JAKOTAKONG PART 4 – aka The Finale

South Korea.  Oh South Korea.  For years I dreamed of visiting you, eaten up with curiosity to discover if K dramas were a load of baloney or if you were really as magical as you appeared (any fan of K dramas understands 1001% what I’m talking about).  I disembarked from that plane a wide-eyed tourist, and left ten days later a giddy writer with a notebook full of ideas.  I mean, you know that it’s going to be an amazing finale when a Swiss Symphony Orchestra is on your flight.  Downside was that MC, Swag Master and I had to wait FOREVER for our luggage because of the instruments that were unloaded first.  But on the bright side, I had plenty of time to suspiciously eye the helpful/creepy airport robot and finally manage to ascertain that he would not go rogue and try to conquer humanity – I know, you can all breathe sighs of relief.

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By the time we got our luggage and made our way through Customs, it was dark outside, so we hiked aaaaallll the way up a hill to get not one but two taxis to fit all of our suitcases plus us so we could arrive at our hostel in one piece.  And it is on this terrifying ride that I discovered that Korean streets are about the width of a piece of licorice.  For reals, the side streets are, I’m convinced, designed to lure cars in and destroy them.  We came to at least one standoff with a car coming the opposite direction, and I’m pretty sure the driver dented his car at one point when he was forced to back up.  He was so relieved when we got to the hostel (which was tiny, by the way) he nearly drove off with our suitcases; I had to lunge at the car and pound on the window as I frantically pointed to the trunk.  Between all the cab rides and the hostel clerk actually dropping my luggage down the stairs, it’s a wonder I still have any luggage left.

One thing that I learned while in Korea, a lesson that started the next day, is that you don’t mess with Koreans, specifically Korean women.  We set out on the subway to explore Seoul (their transportation system is SO MUCH better than ours) and I had a lovely one-sided conversation with a lady determined to talk to me.  She wasn’t the least bit deterred by the fact that I could only say, “My name is Kristen” in Korean, and managed to boss the three of us into sit together in the priority seating.  Then, at lunch we were emphatically ignored by the restaurant owner when we tried to order something that she didn’t want us to order.  And later on that same day we got kicked out of a cafe because, well, we’re actually not sure why:

Swag Master: “I’d like to order blah blah drink.”

Cafe Lady: “Here or to go?”

Swag Master: “Here.”

Cafe Lady: “No.”

Swag Master: “No?”

Cafe Lady: “No. To go.”

Swag Master: “Um, okay.”  We sit down to wait for her drink.

Cafe Lady hurries over with drink order. “Here you go. Now, leave.”

Swag Master, MC & Me: “Excuse me?!”

Cafe Lady: “You get discount to go.  So go.”

We look at the near empty cafe in disbelief. “We have to go?”

“Yes. Go.”

And that was that.  Swag Master offered to pay the difference so we could sit and rest our feet, but she wasn’t having any of it.  We left befuddled, although I was armed with determination to somehow include this adventure in my next book.  SO THERE, CAFE LADY.

There was so much to do in Seoul: we oohed and ahhed some more at the lantern festival, explored dusty nooks and crannies at one of the royal palaces, bought way more socks than we should, and even took a few days to visit Jeju Island (similar to Hawaii).  Check out the photos, which speak for themselves:

 

There was so much that happened, I could easily write five more blog posts about it, but given how long it’s taken me to get all caught up I don’t think that’s a good idea.  So, instead I’ll conclude with a list of my expectations and what I learned:

  1. Korean fashion is 90s inspired – True, and they all look fabulous.  Absolutely fabulous.  I felt like the Hulk as I tiptoed around them.
  2. Korea smells of kimchi – False, although maybe it was the time of year that I visited?  I’ve been told that America smells like dairy – and given how much ice cream I alone consume I can see that – but I barely got a whiff of kimchi while there.
  3. Korea is expensive – YES AND YES.  My credit card is due this Friday.  And I am dead inside.  Moving on.
  4. Korean men carry women on their backs – I never once saw this.  Not once.  K dramas, you lie!
  5. Korean driving is terrifying – oh, how this is oh so true.  But, to be fair, I find all of Asian driving terrifying, so it’s not just Korea.
  6. Koreans bow – yup, yup and yup. I have yet to break the habit of doing it, and I was only there for ten days.
  7. BTS is everywhere – oh yeah.  Really, BTS is everywhere in Asia; there were loudspeakers set up in Japan blasting out the group’s songs.
  8. Koreans eat ramyun a lot – True.  It’s not right how much they can eat and manage to stay so skinny.
  9. There is more to see in Korea than you can fit in just ten days – that is definitely so true.
  10. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget – TRUE.

