Just got back to Tokyo yesterday. Wow, what a week!
Through some connections at the English school where I used to teach, I was asked to accompany a medical doctor and his wife to the UK as a Japanese-English translator. The doctor wished to visit several important locations in and around Belfast and London to do research on... well, I’m not sure it’s okay for me to talk about that on the internet before the doctor writes and releases his own research paper. But without going into details about his work, I can say that our trip included a visit to the Ulster Museum in Belfast, the Armagh Observatory, the British Museum and Natural HistoryMuseum in London, and Stonehenge. Additionally, in our free time we visited a number of art museums and tourist spots.
Talk about a dream job!
Hour-wise, I only worked about two days worth. For this, I was paid the equivalent of 150USD a day for eight days, and all travel expenses fully paid, including some very nice restaurants and four-star hotels, and even a chauffeured Mercedes for our day-trip to Stonehenge.
The airplane seats were economy, but I’m used to that. In fact, the economy-class seats were the only part of this trip that felt normal for me. Everything else was a dream. This was my very first trip to the UK, and it was everything I imagined and much, much more. I wasn’t exactly culture-shocked, but there were some things that took a little getting used to, such as the self-service cash registers.
A couple of random pictures I took:
Something was wrong with the display on the flight in, but I didn’t call the flight attendant over it.
The first day was a near-full day of translation at the Armagh Observatory. Though I had a number of shorter translation jobs throughout the trip, my work at this observatory was the primary reason I was asked to go on this trip, so despite my jetlag, I gave it my very best efforts. My employers later assured me that they were happy with my performance, which greatly eased my mind considering how much they paid to have me here.
And this one too.
And Stonehenge. Still can’t believe I got paid to come here.
Or to see this. Wait, is that me in the reflection?
Never mind the lions. What’s with this chicken in Trafalgar Square? One mystery I never solved.
The weather was apparently warm by UK standards for this season, but a couple of notches down from Tokyo’s temperature, which was a most welcome respite. On our last day in London, I had a full day off and was free to explore at my leisure. And that was the first day of the Prudential RideLondon event that turned the whole of the city into a massive cycling course.
Wish I had brought my recumbent...
And then, the next day, after 11 straight hours jammed into another economy seat, the hot, humid blast of air on my face at Narita International Airport reminded me that summer in Japan is far from over.
I will truly miss the UK. The people are friendly, the cities and towns as clean and safe as any human-populated place can get, the country scenery and cityscapes truly breathtaking.
But in the end, Dorothy was right. There really is no place like it. As long as I have air-conditioning.
I’m also very happy to finally report some slightly older news: My plane didn’t have WiFi capabilities so unfortuntately I couldn’t join Lester Smith’s kickstarter countdown party, but nevertheless the project ended with an amazing 11,456USD in pledges for the creation of Lester’s D6XD6 CORE RPG game book. I am now in the process of working with Lester to set up the chapter setting of my Psionic Pentalogy to be included in this project. More about that in weeks to come.
And finally, on a much sadder note, I read today that one of my all-time favorite actors, Robin Williams, died in an apparent suicide. There’s not one performance of his in drama or comedy that I didn’t love. I could write a separate and very long blog post just about Robin Williams, but the internet is churning today with people doing just that, and I believe everything that needs to be said is being said, so I will keep it short. His passing is a painful reminder of how deep the trenches of depression can run. I can only wish him peace and his family the strength to overcome.