Japan wrap up
The train trip from Yokkaichi to Hiroshima went very smoothly, mostly because one of the people from the Yokkaichi office was kind enough to walk to the train station with me and help me buy the tickets. I think I know how to do it now for next time. I did figure out how to get out to Saijo (where the local office is) on the local train, with the help of some hotel staff, and luckily the train stations did have their names in English on the signs. The taxi trip to the Hiroshima Airport hotel was easy too.
I wasn’t too impressed witht he food options around the hotel and train station, but it turns out I vastly underestimated Hiroshima. Right before I left the office on Friday, someone gave me a tourist map that shows all the things to do and lots of restaurants with English menus (I suppose my hotel must have had the same brochures, but I didn’t see them, and I never saw the tourist office that is apparently in the train station). The station itself apparently has 6 floors (I saw only two) including a bunch more restaurants with English menus. There are also all of the big Japanese department stores I’m familiar with from Taiwan, like Sogo and Mitsukoshi. Next time I can do a lot more exploring, and hopefully get out to the Peace Park.
The area around the airport hotel (and the airport) is a park, the first really pretty place I’d seen in Japan. It is a tiny airport though, without too many food choices, so I took a walk into the park and to the airport but just ended up eating back at the hotel. (By the way, it turns out that an “egg roll” in Japan is not a spring roll but rather more like an omelet rolled into a cylinder. Oops.) I was a bit worried about the flight back because I couldn’t check in all the way through, since I was on two different unallied airlines, but they were able to check my bags through to Amsterdam so I didn’t have to go through security. Checking myself in at Seoul Incheon was easy – there’s a transfer desk in each terminal and there was no line.
All in all, the trip home was much easier, with only one more unpleasant surprse to finish off this trip. While standing around in the Hiroshima airport waiting for boarding to begin, I wasreading my Kindle – just standing there, not doing anything reckless – when somehow I managed to drop it and it went splat on the floor. Now I have only something that looks like a Kindle, with a screen that never changes. (It is an ex-Kindle, you might say.) The flight attendants on the first flight (only an hour and forty minutes) found me a copy of Time to read, and fortunately the Incheon airport had a bookstore with a small English section. I felt much better after buying a couple of books! (I did have one with me for just such emergencies but I have an unreasoning fear of being stranded with no reading material. I did also have my iPhone with some books on the Kindle app, but I wasn’t sure the batteries could last the flight out.) The replaceent is already ordered.
There was someone from my company in my row on the airplane, so we got to talk a bit when the person between us was out of his seat. It turns out his wife works here as well and I know here – she is Dutch and he is Indian and they lived in the US for 17 years, so I feel like we have things in common. (Professional couple, expatriate-hood) He was also taking the train back and introduced me to some other people from his group traveling back too, and then it turned out there was another group from our company on the train, so there was only one person in the first-class section not from our company. It was actually a fun ride.
Now I have to go back to Hiroshima in a few weeks, but this time I’m actually looking forward to it a bit, after finding out how much I missed there. But I’m hioping not so many things go wrong this time!