And thus concludes JAKOTAKONG.  Three unforgettable weeks, oodles of gorgeous photos, and countless memories…huh, maybe I should start writing greeting cards on the side, because I’m getting downright sappy.  Needless to say, I know that my writing has been made better for having gone, and I am so grateful that I was able to go!

And thank you for joining in the journey with me, you avid travelers you! 🙂 🙂 🙂

P.S. Those annoying yellow bumper things that were absolutely everywhere?  Turns out they are meant to help sight impaired travelers.  I finally have answers!

PSA

Well, it HAS been a while since I’ve last written, hasn’t it?  In my defense, the jet lag struggle was real – so very real – and the to-do list at work ever growing.  Throw editing into the mix, and you have one very harried Kristen.  But here I am, in my somewhat exhausted and tattered glory, happy to be back and even happier to announce that, as of last night, my edits are done.

MY EDITS ARE DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Oh my goodness, what a relief!  I kid you not, I’ve stared at those pages until the words all blend together and I can’t make any sense of what I’m reading.  I’ve reached the point where I absolutely despise the story, mainly because I’ve read it a bazillion times and can only see its flaws.  The good news is that most if not all authors feel like this, so I’m part of the club!

Last night I forced myself to accept the truth: the story is never going to be perfect, because that’s impossible.  Last week I attended an event where Shannon Messenger was promoting her latest book, and she admitted to the crowd that she mistakingly gave one character two different last names, something they didn’t catch until the first two books had been printed.  The fact that she can laugh about it was so encouraging, especially to a perfection-seeking debut novelist.

The truth is that I’m always going to look for ways to improve my writing, am forever going to want to fiddle with the story.  But there comes a time when you know that you just have to let go, even if it means that you are essentially baring your creative soul to the world and opening yourself to any and all criticism.  If you don’t, you run the risk of never actually fulfilling your dream.  For me, that dream is publication, so I have to swallow my fears and plunge ahead.  Am I feeling vulnerable right now?  Heck yes.  But did I let it keep me from sending in the manuscript to the publisher?  Heck no.

Now that edits are done, next post will be our final destination in JAKOTAKONG: South Korea!

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P.S. Me + MC (my sister).  And yes, I know that we look nothing alike. #myfathersdaughter

JAKOTAKONG PART 3.3

No trip to Taiwan is complete without visiting the capital Taipei, aka the shopping spree city.  So.  Many.  Market.  Stalls. 8)

Taipei, located at the tip of Taiwan, is, like Taichung, mercifully cooler than our first stop – but then again, I think every place north of Kaohsiung is cooler –  and just as crowded with mopeds and buses and drivers that manage to not collide as they barrel towards you even though you are in a cross walk…no, I’m not bitter about that.  Or traumatized at all.  Please, what an idea.

I didn’t think that a hostel could get any better than Stray Birds, but that was before we checked into the Star Hostel.  One point against them is that they don’t have an elevator, meaning we had to lug allllllll our suitcases up the stairs while wearing the mandatory slippers that are NOT a good match with slippery socks.  However, when you have an eating area like the one they do, you can forgive the lack of stairs:

 

Add a free breakfast into the mix, and you have one happy Kristen.  Definitely worth almost falling and breaking my neck on the stairs, thanks to those blasted slippers.  You can bet that I wore my best walking shoes for when we headed into the city for some sightseeing.

First up, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial, which honors the former president of the Republic of China.  The area is beautiful, and I was only slightly disappointed that the day was overcast and I didn’t have the best lighting for pictures.  But I think they turned out okay. 😉

 

 

And, once again, I was hit by inspiration for that college story that I’m convinced I have to write. What, might you ask, brought on this second round of creative cranial activity?  Trees.  More specifically, these trees:

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Oh yeah, trust me, this will be good…when I actually begin penning the story.  But one major best-seller at a time (heehee).

