Monday, June 30, 2008


Ok, the original plan for the mission trip was to write every few days about what happened about the past few days. That kinda failed, because of the busyness. So, I thought, as long as I could keep a chronological log of all that we've done, that should be fine too.

Well, that's about to fail, because the departure of the team has left me so incredibly depressed that I need to blog about it.

Yes, I know usually I don't show my feelings, and come off as a cold-blooded, emotionless person, but I do have feelings, and yes, I feel sad and lonely now. I almost felt like crying just now. Except that I had slept at about 4.15 and woken up at 5.00 and so I was feeling kinda numb, so I didn't feel sad enough to cry. But I shall explain a bit more lah.

When R left a week ago, I could feel the tug already. I mean, he's a decent guy, and he was living with us for 2 weeks, after being part of the team for 6 months. So on the Saturday morning when he left, and D and me had gone to send him off, I felt a bit sorry to see him go. It was out of necessity, of course. He had exams the following week, and I am really grateful that he was willing to come out on a mission trip just before his papers. But yes, there was a tinge of sadness as the Seibu bus pulled out of the station area.

Still, it wasn't too bad, mainly because the rest of the team was still around, and M was flying in that night. I mean, you know, when you've got something else to look forward to, to know that there are still some people around to be with you, it doesn't feel so bad.

(On an aside note, what was really strange was that I felt that the time between R leaving and the rest leaving was really long, but thought that the time between me traveling to Narita to meet the team and the team leaving was really short.)

The team about to leave

This time, it was slightly different. The day before wasn't very hectic. They stayed up through the night to pack their stuff, of course, but it was still very relaxed. We all snoozed for a bit, then rushed out, because I thought they might be late, and really made them run, but we got to the bus stop on time. So we said a short prayer for the team, then the luggage was loaded up and they got onto the bus. And then the bus pulled out of the station.

Now, it was bad enough as it was already over here, since my mind was becoming more coherent, so I was starting to remember all the fun times we had (starting with Costco, I don't know why, and then Odaiba). Then as we (D&J and me) started to walk off, D&J were discussing where to go for breakfast, and they decided on Macs, and I said I didn't want to, then D turned to me, and said, "Well, ok then, I'll see you tomorrow at 3 at Mister Donut. Meeting M for Bible Study", and that was when it hit me.

You see, up till that point in time, almost everyday (except for the week of the OMF conference), the team had been meeting either D or J, if not both of them together, for ministry work, or at the very least, for briefing/debriefing. When D told that to me, it really struck me that this was it. The mission trip was over. It was like an end of an era (ok ok, give me a break. I know era is pushing it, but I'm depressed), and yeah. It was finished. And that made me incredibly sad. So sad that I almost started blubbing on the street between Tokorozawa Station's East Exit and Kusunoki Hall.

That is why I am now typing out this post on my laptop, even though I haven't talked about what we had done for the past two weeks.

Me typing sadly on my laptop. Ya, ok I know, I don't look sad. That's just me being cold-blooded and emotionless

So to my team, even though you all left Tokorozawa only an hour and a half ago, I miss you guys already. Even though we had some tension moments, and some issues that we didn't quite agree with, you can't stay 3 weeks with friends without feeling the pain of them leaving. Especially when you're left at home in a big house.

And so now, as I look back on the past three weeks, I remember all the little quirks of the six other members, and all the random things we did together in the house. I already miss singing Veggie Tales songs with R, but there are so many other things that we all did, that makes me remember them. Like peer over W's shoulder as she types out a blog post, or hearing the sounds of Queen and Coldplay from the iMac because D was watching Youtube. To see L counting the day's expenditure and moaning the fact that she had too many coins, or see M either devouring the comic collection here or writing her own. And of course, I'll really miss J, I guess because she was my assistant leader, and I'll miss watching Lost 3 with her, or hearing her attempt to plink out As The Deer on the keyboard.

And I'll remember when we went to Costco, which marked the start of the trip, and remember all the great things we did together, whether ministry or frivolous. There are so many memories, and I'm happy to note that there were more happy memories than sad ones on the trip.

