My Most Embarrassing Travel Mistake

When you travel, you’re eventually going to make a mistake. It could be as simple as forgetting to pack your toothbrush or leaving your credit card at home. People who travel for a living will always have the story of how they’ve shown up at the wrong airport or hotel, or even booked a trip for the wrong day.

This is the story of my most embarrassing mistake.
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#TBT: Japan, April 2005 – Hakone’s Yunnesun Hot Springs Theme Park & Travel to Tokyo Disneyland Resort

Today we decided to go to the Japanese baths before making our way to Tokyo Disneyland Resort.

The guys woke up around 6am but I stayed in bed until a luxurious 6:45am (kill me now). The room was about 45 degrees Fahrenheit because Joe decided to shut off the heat last night, thinking the heating element of the space heater made too much noise. I guess he didn’t think the earplugs we’ve been wearing every night to drown out the sound of Steve’s snoring would work on the (comparatively) quiet sounds of the heater, too? So after some good-natured ribbing about ice forming on the tips of our noses, we started our day.

Today’s breakfast in our room included scrambled eggs, Vienna sausages, a variety of breads and spreads, OJ, coffee and, you guessed it, salad and soup (cream of something…not bad though…actually comforting, since it was so damn cold in the room!). The coffee came with 2 teeny-tiny itsy-bitch creamers again, but this time I was prepared and had looked up how to ask for more, in my Japanese-English dictionary. So when the server lady came in, I said, “Mo sukoshi miru-ku, kudasai?” (“A little more milk, please?”), with my best deer-in-the-headlights look (I should just patent “that” look by now, for all the times I’ve used it in this trip). She smiled and said….something…in Japanese (I hoped it was “Sure, hold on just a sec and I’ll get you a decent amount”), then left. And after some anticipation-filled minutes (did she understand me and would she come back?) then my Milk Savior returned!…with 2 more teeny-tiny itsy-bitsy creamers. So now I had maybe about an ounce of the white stuff. Tops. And to add insult to injury, it turned out that IT WASN’T EVEN MILK! It was non-dairy creamer! Grosser than gross, even worse than celery! Needless to say, I bought another canned ko-hee that morning.

We finished packing and left our suitcases with the ryokan staff at the top of the cable car station and went to Yunessun.

We took a total of 4 pictures at Yunessun because water parks and digital cameras don’t mix (MODERN DAY NOTE: that’s no longer the case and I found some pics on the ‘net for you – scroll down just a bit). So Click Here to get to their web site in English and then click on “Yunessun” on that page to learn more about the water park and what it had to offer.

Yunessun (“bath park”) was a short ride by bus. So short, in fact, that Joe said maybe we should walk it. Steve and I quickly veto’d that idea and it was just as well…think of Lombard Street in San Francisco. Uphill. With no sidewalks. For what turned out to be about 2 miles. Sorry Joey…but no!

We paid to get in (about $35 per person) and changed into our bathing suits. The place has about a dozen and a half different kinds of baths that you can soak in. We didn’t do them all, but managed to try out jacuzzis with plain water, rose water, lavender water, coffee, sake, green tea, red wine, Dead Sea salt (where the salt burned every boo-boo you didn’t know you had…not the most comfortable place to be after you’ve shaved your legs in preparation for going to a water park [grin]) and a few others.

This sign at Yunessun had some of the best Engrish for the whole trip. Sorry that it’s not very easy to read….verbatim, it says:

To Guests:
For your comfortable stay
-No food and drink arrowed ahead.
-Person who is not in good physical condition, over drunk or tattooed is not permitted to enter.
-Manners disturbing other guests, such as running or shouting around in the premises, is prohibited.
-Dyeing hair, washing clothes in the bath room or restroom is prohibited.
-Children under 5years should be accompanied by adult.
-Your wristband is a very valuable thing(same as your purse).Please make sure that you wear it on your wrist at all time. Please notify staff immediately the wristband is lost.
-Beware of losing contact-lenses.