After wandering around the grounds surrounding the memorial, we made our way to Taipei 101, a huge tower/mall that houses the MOST AMAZING restaurant in the world: Din Tai Fung.  Din Tai Fung, now a chain, originates in Taiwan, which is probably why the food always tastes better in all the Taiwan locations.  You’ve heard of soup, you’ve heard of dumplings, but have you ever heard of – wait for it – soup dumplings?  That’s right, mini dumplings filled with rich broth and a variety of meat/seafood.  And there’s a process to eating them, one that the restaurant outlines in a handy dandy guide, although our waiter personally explained it to us: you have to pick up a dumpling in a spoon, use your chopsticks to poke a hole in it to release the broth to slurp up, and then you can eat the rest of the dumpling.  Or, you can bite into the whole thing and scald your mouth on hot soup, your choice.  I followed the waiter’s instructions because I REALLY didn’t want to burn off my taste buds, especially when I saw the dessert menu and realized that there exists in this beautiful world chocolate soup dumplings. #heavenonearth

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Delicious, absolutely delicious.  Any place that puts bacon on green beans is, in my book, a genius.

Last for the day was shopping in a local market.  And that’s where the shopping spree started; we descended on this one stall that sells waterproof bags, our delight apparently hilarious to the stall owner, who kept laughing and running around to grab us more bags.  She even threw in a free bag for me, her new most loyal customer, and we left with bags filled with bags filled bags.  VICTORY!!!

We were planning on going out again the next day, but unfortunately MC got a migraine because of the weather, which was yucky due to the Typhoon Yutu, so we couldn’t have gone out anyways.  So I spent the day hunkered down in the hostel room, hunched over my computer as I alternated between working on edits (productive) and watching Netflix (uhh, not productive).

Thankfully, the weather didn’t impact our flight to our final location.  Drum roll, please, because next (and final) stop is…

JOKOTAKONG PART 3.2

Goodbye Kaohsiung, hello Sun Moon Lake!  Haven’t heard of it?  Don’t worry, neither had I until we were planning this trip.  When Swag Master first suggested that we stay in Taichung for a day and then go to Sun Moon Lake, I just nodded as if I knew what she was talking about, and then quickly did a Google image search.  It just took one look at the gorgeous photos for me to get behind this idea, and I’m so glad I did!

Okay, first things first: Taichung.  It’s a quick ride from Kaohsiung by way of the bullet train – although I feel for all the passengers that had to dodge us as we barreled into the train with all of our luggage – and our hostel, Stray Birds, was absolutely fantastic.  Seriously, American hotels should look to them for ideas; the lobby is the definition of picturesque, complete with reading nooks shaped like bird houses and wooden birds hanging from the ceiling.  And it is very conveniently right across the street from a store that is filled to the brim with junk food, which we raided.  Twice.  I am now an expert of pocky, and am encouraged by the fact that gummy bears taste the same no matter where you are in the world. 🙂

There’s also a beautiful park that runs for several blocks, and we spent the first afternoon exploring all the cool statues:

It helped that Taichung is not quite as humid as Kaohsiung (amazing what a difference traveling an hour north can make!), so we were able to walk around and enjoy our surroundings and not just melt in the heat. The only other thing that we really did was go to church, and getting there was another adventure, thanks to our amazing cabbie driver.  No, we didn’t have any near death experiences, thankfully; somehow, and I’m still not sure how it all happened, the car turned into a karaoke car, complete with MC and I singing random K pop songs while the driver gave us a thumb’s up and begged for more, declaring in very broken English that he loved it.  Best.  Driver.  EVER.

The mass was absolutely wonderful, thanks to the amazing choir.  The songs that they sang – unbelievably beautiful, that’s all I can say.  I have absolutely no clue as to what they were saying, but it sounded majestically fantastic.  And a special shout-out to the couple that was wearing matching plaid shirts, my first time seeing a couple’s outfit in real life!  This is a thing and I want everyone in America to do it for my amusement.  Maybe I’ll add that in to my next book…

And now, Sun Moon Lake.  I’m not going to describe it, because the pictures say it all:

 

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I know.

