Friday, February 6, 2015

Back to Japan (From Seoul to Nagasaki to Hiroshima)

Alright, I'm back from Japan and with a ton of pictures to share!

I got back to Korea on Jan. 29th, but met other friends in Jeju and Seoul and didn't make it back home til Monday night (Feb. 2). I had to look through 1,043 pictures from those days, and here are some to share.

First off, let me give you an idea of winter in Gangwon Province:

Yes, this is real frost.

Close-up of said frost.

It clearly gets freezing here in Korea (notably Gangwon Province) during the winter. Fortunately, the area of Japan I'd be visiting would be between Busan's parallel to much more southern than Jeju. Was I looking for tropical summer? No, just warmer than here.

My journey actually began the day before I left for Japan, on Jan. 18th. I went to Seoul to meet up with  a friend and her family, whom I haven't seen at all since I returned to this country.

This is what we were going for when looking for lunch.

Since I was going to spend the night in Incheon International Airport (again, *sigh*), I didn't have many plans bu plenty of time. So after hanging out for a while, they took me to their home in another area of hilly Seoul. Got to see them spending quality family time.

Jacob with their daughter, JoElle.

Jacob playing with his son, Joseph.
Not sure where Mechelle was at the time, but she was there too.

So, after 21:00, Jacob took me to the bus stop and accompanied me to the subway station so I could get the last train on the airport railway (subway that goes to both airports). After arriving, and seeing I had nothing to do til 6 am (flight left @ 8am), I walked around and explored a little, while scouting for some place to sleep.

Indoor ice-skating rink.

Not very big.

Entrance and skate rental.

I was really disappointed that they were closed. I arrived around 23:00, so they could've still been showing a movie or two.

I guess winter and star constellations are the theme.

The KTX (Korea's version of the bullet train) runs directly here to the airport. This country runs on convenience.

The hallway connecting the building I was currently exploring, to the main airport terminal.

Oh, so that is how (and when) they clean the catwalks.
This time is perfect.

A cafe on the 3rd floor.
Some people decided to sleep there for the night.

You see the longer lounge chair? That's where I tried to sleep for an hour. It was near the parking lot, so there was a cold draft coming in and making it difficult to sleep any longer.

Remember when I returned from Japan the last time there was a place called "Spa on Air" and I took a picture of it? (the post with pic at the end here) I tried to reserve a bed for that night. I called 2 weeks before and they said they could only reserve 1 week in advance. So I called again the Monday morning before (this was for Sunday night), and they said they were all full. Huh?

The entrance to Spa on Air.
Well, I see they weren't kidding.

Oh, they changed the setting of the stage . . .

So, after being a homeless bum, wandering from floor to floor, bench to possible bench, and getting about 3 hours of intended sleep, it was time to check in. I did and went through security as quickly as possible, although I really didn't have much of a rush. Yet again, plenty of time before I had to be at my gate, so I wandered around a bit.

Who knew?

An example of the Konglish/Engrish you will find in Korea.

On the plane, was dead except for needing to fill out the immigration form, and made it through Nagasaki airport. A kind lady with pretty good English helped me get a bus that would take me to Nagasaki station (Nagasaki airport is on an island, no joke. You'll see picture of it when I leave). Since I was half-asleep, I heard "Nagasaki Station" and got off--only to realize it was Nagasaki POLICE station. Why did I get off, if the last stop on that bus was Nagasaki TRAIN Station? Again, I was running on barely no sleep. So, I ended up walking about 5 km to the station. Thank GOD it was clearly marked and the road signs were helpful.
At least I got to get to know Nagasaki a little before coming back--and getting a wakening walk in too.

Pedestrian bridge to Nagasaki Station (on the left).

Since this is a busy area with cars, buses, and streetcars, they made pedestrian bridges for all of that. Genius!

Boy, do they love their scooters and motorcycles!

Got my official JR Pass and an itinerary to Hiroshima: Nagasaki - Shin-Tosu - Hiroshima.
Yeah, I slept most of the way too.

Now, at Hiroshima Station

Plenty of lockers. Later I was to discover these weren't the only ones, as this station is pretty big.

Ah, one of these ramen restaurants where you order at the machine just beside the door, get your ticket, switch said ticket for your food when it's ready, and eat there (mostly standing).
I didn't go. I was told most ramen broth are pork-bone-based--I don't eat pork--and I know absolutely no Japanese whatsoever. Too much trouble, as far as I'm concerned.
Let the diet begin . . .

Coming out of exit 9 (?) from Hiroshima station, on to the road to get to my hotel.

My hotel, Urbain Hiroshima Central. Ended up being 1.4 km from the station. Close enough, if you ask me.

Just across from my hotel, bike parking (as well as a streetcar line)!

Let's see the inside of my room, shall we?

My bathroom.
Yes, the tub is quiet small, but this is Japan: space is limited.

My bed with my stuff on it.
See the light brown thing? Those are a type of PJ's provided by the hotel (and changed everyday).

Desk area, just across from my bed.
You can see the time I took this (in the afternoon).

After settling in, showering, and getting ready, I decided to go out for a walk to explore my area by night. I had no idea I was just a few blocks away from a major shopping district. Nice surprise, eh?

Said shopping district.
I believe it's called "Hatchoubori"
Oh, and this is just 1 "limb" of the body/shopping district.

Oh my, really?
This makes my Spanish-side cringe (supposed to by "Quixote" and the "x" does have an "h" sound here)

Ok, enough exploration. I'm exhausted and need to sleep--desperately.

End of Day 1.

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