Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Japan Part Three - The End

Saturday, we first went to these famous gardens that are in Takamatsu – apparently Kings and Emperors from all over the world have been donating plants to this place for hundreds of years. It was a beautiful place and the lotus’ were in bloom. Since they only bloom for five days a year I was very lucky to have the right timing. We fed the turtles and the fish who were so used to being fed that the fish allowed themselves to be pet and the turtles would climb all over you. One of the turtles got hold of my finger but it didn’t hurt so much as it was cute. There were these strange, flat, needle-nosed, turtles there that I remember seeing at the Snake Park in Nairobi. I was so thrilled to see them in the wild (well, semi-wild) because I always wondered where they came from.

For lunch we met up with Grandma who had insisted on taking us out to lunch before I left. We talked about the differences between Korea and Japan – mostly that Korean people are much more touchy-feely and Japanese people have serious personal space issues. And the fact that the food in Korea is much spicier.

After lunch, we went to a kimono store and I tried on a yukata – it’s like a summer kimono and is less expensive than the full kimono is. I was pretty torn about buying one. I mean I always regretted not buying a nice silk sari when I was in India but those ran about 30 dollars and were easier to put on. Yukatas and kimonos require at least two people and unless they are put on in a special way, look terrible. I’m still debating and right now I’m leaning towards paying the $150 or so to get it. They are pretty neat.

The night was devoted to Erin taking her black belt test, which she passed with flying colors. She was so happy and I was happy for her because I knew what it felt like to get a new belt. It could only have been multiplied by the fact that it was a black belt.

Sunday, my final morning in Japan, was spent buying presents for my co-workers – I think I mentioned how they cornered me and demanded that I bring them back Milk Tea. They were so appreciative when I gave the tea to them today I was glad I remembered. For my last meal in Japan we had ramen – of course, I couldn’t leave Japan without having ramen – and sometime during the course of the meal, my plane left without me.

That’s right. I missed my flight back to Seoul because I hadn’t checked the time the night before. Spare me the ‘you should have checked’ lectures. Already got it twice. Or a billion times if you count the number of times I’ve given it to myself. Either way we arrived at the airport at 12:45pm thinking my flight left at 2:00pm when really it had already left at 12:25PM.

The women at the counter were very nice and understanding. They were doing everything they could to get me out of the country. At first they were like ‘oh, well we can just put you on the next flight’ and I was like ‘great, when is that?’. and they were like: ‘Wednesday’. Since I had to be at work on Monday that was no good.

They said they had a flight in the next prefecture over but it was for $600. It would have killed me to pay the much for a one hour flight. Finally, the lady held up her finger and disappeared into the back saying that she would make some phone calls. I had just started wondering what kind of phone calls she was making when she came back and said she got some of the money I spent on my flight that I missed to apply to the flight in the next prefecture over. So, if we hurried, I would only have to pay the difference (which was still like $400) to get on the flight. Since it was the best offer I was going to get we dashed into a taxi ($40), got two bus tickets to the next prefecture over ($80), got a taxi from that station to that airport ($20) and got to the airport where the people from Asiana airlines were waiting for us. The whole time this song was playing in my head.

We got there about 30 min before my flight was supposed to take off. The ladies at the Asiana counter flagged us down and took care of everything as fast as possible. I ended up only paying $30 for the flight which was the only good thing about this whole endeavor. Security and immigration put together only took about 15min and I was on the plane with about a minute to spare.

So, if you even have to travel through East Asia, choose Asiana because they will bend over backwards to get you where you want to be. In fact, that should be their new slogan.

pictures will come soon.

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