December 27th, 2017
Traveling to Morioka Day 1
Well, let me tell you. I should have double checked a few things before I left. With lack of sleep and things not going as plan, it was an up and down day. But there were some good things that happened that made the day not seem so bad. Now, let’s get started.
My good friend Ruth let me stay the night with her in Kaohsiung since I moved out of my place a day early, she offered her place to me. Also, my friend Libby stayed the night with Ruth too because she wanted to accompany me to the airport. Libby is such a sweet person. Most of the time, I go to the airport by myself. I don’t like to inconvenient people. But she wanted to join me and I appreciated it. For once, I didn’t have to go alone. I was jumping for joy on the inside.
Starting the Day
The clock said it was 6 am. I slowly got out of bed. I didn’t get much sleep because of the evil misquotes in the house. I had the same problem in my old apartment. Every winter I would have misquotes in my house and nothing seemed to get rid of them. Ruth has the same problem with her home. So another night without much sleep. I got cleaned up and started to re-pack my things and Libby and Ruth started to get up and around. We planned to go out for breakfast. I wanted to have my last Taiwanese breakfast before I left. So that is what we did.
We left Ruth’s place around 8:30 to get my last breakfast in Taiwan. I was excited, sad, and tired at the same time. I’ve been so busy all week that I haven’t’ had time to think about how I felt. I just know I had a to-do list that I needed to get done before I left Taiwan. Also, another to do list when I arrive in Japan. Once I arrive in Japan, I will have to ship my two luggage to Morioka, buy a phone with a SIM card, get to Shin-Osaka, take the Shinkansen train to Morioka station, find my hotel, sleep, and meet my boss in the morning around 10 am. She would take me to my place and we would have to wait for the gas man to come and then go out for lunch. Like I said, it’s going to be a busy day or two. I just hope everything goes ok.
We had a wonderful Taiwanese breakfast at a local restaurant. The place had some nice drawings on the wall so we had some fun and took some pictures and selfies. We had a lot of fun and then Ruth had to leave. She had to go meet a student that she is tutoring. We gave each other a big hug and said our goodbyes. I’m going to miss Ruth a lot. We had many hiking adventures together and she would help lead Digging Deeper. I’m going to have to find new hiking partners once I get to Morioka.
Libby and I left to go back to her place to pick up my luggage. Libby called an Uber. I handed over my keys to my scooter to Libby. Libby has been wanting to learn to drive a scooter so I sold her mine. Libby was so happy to have a scooter. I’m glad I could sell my scooter to someone that I trust that won’t kill it. I had some wonderful memories with my scooter. Only had it for two years but it did a good job. The Uber arrived and we got in and we were off to the airport.
We got to the airport and got in line for check in with Scoot. Scoot is a cheap airline that I use. It’s not bad and they are efficient. It’s a three-hour flight from Kaohsiung to Osaka (KIX) airport. It was a long line and Libby offered to wait in line in my place because I need to exchange the rest of my Taiwan money into Japanese money. When I got done with that, Libby was already halfway through the line. It was going pretty fast. After another five minutes, I was up next. I gave the women my two pieces of luggage and everything was fine with that. I paid extra online for 40kg per luggage. I didn’t want to deal with the overweight issues. It paid off because there weren’t any problems. Then she wanted to weigh my carry on. I completely forgot that they weigh carry on items. Your carry on items can only weigh 10kg altogether. That’s with your bag and purse. It came to a total of 13kg. I had to get rid of the 3kg worth of items. We had to go to the side to do this and as we were walking and talking about what items I should try to get rid of, then the women call me back again and tell me there is something wrong with my luggage and I need to talk to the people that are handling my luggage.
Once we got to the luggage guy, he tells me there is a camera battery that I need to take out in one luggage and a battery pack is in the other luggage. I hade to open up my luggage and find it myself. I opened up my blue luggage first. I’m so happy that I vacuumed sealed all my clothes. It made it a lot easier to go through my luggage to find the small little camera battery. I found the batter and gave it to the guy. I used this opportunity to through some of my clothes from my carry on into my luggage. After I put some of my clothes in the blue luggage, I had to go through the silver luggage to look for my battery pack. This was going to be difficult because I had trouble shutting this luggage. I manage to open it and just started throwing things around. I had no idea where this small battery pack was. Or what kind of battery pack they were looking for. So the first thing I found that had a battery in it was a flashlight. He said no, this was not the item that I needed. So I kept looking. The next item that had a battery in it was a head flashlight. He also said no to this to. I kept looking and then I found a charger that I hook up to my phone. He said that is what he wanted me to take out. I was so relieved to find it. I thought I would never find the battery pack that they wanted me to take out. After that I stuck some more things in the silver luggage from my carry on and hopefully I could shout it. I was trying to shut the luggage on my own. I was so close to getting it shut but it just wouldn’t budge. Libby notices the guy that works there just watching me and waited silently for me to ask him for help. Libby told me this and I did ask the guy for help. It was not a problem for him to shut the luggage. He did it in seconds when I was struggling for about a few minutes with it. After that, the luggage guy had me sign some paperwork. Had no clue what it said, but hopefully nothing to bad. We will see the next time I take a plane.
