TQE | That Queer Expatriate

Expatriate, not ex-patriot: I'm a progressive liberal and queer American in Berlin, Germany. My roots in include 18 years in Denver, 6 in Laramie, Wyoming, 6 in Bloomington, Indiana, and 6 in Weimar, Germany. Sense a pattern? Don't want to leave a comment on this blog? Email scintillatingme at gmail.com, username "elmadaeu"

Planning the Journey: Things About Japan that Already Surprise Me.

At some point in the future I’m going to pop over to Japan for a few days vacation.

This will be the furthest east I have travelled (or west, but I haven’t ever crossed the Pacific, and Japan is certainly east of Germany) and there are a large number of things about the trip that excite me – things that are probably mundane to most: four new airports, two new airlines, and one new airplane.

Hold that last thought for a second – I’m going to fly on the 787.

That’s exciting.

But once the meta-getting there and getting back aspect of trip planning was decided, it was time to get serious about picking a hotel – which is when I ran into the first two surprises of my upcoming trip.

First, many of the hotels distinguish between smoking and non-smoking rooms. The hotels apologize, in advance, if non-smokers are not able to get their preferred choice, explaining that deodorizers would be provided.

Talk about a step back in time – I cannot recall the last time I found a hotel in the United States that offered smoking rooms (and certainly, I would tend to avoid said hotels, even if my room was promised to be non-smoking). They’re a bit more common in Germany, but I think that, generally speaking, the assumption is of non-smoking first, with a couple of rooms available for hard-core smokers.

I hope that the availability of smoking rooms does not translate into people smoking everywhere, although I might note that one of the most recent announcements on the local airport’s website is that from April 26, 2013, no smoking will be allowed in its restaurants and coffee shop. That’s less than three months ago.

The second surprising thing is that many of the hotels appear not to offer WiFi – but, rather, wired internet access. My choices, once I said I wanted WiFi, were more than cut in half.

Again I feel like I am taking a step back in time—just not quite as far. I can think of several hotels that I’ve stayed in where the WiFi was only available in the lobby (nothing like showing the world your expensive laptop), or where you are charged a fee to access the WiFi (strangely, the more expensive the hotel, the more likely a charge), but… assuming the presence of internet access, it’s been WiFi for at least five years. I actually stopped carrying my LAN cable, and my current laptop even lacks a LAN port.

Meanwhile I should probably start planning what I’m going to do whilst in Japan. There are already some things on my must-do list, but, essentially I have three full days unplanned at this point.

3 comments to Planning the Journey: Things About Japan that Already Surprise Me.

  • Mr. Urs

    my caring employer has blocked wifi on company phones and laptops. apparently it’s not safe enough. we’d to start carring LAN cables again. the laptops are equipped with UMTS cards but you don’t get anywhere with them.

    • Strange — I think that a lot of new hotels are being built without wired access — because it’s so expensive to put in wires. On my last UK trip, only the Hilton had a telephone; not one of the others had a telephone or any wired Internet facilities… And in the Shetland Islands, I doubt a UMTS card would have gotten you anywhere.

  • I have a little rechargable d-link router that has two wifi radios in it. It allows you to use one to log into hotel wifi and the other to attach all your devices. It’s tiny and rechargable and kind of a brilliant idea.

    If you’re curious, it’s the “D-Link SharePort Go (DIR-506L)”