Monday, 6 May 2013

The long drive home

Monday 6th May 2013

MP3 track of the day: Ayaka – Te wo Tsunagou

Weather: It never rained but it remained overcast all day.


Yep you guess it; I found myself up at around 7am. First of all, I proceeded to the shower room however the owner wasn't around. I did a quick search but she wasn't there to ask if it was 'ok'. I knocked politely on the shower room door but there was no answer. I cautiously opened the door to find the room empty. I took a gamble; I decided to use the shower room now and hoped that no one else came.

It was a successful mission; I took a quick shower and left before anyone had noticed I was even up. I returned to my room, got dressed and re-read yesterdays blog to make sure it made sense. At 9am I said goodbye to the owner, who bowed and thanked me for staying; I in return thanked her before heading out of the door and into my car.

Even though it was only 9am I thought I would try the local 'plaza' as there was a tourist shop located within it. Most shops within Japan open at 10am (and today was a bank holiday) so I held little hope it would be open this early however, to my surprise, customers were already exiting the building – shopping bags in hand - as I approached. I eagerly went in and browsed the tourist shop like I had all the time in the world. It wasn't that I did have 'all the time in the world'; neither was it because I needed a lot of time as there was so much stuff to look at. It was the fact that there was nothing to choose from. In the end I went to the 'key ring' section (as these are usually the cheapest souvenirs) and narrowed my choice of purchase down to either a tacky key ring of a map of the area, or a tacky key ring of a fish which is famous around these parts. I ummmed and I arrrrred, eventually going for the fish. Paying £4.00 for something that I was less than trilled about did annoy me however, overall, I was glad to have something to remember my trip by. I then proceeded to Mr Donuts for breakfast before heading south.

As I have said before, the peninsular is shaped like a giant axe head with the wooden handle being the only way to access the 'axe' by land. Coming here I took the '383', which lead me along the western 'outer' edge of the handle. Going home I drove down the '279', which took me along the eastern 'inner' edge of the handle. Just like the rest of the peninsular the terrain, on both sides of the 'handle', were different. The '383' meandered up and down mountains and through forests; whereas the '279' was much straighter and it took me past fields where livestock were grazing happily. Both seemed to take the same amount of time however, due to the terrain, the '279' seemed more relaxed.

All too soon I was back within the heart of the Aomori prefecture and heading towards a road which I took during my summer holiday last year. This road did feel familiar and it wasn't long before I entered the city of Hachinohe.

If I'm honest, Hachinohe isn't one of my favourite cities. I've been there three times now (only fleeting visits each time) and every time I've ended up getting lost. This trip was no exception; by now the time was 12:30pm and I was starving. I headed into the city centre to try to find some Japanese food (I'd had western, Indian and fast food on my trip; my body was crying out for something Japanese) but, try as I might, all I could find was McDonalds. I then tried to get back onto the main road south however, this involved following signs, changing lanes and looking out for oncoming traffic (whilst looking for somewhere to eat). I'd almost given up on my preferred choice of meal when, just past a sign for KFC, I saw the word 'Maramatsu'. I cancelled my signal for the KFC car park and altered course. I raced into the restaurant and sat down on the only table available (however I did feel a little guilty as it was a table that could have fit a family of six). I ordered my favourite chicken dish and ate it in no time at all. As I ate I saw that at least two 'booths' were occupied with, let's say, 'low paying customers'. One had two old women in, each with what looked like a cold cup of coffee, talking away as if the place was empty. The other 'booth' had two high school students working on their home work whilst listening to their MP3 players. There were two small empty plates to suggest that they had, at least, ordered a little bit of food however, this too seemed to have been devoured quite a while ago. I see students within restaurants quite often in Japan and, actually, I do like it. I like the fact that they have somewhere else to work other than at home; I like the fact that no member of staff tries to 'turf them out' the minute they have finished their order however, as this is a 'countrywide phenomenon', I wish there were a few designated smaller booths equipped for this type of customer (with power points etc). The space the two girls were occupying could have had two 'working booths'. The old people on the other hand; well, they should just go home.

Half an hour after I'd entered the restaurant, I left. I got into my car and continued my long journey south. Well when I say long, it didn't actually feel like it. I turned my radio up, past sights I'd seen three days ago and guided my car along the road until I got back to Miyako. The only thing which saddened the trip was realising that, all too soon, my holiday had ended. Sure I get sad when all my holidays end; who doesn't? However this trip was different and I think it was down to the peninsular beating my expectations by a 'country mile'.

I arrived home around 4pm and brought my stuff into my apartment. For some unknown reason I had expected to find things had changed but, of course, they hadn't. I put all my stuff away, threw most of my clothes into the washing bin, had a long shower and wrote this blog. After that I looked through my bank holiday weekend photos with a small tear in my eye. Finally I checked my emails to find that one of my schools had cancelled all their English lessons on the 24th May. I got up and made the appropriate change to my work calendar. Whilst doing so a smile appeared across my face...

only twelve weeks until my summer holiday.

Toodle Pip!

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