Saturday, November 27, 2010
Annnd...I'm on my way home!
Japanese security is even more intense than Chinas. I was one of the first students in line to get off the ship, and it still took more than three hours to go through all of the stations. They took my picture, my fingerprints, scanned my passport, took a picture of each of my eyes. I felt like I was headed to prison, not just into downtown Kobe, Japan. But finally all of the interrogations were over and done with and Mackenzie, Carren, and I took the monorail from the port into the downtown area. It seemed like every other huge metropolitan areasky rise buildings, fashionable girls, fancy boutiques. We were extremely hungry after standing in line for so long, so we headed into a little Japanese café. It was packed with locals, so I assumed that the food must be amazing. After standing awkwardly in the door for a while, the waitress motioned that we could sit down at the end of a long table, filled with a bunch of other customers. We did. We waited for her to come and take our order. She didnt. Meanwhile, floods of people just kept coming into the restaurant. They would stop by this machine that vaguely resembled a juke box, put their money inside, push a button, and hand a slip of paper to the waitress before seating themselves. I got up and approached the machine; it was all in Japanese. Great. So, I put in a 1,000 yen note (about $12), pushed a button, got a receipt and handed it to the waitress. Mackenzie and Carren followed suit. About ten minutes later, we all got different meals. Mine had a steaming bowl of stick rice, a bowl of what might have been chicken, a side of tofu, fish soup with the fish still floating in it (even the eyeballs!), and some sort of drink that kind of tasted like those dirt pie milkshakes Vikki and I used to make in the backyard and feed to our grandma. Yum. It actually wasnt that bad. I didnt have the soup or the tofu, but the rice and chicken were very filling.
After lunch, we just walked all around the downtown area, occaisionally poking our heads into shops if something in the window caught our eye. We went to the Kobe City Museum, which was fascinating. We got the English guides so that we could understand the exhibits. Afterwards, we made it to a coffee shop, warmed up a bit, and headed to China town. I guess we just couldnt get enough of China, so we ate at a Chinese restaurant for dinner.
The next day I spent mostly alone in Kobe because Mackenzie and Carren had headed for Hiroshima and Tokyo, and I had decided to go in-transit with the ship to save a little (a lot) of money. It was a really nice day though; I made it back to the same coffee shop where I picked up some free wifi and chatted with some Japanese girls. They were really nice, but the day went by too quickly and I had to be back on the ship to travel to Yokohama.
The trip took about 36 hours, and it was wonderful because I was one of the few students on board, so it was nice and quiet. I got a lot of homework and studying done since finals are coming up quickly after Japan.
Mackenzie met me at the ship as soon as the ship docked in Yokohama and we took the metro into Shibuya in Tokyo. Shibuya street is a crossing where at any one time, more than 1000 people can be crossing the street. It was crazy! I dont even know where they all came from. Several times we just stood there to see all of the people cross, and then two minutes later, there were another 1000 people ready to cross. We walked for fourteen hours straight, and Japan is such an expensive country that I felt like I was being charged just to breathe their air. We walked up and down the infamous Harajuku street and around Shibuya street. It was just fascinating to watch all of the girls walk by in their high fashion. I felt extremely out of place. We decided that we had had enough of the raw fish over rice meals, so when we found a T.G.I. Friday, we jumped at the chance for a western meal. It was delicious. Afterwards, we found a movie theatre and saw Harry Potter 7.
The next day we spent in Yokohama. We went to the Raumen Noodle Museum, which really wasnt a museum. . . .Its hard to explain, but as soon as you walk in the door, you go down a bunch of dark and scary stairs to this underground world of Raumen Noodles. There were nine restaurants down there, and the wait time was anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to sit down and eat. They were all decked out to look like 19th century Japanese villagesimage a Wild West exhibit only Japanese. The food was good, the gift shop was ridiculously expensive, but I still got some cool noodle eating utensils.
The exit immigration/customs/I dont know what they were doing took forever. We had to get another stamp in our passport, have our eyes, fingerprints, and pictures matched again to our passport, have all of our bags searched for what we bought it was a nightmare because everyone waited until the last minute to come on board. On-ship time was 6pm, and at 5pm, 800 people were trying to go through these lines. It was sad getting back onto the ship in my last international port, but Im also really excited to be home. Next time my feet are on land, itll be American soil.
These few days from Japan to Hawaii have been miserable. The ship is rocking and rolling and the swells are anywhere from 8 to 20 feet. I was seasick the first few days, but now Im just uncomfortable. Hopefully itll die down soon, or my stomach will get used to living on a roller coaster. Mackenzie and I have had to take everything off of our dressers, because it just falls off.
Last night the ship crossed the International Date Line at midnight. So, one minute it was 11:59PM on Saturday, November 27, 2010 and then the next minute is was 12:00AM on Saturday, November 27, 2010. I went from being 18 hours ahead of Central Time to being 6 hours behind! Its weird, and really hard for me to wrap my head around. By the end of the voyage, I will have been in every time zone in the world. ☺
Were five days from Hawaii right now, so text me on December 3rd! My phone will work . . . well, if I can remember how to use a phone after not using one since August!