It has been a long time since my last post, therefore a brief summary and after that an explanation of my whereabouts.
What happened so far?
Christmas in Japan is in general a less important holiday. As the university scheduled classes until the 25th and stores are opened as usual. The only curiosity is that Japanese people enjoy Christmas Cake with their friends on the 25th. And for they it seems entirely logical that this was common practice in the western world as well.
The important holiday in Japan is the new year which used to follow the lunar calendar until the mid of the 19th century. With the Meiji Reforms it was changed to the western calendar and ever since the last days of December and the first days of January is the time where Japanese families gather and celebrate together. I had the pleasure to be invited by the facility managers of my student dormitory. We had traditional Japanese new year food and went to a temple at midnight in order to expel evil spirits.
Moreover, I used the short holiday for a trip to Hiroshima, which was one of the best short trips I had so far. Maybe I will upload some pictures when I have regular internet access again.
Towards the finishing line of the semester, examinations and part time job kept me busy. But through hard effort the tests went rather satisfying. After that I spent my last weeks in Shiga Prefecture and enjoyed the good and easy life. I went out in Kyoto and hung out with my friends. And I also soaked in Spa World in Osaka (which is highly recommended, by the way).
It happened in one December night when I was enjoying Soju with my Korean friend (from now on I will refer to him as ‘my Korean Companion’, that we came up with the idea to make a trip through Korea. But it was not supposed to be any trip it had to be a challenge. Therefore my friend remembered the days when he had made a bicycle trip with his buddy from Seoul to Busan. He was becoming nostalgic and I excited, we decided to make a trip like that together.
Arrival in Korea
Or: Lost and found and lost and found in Seoul
Wait! Why a spa?
In Korea most spas have opened 24/7, which means that they also provide the opportunity to sleep in. Actually the cheapest accommodation one can find in South Korea. Therefore to have a fine place to stay for one night in Seoul and a nice meeting at the same time, we came up with that plan.
However, arriving at the meeting point too late, I could not spot my friend and having difficulties to get acquainted with the area, I had troubles finding the way the bath house. Totally exhausted after a while (2 hours) I finally made my way and checked in.
It is a huge facility and it seems to be popular among young Koreans after partying in the clubs. Consequently there were a lot of people chatting and I could again not find my friend for the whole night.
The next morning I got up early and made my way to the outskirts of Seoul where I was supposed to meet my Korean Companion. Arriving in time but with no possibility to contact him I was again lost. This time the right place, but no mobile phone and no internet access. I was trying to find some free wi-fi spots but that turned out to be a waste of time.
Ill-preparedness has its price. Next time be better prepared.
I ended up talking to a random passenger and used his phone to make a call and waited for my friend. After a long time I was still waiting and decided to go into a café to make a new plan. Where I met a nice American English teacher who helped me out.
The kindness of strangers has no price.
After another ride to another meeting point I was reunited with my friends and it turned out that the one I was supposed to meet in the spa was there all night, we just did not meet and the other one was looking for me at the metro station and we just had missed each other.
Never the less we enjoyed original Korean barbecue together and chatted. A long day comes to an end and I am excited to start the trip tomorrow.