Yes, this is a real place, and yes, these are pictures that I took myself.

I KNOW!

It’s the largest lake in Taiwan, going as deep as twenty stories, and has a system of ferries that you can take to visit two villages; there’s another spot, but it’s completely off limits to visitors, reserved only for the locals for worship.  It’s a big tourist destination for the Taiwanese; I think we were the only foreigners there, at least on that day, which was just the perfect day for exploring, might I add.  The sun wasn’t too hot, and there was a breeze that encouraged you to just keep climbing those steps to see the perfect view which, as you can tell, was amazing.

Just when it couldn’t get any better, two things happened: one, we had the pleasure of having the Asian version of Dwight from The Office be our ferry driver.  Seriously, from the glasses to the dour expression, this guy was the Taiwanese version of him, right down to the sense of humor: he played My Heart Will Go On as we were returning from the islands, and we were unable to resist the lure of a song in English.  The other ferry riders were treated to a free concert…I’m sure they were sitting in stunned silence because they were blown away by our talent.  It can’t get better than that, now can it?

But wait, yes it can!  Remember how I was hit by a lightning bolt of inspiration that resulted in Hart & Seoul?  IT HAPPENED AGAIN.  One minute I’m enjoying the scenery, the next a scene is playing out in my head, so vivid that it’s like I’m watching it.  And even better, it’s for the story that’s haunted me since college.  WAHOO!!!  I HAVE MORE IDEAS!!! #jobsecurity  It is for that reason that Sun Moon Lake will have a special place in my heart.

There is one final stop in Taiwan before we get to the grand finale.  Think you can guess what it is?

 

JAKOTAKONG PART 3.1

You know it’s going to be an adventure when your cab driver has a Winnie the Pooh sticker on his car.

The thought warmed the cockles of my slightly travel-weary heart as Swag Master, MC and I clambered into the taxi at Kaohsiung, Taiwan.  Three countries in one week is pretty epic, but there’s only so much airport you can take before the smell begins to seep into your very being.  But I was eager to explore Taiwan, and the first stop on our list was Kaohsiung, home of the Lotus Pond and, well, that’s pretty much it (as we later discovered).  Or at least that’s all we had time to do, since we were only there for a day.

After going through the easiest customs procedure ever – and by procedure I mean I literally just walked through the gate as the agent nodded at me – we stumbled out into the humid early evening, marveling at how a country that is so close to Japan can be so much hotter.  No one spoke English, but the airport employees were eager to help us, and within minutes we were matched up with the Winnie the Pooh driver.

By some miracle he managed to stuff all of our bags AND us in the vehicle, demonstrating a skill of Tetris that should be applauded, before getting behind the wheel.  And just like that, Winnie the Pooh morphed into Lightning McQueen, complete with at least three near death experiences.  Why?  It can be summed up in two words: moped mania.  Taiwan is FILLED with mopeds, all of them weaving in and out of traffic with a bravado more fitting for driving a tank, not a spindly little motor bike.  And rules of the road?

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We did make record time, however, so there’s that.  And we didn’t actually collide with anyone, although I still don’t know how as many moped drivers think nothing of basically using any intersection as a roundabout to circumnavigate pesky red lights.  They make D.C. drivers look angelic in comparison.  I’ve learned since to just not look out the front window…or the passenger window…really any window.  Just sit back and close your eyes and wait for death.  Or your destination.  Whichever comes first.

As soon as the driver got off the main road he morphed back to being Winnie the Pooh; he was very concerned that we find the hostel, and even followed us into the building to show us which floor to go on – he made an x with his fingers, and for one moment I thought he was cursing at us or something, until Swag Master figured out he was telling us to go to the tenth floor.  Oops.

