Day 1 begins monotonously with the ever renovating Sydney Airport. The larger change this year was the every traveller’s harbour – McDonald, being moved further off toward the second concourse. A much posher but crowded space.
The flight to Hong Kong was uneventful. Because of the tight transfer there was no time to hit the lounge in HK. The flight to Haneda was also went uneventfully. Actually, I did find out that Cathay can cook up decent flight meals (still not as good as EVA or China Airline, but it’s night and day compared to their usual fare). Why they don’t put in the effort on their other routes is beyond me.
Arrival in Haneda was almost half an hour early. Now looking at checking in by 10:30 if things went smoothly.
I walked down the moving walkways at a brisk pace and breezed through customs. Haneda Airport was unexpectedly large, I had thought most international traffic went through Narita (though I suppose Narita does now have 3 terminals). If I had the time I would have liked to take a better look around.
On to business first. First and only item on the agenda was getting a data sim.
On previous trips I had gotten data sims beforehand, more reliable and time saving that way. Australia however had few sim options and the ones available was very costly for what few megabytes I needed to access google map and emails.
Haneda supposedly had plenty of options, from umobile to Japan Travel, Freetel and many more. Worse come to worse, there was always the option of getting one after getting into the city centre from BIC CAMERA.
羽田似乎有不少選項，從umobile到japan travel, freetel等等。就算真沒有的話也可以等進入市區後再到BIC CAMERA買。
I first checked the 7-11 on level 3 just outside the Keikyu station area. On the shelves were the umobile sims, but not the nano-size I needed.
No worries, the Air Lawson on level 1 was supposed to stock them too.
I got lost initially as there were two level 1 areas accessed by separate escalators. An area directly below Keikyu station area lead out to the taxi stands, the Air Lawson was in the area below the main area and leads out to the bus stands.
Already annoyed by the wasted precious minutes, I stared blankly at Lawson’s empty shelves. They had no umobile left, or hardly any sim card. Only a few J Travel sims hung angled like rejected goods.
I would have even settled for a umobile 14 day since I was there for 8 days plus however many hours left till I get to the capsule hotel. Alas there were none.
I ran through the options.
- Settle for a different sim card. Not desirable as the ones on the shelves were total data over a given period instead of quota per day with unlimited throttling. It’s not likely that I would use that much data, still, accidents were possible in this age of automatic updates and synchs.
- Continue to the capsule hotel and get a card from BIC CAMERA next morning. Problem was this required waiting for BIC CAMERA to open and delay getting to Kusatsu.
- 繼續到膠囊旅館，明天早上再去BIC CAMERA買。這的壞處是必須等BIC CAMERA開門，影響到草津的時間。
I went back to the 7-11 upstairs, grabbed the umobile standard size sim and went to the counter. “Is the nano-sized sim of this one sold out?” I blurted out, then realized it was asked in a very counter intuitive way. “Nano sized, do you have nano-sized ones?”
The staff was not sure what sized sim I was asking (I wonder how nano could be pronounced in Japanese). She did get enough hint that I was asking for one that’s not the one I was holding.
I typed out nano on the phone. She turned around, fished about in a drawer and produced a nano sized 7 day umobile sim pack.(7 day, 2376Y)
Despite the delay I got what I needed. I hopped on a Keikyu train for Shinagawa.
Global Cabin Gotanda is two stop away from Shinagawa on the Yamanote line, all up just over 20 minutes from Haneda.
It was about 10:30 when I reached Gotanda, still plenty of buzz on the streets. The area felt like a typical station district. A very confusing station front with a bus loop, a pachinko of sort and lots of izakayas.
I almost missed Global Cabin as I had miscounted the intersections and had to double back a block. Note to self, stick to the main road where one can’t miss.
Global Cabin was chosen because I still wasn’t fully committed to the idea of a capsule. Felt too claustrophobic and nowhere to put luggages, going to the lockers or front desk was too much of a hassle and will have to open and organize things in public. Global Cabin offered a halfway solution between a capsule and a room, what is now usually called a cabin. Basically a capsule with extra space and privacy.
選Global Cabin是因為我還是對膠囊有點不放心。太小了，又沒地方放行李，若要去置物櫃或櫃檯放太麻煩了，要整理行李又必須在公共空間弄。Global Cabin是一個介於膠囊和房間的解決方案，在膠囊上多提供一些空間和隱私。
The most well known cabin chain in Japan is probably First Cabin. They offered two types of cabin, one with extra headroom (no capsule on top) and full cabin where it’s essentially a full room minus bath/toilets, oh and one gets a curtain instead of a door.
Global Cabin offers their own take. The capsules are still stacked on top of each other, but they opened on opposite sides where each individual gets a small narrow “room”. Again, no doors, just curtains. One still get bothered by the neighbors climbing into their bed below or above, but otherwise gets entire isolated space and never sees each other. One the floor one could leave the luggages, and lock the valuables in the small safe provided when going to the bath or when asleep.
Global Cabin belonged to the Dormy Inn chain, probably the most premium business hotel chain (they get free soba/ramen at night), some level of quality was assured.
Global Cabin歸屬於Dormy Inn系列的分支，這系列差不多是最高級的連鎖商務了（晚上有免費蕎麥麵/拉麵），可確信有一定水準。
I checked in and was given a cabin number and an access card. The card granted access to the floor my cabin was on and also the public bath on the top floor. It gave some level of security from non-guests and men off the lady-only floors.
The cabin floor was cool, dim and quiet. The curtain door had a magnetic clip so it stuck to the door frame and required some effort to close and open with a snap. While the sound of opening and closing the curtain was going to be a little annoying, it gave an extra feeling of security, it took effort to go peeking around and anyone that tried to sneak into the cabin was not going to do it quietly.
On the bunk (I had chosen an upstairs bunk) was a basket containing towels.
I quickly shoved my valuables into the safe (it’s big enough to stick the camera inside) and headed for the bath.
In addition to the rows of showers each floor had, Global Cabin also have a public bath on the top floor (men only). The bath had a Japanese traditional onsen decor, with plenty of wood, soft music and warm lightning. Next to the wooden sliding door and blue curtain was a few potted plants on a pebble stone bed. One could almost forget one was on the top floor of a concrete building.
The bath was large enough for maybe 6 or 7 people. Since it was late there was only one other person and he was gone by the time I finished showering.
The bath is what’s promoted as ultra soft water, supposedly more gentle on the skin. Did not feel any different. Was very relaxing to have a hot bath after flying.
After feeling very refreshed, I headed downstairs to have a stretch outside. Directly below Global Cabin was a Lawson (lobby is on the 2nd). I took a quick look and headed back upstairs.
The lobby had a row of counter seats by the window with power sockets for charging. There was also a coffee machine offering free beverages, a fridge where bottled water was offered (one per guest, honor system) and to my surprise, free Dormy Inn brand instant ramen.
Not a fancy ramen, delicious all the same. A hot bowl of ramen with smooth Japanese coffee late at night, it was as luxurious as lobster at a five star hotel.
Things were quiet, broken by the occasional check-ins and people getting coffee. One, joined in with a late night ramen.
After the meal I went back up to bed. The capsule space was more spacious than expected, high enough that I ran no risk at bumping my head when sitting up, and wider than a full roll to either side. There were two kinds of lightning, a spot light for reading and a general illumination emitted off two LED strips to either side of the backboard, angled so they would not shine directly into one’s eyes even when looking up the capsule.
A flat TV mounted on a folded arm could be swung out and adjusted to comfortable position. Not much interesting on the late night shows.
I drifted off to sleep. The occasional closing and opening of curtains in the distance hardly bothering a weary traveller.