Yunessun had full shower facilities, which we took advantage of, especially since our room at the ryokan didn’t have a true shower…just the bath area with the buckets of hot springs water. Being sticklers for rules, we did not dye our hair while there.

Overall the bath park admittedly wasn’t the highlight of the trip, but it was an interesting way to spend 2 or 3 hours. Anyway, after our showers, we went back to the ryokan cable car station and picked up our luggage.

We had just left the luggage there, almost completely unsupervised, the whole time we had been at Yunessun and, as expected, they were safe and untouched when we came back to pick them up. Japan is SO cool!

We took a bus to the Odawara train station, then a train to the Shinjuku station. From that huge, crowded train station, we caught a train to Tokyo Station. Finally, we found the train on the Keiyo Line and stopped at Maihama Station.

WE’RE HERE!!! Tokyo Disneyland Resort!


“First view” of TDLR, from the train. Cinderella Castle and Space Mountain are pretty “obvious” and if you use your imagination, you can make out Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, to the left of the castle. That tall, rectangular building to the right of the castle is going to be TDSea’s version of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror…complete with a new building (to match their NY Waterfront area) and new storyline.


Tokyo Disneyland, as seen from the Maihama Station. It’s so close, I can almost taste it!


Sign above one of the escalators as you exit the train station platform


We went to the Welcome Center to try to get early check-in and have them bring our luggage to the hotel, but since they ended that service at 4pm and we got there about 6pm, we had to take the monorail to our hotel. Pity.

As with the rest of Japan, there is an extra charge for the Monorail, since it is considered to be “public transportation.” We got an all-day pass for ¥500 and took the monorail to the 3rd stop (Tokyo DisneySea Station).


A map of the monorail route. We were at the Mainhama Train Station station (which was also the stop for the Ikspiari shopping plaza and the TDL Ambassador Resort Hotel), colored in red, and the route went counter-clockwise to Tokyo Disneyland Station, Bayside Station (where TDL’s “sister” hotels were…sort of like Hotel Plaza Blvd at WDW) and Tokyo Disney Sea/Miracosta Station.


A wide view of the monorail station closest to Maihama Station


Anal-retentiveness is definitely the rule!


Here it comes!


Outside of a TDL monorail trail


The windows of the monorail are in the shape of Mickey heads and the grab handles are “hidden Mickeys” as well.


Plus they have old Disney memorabilia in clear cases in each of the cars. VERY cool!


The inside of the cars are so unlike the monorail cars we have at WDW or Disneyland…more open, “subway-style” seating, padded seats and everything!


Lots of space to sit “up front” too…and when people leave, others simply and quietly take their spots. There’s no “driver” of the monorail trains…it’s all automated

Our hotel, the Miracosta is just BEAUTIFUL. The attention to detail is amazing…so much so that words can’t fully describe it. Inlaid wood on the floors and in the elevator, Mickey says full sentences in the elevator (in Japanese…”Konbanwa! Shi desu!” “Good evening! This is the 4th floor!”), the initials of the hotel on the light stands, elevator floor indicators like Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (but done “right,” with class), and the list goes on and on. I actually had tears in my eyes to see what Disney can do if there is money to be spent.

After drooling over our hotel and room for a while, we went back down to the main lobby. Stopped off at the hotel gift shop and realized that whatever money we hadn’t spent on junk this trip was going to be blown away at TDL. Instead of the crap we’re used to at DL and WDW, almost everything at TDL is cute, useful, you name it. Even Joe, who is not into shopping, was finding stuff that he wanted to get.

Before shopping though, we still needed to get something to eat, so we took the monorail to Ikspiari, the shopping mall owned by Oriental Land Company, who owns most of TDLR. We found a pizza and pasta place…Joe had a 4 cheese pizza and Steve and I both had spaghetti Bolognaise. Nothing special but certainly not bad.

