Well, the day has come to move back to America and the culture shock has already begun. I’m writing this in the departure lobby of Narita Airport but will post later because they charge 500 yen to use the Internet hotspot! The culture shock actually begins here at Narita since Narita has the shakedown mastered. You can’t get away with anything here!
What I’m referring to is the overweight baggage penalty. In most airports in Asia you can get away with it, but in typical Japanese fashion they follow the rule to the letter. But I digress… let me first say that they check my baggage every single time!!! This time the security guy did an extremely thorough job but also in Japanese fashion apologized and said it was because I was going to America that they had to be extremely strict. Then I get to the counter and they want to charge me $25 for having an overweight bag. I tried to argue unsuccessfully that on the website they allowed 30 kilo instead of 23. I asked for the manager who turned out to be a bulldog of a lady and I told her to check the website for me. Turns out I was wrong and the weight was actually 23 kilo and had been changed last year! One thing Vietnam taught me though is to always put up a challenge if one thinks they are being overcharged which I think is a good attribute.
This really irked me and I guess I kind of looked like an unhappy customer. I then get to the security checkpoint and the announcement was amusing “Anti-hijack security check!” This just doesn’t leave one feeling secure… In America it’s just “Security Checkpoint” so I’m wondering why the Japanese stopped with just that. Perhaps “Anti-hijack non crash into building anti-death security checkpoint” would get their message across much more effectively I think. The other think that kind of gets to me is how they are so polite and smile so much as they check your bags countless times as if they are thinking “Yes, we are going to inconvenience the bejesus out of you but have a nice day!” I almost prefer the American style which is very stern and they appear to think “Open your bag you possible terrorist and if you give us any attitude we are going to slam you on the ground as we twist your arms into impossible positions.” hahaha…
But this is just a rant really at having to pay so much just to get out of the country. It costs $13 dollars to get here, $60 to get my bags back from temporary storage and then another $25 dollars for having overweight bags. At least there isn’t an “Airport Tax” you have to pay at other airports in SE Asia. But then again in Saigon, they let you use the wireless for free……although this is probably because they don’t have the technology yet to charge for it.
Now to the culture shock. As I sit here in the departure area there seems to be some Americans who like to stare at me. They stare in Vietnam too but I know it’s just because I’m a foreigner. Here I have no idea what these people are thinking, cause I know they’ve seen foreigners before. It’s kind of freaky. Also, it’s very strange to see Asian Americans talking the African American lingo and carrying themselves with a lot of attitude. One guy has tattoos, a tank top, and is making stupid jokes to his friends who in turn give high fives and other such nonsense.