It's almost 8 in the morning now. At any point in the past three weeks, I would be have been up for about 15 minutes already, D, would probably be pottering around in the kitchen, and maybe J would have just woken up and gone to shower.

Oh bother it all, I'm almost making myself cry.

And in this depression, I don't know, I'm just reminded of what J did during the first kids' club. She was sick, and so in order not to pose a risk to the children, I told her she had to sit out. Now, for those of you who know her, you know she really loves working with kids. Furthermore, she was the one who had done most of the planning and preparation for the kids' club events. So asking her to sit out was quite a blow to her, since she had really been looking forward to this.

Yet, instead of choosing to mope about and cry, or kick up a fuss, she chose to use that time wisely, to use it to spend time with God in solitude, to find out His plan for her, both for the trip and for her life, and to pray that we would be able to have a good time with the kids at the event.

This solitude was not self-imposed. It was forced on her because of circumstance. I however, have chosen to be in this situation, and I had forgotten this lesson that my assistant leader taught all of us. And almost as if in confirmation, A also told me I should have a mini-retreat of sorts. I have this opportunity to spend time with God, and that's what I should be doing. So if you'll excuse me, I'll need to go and spend some quality time with the one person who has never let me down or abandoned me.

And as for my depression and the team, I'll just pray that we'll all get back to Singapore safely, and then we can meet again.


The team

Thursday, June 26, 2008


A gentle rain fell upon the streets of paving stones. Under the overcast sky, the light seemed grayish, almost as if it was dead, and a cold wind swept through the narrow alleyways under the low hanging clouds. At the same time, the air was strangely silent, despite the sound of the happenings in the street, and one could hear the soft tinkle of the bells in the shrines as clearly as the voice of the merchant promoting his wares.

Appearing from out of the misty opaqueness stepped a young man. He peered ahead through the rain and through the hair that the wind blew across his face, at the torii and beyond, into the ground of the shrine. As like with most other shrines, he felt that it was a place of peace, and yet, there was something about shrines that was vaguely unsettling to him. He turned to the one who was leading them, and cocked an eyebrow at her, as if to ask, "Here?"

She nodded in reply, and then beckoned to the other two members to move forward. She had been to the place before, and she knew her way around, yet she too felt uneasy about the place she was leading them to. It wasn't as if she could place a finger on what exactly was bothering her. It was something in the place that made her hesitant to just stroll in, and which made her pause for a moment outside as the other two caught up with her.

The other two girls looked on with some apprehension. At 19, they were both younger than the other two, and whatever had given the other two reason to pause was now starting to affect them as well. And though the interior of the shrine was as quiet as before, there was a certain heaviness that hung about the place. And for the taller girl, it was even worse, as she was Sensitive, a Cleric, so she had the ability to feel supernatural forces and shifts in power. And the corner of her eyes were beginning to tingle, a sure implication that there was something unholy residing in the area. She silently whispered a prayer for protection, to her God, that He would protect them all from the malevolence of the place.

The tall Guide snapped her helmet on securely, raised her spear, and turned to the other three. "You all ready?"

The youngest, an Archer gave her a tremulous nod, and notched an arrow to her bowstring. It was not her first time, but she did not enjoy having to go right into a stronghold of the enemy, and the tension of her closest friend in the band wasn't helping assuage her nervousness. The Cleric barely noticed, but the intense look of concentration and her continuous prayers answered the Guide's query.

The Guide turned back to the man, and motioned for him to continue. The Elemental raised his shield, and a small ball of fire popped into existence in his right hand. Satisfied that all was prepared, the Guide stepped forward, guided by the light of the fireball, and covered in the prayers of the Cleric.

High above the fluted columns and sweeping roofs, the clouds gathered, the darkness gathered, forming a mass that dwarfed the four warriors.

* * *

Ok, so my foray into fantasy writing isn't very good, but essentially, that was what we did in Kawagoe on the 12th. We went on a prayer walk through the area, and we split up into two groups at the start, and so I went with JL, and J and WT. We started with the relatively frivolous stuff first lah, so we went to this place called Candy Street, which was called Candy Street mainly because all the candy makers gathered there after a great fire 115 years ago, and the street received its name after all the candy makers had settled there.

