26 November 2006
Travel day, Auckland - Tokyo.
Having staggered out of bed I wandered into town for breakfast at Cafe Melba on Vulcan Lane, which I have been patronising this week. What am I like? In any given city, having located the cafe, I then naturally gravitate to it whenever theres a quiet moment. It made me laugh that in the U2 by U2 book, the lengthiest reference to me isn't in regard to U2s live shows at all, but to my advice on finding a decent cafe to hang out in.
Central Auckland was sunny and warm, which made the Farmers Christmas Parade seem a tad strange, but I suppose you get used to it if you live here. The high street was buzzing and crowded, with a procession of floats going by and a festive if weird atmosphere.Back at the hotel I started packing, then worked on a lighting plot for a TV show were going to be doing in Tokyo on Friday. At 6pm or so we started gathering in the hotel lobby in preparation for our departure for Tokyo. The tour had chartered a JAL 747 so the entire touring party travelled together for the first time, which was nice. Its an eleven hour flight which is like crossing the street compared to getting to Australia from the UK. It was good to have the plane to ourselves, with its unfathomably hi-tech seat controls. I tend not to be very sociable on flights, having pretty much got my routine down; G&T, watch the first movie, meal with one or two glasses of white wine then pass out till 90 minutes before landing.
We had a lot of turbulence en route, especially on descent. The captain spoke to us, I imagine to calm our fears, but when asking us to fasten seat belts and stay seated, he managed to include the word dangerous which is not something you want to hear your pilot say in any context under any circumstances. The camera in the nose-cone is always a thriller for those of nervous disposition too.
Clearly we survived, landing at Tokyos Haneda airport at 4.20am, so we were all looking good, as you can imagine. Bags, passports, customs, vans and a relatively short drive to the hotel, compared to the slog in from Narita. The hotel awaited us and its beautiful, of course, though very western in style, which is a little disappointing (Im a big fan of the Park Hyatt, now immortalised in Lost in Translation.) In my room was an exquisitely wrapped gift package from the hotel that turned out to contain gummy bears which was 'delightful if confusing'. I suspect this state of being may prove to be a leitmotif over the next week or so.
Theres a fabulous club lounge in the hotel where we gathered for breakfast whilst waiting for the baggage truck to get to the hotel. The Edge was the first to point out that the bread of course fits exactly into the toaster with a millimetre to spare on all sides. You have to love em.