Hello everyone! It has been exactly 9 days since my return back to Canada, and am finally in a state of mind where I can properly write about my experiences in Japan and Korea. I always get a little sad when I return home from a trip (especially if it’s from a place that I love), and there is also the added factor of the jet lag to consider. Needless to say, I was kind of in this sad and tired limbo for the past week, trying to adjust to life back in Canada (it feels as if I was gone for a whole year, rather than 21 days), and working through my feelings regarding my leaving Asia, when I’ll return to Asia, and of course, when I will see my friends from abroad again. Travel is always a double edged sword for me, but no matter how bad the post-travel sadness gets, I will never give up traveling! I’ll stop my rambling about that for now though, so that I can finally start telling you all about my adventures in Japan and Korea!
The day had finally come! I’m surprised that I was able to sleep at all the night before, because I usually get far too excited before a trip and don’t get any sleep at all. I woke up early though (which wasn’t all that surprising), checked my luggage one more time, and then we were off! Everything went exceptionally well; we made it to the airport with ample time to spare, hung out at our gate for some time (we did some reading, and kdrama watching, as you can see below), and then we finally boarded our plane! Our flight from Toronto to Chicago also went by without a hitch, and our moods were very good. Once we got to Chicago for our layover, however, things went a little bit south.
We knew which terminal we had to go to due to the original document we’d received when we first bought the tickets months ago, but no one had been able to tell us which gate to go to in Chicago before we left Toronto. We asked someone for help, and they sent us to a different terminal entirely, and we had to leave the section of the airport we were in due to this. When we arrived at the terminal which we’d been directed to, we were informed that we had been at the right terminal before to begin with, and that now we had to take a train back to said terminal, and go through security again before we could go to our gate!
Needless to say, our stress levels had gotten very high. We’d had close to 2 hours from when we landed in Chicago, to when we had to take off for Tokyo (which had seemed like enough time when we bought the tickets), and the train ride to the wrong terminal, and the train ride back to the right terminal had taken up a lot of that time. The fact that we had to go through security again (even if everything went smoothly) could mean that we would miss our flight! Our good moods had definitely dissolved by this point, and we were very very stressed while rushing to to the correct terminal. We got in line to go through security, and tried to cheer each other up by saying that at least we hadn’t had to pick up our luggage and submit it again (which is sometimes the case when you have a layover).
And of course, security did not go as smoothly as we’d hoped, as I was selected for a random pat down, which took longer than it should have. By the time it was over, I was definitely in the worst mood possible. We were basically running by the time we had made it through security, and the only reason why we didn’t miss our flight was because the crew, working on the plane we were supposed to leave on, were running behind. We made it to our gate just in time for boarding, and were finally able to catch our breaths as we settled into our seats.
Once we realized that we would in fact be making it to Japan after all, we were able to laugh everything off, and soon enough had smiles on our faces again. Bad things sometimes happen, and wasting time being upset doesn’t help anyone, especially since we were stuck sitting side by side for a 12 hour flight, haha.
I think that the excitement over where we were going definitely helped us get through that flight, because it was quite long, and sleep was close to impossible. The available movies were not tempting in the least, which was a disappointment since watching movies will usually make a flight seem shorter. I opted for listening to some Japanese music in stead, and thinking about all of the fun things we would be doing once we arrived. The Japanese food and drinks also did help a little! Thinking back now, though, I wonder if I should have just stayed up the entire night before leaving Canada so that I could have been tired enough to sleep on the plane…but what’s done is done, and I’ll remember this for the future!
After what felt like a few days, however, we finally landed! And the fact that we were all exhausted didn’t bother us in the least. We had the dorkiest grins on our faces as we got off the plane, went through immigration, picked up our luggage, and left the airport! I was ready to take the train from the airport to our AirBnB, and had memorized the route, but my parents insisted that we take a cab since it was dark, and late, and we each had a backpack and a large luggage to lug around. Luckily my father speaks intermediate Japanese, and we were able to hail a cab and communicate where it was that we wanted to go without any problems. My dad was even able to have a conversation with our cab driver about various things, and I felt very proud!
Then, we arrived on our street (and I recognized it from Google Maps and felt yet more excited). Our building came into view, and it all started to finally feeling real! We paid our cab driver without leaving a tip (and this was not because we were dissatisfied, or being rude, but because it is actually considered rude of you to leave a tip in Japan! We then got our luggage and stood on the street for a moment, just looking up at our building, and at everything else in view. We had 4 flights of stairs to climb with our luggage (it was an old building, so there was no elevator), but we made it through probably simply due to how excited we were to be there. We were inside of our apartment before we knew it, and started exploring!
It was a cozy little place with 3 rooms which could be left open or which could be separated by sliding doors, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Although the place was quite small, my parents and I are very close and were therefore able to cohabit in this small space for 10 days quite well! Two of the rooms had tatami mats on the floors as well, which made us quite happy too. I had stayed in a room with tatami mats the first time I’d visited Japan, and really enjoyed the experience, and my parents had wanted to sleep on tatami on their first trip as well, so this was fantastic.
We thought that we’d shower, change, and fall onto our sleeping mats. But we were riding on quite the adrenaline high, and there was also the issue of our water heater not wanting to turn on. Luckily I had found an AirBnB that was literally 150 meters from where the friend lives, and she wanted to see me anyway, so I invited her over to say hello and try to help us out. We tried and tried to get the heater to light (since it ran on gas) and when we failed numerous times, we ended up shrugging our shoulders and heading to the grocery store for some beer and snacks in stead!
When we returned to the apartment, my friend’s husband joined us and we talked, drank beer, and snacked until 1 A.M.! By that time though we were finally starting to feel the effects of our long journey, and my friends had to work early the next day. So we said our goodbyes, washed with cold water mixed with water boiled in the kettle provided by the AirBnB (haha), then fell asleep before our heads hit our pillows!
THANK YOU FOR READING THE FIRST POST ABOUT MY JAPAN AND KOREA 2017 ADVENTURES! SINCE THIS IS THE FIRST POST OF THIS KIND ON MY SITE, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO GIVE FEEDBACK ON ANYTHING THAT CAUGHT YOUR ATTENTION WHILE READING! WOULD YOU LIKE FOR ME TO FOCUS MORE ON SOMETHING, OR MAYBE LESS ON SOMETHING ELSE? PLEASE LEAVE ANY THOUGHTS OR COMMENTS IN THE SECTION BELOW! ALSO, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE SOME OF YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES!