Journey to Japan (Part 1: Departure and Kobe)

I  have been pretty reluctant to write about this actually, since I have not done much contribution on the journey of this following story. I am not that traveller or people who has authority to describe about places. Moreover, I was really overwhelmed by internship, thesis writing (yeah, I’m a bachelor now), and other uni business before. But I think since this is one of highlight of my life, one wish out of thousands on my bucket list to be achieved, and it’s pretty interesting to tell about so I decided to make an entries for this story. I will be going to make the story about me and my 6 other travel mates into several parts, I hope you will enjoy all of them. And one more thing to say, at least this is what I could remember from the journey, I’d like to say sorry in advance if it turned out different.

Almost 2 years ago, I went abroad for the very first time in my life, and I went to the most exotic and the the most dream about country for me. Yes, I went to Japan. For a lot of people perhaps going abroad really is not a big deal, but for me it is (I am not that rich). It needs a whole scope of miracle and tons of prayers and tears for finally having me seated on a plane to Japan. Indeed, the story before my departure is not even less challenging than the journey itself, in fact it was heartbreaking story (insert crying emoticon here).  But then, let me save this pre-departure story for the closing entry OK?

I will begin my story with our motivation to go to Japan, the seven of us indeed admire Japan and really want to travel around Japan (you can say that we are Japan freak, it’s okay). But actually we want to join a conference, a Model United Nations (MUN) (if you want to know more about MUN, I suggest you to google away) conducted by Kobe City University of Foreign Studies. Our uni have this MUN Club, and I am one of the member, most of us are the members since most of us are majoring in International Relations. Only one of us is coming from different major. So we apply for this MUN conference, and finally we are all assigned as one of delegates. So you know now that we did not initialy wander around Japan, we want to join a MUN conference there.

Then, I would like to introduce my travel buddies here. Some of them are really close to me and I know for years, since we are at the same major and the same batch. The first is Eno, she’s my longtime bestfriend, she’s also my roomate in dormitory for one year, and we had so much time when we are together. She can read and speak in Japanese, so we could really use her language skill. Second is Unay/Zivya, she’s my inner circle together with Eno and one other friend named Ijah, she’s the main brain and had the most contribution to this journey. She did most of the research and did the booking for airplanes, hotels, transportation, and tourist attractions, etc. Third is Mawar, she’s the mother(?) of this journey, she’s actually the head of the delegates, but she’s handling over the complicated work of arranging the journey to the expert one (that is Unay), although she was also helping Unay in doing so. I called her the mother because she always took the longest time to prepare, and always checking on us if we had dinner or if we were sick. Fourth is Hana, she was the most patient and cold headed person in our group. She’s very kind and sweet. She really likes manga and anime, she is often fangirling with Unay, and they really are chatty if it’s about manga and anime. Fifth is Ali, he was also a cold headed person and keen on simple things. He likes travelling and also likes manga and anime (but not on the same level with Unay and Hana). He also did some research and knew some directions in Japan. And most importantly, he was the camera guy, he brought his DSLR camera and we are thankful for that (I used some pictures from his camera too for my posts about Japan). The last is Aris, he was the junior from different major. I just knew him when we were going to Japan. He was really calm and quiet, but being the youngest from the different major, I think he got along really well with us. He likes shopping, for real, because he always bought something in each place we visit.

Okay, I think it’s enough introducing the member of our travel group. Most of us have different personalities and does not come from the same circle, but afterall that’s what makes our journey so colorful.

We departed at noon from dormitory, where most of us are living. As I expected, the luggage are varied, some of us had one backpack and one small suitcase, but there were some of us had the biggest suitcases I’ve ever seen. Really, there were gigantic. But then I thought, maybe because we are going to a place that we really like and these people want to enjoy the most of their time there by being fashionable or something. So yeah, it was tolerable. But then the problem was, we need a bus to take us to the airport and we were going to a bus stop by ojek (renting the backseat of motorcycles). The gigantic suitcase was the highlight of the day, with all the strength he has, the ojek driver was trying so hard to fit the giant suitcases in between of driver’s legs and the hand grip of motorcycle. And I could swear to God, that the suitcases make the motorcycles looks like they have lumps on the neck.

Long story short, we managed to reach the airport on time. After all the procedure of checking in as well as security and luggage check, we are waiting for our departure. It was the first time I am going abroad, so I was really glad I have my friends to help me through the checking in process. Our flight was on the evening (I forgot the exact time) we spend our time on the waiting room calling our relatives, taking some pictures, and talking about how excited we are.

Finally we were on the airplanes, and we would have a transit in Kuala Lumpur first. It was only two hours and we arrived at Kuala Lumpur. After the other checking in, we wander around KL airport. Some of us already had some Ringgit exchanged back home, prepared for this transit. But not me, because I had a really tight budget. We chose a fast food restaurant and had our late dinner, once more I was thankful I had my bestfriend with me, she treated me a burger package for my dinner. After the dinner, we wander around the airport some more until it’s finally our call to the plane.

It was late at the night, and the weather was really cold. Our stomach were full and we were sleepy at the time. I saw the plane that will take us to Japan, it was really big, it has 3 rows of seats inside. I was sitting beside Eno, and actually I was a bit nervous. It would take 8 hours to arrive at Japan, and it was a long time to fly! Something bad might happen, and if it happened there would be no escape. I was being paranoid,but when I see that Eno was nervous too, I tried so hard to look calm. So we decided to sleep while listening to our own iPod along the journey. Eno fell asleep first, while I was busy with my mind. But thank God, i could sleep at last.

It was morning, when I woke up completely. I was waken up early in the morning befote, but then fell asleep again. After cleaning ourself with some wet tissues, we were given the immigration form which were expected to be filled before the landing. So we filled in the form, because we would arrive at Osaka soon. It was really hard to write in the airplane with tired hand, so I could care less whether it was readable or not.

It was a mixture of relief, excitement, and fatigue knowing that the plane was landed successfully not so long after that. And the second I stepped on the land, the feeling was overwhelming. I really want to jump and roll over, but I couldn’t, I just smile really bright and having this mental image of one of my wishes crossed out of my bucket list. I want to shout “YATAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”, but I would look like a poorly educated foreigner having some kind of culture shock if I did that. But seeing my buddies’ face, I could tell that they really want to do the kind of same things like me, at least in their mind.

We were in the queue for the immigration check, the luggage was already with us. There was a Japanese immigration staff, a middle aged woman, assisting us on the queue. The funny thing is, when she found out that we were Indonesian, she kept saying “Money kira kira! Money kira kira!” to us. Eno and Unay who knew some Japanese, told us that kira in Japanese means ‘shining’, but we didn’t know the meaning of ‘money kira kira’, I mean why the heck an immigration staff would say ‘money shining shining’ to a bunch of foreigner? What did she want? Why the shining money is so important?

Knowing that we were confused, she pointed a line on our form, and saying again this time slowly “Money. Kira. Kira.” The line on the form she pointed, was asking about the amount of money we brought with us to Japan. And we were like “ooooooh” at the time. What she meant was ‘kira-kira’ in Indonesian, means average, or in the context was the average amount of money we brought to Japan. It was really memorable to us, how this Japanese lady trying to talk in Bahasa Indonesia.

I was a bit worry on the luggage check, since I had this sambal teri (Indonesian cuisine made from  salted and preserved small kind of fishes with chilli sauce) with me, made by my mom. I was trying to refuse to bring this, but my mom was worried that I couldn’t eat more since there were no sambal in Japan (I really like spicy cuisine). She insisted that I would miss the Indonesian cuisine once I was there, so she packed me this sambal teri and some packages of Indomie (Indonesian instant noodle). It was soooo ridiculous for my mom worrying about what I would ate there, she didn’t really know that I am crazy about Japanese foods. Honestly, I was also a little embarassed to be the only one preparing traditional homemade food to Japan. Moreover, I was only a week in Japan. But for the sake of her happiness, I brought along sambal teri with me. So then in luggage check, I was ready if sambal teri needs to be left behind on the airport. But God hears my mom prayers, the sambal teri escaped the checking. Later I found out that my mom packed it really carefully and put it in between my layers of clothes. She was undoubtedly smart.

