Happy New Year everyone!
I know I didn’t really post something about Christmas and the end of 2011 because there wasn’t much to say. Christmas was really shitty. Everyone was busy so I spent Christmas studying with a student. I didn’t get to do anything fun. I know I shouldn’t say that about said student but it’s not their fault. Nothing else I can do about that. So, I was in the worst mood for the rest of the week after that. That is, until Thursday.
Thursday was my trip to Japan for New Year’s! And it was AMAZING. I can’t stress it enough. It was absolutely wonderful. Better than my first trip to Japan. By a bajillion times. Nothing could top it. Why? Because we did what we wanted and had no real plans. But we did lots of great stuff. I’m so happy! So, I will describe my activities.
I took the first bus (4:30am!) with my coworker to the airport since she was going to Tokyo just an hour after me. So, I hung out at the airport for a little bit and then flew off to Fukuoka. I met up with Rina at the airport, though it took me 40 minutes to go through immigration. Ugh. So annoying.
So after I met Rina, we went to her home and dropped off my luggage. Then we bought a bus pass to take us anywhere for 3 days, which is amazing considering transportation costs an arm and a leg. So the pass cost $80 but transportation would have cost $160 or so if we didn’t do the pass. I’m happy about that. So we took a bus for 2 hours out to Saga, Kurume or someplace near Saga. We went to Yoshinagaro Historic Village. It was pretty nice. When we went there, since Rina and I speak Korean to each other, some people would kinda just look at us in curiousity. It wasn’t English so what could it be? And it just so happened that he was the volunteer tour guide for that facility. A Japanese man who knew English, actually. So he would explain to Rina in Japanese and then to me in English. His English wasn’t too bad but it was fine. But he would point at these Asian gates and say “See those birds with their wings out. It means attack! Attack!” and then point to another one with birds with their wings at their sides and say “This means Defense. Defense!” Oh, it was hilarious. Then he just left us suddenly at the top of a tower. But we didn’t mind. We wandered a bit more and then left, meeting up with Rina’s mom and Aunt. They are the sweetest people in the world!! Her mom got me a pretty little rice bowl for coming, which was so nice of her. Her aunt is also really cute, who watches Korean dramas so knows a couple Korean phrases. We had some awesome Italian food and then went back home.
Day 2, we took another 2 and a half hour bus ride and we went to Kuramoto for a pretty garden/park made by two scholars a couple hundred years ago (I think). It was absolutely stunning. I must say. Well done! So we took a walk around there, then went to the castle. Unfortunately, during my stay there, they decided they would close the castle for the holiday. So we only got to see the outside of it. It was still really pretty and there were cute stuff around it, like a new year’s market and such. Then we went into town and walked around the shopper’s street and restaurants, and even department stores. I finally got my CocoIchiBanya’s so I am happy! Korea’s version is a little better but not bad. I was overall very happy. I didn’t buy anything. I should have but I’m saving my money for when I go home in April to go clothes and everything else shopping. I really wanted to buy a Samantha Thavasa wallet (It’s a Japanese designer brand. SO CUTE!) But I didn’t want to spend the money just yet. I can’t justify the purchase yet. My wallet was so damn expensive and it’s not dead yet so no need).
However, we did end up going to Loft, my favorite Japanese store. It has the cutest stuff ever there! I really love it. Anyway, I remembered from a Youtuber that I watch that they were raving about this Japanese beauty product called Cure. It was a skin exfoliating gel that removed dead skin. I was a bit skeptical but after trying it on my hand, OMG, it was amazing!! SO MUCH DEAD SKIN. It was kinda gross. But my hand was soooooo soft afterwards. But it was $30 or so. But I bought it. It was amazing. But it was also over the limit for carry-on liquids so I would have to figure out how to bring this on. Hmmm.
New Year’s Day! So what do we do? We decide on a whim to take another 2 and a half hour bus ride (notice a trend here. hahaha) to Beppu! What’s in Beppu? It’s famous for it’s hot springs! So we decided to go to a famous place that has 7 separate world famous hot springs. There were also some full body hot springs you could go into as well as foot hot springs. Since both Rina and I are so shy, we only did the foot springs, which was still wonderful. I highly recommend it to anyone. It was just a great way to end the new year. Relaxed! And it was funny, we were waiting for a bus but it was so late. 15-20 minutes late, actually, which is not very usual in Japan. We were worried because we had to catch another bus back to Fukuoka and the small village bus were were trying to catch only comes once an hour. So we see a bus going in the opposite direction but has a transfer station we can get to so we decide to jump on it. But as soon as we do, the other bus comes. So we leap out of the bus and DASH to the other one frantically. It was hilarious. This kind of thing happened the entire time. We would JUST miss or JUST make a bus or tour to get somewhere. So our phrase for the trip was “우리 운명이다” which means, It’s our fate. Our luck was very good or very bad. But during this trip, it was just fine.
So then we take the long bus ride back and go buy a cake for new year’s, just like last year. (We spent last year’s new year’s here in Korea at my place) We then went to a Karaoke Room for a couple hours then went back to Rina’s apartment to watch the countdown and music shows until the new year and eat cake. It was very low key, but it was perfect. Just the way I like it. I love being home with friends, ringing in the new year’s with them. It was perfect. And to make it better, I love getting texts from friends right at midnight, telling me happy new year’s. Everyone was a little early. But one person, JS, messaged me right at midnight. I was very very happy. Nobody, not even my family, realized that it was new year’s for me. And JS is in NJ so I was happy. And the funny thing is that I was going to message him first to say Happy New Year’s but i decided to wait a little bit. Good thing I did. And it’s funny. Girls love the small things guys say, even if guys don’t mean it to be sweet and mean it to mean anything. Don’t sweat the small things, they say. But the small things in life is what makes up life, they also say. Very, very true.
