Monday, March 21, 2011

Leaving Japan

I wanted to use the word evacuation for the titled of this article, but I think the word will mislead the readers about the current condition in Japan.

On 17 March 2011, I have left Japan and have already been back to Malaysia for the past 4 days. It was a difficult decision as the power plant that I was working at has not been started yet but I have to leave the Japanese people at this very difficult time. I felt so sorry for the move but the few of us foreign engineers have decided to leave the country for our own safety, partially due to the radiation level concern and mainly due to the scare of being trapped in Japan if a panic strikes the region where we were at. Foreigners like us do not speak Japanese language well, so it will be extremely difficult and dangerous for us if there is an evacuation order or a panic that strikes places like Tokyo. It will be too late to leave by then. Thus, I have decided to support the startup from home in Malaysia.

The flights out of Japan were mostly fully booked while the few seats left available are of double or triple the usual price. I managed to get a flight out from Narita Airport on Vietnam Airlines, but needed to transit in Ho Chi Minh City before arriving in Kuala Lumpur. 

My drive to Narita Airport as early as 5.30am was a slow one as the speed limit throughout the highway was reduced to 80km/h due to the fear of car skidding if there is a shake on the road caused by an earthquake. Along the journey to Narita airport, I found that the petrol stations were all in long queue, as told by my Japanese colleague earlier. The queue was so long that I could only see the queue but not the actual location of the petrol station.

Narita Airport was crowded as expected. The queue to check-in my luggage at Narita Airport was crazily long. The queue to my check-in counter at row <I> was as long as to the side of row <M>. It took me one and a half hours to check-in my luggage.

Narita Airport on 17 March 2011
Crowded Narita Airport

Now that I have reached home safely in Malaysia, I am supporting the site in Japan remotely as much as I can as this is the least I can do to help them at this very difficult time. I wish them luck in getting the unit started and adding 500MW into their national grid. We know the 500MW means a lot to the people especially during this cold weather in Japan. I also hope that the nuclear plants in Fukushima can successfully be cooled down as soon as possible, bringing the end to this nuclear radiation scare and I will then be able to return to Japan and support the startup.

To read about my previous postings on the Earthquake, click the links below:
1. March 11, Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan
2. Earthquake & Tsunami Aftermath On A Monday in Japan

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