Didn't buy much, but ate a Taiyaki, which is essentially, a fish shaped Jollibean pancake. Except mine had custard in it. Pretty good.

The next part was a bit different. We had been doing prayer walk, of course, even though we were looking at all the candy and stuff, but after clearing candy street, the tone really started to change. It started when we walked past this museum, which had several masks and miniature mikoshi. Which were somewhat disturbing. After that, we went to several shrines, and the first one we went to, WT told us later, really made her feel uncomfortable. She has the unique ability to sense supernatural forces to a certain degree, and this particular shrine, out of the three we visited, had her senses tingling.

Much later on, we found out that that particular shrine was one of the oldest in Kawagoe, and was pretty deeply entrenched. And when WT shared all this with us, it totally freaked out most of us, and we spent the night praying, which I must admit, was a really good and refreshing experience, despite the rather dark reasons for it's beginning. Coincidentally, that was at the same time the church was having JPM, and it was comforting knowing that the church was also praying for us.

So we went to another shrine and a temple, before heading back. We tried making dinner that night, and I decided to try making curry, since if anything, at least we would know how bad the stuff would taste. Fortunately, it came out ok, and no one got any stomachaches.

Friday we went to Hanakoganei, where we helped to run a kids' club with D&J and SW. The team helped with the program, and then played with some of the kids after that, which I can assure you, is more tiring that it sounds. Especially when you have to continuously run around with a kid on your back for an hour and a half. But it was fun. Only thing was that Jo couldn't join in the fun because she was still on medication, and the agreement I had with her was that she could only join in when she was fully recovered. Still, I must say she showed a great deal of maturity by not kicking up a fuss, even though she was the one who did all the planning for the kids' program. And I admired her even more when she spent the entire two and a half hours praying for the rest of us.

After that, we came back home, where we had the talk (mentioned above, same time as JPM), and slept a bit late.

Saturday we went back up to Kawagoe to do some Street E. After all the praying we did the night before, we didn't feel quite so down as like the last time we went up there. Also, we weren't quite working in the same area. I'm not terribly fond of Street E, and I still felt uncomfortable, but AA was really helpful and all, so we managed to do some stuff. Toddled over to HJ's place after that for debrief, then went back to go and prep food for the combined housechurch celebration.

Sunday we went to Ichikawa, where the OMF building was. Met some old friends, most notably S, whom I met on previous trips, and who is the person I was closest to from Japan last time. Yeah. He led worship, then we witnessed a baptism of a Chinese exchange student, and heard from a guy who sings Gospel music to do outreach.

So that was the first week. I'm like so hopelessly behind that I'll probably only finish typing out the trip way after I get back to Singapore, but oh well.

And for sister, yeah I miss the whole family. Sometimes. Haha..


Monday, June 16, 2008


The team reached Narita safely at about 8 pm Monday night, and we all met up with DL who nicely agreed to drive us back from the airport to Tokorozawa. It seemed to be a good idea for me to go and help to link up the team with DL, since we didn't really know him then. And JL thought it would be good if I could help navigate back to Tokorozawa.

Well, I sort of managed to accomplish half my objectives. I did manage to help link up the team with DL, but I sort of help to make ourselves lost on the way back. 'Twas a little bit difficult to navigate, since the roads were different, and it was night. And my navigational skills while walking are ok, since it's easy to stop and check where I am, but when you're barreling along at 120 km/h, it's a bit hard to make decisions. So we ended up reaching Tokorozawa at about the same time that we would have reached if we had taken the train (read same time I reached Tokorozawa a few days ago), just that we got to know DL a bit better through the long ride, and it was slightly cheaper than 6 people on the train.

So everyone was settled in nicely. The girls got the tatami room, D and R got Je's room, and I ended up in Ju's room. Slept a little late, but yeah. That would turn out to be normal in the following days.

