For the whole of last week, I had been to Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur for ACM’s International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals. The contest did not go as favorably as we would have hoped. We secured 44th position among 88 teams. Nevertheless, we (me and my teammates with our prof.) had a great time in Tokyo and also in Kuala Lumpur as transit passengers.People:
Just as we landed in Narita Airport, the customs process was smooth. No long queues, no wait for baggages to arrive and only 10 minutes wait for the train to arrive. We boarded the train and after a couple of minutes, our prof. realized he had left his back pack in the station. Couple of people assured us that the bag wont be taken away by anyone. As we got down from he train to go back to the airport station, couple of women called up the station and asked them secure the back pack. I can only wonder if such helpful people can be found outside Japan. We did not even ask them for a favour. They just noticed us talking about it and came forward to help us. Japanese are known for their manners and helpful nature. We had already got a glimpse of that in just 30 minutes of our arrival. This was not just an isolated incident. Through the four days, I never had trouble traveling in Tokyo. Of course, I had the map of railway system there; even otherwise, some people actually walked me to the place I wanted to visit. Many of them know reasonably good English. Those who didn’t, try their best to communicate with the limited English they knew.
In Indian cities, we don’t have a train network. We just have a line or two running from north to south or east to west. I was impressed by the network they have in Tokyo. Over a hundred stations and many junctions. They have many lines run by different organizations, intersecting at different stations. More efficient than any bus service in India, they provide the best means of public transportation. Electronically controlled trains means no delays. They have arrival times like 7:14 PM and are seldom late, not even by a minute. With a map in hand and aided by annoucements in both English and Japanese, its hard to get lost.
Some trains have zillion ads which are a visual overload. No complains as long as keep the prices low. Strong currency of theirs, Yen, makes a small stay in Japan very expensive for Indians. It will cost an average Rs 300 for two hour commute in the city involving changing the lines at the ‘junctions’.
Here an interesting observation. On escalators in subways etc. people with lot of time on their hand move to the left, while people in a hurry climb the stairs of the moving escalators on the right. This norm was followed almost every where.
Close to 10 people asked me about girls in Japan claiming they are drop-dead gorgeous. Well, here’s my opinion. It is great to them all working. The ratio to women to men is more than 1 during the work hours. Women look real good in the business attire. When it comes to how hot, sexy or beautiful they look, i am saying the ratio is as mush as it is in India. It is not that apparent in our country because of poverty. If you dress all Indians up in good cloths, we will find as many pretty women as in Japan or any other country for that matter. It is not a magic that, all hot girls spring up in MG-Brigades. It is just that they have money to spend on looking good. Kimonos look awesome by the way.
Given very limited time we had on our hand to spend, I managed to steal some to go to the Buddhist Temple in Asakusa. Never having been to a Buddhist temple before, I have no clue of the customs that are followed there. If anyone knows what they are, please explain them to me. I got to capture some good pics of the place. Bought some keychains and other Souvenirs for collection.
They used the ladle to wash their hands
The above pic: I have no idea what it is. They took a brush like stick and looked at the number there and then opened the corresponding box. In there was a manuscript in Japanese. I am guessing it is some sort of astrology or prediction of fate or something
They were the two other localities we visited in Tokyo. Akihabara is famous for electronic goods shopping while Ginza is top notch locality for premium items like Gucci’s etc. In the streets of Tokyo, people follow rules. Pedestrians dont cross the street if the pedestrian light is red and automibe wait for the pedestrians to pass. Given that mass transporation is on trains, there is hardly any pollution traffic on streets.
Got to see some interesting stuff there.
We had a 24 hour transit in Kuala Lampur. Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) hits you as you enter it. It is damn beautiful. Rated as world’s best airport in one of the ratings, the architecture of the place makes you rant on the hapless situation of Indian Airports. Chennai Airport is dirty to say the least. Both Narita and KLIA are well maintained, clean and organized. KLIA is way better though.
We visited KL tower and Petronas towers while in Kuala Lumpur. Got a bird’s eye view of the city from 84th floor at KL tower. Brought some souvenirs from here for collection. Some pics follow
To make some people envy me, I am posting pic of the place we stayed in Japan and Kuala Lumpur and also the desert I had on one of the days there. 😉
Unable to upload videos on youtube because of the newly authentication process which isn’t working all that well. Will upload some videos of the events organized by IBM after the worldfinals. It includes some Japanese music and a comedy juggler who played key board with ping-pong balls and also juggled the ping-pong balls using only his mouth. Will also upload some traditional Malaysian music as well.