My week in Japan was tiring and totally worth it. Kevin and his friends kept me busy all week with dinners, parties, dancing, karaoke, onsen-ing, and lots of episodes of How I Met Your Mother.
A big thanks to Kevin and all the wonderful people in Matsuyama for being so kind, receptive, and most of all, patient with my lack of Japanese-speaking abilities. It’s difficult being in a country where I can speak almost no Japanese. Now, I know some key phrases, such as “you’re a liar,” “whatever,” and “I don’t speak Japanese”.
I remember one of the first days that I was in Japan, we were sitting around a table speaking in English, Japanese, Spanish, and Chinese. It was like our own mini-UN. I felt very worldly.
Since I’ve had so much time to kill, I have been thinking about all the peculiarities of Japan. For example, they have the fanciest toilets I have ever seen. Granted, coming from a girl who lives in a country where people squat over a glorified hole in the ground with no toilet paper, this might not sound like much.
When I was using a toilet in the Osaka Train Station, as I sat down, a gentle flowing water sound emitted from the toilet. Perhaps this is to help people *ahem* relax when they’re going, or maybe it’s to help mask other sounds that might occur in that general vicinity. Either way, I found it to be calming and peaceful.
Also, the toilets have maybe 8 different buttons on it including seat warmer, bidet, and other things that I can’t understand. Fancy fancy! Even Kevin’s apartment has a sink on the top of the toilet bowl that automatically runs water after you flush so that you can wash your hands.
People in Japan recycle a lot. They recycle so much that I’m almost afraid to throw anything away, lest it be in the wrong receptacle. I found myself pocketing all my trash and disposing of it at Kevin’s apartment.
I left Matsuyama last night on an overnight bus to Osaka. My bus left at 11pm and got in at 5:30am. The bus was not comfortable at all and I was unable to sleep for more than a few restless hours. It probably didn’t help that Kevin and I stayed up until about 4am the night before and slept in until noon. Ahhh the life of a teacher!
I got into the station and could not read anything that would help me buy a ticket to the airport. After asking about five different people to help me, I discovered that I was about 100 yen short of being able to buy a ticket, which is about $1.25. If only I had saved just a little bit more money! No worries, I thought, I will just find an ATM and withdraw some cash. Unfortunately, Japan is a predominately cash-using country, so there are very few and far-between ATMs. I found a couple of ATMs but they did not accept Visa or UnionPay (my Chinese card). Fortunately, I found a bank that opened an hour and a half later. So, I posted up outside the bank on the ground, reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, a comical book by Mark Twain about a guy who gets sent back in to the time of Camelot (thanks, Kevin!).
Of course, I fell asleep because I was exhausted and sweaty. I probably looked like a bum. I was thinking that I could put out a cup and maybe people would take pity on me and drop in a few coins. I jest, I jest. Once the bank opened, I found out that they also did not accept UnionPay or Visa, so I was back to square one.
The Information Office had opened by this time (8am) so I went there to ask for help. They directed me to another ATM that definitely accepted my cards, but they didn’t open until 9am. What’s another hour of waiting? It’s nothing, that’s what. So I waited for an hour at a cafe drinking some sort of tea that I blindly pointed to on their Japanese menu and finally was able to get some money.
I arrived into the Osaka International Airport at 10:15am, tired and hungry but grateful that after almost five hours of searching, I had made it. I slept on a bench from about 11am-4pm and woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go. Unfortunately for me, my flight wasn’t for almost five more hours. Bah.
I am now at my general gate area and I have about 10 minutes until my flight leaves for Manila, where I will arrive after 10pm, then I will wait until 5am to fly into Hong Kong. Cebu Pacific overbooked my flight so I signed up to be bumped. If they bump me, I will fly out in two days. In the meantime, they will pay for my hotel, meals, transportation to and from the hotel, and they will give me a round-trip ticket to anywhere that they fly if I use it in the next 6 months. Hopefully they bump me so that I can have a chance to explore Osaka a bit more and have somebody pay me to do it.