Thursday, September 02, 2010

about to head home

It's almost a quarter to 8pm local time here. About this time tomorrow, I'll be preparing to head to the airport. My flight to Narita (about 70 km from Tokyo and its international airport) is scheduled to depart at 11:40 at night arriving there at about 7:30 the next morning. I have a long overlay in Narita: about 10 hours on paper. In reality, however, the time available to explore some sites around or nearby the airport is a bit less. Nevertheless, I'm definitely planning to try to see what I can of Japan in that short time.

I found an online forum that lists a few temples and shrines worthy of a visit nearby the airport. However, while traveling I've posed the question of what to do to people familiar with the area and almost all of them say there really isn't much to see there. Tokyo is the place to go, they say, but it's expensive to take a high-speed train there and again, it seems a bit too far to travel for such a short stay. I'm still not 100 % sure what I'm going to do on Saturday.

Anyway, my American Airlines flight is scheduled to depart Narita at about 6:10pm on Saturday, September 4th arriving at New York's JFK slightly past 6pm later that same day. I read that a hurricane warning has been issued for Long Island, but I assume my flight should be in the clear.

Back in Ho Chi Minh City, I continue to learn more about Vietnam's long history, in particular its wars with France and the US. This morning, I visited one of the city's most popular sites, the War Remants Museum, which although giving a very laudatory and heroic portrayal of its struggles with outsiders also offers a striking, impressionable sense of the horrors of armed conflict. Images and artifacts of the human suffering experienced by both sides is well documented throughout its halls. I think most would agree that its exhibits covering the gruesome effects of the defoliant Agent Orange strike this note better than any other.

Tomorrow I plan to spend my last day here seeing what else I can of this bustling southern city. In the Cholon area, there are a number of interesting pagodas cited in my guidebook in addition to the famous Ben Thanh Market in the center of the city. I'm also planning to enjoy pho (rice noodle soup), a Vietnamese fave, one last time.

Well, this is probably my last post until I'm home.

More will follow from that other coast.

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