The 6th was when we had our orientation to Japan by D&J. We woke up a little late, then we ate like Tempura at the nearby shop. Everyone really liked it, then we went back for the orientation. They went through some information on the culture and history of Japan, then we tried to think of our expectations. Personally, I've never really liked having all these sort of visioning exercises. But it did help to put some things into perspective for the whole trip, to remind us of our main purpose of coming to Japan.

We went to Costco with them after that. Costco is like this major warehouse-style shopping center with lots of American stuff. Heard from D&J that when the American missionaries heard that there was a Costco going up, they all quickly went to look for it to go and get stuff. We bought some necessities there. Of course, there was lots of cool stuff around too, like there were pizzas like 25 inches across or something, and like you could get big cartons of tiramisu, and muffins and cookies and bread and all sorts of cool stuff. There was also a nearby retail outlet shopping center selling lots of branded goods.

The warehouse-like, American-style Supermarket

We ended Tuesday by going to a sushi bar, where the guys beat the girls by about 10 plates I think. The all time favorite was probably the pork sushi (!? yeah I know), except for J, since she doesn't like pork.

On Wednesday, we met this dude at the Waseda University's Takadanobaba campus. He was called M, and he was really into Singapore stuff. He had gone to Singapore a few times before for fun and stuff, and he speaks Chinese, along with his native Japanese and English. It was really nice talking to him and another guy just about mundane stuff. The other guy was Korean, so he had also done NS, and so the guys were all happily complaining to each other about army life in general.

After Waseda, we went to Ikebukuro, and walked over from the station to Rikkyo University. Rikkyo is also known as St. Paul's University, but like many other missions schools, it does not have a Christian emphasis. We did prayer walking around the campus (it's rather a small school).

Rikkyo Daigaku. Looks Ivy-League

The great thing about the place was that at first it seemed kinda 'dark', if you get my drift. Because D&J were telling us about how difficult it had been for people to get inroads there (Waseda, by comparison, was rather easy, because they had contacts with some students), and that the students there were even more closed in general as compared to Waseda students. However, we got some encouragement at the end, when we were wandering around in our groups, at different times, we heard the organ in the chapel playing, and we all found our way there, where a lady invited us in to just sit and pray. The organist was playing a hymn whose name I can't remember, but what I do remember at that time was this feeling that God was telling us, "Even though the ground may be difficult I am still with you." It's hard to put down in words, but it was the sort of feeling that there was still hope that God would provide a way in, if not for us, then for the missionaries.

Chapel at Rikkyo University

We ate at this really great ramen place for dinner. The soup was really great, and as we all know, the soup makes the ramen. The noodles were ok too. Everyone really enjoyed it of course. Everyone, that is, except J, since the soup was pork-based.

Thursday was the first time we went to Kawagoe. Took the Seibu-Shinjuku line to Hon-Kawagoe, met HJ, and we were supposed to go eat lunch at a famous udon place, until we realized that like the ramen from the night before, it was cooked in pork broth. So we went to Manshu for other food. We then went on to the Old Town to do some basic research.

More on that in the following post.


P.S. Sorry for the late uploads and stuff. Been kinda busy, and the 'net went down a couple days ago.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


So as mentioned, I reached Tokyo a little earlier than the team. Primary purpose was to kinda take over the place from Uncle L, since he was leaving the day the team arrived, but I also got to slack around a bit and do a bit of fun stuff as well.

So anyway, as I mentioned two posts ago, I reached Tokorozawa around 1145 at night. It was a spot late, but I toddled over from the station to Uncle L's place. Now thing is, Uncle L, and Auntie C had left for Osaka for a conference of sorts, so in the house were Auntie D, U, and the two kids. Brother sort of remembered the code for the main door of the apartment, but he mixed it up a bit, so when I tried to press it, the thing didn't open up. Resigned to my sorry state (I mean, I was carrying a knapsack, an overstuffed laptop case, and piece of luggage full of souvenirs and cocnut milk, I had traveled from Singapore to HK to Tokyo, and then traveled across Tokyo, and I had spilt water on myself on the plane), I called the home, and they unlocked the door for me, so I got to get in, and not sleep on the outside (like a certain situation I remember myself in a while ago...).