Stepping out from the airport, and the summer weather of Osaka hits us. This was the time when our human GPS, Unay did her tasks. She recommended to take a bus first to central city of Kobe, then took a train to the region where our hotels were located, Takarazuka. We brought seven tickets and waited at the bus stop right outside the airport. Ticket for Kobe Sannomiya was a bit costly, but the bus was really nice. The journey with the bus was like an hour to two, and we arrived at Kobe. It was smaller than Osaka, but the weather is really nice.

Bus from Osaka Airport to Kobe Sannomiya
Eno, Aris, and me at Kobe Sannomiya

We were dropped at a bus stop, and we were a bit lost of directions there. We were struggling to find the station to take us to our hotel’s region, Takarazuka. We were dragging our suitcases while going here and there on the street. I just wished at the time that the police wouldn’t bother to interrogate us since we were a bunch of clueless foreigner with really big suitcases. And indeed no one cares, the people looking at us once then they would looking away. Unay and Ali were trying to read directions and map, but we could not find the station. Finally, Eno had her initiative to talk to the police in Japanese, since no one knows how to speak English (unless the tourist guides at certain places). Finally again, we found the damned station, brought tickets, and ride the train to reach our destination.

We were going to stay at a hotel for one night before going to the Kobe City University of Foreign Studies (KCUFS) the next morning. We really hope that we could take a walk and visit hotspring in Kobe. Along the train, I saw a really beautiful scenery of Kobe. Kobe was located in the hill areas, it was still green here and there. Since Kobe was in the highland, it was foggy and cold even though it was summer. The sky was always cloudy there. On the right and left, the chopped hill was standing tall, hugging the whole city in its mighty embrace.

When finally arrived at our destination, the only first impression of Takarazuka is: quiet, it almost look like dead city without humans. When we’d go outside the station, there was another problem. One of our ticket could not be processed through the gate machine. We stuck at the small station. Luckily there were two old ladies saw us, they helped us out by asking us to buy another ticket to get us out from the station. We thanked them afterwards. They seem really friendly and concerned, they asked us where we would go. Unay was reluctant to answer the question, since we all know that what we were going to stay at a love hotel. We agreed to do this because the hotel was a lot cheaper than the other hotels, and the facilities were better, especially at the certain season where it was not the peak season. We were embarassed and afraid that we would leave a bad impression to these angel like ladies.

But since we were desperately longing for bed, we told them. One of them was a bit shocked and asked Unay whether we sure that we were going there. I could only contain my laughter and pity for ourselves at the moment. I knew she was trying hard not to judge us, and helped us out for the second time. She said that the hotel was a bit far away from the station, so we need to ride a cab. She called two cabs and told the drivers where we were going. Ah yeah, some hours in Japan and there were already four Japanese that probably thought we were pervert foreigners.

We thanked the ladies. They bow their bodies, so we replied. They bow their bodies again, we replied again. And we realized that it would last forever, at least until we could not see them. Even when we were seated in the cars, we still could see them bowing their bodies happily. How polite. Then we just realized there, that the residence of Takarazuka (where our hotel located) was majorly occupied by old man and woman. It was very good for them to live in such tranquil place with fresh air.

The hotel was quiet small, but the room is really nice. We got King size bed, hot tub, Television, and even Unay and Hana got massanger chair in their room. We booked three rooms: one for Ali and Aris, one for Hana and Unay, and one for the rest us three. So actually, one of us is a free rider (another mischief).

We got in to our rooms and planning to meet again at the evening, after we took shower and got some rest. We think that at least we can go for a walk for a while. But after we took a shower, seven of us fall asleep so fast. Eno, me,and Mawar were the last to wake up. Ali and Unay’s rooms are already ordering for their dinner. Mawar opened the window and we realized that it was evening, 6 PM exactly, and we could see the scenery outside. There was a group of trees with small but tall bushes covered by foggy weather. The scenery was still crafted very well inside my mind until now. It was soooooo beautiful and calming.

Three of us were really hungry, we decided to order a food that can be divided. So we ordered a Japanese style pizza, and ate it up once it came. After that, seven of us gathered at Ali’s room to discuss about preparation for tomorrow’s conference. We decided not to go outside since the place was really quiet and it was already night. So after the discussion, we decided to play Uno instead, until we feel tired and go back to our own room. And by that, Day 1 was wrapped.








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