I come from a third world country. This implies that I am entitled to get fascinated by anything without feeling ignorant or ashamed.

For someone whose experience with trains has been limited to the Cairo Metro and the infamous Egyptian Railways, riding the Shinkansen is a little bit more than a dream-like experience. I love it so much, that on my last trip to Tokyo, I paid 500 Yen more from my wallet (which had been emptied thanks to Shinkansen tickets, with student discount) just to ensure myself a window seat.

Childish, but fun.

My trip from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo Station lasted for exactly 2 ours and 36 minutes. For 2 hours and 36 minutes I stuck my nose to the window, watching rooftops, rice fields and formerly-green-currently-red mountains whip by, as if I am in the midst of some virtual reality game. The only thing that woke me up from my extended Shinkansen day-dream sessions was the recorded stop announcements, in which a woman’s voice, through the speakers, announces in Japanese as well as in English the following events:

a. The train will soon stop at <Insert station>.

b. The train has stopped at <insert stations> and will next stop at <insert stations>.

c. Smoking is not allowed on this train, except in <insert cart number>.

d. Food and beverages will be available at your seat.

These announcements, of course, are accompanied by cartoonish music that, along with the 300km/h train, makes you feel you’re taking part in Planes, Trains and Automobiles The Polar Express (or the French Connection, for that matter) and that at some point the train might actually start flying, taking you to the fifth dimension.

Weird shit.

I also wasted some time worrying whether my camera was capturing things outside or if the window was so clean that it would only take videos of its very own reflection…


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dahlia
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 05:26:48

    That’s one hell of interesting shit. Yesterday, my foot got stuck between the railway track and pavement (Faten Hamama style). Very uncool, don’t try it.


  2. Dina
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 22:20:57

    Hahaha Faten! I wouldn’t try it in Masr but I would like to experience what it will be like in Japan… I wouldn’t be surprised if they suspended the whole railway system in the country …


  3. sami salaheldin
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 05:05:09

    Dandouna, it so intersting to learn about your experiance with train system in Japan


  4. Ahmed Shaheen
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 15:49:54

    Nice, but it sometimes makes me think that we’re getting a good value for our money for public services in Egypt. $350+ for a train ticket between cities in teenie weenie Japan!!!! It surely will be nice to be in specklessly clean, incrediby fast, very reliable train, but for the fraction of the price I’ll opt for the almost humane alternative. All hail Egyptian cheapness!!


  5. Dina
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 00:59:32

    Absolutely ya Ahmed. The thing is, “expensive” is also a relative term. It’s expensive for me, but given the minimum wage in Japan, it is decent. Not the cheapest train ride, but fairly reasonable…

    Then again, I DO miss the cheapness 😀


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