The Things I’ll Miss: Part One

So, the end is coming. Four more days actually. While I’m trying hard to ignore the fact that this is almost over, I know in reality it is coming to an end. With that, I wanted to type up a blog post of things I’m going to miss the most about Semester at Sea and the MV Explorer.

While a big part of this trip has been about learning, living, and having fun in other countries, the other side of this trip has been about living life aboard a ship, and not just any ship. The MV Explorer has been my home for over three months now. It is probably one of the things I am going to miss the most. So with that, I wanted to just talk a little bit about life on the ship and what I’m going to miss about it.

1. My cabin. Somehow I lucked out and got one of the biggest cabins on the ship. It ia an awesome cabin, and I’m definitely going to miss it.

2. My roommates Ariel and Kathy. Ariel and Kathy and I didn’t become the best of friends, but they have been absolutely awesome the entire voyage. We got along so well and had a best time living together.

3. The banging draws in my cabin when the seas got rough. Honestly, it was so annoying when the seas were rough and the draws in our room would slam open and shut all night and keep us all up, but looking back on it, it was actually hilarious to deal with. We tried so many different methods to keep those suckers closed. It was always a struggle.

4. Sitting on the floor to watch movies in my cabin. So I took a film class this semester which meant I had to watch a lot of movies for that class. Well, I slept on the bottom bunk, so the top bunk always blocked the TV. So, for every movie I had to sit on the floor and watch these hour long foreign films for class. Every time one of my roommates would walk in and see me sitting on the floor they’d say, “You’re watching another one!?”

5. The Caribbean Sea. I was part of the Caribbean Sea this past semester. While we weren’t the closest sea, my RD Chris, as well as the rest of my sea-mates were all really cool and did their absolute best to make myself and everyone else feel comfortable. I’m still proud that we came in last place for the Sea Olympics!

6. The Cove. The Cove is this little nook under the stairs on deck three. This where I made some of my best friends on the ship. In the beginning of the voyage, we would all just sit there and get to know each other for hours on end. It was the ultimate hang out spot.

7. Deck three. The majority of my friends live on deck three. It is so much fun running up and down the hallways to each other’s room. Living so close to each other is the best.

8. The secret hallway to Heather and Tory’s room. To get to Heather and Tory’s room I always take this hallway that the crew mostly uses. It isn’t very secret, but I like to take the secret hallway there regardless.

9. Heather and Tory. Heather and Tory were the first two friends I made on this ship. I met them in Dominica, our first port, and ever since then we’ve been close. I am so lucky that they both go to the University of New Hampshire so they are only a few hours away from SC.

10. Heather and Tory’s room. So about half way through the voyage, Heather and Tory’s room became the new hang out spot. Our entire group of friends spend hours in this room hanging out. It is always a great time.

11. The top bunk in Heather and Tory’s room. Halfway through the voyage Heather and Tory found out that they had a top bunk in their room that they could let down. Overall, that became my bed. I take naps and have sleepovers in that bed often.

12. The elevator. After Ghana, our second port, we met our friend Alyssa. Now Alyssa has a love for taking the elevator everywhere. Of course we then started to take it more that we should have. We definitely all got progressively lazier over the course of this trip.

13. The railing on the right side on deck three. Almost every day I slide down this railing. Multiple times crew members yell at me to stop. Sorry, Rufus, but it is fun!

14. Knocking on Bob’s door on deck four. Quite often we run upstairs to our friend Bob’s door and just bang on it until he opens it. It is always so obnoxious, but always a lot of fun.

15. Knocking on doors of cabins in general. I am the most annoying knocker ever. I knock/scratch/bang on people’s doors (especially Heather and Tory’s room) until someone answers me. Always entertaining.

16. How long the hallways are on deck four. For some reason the hallways on deck four are significantly longer than deck three (my home). I make my friends walk down the long hallways a lot because it always blows my mind.

17. Deck five dining hall. This is where I eat almost all of my meals. Always on the right side of the dining hall as well.

18. Ship breakfast. The breakfast on the ship is always the best meal of the day. Now I’m not a morning person, but I wake up for breakfast. 8:15 every day!