After all that, we went back to the check-in line. There was only one family in line now and we got the same lady that we had last time. She weighed my stuff and I was at 10kg. Finally!! So relieved to have all that done. She gave me my plane ticket and off we went. Since I still had some time left I stayed with Libby a bet longer. We talked and took some pictures. It was 11:15 am and I still needed to get through security. So I had to say goodbye to Libby. We gave each other a big hug goodbye and we went our separate ways. I will miss Libby and all my friends in Taiwan. But the Lord has a calling for me and must obey.
I got through security ok. Nothing happened there luckily. I got to my gate and just chilled out there tell it was time for boarding. It was time for me to leave Taiwan. All I could think about manly were all things I had to do in Japan and just hope everything will go ok. But it’s a new country with different rules so we will see.
Three hours later, I arrive in Japan around 3:55 pm. at KIX Airport Osaka. I’ve been to this airport before, as you know if you have been reading my blog. This airport has its own island. It’s a small one, just the perfect size for the airport. The Shinkansen train is at Shin-Osaka. I still have some more traveling to do before I can even get on the train. After I got through customs and picked up my luggage it was about 4:40 pm. I asked a security guy where do I take my luggage to be shipped. He told me I need to go to the seconded floor. So I get to the second floor and I wasn’t sure where to go. The sign did not help me to find where to ship my luggage. I found the information desk and they told me I needed to go to the other end of the airport and turn left. I could ship my luggage to the post office. I was a little worried it might cost me more to ship to the post office but we will see. It took me a little bit to find the post office because I turned too early and walked around an extra 10 minutes before realizing I turned to early and need to go down further. But I finally found the post office. They were very helpful and told me it would only cost me 3,500yen to ship both luggage to my place in Morioka. That’s about $45 US dollars. I was very grateful for that. I thought it would cost more. I filled out the paperwork and had to dig out some of my clothes from my luggage because my luggage wouldn’t arrive till Saturday. Once I got that done, I handed off my luggage to them and could check this off my to-do list.
Now, to ask around about getting a SIM card for one year. I went back to the information desk and asked them about getting a phone card for one year. They didn’t know what to tell me so they sent me to the shop that lets you rent SIM cards and phones. I told them about wanting a SIM card for one year and they said they don’t sell that at their store and even if I wanted a SIM card, you have to sign a contract for two years and your VISA has to say two years. I asked them about going to a phone company around Shin-Osaiak and they said there should be one outside the station. So I was planning to do that.
Now it’s about a quarter till 6 and I had to find the trains and get on the right train to get to Shin-Osaka. The red line goes in a circle but to get there I needed to get to Tennoji and get off there and then take another train that goes to Osaka Station. After that, I need to take another train that stops at Shin-Osaka. I see too many ways for me to mess this up. Let’s just hope I don’t. I find the train that I needed and I hop on. I found an empty seat and just rode the train to Tennoji. It took about 30 minutes before I arrived at Tennoji. I get off there and I didn’t have to go too far to find the other train that I needed. It was on the same platform. I even doubled checked with train conductor to make sure I got on the right one. Because after 30 minutes riding the first train, I started thinking I was on the wrong train and was about to hop off the train to go ask. Luckily, I didn’t do that because that would have taken me longer. Shin-Osaka was only one stop away. I got off at Shin-Osaka and just followed the signs to Shinkansen.
Shinkansen Ticket Booth
It was about 7 pm now and I was just following the signs to Shinkansen ticket booth. I notice that there was a different ticket booth opened for Shinkansen. There was also a sign saying this ticket booth is only opened today. I got in line and waited for my turn. Once I got up to the booth, I told the women I needed a ticket to Morioka. She told me there aren’t any more trains going to Morioka. I was shocked and sad at the same time. I booked a hotel in Morioka and didn’t expect that I would not make the last train. But I didn’t check the schedule of the trains before I left Taiwan. I also didn’t have internet at this time and I would have to find the nearest coffee shop that had WiFi. The women then started giving me options on what I could do. She told me I could book a ticket to Morioka now and just leave tomorrow morning but I would have to find a hotel for the night here in Osaka. Or I could book a ticket for Tokyo now and leave from Tokyo in the morning to Morioka. But either way, I will have to find a new hotel for the night. I asked her about busses that are going up to Morioka but she said there won’t be any busses that are going up now. In my head, I was freaking out!! I didn’t know what to do.