The elevator itself was an improvement over Hong Kong’s, being bigger and not taking forever to arrive.  But it was literally held together with duct tape.  Duct tape!!!  I know Myth Busters did an episode dedicated to proving how duct tape is THE supply to have in an apocalypse, but I really rather not have my elevator have any, thank you very much.  And the doors!  They are out to get you, so if you’re ever in Taiwan make sure you move quickly or the suckers will try to decapitate you…or at the very least bruise the living daylights out of you.  But riding the elevator was absolutely worth it, because our hostel had this view:

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Hah!  So glad I invested in that new phone, because the camera on it is amazing!

Okay, flash forward to the next day: dressed in t-shirts and armed with water bottles, we braved the heat to grab lunch before heading for Lotus Lake to see the famed Dragon and Tiger Pagodas.  Legend says (ooooh, I’ve always wanted to say that!) that if you run into the mouth of the Dragon and out the mouth of the Tiger, you’ll have good luck.  What that legend does not include is that there are stairs inside both, and if you run through it in the Taiwan heat you’ll be huffing and puffing for a good five minutes afterwards.  I have since resolved to up my cardio when I get home, because apparently I need it.

But would I do it again?  In a heartbeat, because just look:

#mischiefmanaged.

Zapped by the heat, we returned to the hostel to bask in the frigid blast from our air conditioner, and settled in to watch a movie.  MC and I were craving something in English – it does get exhausting being surrounded by people speaking a different language – so we selected the most British show we could find on Netflix: Paddington.

I’ve been craving marmalade ever since.  I had to settle for Pocky, because this is Asia, after all.

The next day we packed up our bags and hopped onto the bullet train to our next destination.  Any guesses where?  Stay tuned!

 

JAKOTAKONG PART 2.2

Contrary to what my Disney loving self may think, there is more to see in Tokyo than just Disney, which brings us to day 2 of Japan!  But first, a quick moment to marvel at our hotel:

 

Sigh.  Okay, onward.

First on the agenda: the Imperial Palace.  Being the money conscious tourists that we are, the three of us hopped onto one of the Disney Resort’s free shuttles and headed to Disneyland, which is oh-so-conviently right by the train station.  And can I just get a quick round of applause for actually walking AWAY from Disneyland instead of storming the gates with the rest of the crowd?  I didn’t even turn back when the ticket guy glared at us and basically refused to help us because we spoke English, leaving us to muddle through using the machine to buy tickets by ourselves, even though his desk was clearly labeled IN ENGLISH that it was the ticket counter.

Nope, not bitter about it at all.

A quick note about Tokyo’s rail system: it’s a masterpiece of lines.  Seriously, take a load of this:

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Uh huh.  That was my reaction too.  Part of me wonders why it’s so convoluted when half the population rides bikes, but there you have it.  And we managed to not only get on the right line, but get off at the right stop, aka the Imperial Palace.  Good luck trying to find it on this map! 😉

Now, the Imperial Palace is actually closed to visitors (boo), but the gardens are free for you to explore (yay!).  It took us a while to find the right gate, but after hiking around half the circumference of the outer perimeter we found it (but not before I scandalized someone by making a joke of drinking the moat water to quench my raging thirst – American sarcasm does not apparently translate well to the average Japanese eavesdropper).  We spend the next hour meandering through the paths, marveling at the centuries-old walls that can still withstand earthquakes, eagerly marching to view the bamboo garden which turned out to just be some bamboo lining the walkway, and cringing away from humongous spiders – it’s beautiful out there, especially on a nice fall day…despite the humongous spiders.

Our feet were getting a little tired, so we sought out the Starbucks by the famous Shibuya Crossing, hailed as the busiest pedestrian intersection in Japan and possibly in the world.

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We came, we saw, we were disappointed; we equated busiest with largest, which it definitely is not.  But that’s okay, because not only was it by a CoCo Curry restaurant, which serves heaping bowls of curry and rice and everything else that is yummy in this world; it is also right by the Disney store!!!! #allroadstoDisney

I won’t bore you with all the little things that added up to one heck of a bill, but needless to say I left feeling like I had finally gotten my Disney shopping fulfilled…just in time for our final stop of the day: The Lion King Broadway show.  IN JAPANESE!!!

