Tuesday, October 2, 2012

To Japan and Back Again

Three weekends ago (I think? Yes, it should be three.) I went to Japan with a TaLK scholar friend to see a Crystal Kay in concert. The three messages below summarize my trip. Sorry for not writing about it earlier!

Tonight is the last night I have to get a good night's sleep for awhile. 

I teach three classes tomorrow; head to the train station right after school; arrive in Seoul and find Vincent; get settled then head to a birthday party; get back to the hotel before the subway shuts down; fly to Japan the next day; go to a Crystal Kay's concert; [whatever happens after a concert]; fly back to Korea the next day; take the train home; rest and get ready to teach 3 classes the next day.

*GAME FACE* ... tbh, this is my game face: o _ o
Bittersweet weekend. Lessons were learned. ...I didn't realize just how much I missed Japan. Hachioji is a nice place, was a pleasant surprise. Waiting to visit again already. Until next time, Japan. Until next time.
Hey dad,

I'm back in Korea now. I told mom about the trip beforehand, but let me explain the trip so you know what happened :)

A friend and I (we met in SA and came to Korea for the TaLK program together) went to Japan for 2 days to see a concert. We left Seoul Saturday morning and came back Sunday evening. I made the mistake of thinking there'd be time (the day of the flight) to get money out in Korea, but we ended up rushing to our flight with minutes to spare. I thought, Ok. I'll get money out in Japan and exchange it at the airport. I had my American credit card and Korean debit card on the trip. I didn't think about telling the Korean bank that I'd be out of the country, so when I tried it at the ATMs, it didn't work at all. I suspect they just blocked the transactions since they were from another country. I tried the Visa, but I've never used a credit card at an ATM before. I was surprised when it asked for a pin number. We tried so many machines that day. I looked online after I texted you, and it said that all 7-11 stores and post offices (besides banks) in Japan would have international ATMs. So we left the airport and tried at 7-11s. By the time we found a post office, it was closed (Saturday), and the banks weren't open either. So! I couldn't get any money out. I gave my friend what little Korean money I had on me to add to his amount. He exchanged it for Yen when we were at the airport. By the time I got your reply, we had left the airport, so I couldn't get any travellers checks.

There also wasn't time to go to a base. We were almost late meeting my friend's relative because of the money issue at the airport. When we met up with him, he took us to some more 7-11s and a post office, but no luck. By then, it was time to go to the concert. After the concert, we had to take a long subway ride to the relative's house. The next day, (after you send the next round of messages), I tried at a 7-11 down the street, but it still didn't work. We had to leave Japan in the early afternoon, so there wasn't much point trying to get money out.

I really didn't know about credit cards being used at ATMs, especially with PIN numbers. Needless to say, I will remember now to just take out trip money days before the trip, in case I run out of time the day of.

I have to go to school now, but I'll email you again when I get back home.
so yes...

I am stupid. Even though I wouldn't have made an effort to talk to the Korean banks anyways (in case I needed to speak more Korean than I knew), I still could've taken money out earlier. ...And that birthday party, I never got to go to it. It took so long to meet up with my friend once I arrived in Seoul; took so long to find a hotel; took such a long subway ride (almost an hour from the Gangnam area to the Gimpo airport area) that there was no hope to even stop by for 10 minutes. Instead I sent her text messages and stared longingly at the fancy cupcake I'd bought her. I didn't even get to eat the cupcake. I accidentally left it in the hotel fridge. I hope someone else enjoyed it. It looked delicious.

The Crystal Kay concert was AMAZING. It was my first official concert (I won't count the ones at anime conventions... nope). Though I didn't have any strong attachment to her or her music beforehand, I truly came to respect her, her music, and her performance by the end of the concert. The atmosphere was great. Plus, my Korean friend got it right. Japanese people do like to sit and enjoy the music when they go to concerts. So many calm, quiet people during the slow songs! Yet, they were totally in love with the music, so I know they appreciated it, too.

Meeting my friends relatives was awesome, too. We both struggled so hard to remember the Japanese that we'd learned in SA (in order to talk to the nephew, cousin, and her husband), but all the Korean and English kept getting in the way. His cousin made an amazing Japanese-style breakfast, which I can still imagine clearly in my mind. Dinner was also really good, but I will never say I like sushi again. I didn't realize that wasabi could be snuck into sushi! Bleh! The parents laughed at me so much.

Just being in Japan was amazing. Despite all the troubles and stressful situations, I could feel a strong sense of happiness underneath it all. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed Japan, and how much I wanted to be back. I somewhat expected it to be like returning and only seeing changes, and not liking them. However, true love might exist (at least, true good memories) because how else could I maintain a happy mood underneath all the troubles??? I really hope to go back under better circumstances (staying longer, not rushing, being completely prepared), and discover if I really do still love Japan as much as I seemed to a few weeks ago.

Oh! Oh! I have to say one more thing. I totally wasn't expecting to go to Hachi-oji! What's so great about that place? It's the hometown of a Japanese group I heard years ago and grew to love. The group's called Funky Monkey Babys. I don't know a lot about the various cities and towns in Japan, and the only reason I'd known about their hometown is because they mention it in a song I listen to very often. Needless to say, arriving in Hachi-oji had me feeling pretty good.

Also, on the bus ride back to the airport, I was cloud-watching. The clouds were enormous and poofy (probably due to being near the ocean). The amazing thing was that I saw faces in the clouds! Crazy, yeah? Seriously though, I saw detailed faces in the clouds, and it reminded me of a friend back in Korea who'd shown me a picture of a cloud angel floating over South Africa.

That's the angel cloud above. I filmed the clouds I saw. As usual, I will promise to share pictures with you and then promptly not have time to do it. Maybe once these adventures are over, I'll do an archive dump let you pour over the files.

'Til next time,

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