Hokkaido Trip Part I
Yeah...this is gonna be long...So I'll split it in two to three parts (and mind you, I'm practically covering one day in this entry :P)
Well, I'm here in Hakodate and It's not been quite as full as I would like but it's definitely a step in the right direction.
On Thursday, I went to Tokyo and caught the Yako Bus. I was 1.5 hours early but I waited for the bus to arrive. It was freezing and I asked anyone that looked like they worked for the bus company for directions on where the noriba or the bus stop was. I was told to go here, there and finally I had someone read the actual meeting place and they showed me in the right direct. I pretty much waited for an hour in the literally freezing weather. There were three to four other people waiting as well and when 9:40 rolled in, I noticed that they were leaving. I also noticed that there were people in the near corner and I went up to them with my schedule and asked them where to go.
Luckily, they were the right people and checked off my name, sending me down the road past two lights * shingo * and a right turn at the corner. There the Saikai bus was waiting and…I was more than anxious to get in.
At first, I was excited that there was no one there…yup, that didn't last long and not only that, the person that I was sitting next to was sick~! I need some Vit. C!
So let's just say that the first 4-5 hours were HELL! My feet were sore and my shoes were the culpret. When I finally took them off, it took an hour for it to stop throbbing! I then couldn't sleep more than 2 hours consecutively on that damn thing and would stay up for 1.5-2 hours before I exhaust myself. Not to mention the fact that the stupid toilet breaks every two! It was miserable but I guess I get what I paid for! I was so uncomfortable that I had to keep on changing positions but also the lady next to me couldn't stay still as well. Miserable! I was glad that the third or fourth stop at Morioka meant that people were getting off! Better yet, more than ¾ of the occupants were off the bus and it was nice. Still didn't quite solve all my sleeping probs but it helped heaps :D
Actually, when the sun came up, it started to snow and it was scary how fast the driver was driving! I couldn't believe it and was up for a good amount of time before I could sleep again.
After two more stops and drop offs, we finally make it to Aomori and my thought is get me off of this bus. I wrapped myself good and brave the weather.
I look for the closest Koban or Police box to ask for Directions for the Eki and, Hahah, if I had just turned around and looked behind me, I would have found it.
Lo and behold, I'm glad that I didn't because I wouldn't have met my traveling buddy from Aomori to Hakodate.
Her name was Hermione (I know what you are thinking) and we just talked while waiting for the train as well and even during the 2 to 3 hour train ride. I have plenty of pictures of our ride to Hokkaido and I enjoyed her company. It was funny because at one point, a conductor came by and asked for tickets and she didn't have a reserved seat (but really, she would have been fine because she had a pass) but I think because we were talking in English so rapidly, he kinda got scared or didn't want to deal with the foreigners :P It worked our for the best.
Hermione needed to go to the Post Office to withdraw money and so I helped her ask for directions as well as went with her because I honestly had nothing better to do. I wasn't sure what I would do in Hakodate and I forgot to confirm what time my host was going to finish work. I hung with her until her 1:29 departure and we said goodbye. I gave her my info in her book but she gave me hers on a scrap, which is not the best thing since I lose those easily (and did ?) I hope she contacts me but she'll have to in order to get the pictures that she wants of Hokkaido :P
Well, I was done in the main station of Hakodate and looked at my info folder (I have a folder with a print out of all my important info) and had to catch the train to Gyokukoen no Mae (a Park) and it had directions from there. Well, I figured that I had time to kill and so I looked around the park. It was a fort of the Shogunate and had some really nice architecture as well a good view of the tower thingy that Japan like to have in almost ever city :P
I was going to go up there but it's mainly good for the night view and not only that, I was a bit pake at that point because let me tell you, when I was in Hakodate, I looked up the prices for Sapporo and it was 8500Y or $85 dollars to get there! I was blown away because I knew that by the end of all the traveling, I would have saved not only time but LOTS of money by plane!
You Live & You LEARN!
Well, it was getting dark and I wanted to find the place I was staying at before the sun went down. It took me a few tries but the directions were really clear and I found…but no host.
I tried to contact him but I figured he was still at work. I went to a Pachinko Parlor to make a few calls but I finally just settled in the mall across the street. I wandered the shops many times that I'm sure they started to look at me funny or would get suspicious. Haha, I finally settled on the second floor there were couches for "resting" so I rested there for clost to 3 hours! Haha, I read and studied as well as worked on my goodbye speech for when I have to leave. It's got a lot of nonsense which I have to edit but at least the first draft is done and I can focus on translating it.
8:30 came by and I vacated the mall because they close at 9 but I went back to the Pachinko Parlor and waited in their lounge area. I noticed security coming around after 15 minutes and I busied myself as if I was waiting for someone inside: sitting towards the main area, being fidgety, and making really obvious glances in that direction. It seemed to work and I wasn't bothered for the rest of my wait. 9pm came around and I went back to the place that I was going to be staying and I was so relieved that he was home! I was so fammished and wanted to eat!
My host was Ben from the UK but was living in Hakodate for 4 years teaching. Telling me all the odds and ins of the place but he took me to a near by Izakaya (like a bar only not as trashy…well, this one at least. It's like going to Kims only without the karaoke.) He ran into some collegues as well and one was Canadian and the other was American. They were with their friend that is from Hakodate but I was glad to have her around as it seemed to level the playing fields :P
Ben ordered the normal things he usually likes to introduce his guests to (apparently he gets one CSer ever WEEK!): Raw Horse & Live Squid :P
I wasn't opposed to trying anything once or even twice but both were rather good. I felt a moral tug at eating the damn squid as it squirmed as I chompped down on it but I was over it. The raw horse was cut thinly and frozen (not solid but just enough so that it was a bit stiff for raw meat). Well, as soon as you eat it, it melts and has no particular flavor. It wasn't bad. Among the other things that we bought were some type of fish (really good and cooked to perfection!), spinich salad, cheese sticks, a cheesy potato, and yaki niku (meat on a stick). All Great stuff.
So we all hung out, and talked about travel as well as work and life in Japan. Afterwards, we returned to Ben's place and I took a shower. He introduced me to a game call Civilization IV and it was actually an awesome concept. It's a computer game as we were geeking out talking about different games and he told me that he was addicted to World of Warcraft and had to cut that out of his life because it was becoming too consuming. He also said that when he sold his character that he leved up and auctioned off, it went for $900.00!!!
$900.00!! Can you believe that?! Who the fuck would pay that kind of money for a character of a game but he explained that it's time consuming to build up a character so it may just be easier to buy it. But STILL REALLY?! WTF!!!
Anyhoo, I went to sleep with thoughts of what the hell am I going to do the next day to fill up my time. I told my next host that I would be there at 3 or 4 and I didn't know what I would do to fill in the gaps. Well, I'll worry about that the next day.