If you’ve been reading my recent blogs on Fukuoka, you may already know the purpose of my visit there. Up until today I feel sad for only allowing myself to spend a week in this city. I and Jelai were at first dazed by the 7 days we needed to stay there. But man, by 5th day, I was already grunting with the reality of leaving Fukuoka.
We all fully know the feeling when we first landed in a city. We’ve come prepared with a list of things to do, eat & see. Our days are full of food, photos & wonders giving no time to bother how you would make up for the vacation leaves. In Fukuoka, our intent was to have an unprepared adventure. I only had a list of places to visit written on a piece of paper with a [dash] whole/half [day] beside each name. Every morning, with coffee in hand, I scrolled down my list and select which place to go only relying on whether we woke up early or almost lunch that morning. (We actually woke up early once in those 7 days!) I then searched the google maps if it recognizes the place & how much the entrance fee and fare would be.
Every day of our stay was exactly like that. One night, I said to Jelai, “We really need to wake up early tomorrow like for real. We’ll go to Yanagawa.” But we did not. We changed the plan that morning with the slightest guilt because, come on, we didn’t always have the luxury to sleep that much back home. I and Jelai vowed to try again our best to wake up early.
But then you know. . .
My curiosity on Yanagawa still preceded so one night I did a quick research on things foreigners can explore in Yanagawa. There is the Boat Punting which basically the reason why I was curious about the place and steamed eel meal very recommended for foreigners. I am not a food traveller but I am always up for local dishes. And eel? Eel is my most favorite seafood dish in the world.
So doing these two would only take us half a day. Yeah!
We were in Nishitetsu Station half past 1pm looking for Tourist Information Center. According to my, heh, research, there is a package we can buy so I threw questions to the staff who was in return answered back with remarkable English.
“This is for Yanagawa and Dazaifu. You will have one train ticket to Yanagawa or Dazaifu, whichever you choose first, then one train for the other and another one for your return here. You can show these coupons to restaurants or stores for discounts. The boat punting is already included here and 3 rice cakes are free. And then this is the map of Yanagawa and then Dazaifu. You can visit all these places.”
“Wow. What time is the next train?” I asked.
I followed her head turning to a round wall clock. “Uhh. Your time…the next train will leave at 2pm…” I looked at her not exactly getting her change of facial expression. “Why?”
She answered back explaining again the route of the package. Why is she explaining it again?
Now that I am writing this blog, it finally dawned on me the reason. She was showing a cultural behavior – Japanese won’t directly answer me with something discouraging for me. It was and is more like read between the lines.
After couple of seconds into her second explanation, I kind of grasped that we plainly won’t maximize the package. The price was really a good one. And scanning the coupons made me realized that Yanagawa is not just a boat punting & steamed eel combo. There are local households, dine-ins and stores to marvel at as well. The Dazaifu area is also worth exploring for its cultural monuments, temples and museums. We could actually do these things if only we woke up early that morning.
“We don’t have enough time? Do you think we’ll make it even just for the boat punting?” I asked with waning hope.
“But it will close at 5pm.”
“How long is the train ride?” I asked while strategizing back in my head how we would make most of the next 3 hours. Every minute was so important.
“One hour.” she said then smiled slightly as if trying to encourage us in her own way.
I looked at Jelai, “We’re tight. We should have given this one day.”
“Do you have any other package?” Jelai asked.