By the time we were done, many of the stores in Ikspiari were already closed but we found a few interesting ones that were still open. One store had a bunch of American stuff and we smiled at the Wrigley’s gum, Diet Canada Dry ginger ale, Tide detergent and Fiestaware dishes.

Japan has a lot of soft ice cream but you have to search to find hard ice cream. I was in the mood for some hard ice cream and had seen a picture of a store that had some but couldn’t read the name of the place to correspond it to the map. So I asked the Information Booth…which was a trip!

Me: Sumimasen, konbanwa (Excuse me, good-evening) Do you speak English?
Info Girl: A little.
Me: (going into my simplified English mode because I’ve already exhausted the extent of my conversational Japanese): I want to buy ice cream but I don’t want soft ice cream. I want hard ice cream. I found what I want on that map but I can’t read Japanese writing. Can you help me?”

And the girl not only came out of the Information kiosk to look at the map with me, but she brought us to the gelato shop!!! Where on earth would you see that kind of service in the US???

Anyway, the Gelato shop was right near the Disney Store. So of course we went in. I don’t even bother to go into TDS in the States anymore…there is nothing there that I want or need. Even this TDS catered more to kids than they did to adults, but the selection of stuff was just unbelievable…SO many more types of merchandise. And get this…they have ORANGE BIRD merchandise! (MODERN-DAY NOTE: Remember, this was 2005. Orange Bird couldn’t be found ANYWHERE) I couldn’t believe it!!! Just blew me away! Anyway, I bought about a half-dozen Disney CDs that I didn’t have (yes, there are a handful I don’t own yet!) as well as a set of stickers for some friends.

Joe was getting tired by then so we went back to the hotel and met up with Steve, who was nursing a migraine (he had left us after dinner). It’s 11pm as I’m typing this and both guys are already asleep. We’re gonna wake up at 7am tomorrow so I think I’ll stop and write more tomorrow. Until then, sayonara!

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Our Weekly Recap: 6/25/17 – 7/1/17

Hello friends and happy Saturday to you! Here’s a quick recap of our posts this week:

Joe wrote about:

Sharon wrote about:

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

TBT: Japan April 2005: Hakone – Our Hotel, Sulfur Eggs & A Pirate Ship

We had a 7:30am wake-up call (the front desk called our room and said, “Ohayo gozaimasu! Mawnang carr desu!” which translates into, “Good morning to you! This is your morning call!”) Got ready within the hour and one of the ryokan staff served us breakfast in our room. We had requested Western-style breakfasts, which included bacon, sunny side up eggs, an assortment of rolls with jams and spreads, orange juice, coffee and, of course, soup and salad.


Our room, after they put away our futons but before they served breakfast


The breakfast spread


Orange juice, soup, salad, eggs, undercooked bacon and hot tea

People who know me know that I like a LOT of milk in my coffee. As in, 2/3 cup coffee, 1/3 cup milk. Our servers gave me a whopping 2 creams, the total of which was probably about 1 teaspoon. Not nearly enough. So when the server came back into the room to see how we were doing, I politely smiled, pointed to the 2 creamers and said, in my best Japanese accent, “Miru-ku, kudasai?” (“Milk please?” “Milk” is one of the few words I could remember from my “Japanese in 10 Minutes a Day” book, which I had studied for about 2 weeks, 6 months before my first trip to Japan in 1994. The only reason why I remembered it was because it’s based in English. “Egg” is “Eg-gu.” “Bacon” is “Bay-kon.” And you eat at a “taybu-ru,” unless you’re impolite and then you eat while you’re sitting on your so-fa. Imagine that.) So anyway, I ask for more milk and she says, “Hai!! (Japanese for “yes”) Yes! Miru-ku!” And then she leaves, so I figure she’s off to get me more milk. Nope. She never came back. I guess she thought I just was CONFIRMING if that was milk. And by Jove, I was right…yes, it was milk! Damn…another day of canned coffee (ko-hee) for me.

