Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Earth Day + Hospitals: Bangkok vs Tokyo

So I've finally arrived in Japan for another 3 month tour...

Had an interesting conversation with the immigration officer at Narita airport: (NB I'm not supposed to play concerts on a tourist visa, so I wrote "part-time worker" as my occupation.)
"Part-time worker...? What will you do so long-time in Japan?"
"Just visiting my friends."
"Really? Nothing else?"
"Yes, really."
"..... I believe you" (in a tone which said, "I don't believe you, but what can I do?")

Got the tourist visa. And to my surprise, the customs officer didn't fully search my luggage. Usually when I arrive in Japan from India, via Thailand, with my tabla in hand, they're very suspicious... This customs officer just seemed really happy that I could speak Japanese.

I headed off to my old friend Martine's house - lovely place that - dropped my luggage and then headed to Yoyogi Park where the Earth Day festival was going on. I had a rehearsal with Masa (of Mbira Zvakanaka) and Shun for our show the next morning, and then headed to Ogikubo to see my friends Yasu (sarod), Teiju (sitar) and UKO (tabla) giving an Indian classical performance. Lovely stuff.

Playing with Mbira Zvakanaka and Shun @ Earth Day
(Thanks to Martine for the photo - original here)

The show on Sunday morning with Mbira Zvakanaka was quite fun, but unfortunately I couldn't hang around and enjoy Earth Day, as for the last 6 days I've had an almost non-stop headache, and it was just too much. What a pain! As I mentioned last week I've been a bit worried it might be malaria. I had a blood test in Bangkok which came up negative, but apparently if you're not suffering from fever at that moment it will usually be negative.

Yesterday I came to Taro's house and he took me to a hospital to get checked out again. Same result as in Bangkok - no fever, negative for malaria - but here's a brief comparison of the two hospital experiences:
: Bangkok - got pushed around in a wheelchair from arrival to departure;
Tokyo - please take your blood sample down the hall to the testing department yourself
: Bangkok - blood test took about 20 minutes and the whole visit about 1 hour;
Tokyo - blood test took over 1 hour and the whole visit 2 and a half hours
: Bangkok - final bill 1000 baht (about A$40), and I got 4 kinds of medicine for 3 days;
Tokyo - final bill 12000 yen (about A$150), and I got 10 headache tablets.

So the moral of the story is, don't get sick in Japan!

Still got a headache... I'm hoping it will either go away soon or if it is malaria that it will hurry up and make me feverish so that I can get on with fixing it!

Coming up for me this week: Thursday morning rehearsal with Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh, Sunday workshop and concert with Taro Terahara in Niigata, then from Monday I'll be at the Greenhouse in Chichibu, enjoying the Golden Week Gathering with a host of DJs and musicians including sitar, tabla, Indian vocal, shakuhachi, koto, Flamenco dance and Balinese dance!!! (My Japan tour schedule is here.)

Please leave a comment if you've gotten this far. :-)


Simon said...

Nice blog Shen and that's a great picture. Hope your headache gets better soon.

aapka dosht.

"Tai San" said...

Hi Shen not good to hear of your head but we hope its sorted.

Yes customs in Japan can be a surprise. I arrived in Marugame once Shen and it was just after 9/11 and there were secret police waiting for me at the departure lounge to question every foreigner.

I now know what it feels to be interrogated by a neo Nazi Japanese pig. Its something I wish not to repeat.

Shen said...

Thanks mate. Still aching after 1 week... Seems to be getting slowly better though

Know what you mean. Usually they really pick on me, but this time was good.
Next up is Australian customs/quarantine, and they're just as neo-Nazi, you know.

ellie said...

hey shen! c'mon, what headache? - you don't look too bad from the photo! srsly though, hope your head recovers, and hope it's not malaria, because it's a right pain.

i just discovered that i can access yr blog much more easily on my father-in-law's massive broadband account, so when i'm visiting here i'll try and drop a line more often.

hey - we had another boy! his name is Will, and it was his first birthday yesterday.

hpe you're getting better, and i'll be in touch when i can -

best, ellie (eleanor)