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Thursday, May 8, 2014

MUFA Day#31: Highlights of the Whole Trip

My Ultimate Fantasy Adventure (MUFA), while not as extravagant as My Ultimate Global Adventure (MUGA) I experienced a year ago, was nevertheless intensively satisfying.  Why was MUFA not as "ultimate" as MUGA?
  • In MUGA I flew first class around the world.  MUFA was business class only around the Orient.
  • MUGA went on for 51 days; MUFA ends tomorrow at Day #32 with my arrival in Honolulu.

  • Both endings were incredible:
    • MUGA:  one week of golfing in Napa Valley, followed by two nights each just tasting wines in Napa, Sonoma and Alexander Valleys and enjoying fine cuisine with close friends who accommodated my presence.  
    • MUFA:  an eight day Crystal Symphony cruise from Tokyo to Honolulu--picture flying first class international (not on United, but, say, Lufthansa) from Tokyo to Honolulu (which Lufthansa does not do, plus, all flights back to Hawaii are overnighters) on Lufthansa first class during daylight, but lasting 8 days instead of 8 hours.

  • In MUGA, nothing truly bad happened.  Not so for MUFA:
    • After a day in Bangkok I determined that it was not worth the chance of the unrest closing down the airport, as had happened a previous time I spent here (but escaped in time), so I left earlier for Tokyo.
    • On MUFA Day#11, an elevator door ran into me at the Westin Kyoto, tearing the skin on my right arm, causing considerable blood letting, resulting in a visit to a Japanese Emergency Room.  I thus cancelled my Nagasaki and Osaka stops to be treated in Tokyo the next few days.  For ten days I could not shower, but had to take a bath with my arm out of the water.  This was inconvenient, but not in any way life-threatening.
    • The sakura blossoms in Hirosaki were breathtaking:
    • I had an epiphany, possibly providing a clue to who I am.
                                 (Sorry, you can't Look Inside.)
    • Many of you have taken a Green Car Shinkansen (bullet train--that is the fastest of them all above at the top, Hayabusa) Japan Rail Pass trip.  Green Car is like business class on a plane.  The Shinkansen now has something called Gran Class, which I would equilibrate to First Class on an international flight.  Well, my final Shinkansen was from Aomori to Tokyo, where I went Gran Class.  Just this leg cost an additional $170 to enjoy better seats, a tiny bento and all the alcoholic drinks you might want.  Frankly, it wasn't worth it.
    • It was twenty years ago when I was staying at the Park Hyatt that New York Grill first opened on the 52nd floor (right).  So I went back and had a satisfying Prime Cut Kobe Steak, which kicked off a four day retrogression of beef meals.
    • I had a personal tour of the University o Tokyo Agriculture and Technology by President Tadashi Matsunaga.  Read the details.  However, dinner at Black Cat of wild boar sukiyaki with a Nokodai sochu was even more memorable.  Best of all, though, was the "karaoke" bar specializing in Bordeaux wines in Kichigioji where the staff all were virtuoso performers.  
    • Twenty years ago whens the Tokyo Westin and Yebisu Garden Place, I spent two nights during their first week of operation.  I have now stayed here 21 times.  To commemorate this occasion, I now have a Yoichi 20-Year Whiskey, the best scotch in the world.  Well, at least in 2008 it beat whiskeys from Scotland for this honor.  Since then, Suntory Yamazaki has won twice.  My favorite is Lagavulin, but Highland Park 21-Year Old was #1 in 2009, and that one rates very high on my list too.
    • I embraced the beef bowl war in Japan by having three beef bowl meals within an hour in Shibuya, and paid less than $8...total:

    • Finally the whole 8-Day Crystal Symphony cruise back to Honolulu was a fantasy.

The highlight of any long trip, though, is the return home.  Further, as much as MUGA seems to have sounded as the "better" journey, MUFA was superior for the experiences and words left unsaid for various reasons.  Finally, I have something different this time.  I will sleep my first night in 15 Craigside, my ultimate home.

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