Joe and Steve spent some time trying to get the dial-up connection to work again and after some frustrations, they decided it would work much better if the phone cord was plugged into the modem line, not the DSL input (wink). So after finally getting connected and a quick check of email, we were ready to start our day.

Our original plan was to go to the bath theme park today but the temperature outside called for zippered jackets. Deciding it was too cold for what was essentially a water park, we decided to go sightseeing instead.

Our first choice of things to see was the property of the Hotel Taiseikan. We had heard the waterfall when we arrived last night and it appeared to be within a garden but WOW, what a garden it was!


A distant view of “our” garden from our room. This picture was the clincher that we had wound up with “THE” room…the one that they have on the brochures, to promote how beautiful the place was. We don’t know if they were doing it to “honor” us because we were from the U.S. (we were the ONLY non-Japanese at this place and nothing we saw, either on the internet or at the place suggested that Americans were frequent visitors…it was much moreso a weekend getaway place for Tokyo-based businessmen), or of we just happened to luck out. Either way, cool, huh?


A view out the windows on our porch


Some visitors enjoying the garden


A small Torii gate on property, to signify holy ground. There was a Shinto shrine up those steps, too.


Our room, as seen from the garden


Some of the other rooms, which faced the river, instead of the garden


After we looked at the ground of our hotel, we went to the train station (maybe a block away) and got our canned ko-hee. Steve made a friend here too, in the form of the cat by his legs, who would NOT stop following him (grin).

We took the train to the last exit (Gora Station). From there, we took the uphill Hakone Tozan Cable Car (think San Francisco cable car, but enclosed) to the Hakone Ropeway (think Disney’s MK’s Sky Ride, but holding 18 people per car).


Hakone Ropeway gondola


Locals really use the Hakone Ropeway as a form of everyday travel, like we would use a train or a bus.


At the top of the Ropeway was our first destination, the Hakone Sulfur Fields.

According to their literature, the sulphur fields has been around since before the birth of Christ and was caused by a volcanic eruption. We walked around the fields (fields my @$$…they were hills! Lots and lots of hills!) for a while, admiring the scent of sulfur.


Joe and Sharon in the sulfur field. We didn’t even ask for this picture to be taken. A young couple asked Joe to take THEIR picture and after he complied, they offered to take ours. It would’ve been impolite to say no.


This picture reminded me of the last part of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

The Japanese Engrish on the signs here were pretty hysterical:


Not off limits. Off limit.


I guess that area is off limit too


Lots of things use to grow here but now the only things that grow here are things that can grow here.


I don’t think my bronchus are dedicate; are yours?

At the top of the hills was an area where one could buy hard boiled eggs that had been cooked in the sulphur. This is apparently THE thing to do at the sulphur fields, so Steve bought a bag of 6 eggs for ¥500 and we peeled off the shells (which had turned black) and ate them.


The sulphur pool they cooked the eggs in


Bag o’ Eggs


Lots of people, eating their hard-boiled eggs.


Joe and Sharon eating their eggs. They tasted like ordinary, normal hard boiled eggs.

We next took a Ropeway gondola to Ubano Togendai, to see Lake Ashi and take a ride on a reproduction of an 18th century pirate ship.


Ship ahoy!


Note the anatomically correct masthead


Captain Japanese pirate dude


ARRRGH-san!

During clear days, you can apparently see Mt. Fuji from the lake but ours was not a clear day. Wouldn’t have mattered to Steve and I though…we both fell fast asleep as soon a the boat started moving (grin).


That’s where Mt. Fuji WOULD have been. We think.

After the boat ride, we decided we were bushed and took a bus back to our hotel. We got back to our room around 3:30pm and were scheduled for a 6:30pm dinner.

Arriving at our hotel is no small feat, by the way. First we have to take a 7-minute cable car ride from the street level, down into the gorge where the hotel is located.


