Just when we think we mastered traveling in Japan…
September 27th, 2009 by Kate

So we’ve been here in Japan for three weeks now – and I was feeling pretty good about our ability to read the train timetables, find the right trains (and actually get where we want to be), navigate the subways, find food that we’ll all eat, get us to wherever we are staying… oh but throw two little “national holidays” into the mix and it all becomes a giant crapshoot!

 Elder’s Day and the Autumnal Equinox – who knew?  And to celebrate the whole country gets a FIVE day weekend!!!!  AHHHHH!

 Our plan was to stay in Hiroshima for two nights at a hostel, then head back north to Kyoto for 5 days with our couchsurfing host.  We have been traveling really flexibly – meaning we don’t really make our plans ahead of time- and just figured that the hostel we had booked would keep us for a second night… um… wrong.  There was no room at the inn – there, or anywhere else in a 500km area!  Between the two nice receptionists at our hostel, Jeff and myself we probably contacted 200 hotels, hostels and inns… and there was nothing. 

 The girls started making plans to camp in a nearby rice field.  I started to think of that as a viable option.  It was pathetic.

 Thankfully, our couchsurfing host in Kyoto got our late night message that we were homeless and offered to let us come a night early.  So with our trusty Japan Rail passes in hand, we boarded the bullet train and four hours later we had a roof over our heads in Kyoto. 

 The moral of the story for me – when your guide book says that on national holidays everyone in the country goes on vacation – BELIEVE IT and book early!

2 Responses  
Chad Schneider writes:
October 1st, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Been reading about your japan and china trip, you know i’m not a train nut, but i am pretty envious of your travels on the bullet train in japan! Do you know how fast you travelled? People told me of 395 kmh trains in china, not sure how the japanese trains you were on compare. We’ve got snow here now! the seasons have definately changed a lot, the summer lasted a long time, but everyones definately gearing up for ski season. I have a couple from france with me tonight, and a certified doctor from australia staying for about a week until he finds an apartment for the ski season. SO many here just to ski, 2 new roomates here as well from New Brunswick, ski bums as well. Back to catching up on your blog! Take care and make the most of every day!

All the best, Chad

Kate writes:
October 6th, 2009 at 7:10 pm

Hey Chad – you know deep down you ARE a train nerd! :-)
In Japan on one of the trains the display said we were going 320km/h – its fast enough that you can’t really focus on what’s going by you, only look off into the distance. The ones in Japan are on their own special tracks it seems and they are really smooth. Here in China, we took an overnight bullet train from Shanghai to Beijing (11 hours) as as I dozed off I saw on the monitor that it was going 220km/h, but it slowed down considerably for most of the trip (around 180km/h) I think that’s because it’s on regular tracks – it was definately more bumpy!

Glad to hear all is well in Revelstoke – we love hearing from you so in between your couchsurfers and romance we hope you’ll keep reading! Kate

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