19. Pasta and potatoes. This is literally what we eat at every lunch and dinner except when it is taco day. It got very old, very fast, but I’m definitely going to miss complaining about it.

20. Tymitz Square. This is a pretty central place on the ship. This is where the Purser’s Desk is located (bought too many calling cards there). This also is where we would all congregate on the first day in port when the gangway would be on deck five. It would always be a mess trying to get off the ship on the first day in port.

21. Stalker board. On the ship we have this giant board with everyone’s picture and name that was on the ship. It is always fun to look at it and try and figure out who people are.

22. Edwin. Edwin is my steward for my cabin and he is the best. He is the sweetest guy and always know how to make me smile!

23. Fifth deck aft. Fifth deck aft is where we lay out on sunny days and try to work on our tan. They have great lounge chairs out there and we just spend hours there tanning and enjoying the sea life.

24. Clive and Joel. Clive and Joel are my two favorite waiters that work on the ship. They are always very sweet and I always have great conversations with them.

25. The Garden Lounge. The Garden Lounge is the second, smaller dining hall on the sixth deck. Sometimes when I want to get work done without distractions, I sit up there for a while and do my work. They also have these awesome tubes that pump bubbles through them constantly. That was always entertaining to watch while trying to study.

Continue reading on to the next post!

The Things I’ll Miss: Part Two

26. The water machine in the Garden Lounge. Honestly, it take forever to fill up my water bottle at this machine, but it is always entertaining. I stand there for more than five minutes waiting to fill up my water bottle with ice and water. Such a process.

27. Snack time. Every night at 10 p.m. snack time happens in the Garden Lounge. They serve little sandwiches and desserts that always hit the spot.

28. The Piano Lounge. The Piano Lounge is this little area on deck six where you always find people hanging out and doing work. Right at the beginning of the voyage this is where I would sit and check my e-mail. It is a pretty social area and it is fun to hang out it in.

29. The Piano Bar. Bought a lot of peanut M&M’s here. Great place.

30. The campus store. Bought way too much here, but they always have a great selection of stuff. I cannot wait to show off my SAS gear!

31. Secret room with computers to check your e-mail. On deck six there is this secret little room with two computers in it where you can check your SAS e-mail. When my computer was sad and broken for a little, I went there a lot to check my e-mail. Not many people know about it, so not a lot of people go there.

32. The computer lab. I spent a lot of time with IT there trying to fix my computer. Great place. They know how to fix computers!

33. The Union. The Union is the central area for all major activities happening on the ship. Global Studies classes, talent shows, and sea meetings are all held in the Union. I will also never forget how you can really only see anything that is happening in the front if you sit in the first two rows of seats and the first two rows only; every other seat sucks.

34. Eating breakfast outside on deck six on the first day of port. I love getting breakfast outside on deck six on the first day of port. Just getting to sit outside and look at a new port for the first time is the absolute best. It gets you so pumped for the day and the journeys you will have.

35. Observation Deck. The observation deck is this great part of the ship. It’s a nice place to sit and just take it all in that you are straight up chilling in the middle of the Atlantic, Indian, or Pacific Ocean.

36. The pool bar. One of the things I’ll miss the most at the pool bar are the amazing chicken sandwiches. Two pieces of chicken, two pieces of melted cheese, bread, lettuce, and tomato = heaven. I’ll never forget those sandwiches. I will also miss the ice cream and other amazing treats that come from the pool bar.

37. Port side on deck seven. If the aft of deck five is full, port side of deck seven is where we also lay out. This is also where I did the hoola-hoop race for Sea Olympics. This is also where the giant Semester at Sea sign is located.

38. The crew. Honestly, the crew is amazing here. They’ve all done this trip so many times and they all have so many great stories. They are all super friendly, even when they are reprimanding you.

39. Gangway on deck two. Living on deck three and having the gangway on deck two is the absolute best. Didn’t happen all that often, but when it did, it was awesome.

40. The gangway in general. It was always so exciting walking off the gangway on the first day of port. Knowing that you are about to experience a whole new language, culture, and setting was the best feeling ever!