Going up (or down?) the hill…you can see how steep the ravine is.


The cable cars worked on something of a pulley system…there were only 2 cars, evenly distributed on the route, so as one went up, the other went down.


And a passing area in the center


Joe on the cable car

Then we have to follow a path, over a 75′ bridge (to cross a small river), up another path, over a 50′ bridge, and up a too-much-uphill-for-this-tired-woman, just to get to the main lobby. The cable car operators must contact the front desk when we’re on the car, because they would have our slippers all ready (we can’t wear shoes inside the hotel…just their disposable slippers, while they hold our shoes for us). Then we go down the lobby to our room…and take the slippers off in the entry room because you can only wear socks on the tatami mats. Unless you use the toilet, and then you have to put on the special toilet-only slippers. It’s not so much confusing as it is a PITA to keep switching footwear…plus with just tatami mats under our feet, especially on a day where I doubt we saw 65 degrees, we’ve got some cold tootsies! (grin) Our butts are warm though…every place we’ve visited have had toilets with heated seats. Some also have built-in bidets, courtesy flushes, scents, and, if you press a button, a recording of a flush goes on so no one hears you while you’re doing your business .

Anyway, with about 2 or 3 hours before dinner, Steve decided to go into the Men’s Bath and Joe and I stayed in the room and watched our DVD of Princess Mononoke.

Steve’s discussion of the Men’s Bath: “You go in and leave your clothes in a basket. Then you shampoo and shower and wash completely. When you’re fully clean and removed of all suds, you go into really hot, volcanic rock-laden hot spring and just sit there for a while. Then if you want, you can and go into the other hot bath they have. You can watch the people crossing the bridge. And all of this while you’re butt nekkid. They give you a green towel that you can use for modesty, but most men put it on top of their heads to avoid heat stroke. It’s really like going to a swimming pool but you have to be cleaner and everyone’s naked.”


Dinner was served at 6:30pm and again, it was a feast fit for a king, with Shabu Shabu (beef and vegetables that you put into a pot of boiling water, sorta like Melting Pot), vegetables, soup, rice with what looked like little tiny worms (eyes still attached…we did’t eat much of that at all), sticky rice, sake, fish morsels (I didn’t eat that either…too fishy) and I forget what else…again, a good 8 or 10 courses.

Our hostess that evening was the same woman who I had the “milk” discussion with, that morning. Since all 3 of us had the deer-in-the-headlights look of “none of us have ever eaten Shabu Shabu before,” she demonstrated how you put the veggies into the big pot of hot broth, then use chopsticks to swish your thinly-sliced beef in the broth…at which time you say “Shabu Shabu!”, until it’s cooked. To this day, if we go to a “real” Japanese restaurant and order Shabu Shabu, we ALWAYS say “Shabu Shabu!” while we’re swishing (grin).


The shabu shabu set-up…meat, spices and “stuff that we don’t know what it is”. The shabu shabu pot is on the left. Shabu Shabu!


The shabu shabu pot, with shabu shabu noodles, mushrooms, tofu and veggies. Shabu Shabu!


Shabu Shabu!


I think there’s EYEBALLS in this thing! (Note from Joe: upon confirmation with a friend who had lived in Japan for a while, it turned out those were EYEBALLS – apparently I was eating little worms)


Yeah, my shrimp has eyeballs too. And antennae!

After dinner, Joey filled our soaking tub to prepare to take a private bath and that bring us to about where we are now. I don’t foresee anything really interesting happening for the rest of the night, so I think I’ll sign out for now.

Tomorrow we plan on going to that Baths Theme Park and then it’s off to Tokyo Disneyland.

Sayonara…

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

 

Our Weekly Recap: 6/18/17 – 6/24/17

Hi everybody and WOO HOO, IT’S THE WEEKEND!! Here’s a quick recap of our posts this week:

Joe wrote about:

Sharon wrote about:

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

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