All I can say is that you have not lived until you’ve heard a Japanese Timon explain Hakuna Matata to Simba with a Japanese Pumba nodding along in the background.  It’s a surreal experience; you know the general plot, can even pick out key lines, but everything else in between just goes completely over your head.  The audience was very restrained, keeping the clapping to a polite minimum throughout the play…until the end.  They didn’t cheer at the end, didn’t wahoo – just clapped.  And clapped and clapped and clapped.  There were eight curtain calls.  Eight!  Our hands were red and swollen by the time the cast had had enough and waved us away.  They were still smarting by the time we arrived back at our hotel and crawled into bed, but it was oh so worth it.

And thus concludes my non-Disney day in Tokyo…which technically had Disney in it…but whatever.  On to the next destination because, as we all know, “ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE!”

And oh look, more yellow bumper lines from hell.  -_-

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JAKOTAKONG PART 2.1

Next stop is *drum roll*…………..Japan!  The land of anime, sushi, Hello Kitty and, most importantly, Disneyland and DisneySea!

Now, I had no idea what to expect as I boarded that plane for Tokyo.  Would the traffic lights turn yellow before going green, like in Hong Kong?  Would the elevators be tiny and try to close on you before you were halfway inside, like in Hong Kong?  Would there be fifty people per three feet, like in Hong Kong?

The short answer is no, sort of, no and no.  The long answer?  Read on…

The minute we landed in Tokyo I was struck by just how much like home it looked.  Not only were the buildings much further apart than in Hong Kong, but the landscape was that pretty patchwork of farmland that I’ve grown up with, complete with plenty of trees growing all around.  We landed at Narita airport, which is a good distance from everywhere we wanted to be (but also cheaper to fly into), so we were given the opportunity to see a lot as we took public transportation to get to our hotels.  And the first thing I noticed were the bikes.  Bikes EVERYWHERE.  As in, there are so many bikes that they have just as many bike parking lots as they do car ones.

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Maybe that’s why the air was cleaner than Hong Kong’s, although that could have been the area of town that we stayed in.  Needless to say, I was very impressed by both their dedication and thigh strength – I would have died after just a block or two, even if the land is relatively flat.

It took some wandering, but we finally found our capsule hotel, although I nearly wiped out several times, thanks to these annoying bumper things that riddle both Hong Kong and Japan.  Seriously, what is the purpose of this?

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If someone knows, please share, because it’s been driving me nuts.  And it’s EVERYWHERE on the sidewalk, like the root system of a determined weed out to trip clumsy travelers like myself.

Aaaaanywaaaays, back to the capsule hotel.  That’s right, a capsule hotel!!  Call me crazy, since I have claustrophobia and should avoid small spaces like the plague, but as soon as we decided that we were going to Tokyo I wanted to try out one of these famous hotels.  You are literally reserving a bed, and that’s all; each dorm is filled with tons of bunks, and there is a joint shower/washroom area.  Our bunks had curtains to allow us a little bit of privacy, which is nice, and I’ve always thought that it would be kind of fun to try one out. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it is ridiculously cheaper to stay in one – Tokyo is one very expensive city to visit.

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After grabbing some dinner at a local Korean restaurant (because why wouldn’t you have Korean food while in Japan for the first time?), we went back to the hotel, a special woman only hotel that borders a nice park.  As we were getting our numerous suitcases all settled, another guest saw us and came over to talk.  Turns out she wanted to know if we snored.  I looked at her, she looked at me, and we laughed and laughed and laughed…

…I woke up several times that night, terrified that I had actually been snoring and that she would find me.  She didn’t, so I must not have been, and overall I enjoyed my capsule hotel experience.

But I will admit that I was glad to be leaving the next morning, because the next day was DISNEY DAY!!!!!!!  Probably why I all but leapt outside to meet the poor unsuspecting cab driver, who was not prepared for all our suitcases and had to spend a good five minutes playing Tetris to fit everything in.  We actually applauded when he was finished, and piled into the back so he could cart us off to our next destination, the Disney Celebration Resort.  He couldn’t speak much English, and used an app to ask us what we thought of the city.  I, in the spirit of camaraderie, quickly downloaded Google Translate and used it to tell him that the city was beautiful and we loved it.  At least, that’s what I thought it said.  The only English that he spoke was to kindly tell me that “Google Translate sucks.”

