Japan Day 1
I am writing this all on my eee pc, and, while I am getting the hang of this tiny keyboard, typing mistakes are common. I am also in various states of mental functioning so excuse any grammatical errors.
I woke up at around 6:45 on Thursday morning. I had been feeling a bit under the weather, and was slightly congested. I really hoped that I did not catch something right before my trip. I woke up the other interns (Bilal, Josh, and Paul), because I knew they would be very sad and might cry, if I did not give them the last chance to say goodbye to me. We did a 4 way shoulder-tap, the universe imploded, and I was off.
As I walked down Clementina I realized that it would be the last time I smelled that poo stench on the street. I had mixed feelings about this.
The BART ride to SFO was very uneventful. Check in was amazingly fast. The line was short and moved quickly. I had almost everything I was taking with me in my carry-on. There was nothing in my checked baggage but knives and lint (one knife & one swiss tech mulikey). Anyway the whole process of checking in took about 15 minutes. The security checkpoint was even faster. There was no line, and for the first time in a long time I didn't set off the metal detector. I had shown up three hours before my flight to be safe, and I was now left with two hours and forty minutes to kill.
I went to the currency exchange and turned 300$ into 27,000 yen. The Lonely Planet guidebook I have (which was printed just last year), has the exchange rate of one USD to 120 Yen, at the exchange booth they offered about 98 Yen for a dollar, google says the current rates are 107 yen to a dollar. Stupid weak American money. Anyway, I used ten dollars which I did not convert to yen to buy an english muffin breakfast sandwich and a gatorade. I went to my terminal, and accidentally dropped the barely touched sandwich on the floor while removing my backpack. I was hungry :(
I read for two hours then boarded the plane at around 11. There were many people coughing on this eleven hour flight, so I did not have high hopes for avoiding sickness. Read some more on the flight, watched iron man in Japanese, watched iron man in english, and watched be kind rewind. They served two decent meals, and a few snacks in between. Ten hours later when we were finally over Japan, I went to the back of the plane, and stared out the window in the emergency exit door to get my first view of Japan.
We landed around 2 pm on Friday. It was hot, so very hot (humid too). I filled out my customs form, got fingerprinted, and photographed, and made my way over to the baggage claim to pick up my knives. I made my way out of the airport to the train, and bought a ticket for what I hoped was a kanayama station bound train. Turns out it was. (cue the "ding" sound that is played on the audio tracks for slideshows, when it is time to change the slide). The first few pictures are of Kanayama station. There was a cool little inflatable pool, with little kids in miniature paddle boats. They also had a bunch of those water mist sprayers that people stand in front of to cool off.
I relaxed at the train station for a bit before I caught the number 12 bus. I took it to the Ishikawa Bashi stop, and got off. I used a pay phone to call up Changmi who I had found on couchsurfing.com. I actually set up the couchsurf with her husband (who was out of town) who said it would be ok for me to stay, so I think she was a little surprised when I called. She said that she was currently hosting two couples who each had a small child. It was cool if I stayed, but it would be crowded. She picked me up at the nearest intersection with her mother, one of the couples, and their child in the car.
We drove to downtown Nagoya and they let us out. Changmi and her mother were going somewhere, so I hung out with Sarah, Seba, and their daughter Maya. They were couchsurfers from France who had been in Japan for a couple of weeks. We walked around central park in downtown Nagoya for a bit. There is the large TV tower at one end of the park, and a bunch of art pieces scattered about randomly (metal taco boat thing). We went and got dinner, which I later found out to be pig intestines, with an egg, over rice. It was pretty good.
After eating we took the subway back to Changmi's house and slept.
Japan Day 2