Friday, January 4, 2013

Greetings - From Japan!!

Hey everyone!! I am in Japan now!! It still feels surreal and I keep thinking I'm in Oregon.

Something like 28 hours ago I said goodbye to my family and fiance. It was strange just how quickly we went from checking luggage to suddenly I was saying goodbye and giving hugs over the fence because security took less than 10 minutes. I was told to arrive 3 hours early, but the ticket counter didn't even open until 40 minutes after we got there. Then security was supposed to take forever, but went by in a flash. I smiled, waved hugs and kisses, then headed for the nearest stand for water and fruit yogurt because, you know, I needed to eat my feelings as I spent the next thirty minutes in tears. It didn't help that a certain someone sent me a video of my youngest sister saying I love you and I'll miss you. I'm not going to lie, I miss my family and fiance terribly right now. I've never been so far away from them.

The first flight left at 6:10 in the morning. I got to see a gorgeous Oregon all lit up with spider webbing lights, had a wonderful girl sitting next to me who let me know what would happen, watched Big Bang Theory and it was otherwise uneventful and we arrived in San Francisco 15 minutes early. The only thing that had gone wrong at this point was my home made bag strap connector broke and, thanks to the quick thinking of Taylor I had another strap. In San Francisco, the loops for the straps decided to rip entirely off the bag leaving me desperate for a bag that would fit my 19+" laptop and my stuff on a poor man's dime. I was really luck at Pacific Outfitters where they had a fifty percent off section in the back and I got an awesome new purse style laptop bag for $35. Lesson of this story, don't use a homemade bag for flying if you've never made one before and aren't sure if it will hold up to the weight.

I was surprised getting on the plane to see some of the sizes for carry ons that were being allowed on the plane. I saw one guy with a large duffel bag, other people with bags just as big, if not bigger. I know there are supposed to be limitations and my advice, stick to them. Also, they only allow 2 carry on bags. They will make you check one if you cannot condense to two bags. So come prepared.

The second flight had a bit of a hiccup. We boarded, were all set to go, and then someone in the back got sick. So they had to pull out the boarding thing again (anyone know what those are called?) and let them off the plane. They also had to pull the people's checked baggage from under the plane. What that means is that our plane, which was scheduled to arrive an hour early, left two hours late, yes, I said two hours late, and then arrived (amazingly) only an hour late. I slept through the 2 hour hiccup. I was a bit surprised, but because I flew economy I didn't get my own screen or anything so we had shared movies for the 11 hour flight.

My advice, don't forget on long flights to get up and move around, or at least wiggle your legs. If you want a viewing screen, you'd better upgrade. Also, if you want any kind of leg room whatsoever, my knees jabbed into the seat in front of me the whole time, upgrade to premium economy. The small upgrade fee is worth the leg room. Also, this was an 11 hour flight and I already knew I would be awake 24 hours or more by the time I went to bed, so my main advice is to sleep. Otherwise it's one heck of a long and boring trip.

I was met at the airport by my friend Ayumi and her father who I'm told to call Papa. It was FREEZING outside the airport, but a two hour drive later and we arrived at Ayumi's family's home in Yamanashi. Her family is wonderful and I passed out my gifts to the family before eating dinner prepared by her mother and sister. There was some kind of soup that was white with some kind of leek-like vegetable in it (I didn't catch the name), a salad with some kind of white stuff, raw fish and dressing which overall was pretty good. The best part though was the Japanese curry. It was my first time eating curry and it was almost sweet and was amazing. Definitely need to pick up that recipe.

While we ate dinner we talked and because of my frazzled brain Ayumi, the lifesaver, ended up translating a good bit for me. After dinner we watched some of Howl's Moving Castle, which I have seen waaay too many times. Then I had my first Japanese bathing experience. I'm kind of embarrassed by this, but I'll admit it. I had her show me how to turn it on and everything, got ready to take a shower and then couldn't get it to work. So, shamefaced, I had to wrap up and have her show me again. It was definitely and interesting experience, but I think I miss my real showers already. Being tired, I passed on entering the Japanese bath for tonight. There's always tomorrow night.

So that's day one for you. I know there are more details, but being awake for as long as I have with little bits of interrupted sleep, I need to head to bed. So good night world. I'll see you another day.

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