Next morning, I woke late, then met K near Waseda. She had come over for exchange almost a year before, but we kinda stayed in contact, so we arranged to meet up. We decided to go to Ueno in the end, and so we wondered around Ueno Park, since we both had not gone there before. It was really quite a nice experience, since Ueno Park is rather beautiful. The pond is supposed to be a major attraction, and supposed to be really romantic if you go and sit on the boats together and what not, but some part of the pond was super overgrown with lily pads, and the water was a rather bright green. (Looked like toxic gloop, and K agreed with me).

The lily pads

K even told me that for couples going to the pond, it was advisable to take the rowboats, since according to superstition, those that take the swan boats always end up breaking up. However, the few rowboats I saw on the pond didn't look very romantic. I mean, it's hard to look romantic at 3 in the afternoon, and the lady is rowing the boat with the man inside!!

But over all, the trip to Ueno was pretty nice... even though it wasn't Sakura season, which is what Ueno Park was really famous for. After all, K is a nice friend to be with, and she does know a quite a bit more about the area, since she had been staying there for quite a while. Here's a picture of the central fountain in Ueno Park:

When I was there, I thought it kinda looked like MacRitchie Reservoir since there was a fountain and some boardwalks, but when uploading the picture, I couldn't help but think of Versailles. I don't know why.

Another part of Ueno Park

This was near a small cafe place. It really is an ice cream cone, and it's supposed to represent a chocolate-matcha ice cream, but from this angle, it looks like something else. I was sure brother would appreciate this sort of photo, and he did when I showed it to him via MSN

Then we went back to this street near the station which was a shopping sort of area that K had heard about from her friends. The prices were decent, but we both didn't get anything, since she was just doing a recon sweep, and most of the stuff there was for girls. The greatest part though, was that they were selling this:
Durian! Brother would probably have flipped if he had seen this. And ¥3000 is rather steep for it, considering the prices we can get in Singapore, not to say Malaysia.

I guess it's kind of a really exotic fruit there, and I guess some people actually do eat durian in Japan. Maybe it's all the Singaporeans who go and are really homesick (K and I were obviously not homesick enough to blow that much on durian. For the record, we weren't even homesick). Or maybe some Japanese have developed a taste for durian.

So anyway, we ended the day by heading to Ikebukuro's Sunshine City, where I discovered two things:
  1. The cool thing is that there is now a Studio Ghibli shop in Sunshine City, right next to the Disney Store. They have all sorts of stuff from the anime, like the Totoros, and the little black sootballs (I can't remember what they're called). They even have the jewel from Castle in the Sky.
  2. The un-cool thing is that THE CINNABON SHOP HAS CLOSED DOWN!!!! Like how sad is that? I felt miserable for a while, like about 3 seconds. I did find out that there was now an outlet at Odaiba when I got back though. One more reason to go there.
So after that we went home. What was irritating was that there was some issue on the tracks, so I ended up waiting on the platform at Takadanobaba for like almost an hour. Then I took the first train out, only that since I was taking the train to Hajima, I should have gotten off at Kodaira to change train, but I didn't know, so I ended up at Ogawa. Good thing I kinda realized I was off course, so I changed a train, and found one that went straight to Higashi-Murayama, then took another train back. Of course, the end result was that I reached home really late. Bummer.

The next day was a sort of easy day too. I did meet up with DL and his wife J who are doing longer-short-term work here, their blog is linked over there <----. So after a short briefing, we went to Ikebukuro HC at the karaoke place, where we met the housechurch members. DL is quite an easygoing guy, really nice to work with. He's a sort of balance between Uncle L's super lasseiz-faire working style and PJ's highly structured work ethic (people who had previously been to Japan would know what I'm talking about). And I couldn't help it but he also does remind me a bit of J from church, who's like one of the resident Thai language experts. And JL is quite a friendly lady too, very chatty. Anyway, both D&J have been in Japan for about a year, learning Japanese while doing missions work, and we'll be working mainly with them.