I quickly deleted the app and am now on the hunt for a better one.  Recommendations are welcome!

After being dropped off at the hotel, I marched towards the check in counter, invigorated by just being on Disney property…only to be told that I was at the wrong hotel, that I had actually made a reservation at the Discovery hotel, not Wish, and had to literally cross the street.  This must happen a lot, because two employees helped us with our luggage and acted as though it was perfectly normal to cross a busy street while pulling huge pieces of luggage as you tried to sort out just how you made such a mistake.  I was very relieved when I was able to check in the second time around.  The poor gentleman helping me spoke broken English, I speak no Japanese, but we managed to muddle through the transaction together.  The one glitch was when I found out that our special perk, passes that lets us into the park 15 minutes early, wouldn’t kick in until the next day.

“But, we’re going to the park today,” I explained to him.

He blinked at me.  “Works tomorrow.”

“Oh, well since we’re going today, you can keep these for the next customer.”

He blinked at me again…I blinked back at him…and took the passes.  I think he breathed a huge sigh of relief when I finally left the counter.

And then it was time for the park!!!  Tokyo Disney has two parks, Disneyland and DisneySea.  After sifting through other blogs, I determined that DisneySea was the one to go to because there’s no other park like it in the world.  And oh boy oh boy oh boy am I glad we went there, because it was awesome!  Favorite ride, hands down, was Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, for the following reasons: screaming guys sitting behind us, a Japanese Indiana Jones shouting for what I assume was help, and a grand finale of The Stone (Indy fans will know exactly which one) chasing us.  It was awesome!!!!

When I wasn’t freaking out over the fact that I was at DisneySea, I was marveling at the costumes.  Adults could wear costumes into the park in celebration of Halloween, and everyone threw themselves into it with 110% enthusiasm.  From Donald Duck to Zootopia, everyone was decked out in full gear.  I felt positively underdressed with my Minnie Ears, let me tell you.  And they LOVE Duffy the Bear.  Purses, costumes, the actual bear – everywhere you look you see Duffy.  No wonder I caved and bought a pair of Duffy ears, as if I needed an excuse for another pair of ears.

The snack food at DisneySea is just as much fun as the rides; we had the steamed curry chicken buns and Little Green Mochi, as well as an “American” hotdog (it was nothing like an American hotdog, and I may have started a feeding frenzy with the pigeons after feeding my leftovers to them).  I did not try the famed popcorn, having no desire to eat curry popcorn, and definitely not garlic and shrimp popcorn.  Nope, I’ll stick to my regular popcorn, thank you very much.  Boring, but a classic.

There were two drawbacks to the day: one, it rained almost all morning, which is not fun when you are waiting in line for the park to open.  Swag Master, MC and I literally stood nose to nose in a desperate huddle under the one umbrella we had for about 45 minutes. I decided to pass the time by asking them what their deepest darkest secrets are.  The results: MC hates avocados, Swag Master is allergic to avocados, and I like grilled cheese and jalapeño sandwiches.

We are very deep people, obviously.

Second drawback is that one of the rides that we went on, which what I thought was supposed to be like the spinning tea cups in Disney World, was a disappointment.  I boarded that kelp cup all primed and ready to spin us to infinity and beyond, but was horrified to discover that the ‘wheel’ is just a prop, and you can’t actually spin yourself.  I was not amused by this, not amused at all.  Only shopping at the gift shop soothed my disappointed nerves.  Speaking of which, a note for any Disney pin fanatics: Tokyo Disney, or at least at DisneySea, is not into pins.   I know, THE HORROR!  What they like is food, so if you like cute snacks you’re in the right place.  But pins?  I managed to find two.  Two!  Great for my wallet, but a little underwhelming for my collection.  Guess this means I’ll just have to go to other Disney locations!! 😉

Because we had such fantastic luck on getting on all the rides we wanted to, we left the park relatively early, around 2:30, so we could collapse back at the hotel.  The plan was to finish the day by watching a movie (Disney, of course), but we were so tired we couldn’t even manage that.  But being tired after a day at Disney is the best kind of tired. #livingthedream

I’ll stop here, because a) I have to proof read this tome before posting it and b) I have to save more for the next posting.  Until next time!