoto two years ago, and we had a lovely time.)

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan

Downtown Tokyo is very crowded and busy.

From Narita airport, we took the Narita Express train to Shibuya, where we were going to stay on our first night. Wow, as soon as we stepped out of the Hachiko exit of Shibuya station, we were immediately welcomed to Tokyo by a bustling crowd and bright neon lights! We were surprised to find ourselves, together with a crowd of Japanese locals and some foreign tourists, joining the pedestrian scramble on the famous Shibuya Crossing. It was a bit challenging to make our way among the crowd while pulling our wheeled luggages and without getting separated from each other.  But, hey, we made it!

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan


Pushing in the trains during rush hour is normal.

Granting that, in my 7 years of living in Singapore, I took the train during off-peak periods more often than during peak periods, I had never experienced being pushed into a train. One rush-hour evening in Tokyo, my kids and I were in a queue to ride the train home. There were many people on the platform, so we were bracing ourselves for a fairly crowded train ride. What we didn’t expect was to be pushed by rushing passengers from the platform and into the train. We didn’t even have to make any effort to move. I noticed a young man desperately pushing his way out of the train as the throng of passengers kept trying to squeeze themselves into the packed train car before the doors closed. Thankfully, he made it out without incident.

We took many more train rides during our Tokyo holiday, and none were nearly as crowded as that. I’m guessing we were lucky to have taken the trains more often during off-peak hours, avoiding the packed train platforms and pushing passengers.

Local train in Tokyo, Japan

Having been back in Manila for almost 3 years now where I drive to get around, I am no longer used to the busy nature of commuting via public transportation. And unless absolutely necessary, I avoid crowds. This experience of the bustling sidewalks and trains almost felt like new and was a good introduction to life in Tokyo.



My Trusty Old Luggage

ATredluggageOnce again, it’s that exciting and stressful time to take out the luggage and start packing.  After almost nine years, my bruised-and-battered four-wheel softcase spinner American Tourister bag is still standing and ready for another trip.

This piece of luggage, with all its dirt stains and scratches, is more than just a bag.  I had bought this when my husband and I were preparing for our move to Singapore in 2005.  It’s my first piece of big luggage, just as my first trip to Singapore was big. It was a one-way trip to a new life for my family that lasted for seven years.

This piece of luggage has traveled with my family for seven years on several trips around Southeast Asia, including our annual trip to Manila when we were still living in Singapore. It’s been through a 3-week holiday in the United States.  On and off conveyor belts, in and out of cargo hold.  And still standing.

For something that had cost probably around Php 5,000 (USD 112), this piece of luggage has been more than worth it.  I am so thankful that there are still things like this that aren’t designed to be disposable, that are meant to work for a long time. (I’m reminded of our opthalmologist in Singapore who told me, “Just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s not useful anymore.” We were talking about eyeglass frames, but the wisdom applies.)

I hope I won’t be jinxing the fate of my red American Tourister luggage by writing this post.  Hopefully, weeks from now, when I write about coming home from our trip, my trusty old bag will come home with me, upright and intact.