Friday, March 28, 2008

Fukuoka Visa Run

Ahhhh. Back from two days in Japan on the notorious Visa Run. So, let's see....

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Getting back into Korea reminds me of why is is bad to travel outside of the country while living here. The contrasts between Korea and where you have been are not in Korea's favor.
We were still a good 15 mins from the port when a Korean tour group stood up en mass and started to collect their bags. There being no way I was about to wait on the ferry (or "high-technology sailing machine" as it was called in the on-board introductory video) for the group to go ahead of me, so I eased my way to the front and stood by the wall a short distance from the door, knowing that a crew member would have to open it when we docked. Apparently Koreans don't know this, as one of them squeezed into the one-foot gap between me and the door and hung onto the handle, pressing her face against the small window as if it would make the ferry dock sooner. She was soon shooed back by the crew member, but she was in one desperate hurry to get off, as were the hundred other people cramming behind me, intent on setting a record for the most people in the aisle of a ferry.
Thanks to my fortuitous position, I was the first one off the ferry, and although that no doubt saved me many minutes, once in the terminal I was greeted with what a shepherd dog might see in the stock yards.
Hundreds of Koreans who had arrived on the ship before us were not so much standing in lines for the 8 desks servicing Korean citizens, as standing in a mob, mostly trying to get three lines merging into one by the time they got to the desks. Even then, many of them tired to go up to the desk two at a time and stood two-abreast at the waiting line. One even used the "foreigner" line to get to the front of the "Korean" line next to us.
The "foreigner" line consisted of myself and many Japanese behaving far more civilised than the Korean. This line at least resembled a line, although one man used the convenience of the wider-than-one-person aisle to scoot up past everyone and try to go to the desk at the same time as the girl ahead of me.

Once out of the stock pen, it was onto the subway, which had similar crowded and rudeness attributes, until my own stop (at the end of the line) began to draw near and the crowds thinned considerably as we went further along (reminding why I like living out here).

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Accommodation: NO CAPSULE FOR YOU

On a usual Visa Run, the cost of the ferry and accommodation comes in a kind of package, but this time I missed out on the deal and would need to arrange my own lodgings. I looked into capsule hotels and was quite looking forward to the experience and making my own video. Since the vast majority of these places are male-only, I was pleased to find that there was the Greenland Tenjin Siesta in the area I was looking in that had a female section.
Unfortunately, it no longer exists, so I just ended up staying at the Hotel Etwas, which is located next door to where the capsule hotel was.
Oh well. Capsule hotel next time, I hope.

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There is something about English being used incorrectly by Asian nations that never fails to amuse. For this part, you can see my photos.

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I absolutely LOVE cherry blossoms, which in Japan come in pink and white. Unfortunately, the cherry blossom season had only just started while I was there, so I couldn't get the photos which make people go "wow!" It was also really overcast while I was there, which makes for difficult photography conditions, but I did the best I could. These photos are of different temples, shrines, and gardens. I did a bit of experimenting with the settings on my camera and tried to get some artistic shots. I hope you enjoy them.

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