Sunday, I went to the Tokorozawa HC at Amuzing Grace. Met some of the people that we always read about in the Missions World newsletter. After that, D&J and me went to SW's house for his international tea time, where he invites his neighbors over for tea. I think I mentioned SW before in previous posts, but I'm not sure. Anyway, he recognized me despite my change in hairstyle, and the tea time was quite fun. SW has these huge crates of Lego at his home for this sort of thing for the kids of the neighbors to play with, and he plays with the kids as well. And D&J are pretty popular with them as well. Two of the three kids there were pretty amused by the fact that DL and me had the same name, and started giggling about who was the read D.

Uncle L and Auntie C came back from Osaka that night. They were still pretty much the same, and it was nice to meet them again. Auntie C spent most of her time chasing the two kids to get their room packed up and telling me lots of housekeeping details, while Uncle L was like uploading all his pictures and showing them to me, and also telling me lots of stuff about how to use the printer, and how to use the TV set and attached pieces of equipment.

So on Monday, I said bye to everyone, since they were all leaving for Singapore, then I went off to Kotesashi to meet SW as we were going to Waseda's Tokorozawa campus for E-Crew, which is sort of like an English Speaking Corner. It was pretty nice to meet up with some of the people there, and since they want to speak English, it helps to facilitate conversation. Came home to do some stuff, but ended up snoozing till about 4, when I went to Narita (which takes very long, in case you didn't know) and met the team coming in.

So that's all the stuff that happened before 5 other team members came in on flight CX 500. Will update more of the things that happened on the first week of missions soon.



Well now, this post is mainly for M, who's coming later on, and is thinking of taking the train from the airport over to Tokorozawa. So this is the way to go via train.

First, when you get off the plane, you should be in Narita airport's Terminal 2. As soon as you clear immigrations (which may take a while since you are a gaijin) and customs, you will come out into the arrival hall. So what you do is look for this counter:

Yes, I know it says Skyliner, but the counter sells both the Skyliner tickets and the Limited Express ones.

Here, buy the ¥1000 ticket, and then you can proceed on to look for the train station. Remember to get the ¥1000 one ok. After that, the train station is in the basement of the airport. I think the arrival hall is level 1. To find the station, please follow these signs:

These are all over the place in the airport

As you can see, there's the Keisei line and JR line, but the station is where all the trains go to anyway, so just follow the signs. Oh, and in case I forget, the ticket looks something like this:

Ok, so this one is not really your Keisei Line Limited Express one. In fact, it's the one you'll get when you're at Ikebukuro (池袋) and heading down to Tokorozawa, but yeah, they look pretty much the same

So you'll need to go through the turnstiles. Feed the ticket into the slot, and remember to collect the ticket when you pass through. It's like the old magnetic tickets that we used to use in Singapore. Get to the platform, making sure you go to the correct side of the platform. There are words in English, so find the ones that are bound for Ueno and Nippori (kanji for the two, in case you need, are 上野 and 日暮里 respectively). And make sure you don't get on the wrong train. The train should look like this:

It's got a flat face sort of thing. The Skyliner looks more like a bullet train

Yeah. After you get on this, you'll have a nice hour plus ride down to Nippori, so you should try to find a seat and get a small nap or something. If you miss your stop, it's ok, since Ueno (the last stop) is the one after Nippori, so you can just take it back from the other side. And timing doesn't really matter, just that if you take too long, the trains may stop running. haha.

So anyway, after you're nice nap, and you arrive at Nippori, look around for the escalators that tell say "Transfer to JR Line". Take it up, and there'll be some turnstiles again, as well as ticketing machines, but go to this counter to change your ticket to the JR one. You should only have to pay ¥160 to change the ticket, since it costs a little bit more:

Tell them you're going to Ikebukuro, and they'll know. In case you need to know what to say, just say, "Ikebukuro e ittai kara...." should be enough.

So after you go through the turnstiles, look for the Yamanote line. It should be track number 11, which says Yamanote bound for Tabata, Ikebukuro, and Shinjuku. If you get on the wrong Yamanote line, you'll end up going through Tokyo, Akihabara, Shimbashi, Shinagawa, Shibuya and many other stations before getting to Ikebukuro, so take from the correct side. This is what it looks like:

So this is what the track thing looks like. Please note it's the one that goes to Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and Shibuya.

