Thursday, 16 June China Eastern is probably the worst airlines I have travelled with. The first seat was broken, and so was the second. The food was horrible. Thank God I had a really good book with me as I wouldn’t exactly be “entertained” by their boring entertaining programme. Shanghai Pudong Airport is no better. First, the sun doesn’t shine there. There*s not even any rain. Just this boring, sad, grey, socialist weather. The inside of the airport is just the same, grey, minimalist, not too comfortable, boring. Very confusing signage, I would say even Chinese struggle with them. “Be quiet” and “No photos” are the only two one sort of understands although they don’t make much sense. Why am I not allowed to talk? And what exactly is here that I would want to take photos of??
A couple of hours later I landed in Japan. Much better! There was still no sun, but at least there was rain, and mist, and clouds that were moving. Way more dynamic! And at least there is hope for the sun to come out. I had no big issues going through the airport, even though my Japanese is rather poor (the only sentence I know is “I would like to repair your washing machine” or in Japanese “Watashiwa anato sentaki wo naoshitai desu”). Finding the right train station was a bit more challenging but Japanese are very helpful and super polite.
I decided to start my trip in Hakone, as per my friend’s, Trubi, suggestion. Since I didn’t really have much time to prepare for the trip, I actually had no idea where I was going and what to expect. Each next train I had to take, was smaller, slower and was going higher and deeper in the mountains. All I could see out of the train was a thick forrest. It’s raining, but it feels warm.
I found my hostel. Mix of wood and stone. I will sleep on a futon mattress on tatami. I*m sure I will sleep well, after the whole day (and night) of travel and after a visit of an in-house onsen (natural hot pools). I’m also full, not hungry, which is good. Again, because of my limited Japanese, the visit of a local convenient store was an exciting activity. The green tea, unfortunately, tasted like a urine (well, I don’t really know how pee tastes but I would imagine it’s not far from that tea…), but ramen cup noodles were delicious! “Excuse me, what is this?” We established pretty fast that I’m looking at rice crackers, but what the hell is “surto”?? “With surto? What is surto?” Luckily, the technology works well even in the mountains. Surto was just a Japanese pronunciation of salt. “Aaaaah, now I get it! Yes, I’ll have these, please. Arigato gozaimas.”