So for those of you in America that don’t know…Buddha has a birthday! Not only that, but it’s a holiday. So at the beginning of May, my school had an extended weekend (no work Saturday through Tuesday). A week before this, I decided that I should go somewhere. So I booked a ticket to Fukuoka, Japan. Oh, and before you ask…I went by myself.
First of all, why does everyone always ask me why!? Due to the amount of times I’ve been asked this, I guess I’ll put down my reasons. 1) I didn’t want to travel around Korea (still a bit chilly) and 2) I wanted to go somewhere at least a little warmer. (Fukuoka was about 5C warmer or 10F warmer than where I work.) 3) I was also looking to fly somewhere cheaply and with not a lot of travel time. After exploring a few options, I decided Japan would be the best. 4) Coincidentally, it was a ‘close’ enough city that I could see my friend for a few hours (it was a 9 hour 1-way bus ride for her).
So Friday night, I had it in my mind that I will go to Seoul because I have a fairly early flight Saturday. Well, as my school day was ending, two of my Korean friends decided they wanted to eat dinner with me before I leave for Japan. So after an awesome dinner and conversation, I ended up taking a really late bus to Seoul. Basically, it put me in Seoul at 1am. Initially, I was going to crash at a jimjilbang (찜질 방) (about $6) and then take the subway in the morning; but I changed my mind and called up my friend instead.
Well, not really. As I was talking to my friend on the phone, I noticed a taxi conveniently parked alongside the rode in front of me. So I hopped in, had my friend tell the driver where I’m going (over the phone), and then I wandered around until my friend and I met each other. When we get to the bar, one of his two friends was already drunk and the other was tipsy. At about 4am, we got kicked out so we went to McDonalds. Apparently this is where many people go to recuperate after a night of partying and drinking. I’d say about half of the people were trying to sober up with a meal and at least a quarter were asleep on the tables. Needless to say, we blended right in. (Me being the 1/4 ready to face-plant the table.)
Subway and Airplane ride
Well magically it was 530, so I went to the subway and got on the first car at 6am. Although it was technically Saturday by the time I got to Seoul, it was officially day time by the time I got to the airport (the subway ride was about an hour). The airport was no biggie. I snoozed on my 1.5 flight to Japan and woke up only a little groggy. I breezed through customs and was greeted with a bunch of people looking at me expectantly with cameras…but alas, the ‘paparazzi’ was not for me. I talked to my friend and we analyzed the people’s banner: apparently one of Korea’s baseball players was on my flight and they were all waiting expectantly to catch his picture. I joined in on the fun and tried to take a picture of him myself. But…I fail. When I went to take the picture, I turned my camera off. Hahaha. Go me. So I missed my best picture and just have random pictures of people who I think might be him. Nice-uh
My friend and I grabbed brochures and headed out to the subway and got off on the location we thought was correct and were trying to read a map (mind you while we’re still underground with no landmarks). This younger woman (somewhere between the ages of my friend and I who are 6 years apart) comes up to us and asks us if we want any help. Turns out, she backpacked around England/Europe and encountered a lot of nice people along the way and wanted to ‘pay it forward.’ Also, where we were headed was in the direction she was going anyway. She showed us a few landmarks along the way, had us sample some famous raw fish (yeah I’m horrible with names) at the restaurant where she worked, and treated us to free lunch (she had coupons). She was AWESOME. The lunch was amazing; Fukuoka is famous for their ramen so we got this ramen that’s tailored to your tastes, with about 9 different points: spiciness, noodle texture, type of onions you want, optional pork, and….I can’t remember them all. The shrine (our ultimate destination) actually had a traditional wedding going on too—so that was double lucky. It was a fairly sad goodbye when our improptu tour guide/new friend had to go to work after the shrine. My friend exchanged e-mails and phone numbers with her (since my friend can write/speak in Japanese).
More pics on my flickr page. ^^