So you take the Yamanote to Ikebukuro, then you get off and go through the turnstiles. Now Ikebukuro will probably be the most chaotic place in your train journey over from the airport, so here you must be really careful. Try not to get lost. I'll try to guide you from the Yamanote Line to the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line.

Anyway, the first thing you do when you come out of the turnstiles is to look for the signs that tell you where the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line is. The signs look like this:

You can see it right?

So anyway, just look for these signs and follow them to the Seibu Line station. It is about 500 meters away from the Yamanote Line station, so don't happily run to the nearest ticketing machine and purchase a ticket. It should be at the South Entrance, so maybe you could take a look in that direction. Eventually, you can see a map on the wall that looks like this, and you'll know that you've reached the correct place:

This is the Seibu Line(s) map. You can see the Ikebukuro station (marked in Yellow), and the Tokorozawa station (the 330 mark where the blue and red lines meet)

This is the ticketing machine. There should be an option available to buy a ¥330 ticket. If there isn't, you're probably at the wrong part of the station.

After you buy the ticket, you can head on through the turnstiles and proceed up to the platform to take the train. Here again, you must make sure you get on to the correct platform in order to take the correct train. You can check which platform to go up to through these LED signs that are hanging all over the place. They look like this:

You can see the details on the sign. Basically, what the sign is telling you of the next two trains at platform 5, and they are saying that the Express trains (red words) bound for Hanno are leaving at 2250 hrs and 2312 hrs respectively. Each has 10 carriages, and will be boarded from platform 5.

They even have English signs, in case you really need!

So when you go through, you take the escalator/stairs up to the platform and wait for the train. Oh, in case I forget, the trains that run are really on time, according to the station clocks. So if the train is going to leave at 2250, it will really leave at 2250. Oh and Japan is one hour ahead of Singapore/HK, so remember to set your watch ahead.

Ok, moving on, if you did take the correct train, you should reach Tokorozawa relatively quickly, about 20 minutes, I think. When you get to the station, look for the East Exit for the station. The signs guiding you should look like this:

'Tis the sign.

So when you get to the place, you can see a bank of phones on the wall, and then you can use those to call us, if your phone isn't 3G and can't be used in Japan. So that's how you take train to Tokorozawa.

And considering how much trouble it is to find your way around, and lug your bags and stuff, I would suggest you take the bus from the airport. But that's up to you.


Thursday, June 12, 2008


Well, for anyone who's interested in knowing (and I don't presume there are many), I got to Tokyo in one piece at about 8 pm on the 5th of June. But of course, some of the most interesting things happened before that.

So let's start with the stuff that occurred before the trip. Like on the 2nd, family and me went up to Port Dickson for church retreat. Family and me, but minus brother, who had to go for class, which was really quite a bummer. Bummer. So my dad arranged with all his kakis to travel up in a convoy. So there was like, apart from dad, Uncle Er, Uncle M, Uncle Eu, and Uncle F. And we sort of zoomed up Malaysia at like 130 km/h. And after a while, my dad decided to exploi... I mean employ my newly received (since October 07) driving abilities and I drove up about half the way. It's really quite fun buzzing along at 130 km/h on a highway and overtaking many other cars, and trying to match the speed of the cars in front while keeping an eye on the cars at the back. It felt really cool to drive so fast. It wasn't so cool when I had to park though. Since I hardly get any practice doing it, except at home (which is easy. Like really easy), I didn't manage to park very nicely at the resort. But oh well.

So the resort was pretty nice. I can even show a picture of the place. Or sort of lah. Here's the view out of the harbor:

That's pretty nice now, isn't it?

So the scenery was not bad, and the rooms were really cool too, since they came with flatscreen TVs. And the rooms were pretty big. The view from our room wasn't that great though. We saw the back of the yacht club building. But well. And sometimes, the food wasn't all that great either. And this is the first place I know where the scrambled eggs didn't look very appealing. It was almost like the scrambled eggs you can find in the SFI run barracks, and one of the things they really can't do is good scrambled eggs.

