Day 57: THOSE IDIOT AMERICANS
We slept in once again and awoke after 7:30am. The very first thing we noticed was that it was mostly sunny when we looked out the window.
It was an unusual sight considering it had been either overcast or raining throughout Hokkaido wherever we went with the exception of a brief moment of sunny weather at Lake Mashu and Wakoto-hanto.
There was a strange sense of symmetry as back on April 17th, we arrived in Hong Kong under sunny skies. And now we’re leaving Sapporo under mostly sunny skies. We kind of wished there was more of this weather when we were touring Hokkaido, but this unpredictability resulted in some unique highs and lows that made our experiences so memorable and cherished afterwards.
We still had to get logistics out of the way as we had to lug our luggage some four or five blocks from the Chisan Hotel to the JR Sapporo Station. Then, we had to buy our train tickets to the New Chitose Airport (JR Pass expired at this point) where we’d be catching a domestic flight to Narita International Airport and then the international flight back home.
Even back at home (assuming all goes well, especially in light of the Air France plane crash), there’s more logistics to worry about as we still have to pick up our luggage (lost luggage is always a worry), recover the car, hope it starts after reconnecting the battery, drive home, and get settled (hoping home wasn’t burgarlized while we were away). Indeed, reality will come fast and it will come hard.
And as we anticipate our homecoming, it will feel strange considering we had been gone for two months in places where English was hardly spoken.
At least we were able to get by for the most part in China, but Japan was a real challenge. Maybe next time, I’ll be better prepared by studying some Japanese before a follow-up trip.
We took the JR train from Sapporo to New Chitose Airport without incident. Sure it was crowded and we didn’t get reserved seats to save a little bit of out-of-pocket money, but it wasn’t a bad half-hour, especially compared to taking trains in China. And after checking in and getting through security at the New Chitose Airport bound for Narita Airport, we happened to catch the last bit of the 3rd quarter of the Lakers-Magic NBA Finals Game 4 live.
How’s that for pre-flight entertainment?!?
It didn’t matter that the whole telecast was commentated in Japanese because we were glued to our seats and intently watched this very tense game.
This game was so close and so tense that it produced moments where Julie and I were the only ones in the airport making noise during crazy moments during the game. And when the Lakers seemed to have lost the game (down 5 with 30 seconds to go), some missed Orlando free throws and clutch shooting set up that Derek Fisher game-tying 3.
That was when Julie and I exploded in cheer in the silent airport. We drew funny looks from just about every Japanese person within audible range of us. Not caring much about basketball in these parts, they probably thought, “Those idiot Americans!”
Julie and I made noise again when Fisher hit another 3 pointer to put the Lakers up for good in Overtime. Again, we drew looks from indifferent Japanese people probably thinking, “Those idiot Americans!”
So with our euphoria of having witnessed perhaps the coronation of our local team winning the first NBA championship in 7 years, our flight to Narita Airport went by uneventfully.
Now here we are at the pretty crowded gate awaiting our flight back to LAX.
Knowing how airplane food would probably suck, we saw a stand-up ramen place right next to the departure gate. So we had ourselves one last helping of authentic Japanese ramen. And still plenty of time to wait for our flight home.
So with all this time to reflect on what has transpired in the last two months, we realized that this trip once again taught us more about ourselves, our heritage, different perspectives, different nature, and different ways of getting things done. It’s this stimulus you couldn’t otherwise get at home that always keeps us passionate about traveling.
We always say variety is the spice of life, and there’s no better way to acquire this variety of experiences than through travel to unfamiliar places (using waterfalls as the excuse to pick the destinations, of course).
But it’s a bittersweet end to the 2-month trip because we get the feeling that our traveling will be much more limited going forward. We’re not getting any younger and the urge to start a family and pass on what we’ve learned throughout our lives and especially through our travels is quite strong.
We’ll see how it all plays out, but for sure we do feel like the end of this trip is also the end of a chapter of our lives where we’ve felt we’ve gotten the most of our time as well as made up for things we missed when we were naive and younger (traveling of course). It’s amazing how an ambition for waterfalling can evolve into a journey of self discovery and enlightenment about the world and our lives.
Indeed, going forward, we hope to stay efficient with getting the most out of life while starting a legacy that we hope will be productive and long lasting as we try to impart what we know and have learned…