It’s 9 days into the new 2012 year, and I don’t know if it’s still considered the “Happy New Year” wish period but I’ll just go ahead and say it…
HAPPY NEW YEAR! (English)
祝你们心年快乐! (Mandarin Chinese)
[Zhù Nǐmen Xīn Nián Kuàilè]
[Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu]
and one for the road…
PRÓSPERO AÑO Y FELICIDAD! (Spanish)
Since I took so long to put up this post, I’ll have to leave out the long story of my life between New Years Eve and now. Don’t worry, you’ll still get your money’s worth.
The reason I used Japanese as one of the languages above is because I am spending the first 6 weeks of 2012 with my sister in Ichihara, Kyoto, Japan.
1 day before…
I graduated from Class 1 Chinese Language Class on December 30. It wasn’t a cap and gown event, everyone just wore their normal day-to-day wear, of course some dressed up more than others, but we all got our certificates and our transcripts with our grades (I was very proud of mine).
After graduation the University (Communication University of China), treated everyone from Class 1 to Class 6, about 140 people to lunch at the Guo Jiao Restaurant. Lets just say its the best restaurant on Campus.
During the day…
I spent the rest of the day in China changing money, buying gifts, saying goodbye to friends and chilling at my friend’s apartment. My flight was scheduled to leave at 9:45 am on December 31, and I was so excited that I stayed awake the entire night (Dilan, my roommate, stayed awake with me too :-)). I got to the subway at 6:00 am and for some strange reason there were enough people to fill the seats on the subway at 6 am on a Saturday…why?
I could have taken a taxi, but I wanted to use the Beijing Airport Express. It’s a subway line that takes you straight to the airport. I definitely got my exercise for the day lugging a heavy suitcase, a violin and a laptop with me because there were no escalators at any of the stations where I transferred. Again I ask why? I’ve always wanted to take the Airport Express because taking the Airport Express means that I’m traveling somewhere. But now that I’ve done it, unless I’m only carrying a light bag, or I feel like exercising for the day, it’s taxi’s from now on.
In the plane…
I got a window seat, even though that’s not much to brag about since the plane wasn’t that full, but that means I was able to see Japan as the plane was flying over the country. I think I saw the Fuji Mountains and maybe where the earthquake struck? That’s just me speculating, but take a look, what do you think?
Arrival in Japan…
I landed in Japan about 3:30pm and finally got to by sister’s house at about 8:00pm. Here’s the funny thing about languages…which I found out…I spent 4 months studying Chinese just so that I will be able to communicate with the Chinese, only to land in Japan and be right back at square 1. You’re probably saying “But Danielle, it’s a different country and a different language, of course you wouldn’t understand”. Yes of course I wouldn’t but that’s the thing, I will always be back at zero.
I took a shuttle from the airport and got to my sister’s house around 7:30 pm. We ate some sushi and food from a Bento Box which I was excited about because I’ve always heard about these Bento Boxes from the convenience store/supermarket.
Later we took the train to Heian Shrine near the city centre and met my sister’s friend there. We got there pretty close to midnight, so while we were meeting, greeting and taking pictures people just started counting down and we only realized when they got to 5. After the countdown there was a HUGE crowd of people queuing up to pray in the temple. Those who weren’t lining up to pray were shaking these large metal containers with long metal sticks inside that would give them a number which they would use to collect a piece of paper with their fortune.
We left the Shrine because there was nothing else to see and my sister and her friend heard about these temples where you go and ring this big bell. We could actually hear the bell being rung at intervals. We followed the sound to the first temple, but by the time we got there, they had closed it off. Then we followed the sounds of another bell but unfortunately we still couldn’t ring the bell because we needed to have had a ticket.
Now the bad thing was that trains had stopped running by this time, and walking home especially in the freezing cold was not going to happen. My sister’s friend had her bicycle, so she just rode home but my sister and I spent the next 4 hours on the road just hanging out in coffee shops and walking around the empty, deserted city.
Finally, at something to 6 in the morning, we caught the 3rd train out of the station and headed back home where we collapsed in bed and went on a long trip to dreamworld.