Day Trip (2004-10-04)

I went on a day trip with my friends joining a local tour a week ago.  Our destination was the Teradomari Fish Market in Niigata (kanji) (Northwestern part of Japan), a hill side to look at cosmos which are supposed to bloom around this time but mostly didn't due to the warm weather, and also a sake making facility to sample their famous vodka which contains 46% alcohol.

The bus took off in Kawaguchi at 6:20am and brought us back there around 7:15pm.  Most of the trip was spent inside the bus because there was a lot of road to cover, we traveled roughly 650km that day.  But the long ride didn't feel boring at all because I was busy chatting with my friends and looking at the beautiful scenery along the highway including gazillions of cedar trees atop waves of mountains, fog-covered hills and numerous rice paddies. 

The bus also made frequent stops along the way at service areas, thus breaking up the monotony of the ride.  Besides the essential bathrooms, all service areas have stores that sell local produce, food and souvenirs.  Since Niigata is well-known for its rice and crabs, I saw some unusual local food such as rice ice-cream and crab potato chips.

Lunch was served in a restaurant above a spoon factory.  We ate in a tatami room and all the other Japanese tour members were able to sit on a cushion with their knees folded back.  I lasted about 40 seconds and my legs started to give out.  I had to change sitting position every few minutes before pins and needles hit me.  The food was good but I felt pretty uncomfortable throughout the meal.

Overall speaking I had fun on the trip.  I saw many things for the first time and took some great photos.  The tour company sent everyone home with presents (pictured) and five people in the tour group, including my friend's 5-year-old son, won extra gifts on the bus in a game of "rock, paper and scissors" with the tour guide.  The tour only cost US$50 per person, it's hard to imagine the company could actually make money on it.

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