So late, yet so early

For some stupid reason it’s 11:30pm and I’m updating my online diary. Actually I know exactly the reason, but I’m not going to tell you. This one feels more like a fire side chat, except there’s no fire side, and it’s more like a yama-no-kuchi sort of chat.

Am in Fukuoka, which you should know by now. The business hotel I’m staying in is very new, clean and efficient. I had this fear when I arrived that it was a capsule hotel, which I haven’t stayed in yet, and probably should at some stage just for the fun of it. Capsule Hotels are like having a filling done. You should do it once, only once, and never have to repeat it. But this place gives you a yukata to sleep in, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and there’s a vending machine for buying a disposable razor downstairs. I think it’s more like a hotel for drunk businessmen who can’t get home for the night, and just stay there and turn up to work the next morning. I also thought it might have been a brothel, but it’s too clean for that. But again, somehow I’m in the red light district of the city. Tomorrow I’m going to change to another hotel that’s closer to the station and costs a lot more, but they have a massive discounts for Youth Hostel members, so hopefully it’ll be a bargain. Or a carboard box in the basement. For the last week of being here, when I will be staying just in Fukuoka (not doing day trips anywhere,) I was thinking about renting a serviced apartment, but the cost is the same as my daily budget. If I don’t want to eat, travel or do anything it’d be okay. Maybe all my backpacker friends can come over and share the floor and the cost.

To make a phone call in the business hotel I need to use a pre-paid 300yen card. The phone cable goes from the socket in the wall to the card reader, and from the card reader to the phone. All the plugs are the same. I could just plug the phone straight into the wall if I wanted to. But this is Japan, and people don’t do that sort of thing.

I went to a restaurant last night where I met a Japanese guy who had moderate English skills. We got talking and I returned tonight to chat more with him. Strange as it may seem for me, I’ve actually worked out how to meet people and make friends in a new place. A useful skill to have. I should bottle it and sell it, but here it’s called sake or beer. For dinner tonight I asked again what was good, and he pointed out one dish that was supposed to be quite tasty.

In Japan, people eat all manner of things. Offal, bits of bone and cartilage, internal organs that shouldn’t see the light of day. Also in Japan, it is very rude not to eat all the food put in front of you.

This dish was chicken cartilage, the rubbery bit from the neck. Fried. Thankfully they gave me a beer discount voucher which helped wash it down.

Fukuoka is a bit like Sydney in terms of size and features. Lots of stylish shops and food places, a harbour and an awful road development that blocks part of the view. Think of the Cahill Expressway, if it went from Balmain to Potts Point, or something like that. But what’s worse, is it that it doesn’t look finished, more like they made this expressay join the local roads when the money ran out at each end.

There a recent development called Canal City. Again it’s like Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay Warf together, not too bad. I turned off the part of my brain that deals with social and ethical justice issues and went shopping for things I can’t afford. I didn’t actually buy anything but had a good time. I found a surf shop finally, with quite a bit of Australian surf gear. (Now, I’m not a surfer, but it was about the only thing I could think of that reminded me of Australia in a big way.) I also walked into a Gap store, and they had these manikins with singlets on them. The first thing I thought of was the Chesty Bonds ones in the Gowings Store on Oxford Street. Then I thought about the community those are pitched to. Then I realised that symbolically here, they have a totally different semantic meaning to the ones on Oxford Street. As usual, I took a photo and buggered off out of the store before I could be stopped.

And so here I am, shopped out, tired and thinking I really, really should be going back to the hotel to hack the phone system.

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