Meagan and I had a 3 day weekend and decided to make the most of it with a trip to Fukuoka, Japan. If I could sum up the trip in two words: bizzare and expensive. This is not to say that we didn’t have a good time, we did. It just seemed that these two word were the theme of the weekend.
We stayed with a friend of a friend~ viacouchsurfing~ which turned out to be a GREAT benefit considering the cost-of-living there. Meagan and I, being the super budgeters we are, had the financial plan all mapped out, including activities, meals, transportation, cushion for incidentals, etc. etc. We ran into a glitch when the exchange rate was 2 points less than what we budgeted for [meaning the exchange was 567 Yen for $10 US rather than 733 Yen], sending the cushion and the extra just in case money into the mandatory money pile. What could we do? We were in the Fukuoaka Airport with no Yen, on a Saturday. The banks wouldn’t open until Monday- our departure day- so we just decided that it was a good thing we 1) budgeted for incidentals and 2) were not spending our last dimes to be there.
After exchanging out money, we hit the ground running. We secured our backpacks in a subway locker (which was only about $10US for the day), got a subway map and tried to figure things out, then headed for some famous sites. We went to a couple different temples. They were interesting and quite small compared to what I am used to. That was good, however, because it was quite a warm day. (about 86 F)
The highlight, for me, was finding this tunnel. I had two goals for this trip: get my passport stamped and find one of the “Memoirs of a Geisha” tunnels. Sorry, I don’t know what they are actually called in general (the one in that movie is called The Torii Tunnel), I just think they are super cool. We did a full photoshoot here, trying different things.. hahaha…I wanted to walk off with a good picture. This is basically what I came up with.
We happened upon a lantern festival, which was cool.Meagan visited this Japanese Zen Garden while I slept in the park next to a river. We both enjoyed ourselves! It was so hot that day, I literally poured a good portion of my (cold) bottled water on my head.
We walked around each “touristy” area and even found the Red Light district… hmmm… Anyway, it seems that one must need to be rollin in funds to eat in Fukoaka. We had our first meal, Indian food (yes, I know– we were in JAPAN eating Indian food). That lunch special was nearly $20 US. This theme carried out the entire trip. We literally ate almost every other meal at McDonald’s. Yea….TRAGIC! A McDonald’s meal (we’re talking McChicken meal or Big Mac, folks) was $12 US!! WHAT!?!?! Our cheapest meal was the famous Ramen noodle street stall food. It was just around $4 US per person. Yes, a far cry from the 10cent Ramen packets back in the States~ or even the 65 cent packets in Korea!
And…. enter the BIZZARO factor…
We decided to watch a play. Understanding that it would be in Japanese and we wouldlikely not understand the words, but having an appreciation for performing arts, we bought the only tickets available while we were there. [We missed the "Wicked" performance by like 2 hrs — sad– since I am from KS and all.] I so wish I could’ve taken photos~ some weird costumes with feathers galore. I have NO clue what the play was about but it was definitely entertaining!
We ended our bizarre fest with a relaxing day before getting on the plane. We watch a way-to-expensive movie, which was in English, but had NO CLUE what it was about, what the point was… we felt like we just watched a Discovery Channel nature video with people randomly inserted in. Sadly, this movie was an American movie so we thought we would be ok– wrong! It passed time, though! Got on the plane and headed back home to S. Korea. I was SO happy to be in the land of affordable life and where I could read some signs and understand some people.
DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA…… The definite lowlight to the fact that I was home, was that the cab driver tried ripping me off. I got into Seoul in the wee hours of the morning. The cab driver decides to take two other people with me in the cab. Drops them off at a hospital on the way and they each pay him the 5,000won the meter shows. (So he just made the fair plus the same amount in tip.) When we arrive at my location, the meter reads 10,200 won (No, he didn’t reset the meter at the hospital.) All I had were 10,000 won notes, so I hand him one. He says thanks and expects me to go…. oh, no, old man, not tonight! I tell him (in Korean) I need change and he tells me that the fair is 200 won (about 20 cents) more than what I gave him. I argue with him a bit (Yes, still in Korean) about how I am not paying the full fair because he already collected 10,000 won from the other two people. He refuses to give me change. I had my camera ready, anticipating the issue ahead of time, and tried to take pictures of his ID/car. He physically tries to stop me and I tell him, quite aggressively for being younger than him, “Give me the change then!” (Yes, in Korean). He’s angry, but doesn’t have much choice since he is in the wrong and now realizes I will report him. He gives me 5,000 won. I’m satisfied with that and exit the vehicle. UGG!!
Will I go back to Japan? Sure, but let’s just say: lessons learned!
Here are some other random, fun/interesting photos…. Overall, Japan was entertaining, among other things.