Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 7 - Shinkensen to Fuku-wacka!

I havent mentioned it in previous posts, but for the easy stuff like fast food, I've been ordering for us, in Japanese. Hahaha, most of the attendents speak English anyway and Carey is there when things get hairy, but it's fun. It's not hard, though, hahaha... don't think I actually understand what I'm doing: "Kono (this) ... ringu? (donut)" or "bah-gah? (burger)" "Seto Ramen? (Ramen combo)". Followed with a "Fu ta tsu (two servings)" and a Kudasai, sometimes a "Motte (to go)". Most of them just stare at me stupidly and respond in English anyway. Nihongo wa wakarimasen.

Raining really hard this morning, checked out and go to the train station. Although none of the bullet train attendents spoke english, we got our tickets with a minimum of fuss and bother, thanks to Carey's leet j-p skillz. Although the ticket taker was maybe the first "rude" attendant we had experienced so far. When Carey asked the younger man (in polite Japanese) if he spoke English when we first came to the counter, he responded with a grunted, "Wakanai." All customer service people speak in Keigo, which is a ettiquette form of Japanese that highest form of politeness. His wakanai was the equivalent of saying a malicious "Pffft, dunno." Heheh, maybe he was having a bad day.

At the station, we stopped at a small little lunch stop resto before we caught our train. We both got ramen, and as we were waiting for the food, we realized it was a vegan place! This is really rare in Japan, because the majority of their diet is based on starches and meats...


Our food came and we suck a noodle.

Not too shabby, for a quick lunch. Barely noticeable that it was vegan! Yummy!

After lunch, we caught our shinkensen. Bullet train was a very comfortable ride, lots of leg room, and mostly filled with Salarymen. Haha, we were in a row of three seats, and on the way out of town, in one of the suburbs of Tokyo, a salaryman came up the aisle and noted that he was assigned to the seat next two us for the rest of the trip. I didn't see his face at this realization, but Carey did, and she described it as the worst reaction face that a Japanese person will allow themselves to make in public... in Western terms, probably close to a slightly furrowed brow and a tight small frown. Haha, poor salaryman. We were good tourists though: we were quiet and just took a nap, and watched some TV shows on my laptop. And we had an onigiri snack, yay!

Lined up at the station... only got crappy pics of the train, but you get the idea. The train was an N700.

Passing through Nagoya, we saw a Christian church on the outskirts of town, looked to be built around the late 1800's early 1900's (so the timing would be right for a Missionary type of thing) and was built right along side of the other buildings, in the close-together civic design style they have here. Strange. We both guessed that it was from the Western missionaries... we were zipping by so fast that we didn't have a chance to snap a pic...

The Japanese countryside was pretty gorgeous, even in the dead of winter. There are mountains everywhere! We zipped through cities and traversed all of Japan in an afternoon... it took only 5 hours to travel about 1100km! That's an average speed of 220km/h! It certainly seemed fast while we were zipping across the countryside. Pretty incredible, when you think about it.
Nagoya! Kyoto! Osaka! Kobe! Then a bunch of other cities that we couldn't take pictures of because it got dark... but then we got to Kokuro! Yay, last stop before Hakata Station!

We finally got to Hakata Station, in Fukuoka City! We made it, yaaaaaaaaaaay! After the late night last night, and the day of travel, we were pooped! But yeah, we're home!

Hahaha, before and after! It was only 5 hours, but it really took it out of us. Haha, at least it was so much more comfortable and roomy than the flight!

So we took a cab to her kaikan (means 'building', I think... it's what the students call their dorm), and we were dead tired. But the excitement isn't over! Nope, no rest for the wicked: one of the foreign exchange students that Carey goes to school with was having a going away party. So we ate a quick bento dinner ($3 prepared chicken meal from the grocery store, and it was so tasty! Japan rules for prepared foods!), we got ready to go to the party at another dorm building... I got trotted out for the meet and greet for her friends; they were all really nice and welcoming. It was great to finally be around people that speak English again! They were all from different countries, young and friendly and high-energy. Made me miss being back in school, everyone was having a great time. But, we were tired after the long day, so we called it a relatively early night and said our goodbyes. Both of us were asleep before our heads hit the pillow.

Well, I'm here! Exhausted! I can't promise I'll have very long blog posts over the next few days. After having almost a week of a full itinerary in crazy Tokyo, we left a few days in Fukuoka open for whatever. We have some things we want to do around town, but nothing solid... no commitments; both of us need to rest for a few days after the crazy week! But once we get our batteries recharged, we'll be going to Beppu and Nagasaki!

Figured I'd switch it up today and post a pic of a cigarette vendy. Now that I'm out of Tokyo, pretty sure my mission to find the old urban legend of the underwear vending machine has failed. We didn't even find vendies of alcohol... ugh. We'll see what I can find in Fukuoka.