And I was hoping to be able to catch up with friends, but even that was kinda denied to me, since most of my peers weren't there, and most of the rest who went wanted to catch up with each other, and most of my free time was burnt up preparing for worship. Which was a bit of a bummer too. Bummer. In the end, the only friend I think I really managed to spend time with was WL, since she tongpang-ed the car back to Singapore early.

But enough with the complaints. Haha. The sermons talked about 'Unlocking the treasure within', and it was pretty applicable to me with regard to not just life, but for the mission to Japan as well (which I must say, had even more immediate impact for me).

So anyway, I left early, and returned to Singapore to pack and get ready on the 4th, since flight time was 5th at 10 AM. Naturally, I only started packing late at night, and finished at 2 AM. Then I managed to get a spot of sleep before leaving for the airport.

So I ate my breakfast of a coconut tart, and then we all (we being my parents, my brother, my sister) toddled off to Changi at about 6, where once again, the only people sending me off were my father, my mother, my brother and my sister. The flight was in two parts, and the first part, from Singapore to Hong Kong, was pretty uneventful. Like there really wasn't anything much to talk about with regard to the flight. I mean, it was just a flight. And like, I slept for most of it. So yeah. That was the first part.

The transit was slightly more different. See, there was a one hour transit between flights in HK Int'l, and while it seems like it's a sufficiently long period of time for a transit, it wasn't. Cos it was my first time there, so when I got off the flight, I had to try to find my way to the transit point, where there was a security check, and then I went up to the departures zone. Where I realized that I was at gate 18, but the connecting flight was at gate 67, which needless to say, was rather far away. So I fumbled about for a bit before taking the internal train and arriving at the gate just in time.

So I found my way aboard the plane, a little bit icky cos I had to exert myself a bit to get there on time, and when I found my seat, the two aisle seats were already occupied by their occupants, a couple of nice Japanese ladies. I managed to squeeze myself into the window chair, and sat there quietly, though I was feeling uncomfortable from having to exert myself to get there, and I really needed to go. Like I really really needed to go. But well. Then about half an hour after the flight took off, the steward came around with a little tray of drinks and offered some to us. Well, I had been thinking of going for apple juice again (I had it on the first flight), but when the steward offered the tray, the glass of water was closest to me, and I didn't feel like reaching over to get the juice as that would have resulted in me invading the space of the two nice Japanese ladies. Turns out it was a good idea, as the moment I put the cup on the table, it started sliding towards me, and that toppled onto my lap. Naturally, of course, that meant that the water soaked my shirt and pants, and started seeping into my underwear. And if there's one thing I hate more than having wet socks, it's having wet underwear.

The two nice Japanese ladies (who had prior to that, mistaken me for a Japanese person) showed their nice-ness by exclaiming in dismay at my predicament, and then gave me a packet of tissue to help clean up. Not that it would have helped much, since my shirt and pants had pretty much absorbed everything up, but I guess its' the thought that counted.

Now my first thought that went through my mind when the cup dropped into my lap was, "Oh shit." I mean obviously, no one likes spilling drinks into their pants. However, instead of cursing the forces that be that had conspired to make my plane ride miserable, I somehow managed to quickly see the positive side of it, namely that I had taken water instead of juice. Which is really curious, since whenever I'm not being an emotionless, cold-blooded person, I am usually quick to be negative. Yet, I think I was really grateful to God that I had chosen the water. I guess it helped that I was reading 'Finding God in Unexpected Places' by Phillip Yancey.

So the rest of the flight was pretty uneventful. I did manage to use what little Japanese I still remembered to talk to the two nice Japanese ladies, and found out that they were going to Yokohama, but yeah, the flight was uneventful, the customs, though long, was uneventful. I felt the immigrations officer looked like one of my friends in Japan though, and the customs officer who was checking my bag was a rather nice girl who was quite talkative. I took the train out to Tokorozawa, and managed to reach Uncle L's place at around midnight.

So I stop here first. I shall talk about the other things I did, like go out with K, and some other mission prep stuff in the next entry, but now I need to go and sleep.