We left the apartment at 4:30am and caught a taxi to the Bus station. Then we began waiting for the Airport Bus to arrive (it was scheduled to arrive at 5:10). Just before it arrived, a taxi driver came offering rides to anyone that wanted it for about a dollar more. So we, along with 2 others took his offer. Whether or not he was supposed to do it, I don't know. It was a pretty good paying hour for him! The Incheon airport is actually not technically in Seoul. It is on it's own island and it takes up to an hour to get there. Now, because we took the taxi, it only took us 45 minutes to arrive. None of the check-in counters were even open so we just hung out until 6:00 when they opened. And here is one of the many reasons I love Korea. They are uber-professional. At 6:00 on the dot, the entire row of check-in agents lined up in front of their counter and bowed in unison. Then the lines opened for service- all of them! Now, contrast that to Delta or any major American airline and you will see that a lot is lacking on their part! :) Our flight to Japan was only an hour. Here comes another reason I love Korea... they still give you movies AND breakfast on a one hours flight!!! This is why Asia will one day rule the world... they still treat you like a valuable customer!
Upon arrival in Japan, we immediately took the subway to the specific stop, walked until we came upon the Consulate and therein, handed them our passports and were instructed to return the next day. We crossed the road and spent some time in a Starbucks and wandering about a mall. And then took to the streets for a little exploring, which brought us to a quite and peaceful area which I think was a Buddhist Temple. There seemed to be some type of service going on beside us.
After we roamed around a bit, we went to our hotel. I just want to add right here that our hotel room was one of the most practical rooms I have stayed in yet. Honestly, if you don't have a family, how much of those hotel rooms do you actually use? We had every amenity we needed in a small space and the bed was really comfortable. I wish someone in the states would get on to this idea of cheap, affordable and small rooms!
(kind of reminded me of an airplane bathroom!) :)
That night, we went to a place called Canal city which was a large outdoor mall. It was a great place and we had a lot of fun there. We set out to find some real Japanese food and were prepared to pay a little more than usual because we felt the occasion of being IN Japan merited it. However, due to a slight misunderstanding with the waiter, our bill, already expensive, was doubled and became quite a lavish meal. We did, however enjoy ourselves immensely and there was really nothing to do about the situation once we had eaten the food. Needless to say, the next day's meals were quite a lot cheaper! :)
The whole meal was truly a fun experience:
Course 1: Salad
Course 2: Five kinds of Sashimi (raw fish)
~ and yes, I was brave...
Course 3: Baked fish in a sweet soy sauce
Course 4: Pork Shabu Shabu
Course 5: Mixed vegetables and seafood Tempura
Course 6: Rice and egg soup
Course 7: "Pre-dessert" pickles
This one I have to talk about! The middle red balls are a type of plum. The waiter had told us they were tart. That doesn't even begin to express what they actually were. We both took a small, nervous bite out of one and literally our mouths turned inside out, our jaws instantly ached and all around it was a most unpleasant taste. We found out that they let them sit in a salt mixture for up to 3 years!!! It is a Japanese tradition akin to the Koreans and their kimchi.
Course 8: a small scoop of Sherbet to finish off the whole meal
Wow! Sounds like a mouth full, doesn't it?! It was a really fun experience and who knows when we will ever be back in Japan again. :)
One Tuesday we woke up, packed up our few things and headed back to the Consulate. As I said, we simply walked through the doors, the lady handed us our passports and we were free to go. End of reason for the trip. Now we just had a few hours to kill before our flight.
A water show to the music from Indiana Jones :) It was pretty spectacular and
kind of made me feel like I was at Disney World again :)
Homeward bound... I watched a movie and ate my dinner
(again on a one hour flight I might add)
They say "Home is where the heart is" and my heart is wherever Robert is.
I truly love my life here and feel blessed to be sharing these experiences with my best friend.
And in case you were wondering... our bus ride home took 1 1/2 hours. :)
And that friends, is our Japanese experience in a nutshell.