Saturday, 24 May 2014

A quick hop to Fukuoka, Japan

After coming back from our travels I spent a month in Korea staying at a new friends apartment while Jason was in America. It was such a great time to reconnect with my little pup and we just spent our days relaxing, walking and playing.

After about a month Jason came to collect me and we moved in to our new apartment. We were pretty excited about this move as most teachers in Korea live in tiny studio apartments but we were moving in to a big 2 bedroom apartment. This was also going to be our first time living together. The move was very easy as because of our nomadic lifestyle we didn't have much stuff. The only bad thing was that it was the height of summer (August) and it was one of the hottest summers on record (40 degrees during the day!) and we had no air con!

We spent a lot of time in coffee shops and friends apartments trying to get cool and averaged at about 2 cold baths a day! haha After a couple of weeks it was time to do a visa run over to Japan to get our new visas. We had been to Japan once before and visited Osaka and Kyoto. This time would be a bit different as we were only going for one night and had a very limited amount of money to spend while there (our funds were seriously low)

I had to get a new passport when I got back to Korea…so this trip
was the first stamp in my new one!
We had prebooked in to a hostel and found some flights with Air Busan. The great thing about Fukuoka is that it's not even an hour flight from Busan. Once we arrived we had to go straight to the Korean embassy as they don't take visa applications after 11 a.m I think it was about 10 a.m once we arrived.

Luckily we had some good directions and were all finished up by lunchtime. We had to stay in Fukuoka until after 12 the next day to collect our passports. This left the rest of the day for us to explore the city. Something that we both noticed is that Fukuoka is a really clean city and has some really great shopping too.

But first things first, and that was finding a good lunch! We decided to just get lost in the city and see where we ended up and we ended up walking down a small street with some beautiful tiny restaurants. We had both fallen in love with Japanese ramyeon on our last trip so we really wanted to have it again. We found a tiny little place and thought that it looked really cool so decided to give it a try. I love those tiny little hole in the wall places. There were about 3 other people inside and probably enough room for about 10. There were bottles of Saki everywhere and it was quite dark inside. We had planned on just asking for ramyeon and seeing what would happen...but unfortunately we were in Japan. We realised that the only way to order your food was from a machine. Since absolutely everything was in Japanese we had to just order blindly...we've done this quite a few times in China, Korea, Cambodia and beyond and it has never let us down. This time was no different! We got some really great pork noodles and some great spices and sauces to add if we choose. It was a great little place and the noodles were delicious!
The entrance to the restaurant.
This is how you order.

The delicious noodles!
Jason was definitely happy with lunch :)

After lunch we decided to take a little walk around the area and try to find Kashii-gu, which is a Shinto shrine. it was very peaceful inside and we enjoyed walking around and seeing the different shrines and temples in the area. It's also fun to visit the temples in different countries and see the differences among them.

Jason at the shrine.

Peoples wishes.

After leaving the shrine we were just walking along when we randomly found a beautiful traditional entry way. After snooping a bit more we found that it was a Japanese garden. We were both pretty excited to go in and found a beautiful peaceful little garden in the middle of the city! We sat there for about an hour just enjoying the peacefulness.

The entrance to the gardens.
Inside the Japanese gardens.
It was so quiet and peaceful.
Some koi swimming in the pond.

We then decided to go to the big shopping centre in the middle of the city. It's pretty huge and is called Canal City because, well…there's a canal that goes all around it. We took a stroll inside (loving the air-con) and then got some coffee and relaxed for a bit. It was so Americanised that we almost forgot that we were in Asia for a while. After walking around a bit more we saw a Japanese photo booth shop. I had done this before in Korea with a couple of friends and it was crazy so myself and Jason decided to give it a go.

What is a japanese photo booth you ask? and how is it different from regular photo booths?

Well firstly, these shops are in nearly every shopping centre in Japan and are hugely popular amount Japanese (and Korean) teens. Each shop has about 20 or more different booths all with their own unique photo style. Some shops have a corner where you can rent fancy dress for your photos. When inside the booth you get some photos taken and choose your favorites. You then get some time to design your photos with stamps, hearts, faces, writing, make-up and hundreds of other things! The end result is a really creepy photo of you with super white skin, lighter hair and huge eyes. You are also photoshopped like never before. They are so fun to see and when you get the hang of them it's fun to do some crazy poses. We had so much fun in the booth that we decided to do it another time. It's so weird to see how much they change you!

One of the creepy photos on the side of the booth.
Inside the photo booth shops.

The end result!

…and again.

After our time in the photo booth we decided to go to the cinema. We love going to the cinema in a new country just to see the differences and relax a little. We ordered some strawberry popcorn and enjoyed the film.

Cinema time :)

That evening we got completely lost trying to find our hostel, ended up walking around for an hour when we finally found it. It was a really nice, clean hostel and even though we ordered a dorm room we ended up with a room to ourselves which was nice.

The next morning we had to make our way back to the Korean embassy and collect our passports. We had a bit of time before our flight was leaving and we didn't have much money left so we decided to go to the shopping centre across from the embassy and have lunch there. We found a small noodle place and had our final meal. Then while walking around we found another photo booth place. I have to say, we were a little obsessed. We had enough money to take a couple of photos but it would mean having no money whatsoever after getting the subway to the airport. We decided to get some more photos (although I was regretting that decision when I was really thirsty at the airport and couldn't afford some water) But it was a lot of fun!

After that it was time to say goodbye to Fukuoka and head to the airport to catch our flight back home to Gimhae.

Fukuoka was a lot of fun and both myself and Jason agreed that we would have loved to live there. It's a big enough city but not too big. It seemed quite environmentally friendly and there seems to be so much to do there! Unfortunately we didn't get to spend enough time there to get to see and do most things, but as well as the shrine and gardens, Fukuoka is on the sea which means there are beaches there and there's also a carnival near the beach. I would definitely like to go back and see more of Fukuoka again!

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