So, I got back yesterday from Japan without too many mishaps, other than getting stuck in the Busan Airport and getting a bit sick, but I'll get into that more later.
I've been back for a day and I'm still ridiculously tired. I chalk it up to the little sleep I got Saturday night (out of fear I wouldn't hear my alarm clock) and the fact that I have a cold. Bleh. Anyway, I guess I'll give a day-by-day break down of my trip...
Nothing too special. I took a non-stop flight from Seoul to Fukuoka and landed about 3:40 pm. A really sweet, little old Japanese couple sat next to me on the bus to the domestic terminal and offered to help me to Hakata Station, since they were heading in the same direction. We talked about English and why I was in Japan. They told me about their trip to Western Europe that they were returning from. Once we got to the station, they pointed me in the direction of my hotel and wished me a wonderful trip.
When I got to the hotel, I was quite tired so I slept for a couple hours. Mostly because it was heavenly to be sleeping in air conditioning. The room was small, but clean and nice. And it had a...wait for it...BATHTUB! I haven't had access to a bathtub in about three years, so I definitely took advantage of it.
Anyway, it was raining that night, so I didn't do anything Friday night, other than venturing out for a light dinner, then coming back and taking a nice warm bath before turning in for the night.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF FUKUOKA:
A nice, clean city. Lots of bicycles, no smoking on the streets, lots of trees. Other than the incredibly muggy, weather, it was nice. It didn't look that much different than Hong Kong or even Kangnam (except for more trees). And it's easy to get around. The people were really nice, and seemed to understand when I kept accidentally speaking in Korean. Oh, and there really are vending machines everywhere.
The day of adventure....
I got up and was greeted by unexpected sunny weather, which I took as a good sign on my way out the door. I planned to look for a shrine and a couple of temples that were suppose to be near my hotel. I ended up not finding any of them, but I did find a fun little market with a bunch of restaurants and little shops. They also had a lot of floats around the market and the city. I lucked out and happened to be in Fukuoka during the biggest festival of the year, Yamakasa.
After wandering around the market for a bit (and nearly buying a yukata...twice) I decided to head towards a huge entertainment center called Canal City, which had a cute little canal running through it. On the way, I ended up finding Kushida Shrine and walked around it for a bit. On the way to Canal City, I ended up on at first glance what appeared to be a cute little street. It ended up being what we call an "ahjussi street" in Korea. Meaning, lots of advertisements for girly clubs. I did find Canal City and did a little shopping for some friends, then headed back to the market for some yummy lunch. I don't know what it was called, but it was good.
After lunch, I went back to the hotel to freshen up a bit, since I was covered in sweat. I really think that Japanese people don't sweat because everyone else looked great while I looked horrible. So, after cleaning up I headed out to a park where there were some castle ruins. I wandered around for a bit, wondering where the ruins were, not realizing until the last minute that I was actually standing on top of them. The castle was never finished and basically was just the wall bit. I took some pictures and then decided to head back towards the hotel to find something to eat, especially since it was starting to rain.
After coming down from the castle, I quickly realized that I didn't know how I got up there or how to get out. I pretty much wandered around for about an hour trying to find the entrance. (See Facebook for related pictures and videos.) There was no one, and I mean NO ONE, in the park and it was dark and kind of spooky. There were huge magpie/crow/ravens everywhere cawing, which made it seem like something right out of a horror flick. I did eventually find my way out though...
I then headed back towards the market area. By this time it was really raining. All I really wanted to do was get to a restaurant, eat and get back to the hotel. I was tired and sweaty (AGAIN). As I'm walking down the street, I noticed an increasing amount of men standing around in kimono tops with sumo wrestler bottoms on. Not a pleasant sight for the most part. As I get farther down, I look down a side street and see a few hundred men and boys dressed this way, so I walk down to see what's going on.
Apparently a big part of the festival is a contest where a group of men run through a course carrying one of the floats, weighting several thousand pounds. So, I stuck around in the rain and watched them practice running up and down the street. It was pretty exciting, and I was happy to see a cultural event. Afterwards, I got some yummy curry udon retired back to the hotel.Day Three:
Home sweet home...
I got up around 6 a.m. and got ready, then headed to the airport. I got there too early and had to wait about 30 minutes to check in for my flight. Instead of non-stop, I had a connecting flight in Busan. I waited a couple hours and got on the flight. It was only about 30 minutes, but it was kind of bumpy. The wind was bad coming into Busan and we had to unexpectedly go back up when we were landing.
I landed and rushed off to immigrations. I only had about an hour to make my connecting flight. I got caught up a little bit at the quarantine station. They detected a fever, but instead of being quarantined, they sent me on to immigration with a little brochure to read. Then I spent about 10 minutes talking to immigration about my visa and then rushed off to catch my flight.
Which ended up being canceled because of weather, as were the three following flights to Seoul. I sat around waiting for about an hour and a half to find out if there were going to be any flights going out. I got lucky and they got me on a flight for 3:30 pm. It was a short, but bumpy flight. I got in safely and by 5:30 pm I was back in my part of town.
So, all in all, a fun trip. I wish I had someone with me. When I head out in a month for my visa, hopefully I can get someone to go with me.
Facebook Pictures are Here.