February 13th, 2014:
Blog post by Felicia
As some of you might have heard, Rob and I were supposed to head to Singapore + Japan together, as our annual vacation. Unfortunately, he had a family emergency to attend to right before our departure date, so I decided to make the modified trip alone.
I started my trip with an eventful Chinese New Year in Singapore, catching up with family before heading to Tokyo to visit my best friend. The last time we were together, it was 2012 in New York City, where we found ourselves caught in the fury of Hurricane Sandy, facing emptied shelves in grocery stores and NYC’s Metro system completely shut down for the first time in its 100+ year history.
I have since developed a reputation of being somewhat of a disaster magnet: a month after Sandy, Rob and I were caught in Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines, the powerful tropical storm making landfall as tried to make our way to an island resort.
As it turned out, on the third day of this trip, Tokyo experienced its heaviest snowfall of the last half a century, a record snowstorm that cancelled hundreds of flights, thousands of travelers stranded, partially shut down the train system, and left 20,000 households without power. Oh, and I also experienced two 5.6 magnitude quakes – tiny shivers by Japanese standards, but evident enough to wake me up at 4am. Yup. Sounds pretty much like a typical Felicia Wong vacation to me…
I ventured out as snow fell, and it was surreal to find one of the densest, busiest cities of the world eerily abandoned, very much reminiscent of the empty metro stations and silent streets of Manhattan as everything ground to a halt.
Despite everything, this was actually an excellent trip. Those who know me well know that I am actually rather people-adverse, so emptying out metropolitan Tokyo with a blizzard of epic proportions is pretty much a dream come true, and a unique, atypical experience. (Ditto New York. Thanks, Sandy).
When all’s said and done, despite the good, the bad, the ugly; the cold, the harsh, and the inconvenient truths, I’m glad I made the trip.
Other travel posts by Felicia:
Follow Felicia on Instagram for more photos from Tokyo (and other random stuff)
Yasukuni-dori, a main thoroughfare, devoid of traffic.
I visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine as it was very close to where I was staying.
This cheerful sign about cherry blossoms seems extra ironic…
The usually-bustling Shinjuku shopping district. Most of the people out and about were scurrying for shelter.
I spent Founders’ Day at Meiji Shrine where thousands of devotees came to pray for the nation, with synchronized clapping and hearty yells of “BANZAI!”
Thankfully the snowstorm itself was brief, and in 48 hours I found myself looking at deceptively crisp blue skies that masked the bitterness of subzero temperatures due to windchill.