I decided to book a train ticket leaving for Morioka in the morning from Osaka. After she put the information in she said there was a train that would leave at 6:03 am and arrive in Tokyo at 8:22 am and I will have to switch trains in Tokyo to get to the other platform. That train would leave at 8:49 am. She said it should only take me 10 minutes to get to the other platform. I have never been to Tokyo station and I didn’t have to switch trains last time I took the Shinkansen. So I’m little nerves about switching trains and since I get lost easily, it’s going to take me more time. My best bet would just keep asking every single train personal that I see before every turn I make. Annoying yes, but at less this will make sure I will less likely get lost and I would get to my platform faster than not asking at all. Then the women told me I should arrive at Morioka station around 10:55 am. I decided to go with that ticket. As she was booking my ticket she told me there will be a seat for me on the first train from Osaka to Tokyo, but the seats on the train from Tokyo to Morioka were all booked and I will have to stand. I told her it will be fine. As she was booking my ticket I saw a calendar on the side of the desk. The calendar was marked in three different colors. Black, blue and red. The red color means very busy days. I asked her if this ticket booth was only opened today because of the holiday seasons and if the red marked days mean this are the busy days. She said yes to both questions. I looked at the calendar again and the red days were marked for two weeks. I didn’t realize the their New Years Holiday is just as busy as our Christmas and New Years in America. In Taiwan, they don’t really celebrate New Years. We would only get one day off. But they are really busy during the Chinese New Year. I found out later that I was very lucky to even find a train that wasn’t full. Everyone is trying to get home to their families for the holidays. After all, that was done, now I had to find a coffee shop that had WiFi and cancel my hotel reservation in Morioka and find a hotel in Osaka.
I’ve only been to Shin-Osaka station two times and only explored it once. So I got lost again trying to find a coffee shop. I looked at a map on the wall and it said that I have passed the coffee shop. Go figure. So I tried again with no luck. I was getting tired at this point. I’ve been up all day just traveling and all I want is a bed to sleep in. I saw a McDonalds and used their WiFi instead of trying to find a coffee shop. I grab something small to eat and sat down and started hunting down a hotel. It was dark outside and I didn’t feel like walking far. I was trying to Google map directions to hotels that are nearby. But the directions were confusing. I was in the underground part of the station and Google maps didn’t know that. I had no idea where it was telling me to leave from. So in the end, I decided to find a cheap hotel nearby and just take a taxi there. I hope they take walk-ins because I don’t have a credit card anymore so I can’t book a hotel. I finished my food and left McDonald’s and found the taxi stand.
Never took a taxi in Japan before but I heard they were expensive. The internet was right about that one. The fee starts at 640yen (around $5.50 US Dollars). The back seat doors are automatic. The taxi was very clean and had some seat covering since its winter. The taxi driver was in a nice suit. I was worried he was going to say no to taking me to the hotel because it was only a 4-minute drive. In Taiwan, the taxi drivers won’t drive you to where you want to go if it’s a short drive. They won’t get much money out of you. But the taxi driver took me anyway. I was grateful for that one. He dropped me off at the hotel
Sunny Stone Hotel
The hotel was nice. From what I could tell, it was a business hotel. It will have all your basic and stuff that you might need to clean or touch up your suit with. They also had a small restaurant inside. I won’t be able to eat there because they open at 6:30 am and I will be long gone before that. The guy at the counter didn’t know much English. But we were able to work it out. He asked if I had a reservation but I don’t think he understood me at first because I told him I didn’t have one. He asked for my name and he started trying to look up my booking information. I had to shake my hand no and then he understood. There was a room available but it was a bit expensive. It cost a little over 6,000yen for one night. I was not too happy with that one. Online it said it would only cost around 2,000yen to 3,000yen. But I guess if you just walk in it will be more, plus it’s the holiday. So I paid the guy and he gave me my room key. He was trying to show me how to use the room key. He had a display on his desk showing you how to use the key. Once you get into your hotel, you need to place the key in a holder on the wall. This will turn on the whole room. Lights, gas, and so on. But if you pull the key out, everything will turn off. I dealt with these types of keys before so it wasn’t anything new. After he was done explaining everything to me, I was able to go to my room. It was on the 9th floor. Once I got into the room I was welcomed by cold air. It was a simple small room. It had a desk with a kettle on it to heat up hot water. Some instant coffee bags and tea bags, a bed, bathroom, a light stand, pretty much everything but a TV. But that was fine. I was tried and all I wanted to do was sleep. I used their free WiFi to get a hold of a few of my friends, family, and my boss. Letting them know I arrive and everything was fine except for a few minor issues. Then I was finally able to go to bed. I have a long day tomorrow and I have to get up at 4 am and leave around 5 am. I don’t want to miss my train again.
That’s all for now. I will have day 2 ready to go for tomorrow because I don’t have internet at my place yet so I’m using this time to catch up with my blogging. Just walking back and forth to Starbucks for the time being. Hope you enjoyed the read.