Friday, August 17, 2007

Journey To The Top Of Japan and Back Pt.3 - The Damned Duffel Bag

As I headed away from Mt. Fuji, I was a shell of a man. I was tired, dirty, and just overwhelmed by the whole ordeal. But, I had to retrieve my red duffel. As it turns out, this was kind of a chore to do. Actually, that is an understatement, it was a total pain in the ass.

The first leg of the duffel bag quest took me from Mt. Fuji to a town called, Fujinomiya. I slept on and off during the hot and bumpy ride and was happy to be back into a town when the trip ended. In Fujinomiya I had to by another bus ticket to go to Kawaguchiko. After getting the ticket, I was lucky to find a place with an ATM and I grabbed some cash and a 2 Liter bottle of water and headed back to the bus station. The bus I got on was a local loop bus but for being local, it took an insane route and traveled an hour and a half before getting to where I needed to be.

While on this bus, I met a nice family from Canada who were on vacation and I helped them plan out their time they were going to spend in Kyoto. It was nice to talk to someone and it made the bus ride go quicker. Finally, we all arrived at Kawaguchiko.

At Kawaguchiko, I had to get on another bus that would take me back to the fifth station of Mt. Fuji, where I would retrieve my duffel from the locker and head back toward home. If you were to look at a map, I had just made a weird "V" from and back to the mountain again. I parted ways with the Canadians and went to get my duffel.

At the fifth station, I learned that I had just missed the last bus back to Tokyo by 22 minutes and that I would need to take the same bus I had just arrived on back to where I came from and then take a train from there. It was on this bus that I met a couple from Hawaii that I would spend the next four hours talking to. He was American and she was Japanese and we talked about the mountain and how they were not able to make it to the top and we talked about life in the US compared to here. They were fun to talk to and helped to make the time go by. The downside to all of these bus rides was that they were eating up precious time for me to get back to Fukuchiyama. I was supposed to watch the festival and fireworks in my town but by early afternoon it had become apparent that I would be lucky to make it back to Fukuchiyama that night, let alone, see the festival. After a bunch of trains and parting ways with the American couple, I found myself in Shin-Yokohama with a choice to make.

By the time I was in Shin-Yokohama it was almost 9pm, my day had been eaten up by bus rides and trains, all for my red duffel. Grrr. The choice was this: Take the next available bullet train to Kyoto or Osaka and get there a little before 11pm which meant that I would arrive a little after either of the available trains going back to Fukuchiyama had left. I would be stuck in the train station or looking for a hotel for the night. The other option was to call it a day in Shin-Yokohama, get a hotel, get some dinner and a shower, and get some well-deserved sleep and then start fresh the next day. I chose the latter option this time. I figured that I was going to be in Kyoto the next day for a festival anyways, I may as well only make one trip there instead of trying to go to Fukuchiyama and back. I also reasoned that a hotel in Shin-Yokohama would be cheaper than one in Kyoto or Osaka. I was glad I made the choice I did.

I got a very reasonable hotel and when I got up to my room I found a Domino's Pizza brochure. I haven't had pizza in months and Dominos, while not my favorite while in America, is very tasty here. They serve American-styled pizza and so you can find pizzas that don't have nutty toppings on them like chicken and corn or salmon and potato. I ordered the Giga Meat which has five different meats packed on to it. After ordering, I jumped into the shower and grabbed a Coke from a convenience store near the hotel. By the time I was ready to rock, the pizza guy was at the door with my meaty delicacy in hand. I made him happy by giving him a tip that would be standard in the States but is kind of big here and he told me that I had given him too much. I told him that I hadn't and when he figured out he got a $4 tip I thought he was going to hug me. Tipping is still not standard here but it is acceptable to tip pizza delivery guys, though I do not think many Japanese do it. I asked him if it was okay before giving it to him because sometimes they get very weird if you try to tip and they are not allowed to accept them. Fortunately, he was able to and we both came out winners. The rest of the night was spent enjoying pizza and relaxing on an actual factual bed. I slept very well.

Yesterday, I woke up, checked out, and jumped on a bullet train to Kyoto. I met up with Terri in the early afternoon and we ate lunch and then went to Arashiyama for the lantern floating. After that, I misplaced and then retrieved my Mt. Fuji walking stick and then came home. But not before, I had to go back to Kyoto station to get my red duffel out of another locker. Stupid duffel bag.

I finally got home last night and had today off so it all worked out pretty well. I think there may have been a small earthquake while I was away because some things were tipped over that were upright when I left. Nothing major though, I just found it odd to not find things how I had left them. That is pretty much the end of my adventure. I work tomorrow and then have two days off. And then in about three weeks, Ben gets here and I start another whirlwind tour of the country. I am working on getting all of my good pics uploaded to Flickr and then I will also put some on here too. Just keep checking either site and you should be able to see pics soon.


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