My Last Day ;_;
My last day in Japan was a very lazy day. We woke up around 8:45ish. Got ready and left the apartment around 10 to go shopping at Hakata station since it’s New Year’s Day and Fukuoka Tenshin station is closed. However, Hakata has their department store and shopping center open and it’s absolute madness. Japan is usually very quiet but not on this day. It’s crazy and noisy. And the way shop girls catch your attention is soooo hilarious. Their calls are so high pitched (even old women do it too) and cute and so dragged out. You just have to hear it to believe it. But anyway, there is tradition in Japan for the first couple days for shops to sell Lucky Bags. What they are is a shopping bag with products inside. You don’t know what you will get, it’s completely random and you just pay a set price. So, Rina and I saw a popular Jewelry designer with very cute accessories and decided to buy it for 3,100Yen, or about 35-40$. I got some tiny-ass pendant but a pretty set of earrings. The pendent itself is pink gold with a small diamond and is worth about $90-$100 separately, the earrings about $50, so it was kinda worth it. Rina wasn’t very happy with hers but hers was so cute! A long necklace and a barret. I would’ve taken it too.
We continue shopping for a few more hours, though didn’t buy anything else and then I get ready and go to the airport. Check is fine, luggage seems to be going well. So we sit around and talk for a while and then I have to go through security. Moment of truth. And damn those Japanese, they do their job well. In Korea, I just whizzed right by, but not these guys. They found my cure bottle and other stuff. They took my cure away! I just about cried. I dunno why. Everything was going so well. I begged him not to take it (I still don’t know why I tried. It’s kind of a futile idea) but he didn’t let me. So I asked him if I could give it to my friend, who might still be waiting. We checked but Rina left. So he took it. I was very sad and messaged Rina that he took it. Luckily, Rina was just on the small airport shuttle bus to the other terminal so she would run back to get it. And the guy gave it to her!! How wonderful!! So she will send it to me someday. Hahah. That’s okay. Even if she just uses it, that’s okay. I just don’t want to waste the money.
So, I’m waiting for my plan and the next problem arises. The plan is late to board. WTF? I have a bus to catch at Incheon. My plane arrives at 10:30pm and the bus leaves at 11:00pm. I have 30 minutes to get off the plane, get through security, find the bus, and get on. OMG, is what I’m thinking. But it also sucks that they make these stupid announcements in Korean and Japanese just fine, but when they do the English announcements, they don’t give all the information. Just small bits and pieces. That’s a bit rude but I don’t say anything, though I wanted to. However, we only board 10 minutes late and the plane still leaves on-time. Thank goodness! So, I fill out that immigration and customs form ahead of time so there is no waiting at Incheon. I get to Incheon and dash! The foreign line isn’t too bad but still kinda long. But you know what? Incheon has their head in the game! It only takes 10 minutes! Japan took 40. I was very proud of Korea. There was no bullshit here. I was hoping there would be a reentry for foreigners line but no. Not necessary. Makes me wonder what corners they are cutting to make it speedy. But I don’t care, I move quickly past luggage and run to find the bus. And I find it! It’s really close to immigration! So I have ten minutes to spare! I made the bus. Except, Koreans treat foreigners like the plague and nobody wants to sit next to me until it’s the only seat left. And then there was a cute guy who spoke pretty decent English sitting next to me. I was happy, except for the really loud old men behind me who wouldn’t shut up the entire ride home. But that’s Korea.
I noticed in Japan, people don’t shout too much, they don’t stare at others, they seem in a very good mood (even if they aren’t), and it’s just more individualized. Men seem to take great pride in their families and spend time with them. They are such loving-looking fathers. I hope to marry a guy like that. And girls here don’t try to look like one another. They try to be different. The fashion is so different than Korea and it’s awesome. It really renewed my love for Japan. I remember why I loved it so much when I was young. They are polite but still know how to have fun and be unique. But family and friends are still important. I know it’s just me as a short-term foreigners looking at Japan through rose-colored glasses, but it was the best of times. I really found myself again in Japan. It was 4 days of no complaints about anything, smiles, waking up and going to bed whenever we wanted, doing whatever we wanted when we wanted, eating whatever we wanted and it being delicious, and just being free. There was not a worry in our mind, (except for maybe not making that one bus back to Fukuoka from Beppu but besides that…). I came back to Korea myself. So happy. So full of life and energy. I don’t want it to end. And I realized, this is how life should be. And so I learned that it’s also about the people around you. My coworkers are very tired from our schedule, and I understand that, but they complain an awful lot. I don’t want to hear it. I’m tired of the complaining. That’s why I left home. I wanted to get away from such negative energy. It makes you sick and unhappy. It’s how I was all last year. And now I’m so much better. I just wonder how long it will last. My one coworkers always tells me “How long are you going to keep acting so happy? When will you go back to being miserable?” I know he says it jokingly but somehow, I feel like it isn’t. So I need to get away from those people. So I will try not to hang out with them unless I have to if they are going to complain. I’m not in the mood. I wanna be happy and me. Carefree and such.
Next entry will be about my New Year’s resolutions for this year. I’m still thinking about them though I have some down. More on way.