Friday, January 14, 2011

What do Japanese Customs Officials Think of Rabid Singapore Travellers?

I was poring enviously over a friend's beautiful and oh-so-wonderful photos of her latest visit to Tokyo. Which served only to remind me how many gazillion places we still have to explore in Japan and that made my backside extremely "itchy" again. How I would love to just jump up and scream at the Samurai, "Let's pack immediately and go!" But alas, the Samurai has heavy responsibilities educating the future generation of Singapore (barf).

What makes it even more intolerable is that two other girlfriends from my "Japanese Gang" are going on Yet Another Trip to the Land of the Rising Sun at the end of this month over the Chinese New Year period, instead of getting stuck visiting the same old boring relatives again. I have just about lost track of their number of trips to my favourite adopted country. Is it the 11th or 10th trip within a span of 5 years??? At their craziest, they visited Japan THREE TIMES in one year (when airfares were cheap during the recession year of 2009).

I have myself visited Japan THREE TIMES in THREE YEARS with the Samurai, which is in itself a record for me. I don't even visit Bangkok THAT often, or Hong Kong for that matter (supposedly havens for shopping fanatic Singaporeans). Already, my parents and relatives, and generally non-Japan lovers were going, "You are going to Japan, AGAIN?? Weren't you just there?!" and looking at us as if we had lost our marbles. (Yah, Japanese marbles.) And because I felt quite embarressed about being viewed as insane, instead of my original destination Hokkaido, we chose to go Taiwan. (Damn, I soooo wanted to go to Hokkaido.) Afterall, we just visited Tokyo barely half a year ago.

In fact, on my third Japan visit, which was in June 2010, I was queuing at the immigration checkpoint at Narita Airport and looking through my passport at the Japanese entry and exit stamps and dates, and started worrying, "Crap. This is going to my third set of stamps in 30 months. Will they think I am smuggling or trafficking something or what?!" But I realised that since my 2 girlfriends with the 10 or 11 sets of Japan customs stamps on their passports could get through immigration smoothly without setting off any international alarms, I should be pretty safe.

Yet, I squirmed slightly under the gaze of the customs official, and did my best to give a kawaii smile into the camera. Suddenly I believed I could imagine what he was thinking as he looked at the passport and me, "Another rabid Japan lover. What a sucker. But thank you anyway for coming and contributing to our dreary economy."  And probably at my 2 girlfriends, plus other friends who have been visiting Japan like drug addicts, they would be marvelling, "Are these people crazy or what? They don't visit any other country but Japan! Do they have lovers here? Or a business? Or....???" I am assuming that the immigration officials are very bored sitting there all day doing their jobs. If I were one of them, you can bet your bottom dollar I would be thinking those exact same things. Then again, I have an extremely active imagination.

Regardless of what they think of us, they can most surely expect to see me peering over their counters soon, and striking my best kawaii pose. Cheese!

Meow. Welcome to Japan.

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