41. Wearing random clothes from port and having it be socially acceptable. I wish you could all understand how ridiculous everyone looks after port. Crazy Africa hats from Ghana, Ali Baba pants from India, and panda hats from China. We all rock it and it is all socially acceptable.

42. Pre-port. Pre-port is giant meeting the entire shipboard community has before each port. This is where we learn all about what we should and should not do in each port. I loved learning about each port before hand. It always built so much excitement for the next day.

43. Green sheets. Green sheets are the informational sheets we would get at every pre-port. I saved everyone from every country and I’m so glad I did. “What’s your favorite color!?” “GREEN!”

44. My Extended Family. This past semester I had the opportunity to be assigned to an extended family. I had a Mom (Jane Rogers) and five other brothers and sisters. We would get dinner every few weeks and catch up. It was way to meet new people and make connections outside of your friends group.

45. The Life Long Leaner’s. I had the privilege of meeting several Life Long Leaner’s who were all wonderful. Most of them are retired individuals with awesome stories, so it was great to get to know some of them.

46. Staff and Faculty. When will I ever be able to say again that I had professors who teach at Northeastern, CU Boulder, University and San Diego all in the same semester? Really cool. My professors were pretty awesome this semester. The staff on the ship has also been great. Some of them have extremely difficult and stressful jobs (such as the Field Office), but they all did an amazing job to make this voyage the best for us.

47. The dependent children. We have roughly thirty children on the ship who are family members of faculty, staff, etc. They are all super cute and very entertaining to watch run around the ship.

48. Bob Vieria, Victor Luftig, and Stuart Saunders. Our Executive Dean, Academic Dean, and Assistant Academic Dean. They are all great. I’m going to miss Bob’s speeches before every port, Victor’s witty jokes, and Stuart’s epic afternoon and evening announcements. Some famous Stu quotes, “(insert country) tomorrow!” (repeated twice) said before every port, and “(insert inappropriate/dangerous act). Bad idea.”

49. Springfield College friends. I had the privilege to come on this trip with three other Springfield College students, Lindsay Hutchinson, Ryan Donahue, and Ryan Murphy. Lindsay and I were friends at school before we came here, and I knew Ryan and Ryan, but not well. Over the course of this trip I have gotten to know all three of them so much better than I did before. I am so excited that I have the three of them to lean on when we will be missing all of this back at SC.

50. My friends. Heather, Tory, Alyssa, Kara, Destiny, Chris, Eric, Sarah, John, Betsy, Steven, Graham, Chris, Jackie. These people have made this voyage what it is. I have made lifelong friends in these people, and I cannot wait to continue our friendships for many years to come. Thanks guys for being great.

I’m sorry it was so long, but I believe this accurately represents everything I love about Semester at Sea and the MV Explorer. This experience has been so wonderful and I will never, ever forget how blessed I am for experiencing this all. Thanks for reading.

Aloha Hawaii!

Hello everyone!

Seeing as I’m feeling pretty confident with my finals, I figured I’d take this time to talk a little bit about Hawaii!

So unfortunately we were only in Hilo, Hawaii for the day (well, we were also in Honolulu the day before, but it was only to get fuel. No one was allowed off of the ship.), but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there!

One of the most exciting things about being in Hawaii was having cell phone reception! I hadn’t used my phone it months, so it was very exciting to call and text people back home!

The first thing we did once we got off the ship was get some breakfast! We heard of this great place called Ken’s Pancake House. It ended up being amazing! I got this awesome Belgian waffle with whipped cream and strawberries on top. So great!

Something we also did at Ken’s Pancake House was get American money. It was a very monumental moment actually. I have not had to use the U.S. dollar in so long, and it was so nice to see American money coming out of the ATM!

Also at Ken’s Pancake House I ran into a couple from Pittsburgh! I was luckily wearing my Penguin’s t-shirt, so they immediately spotted me. We chatted about the Steelers, the Penguin’s and the areas we were from. Standard Pittsburgh talk. Last but not least, I had to get a picture with them with my Terrible Towel. It was only necessary.

After Ken’s Pancake House we went to a small dollar store across the street and did some trinket shopping. After that was said and done, we continued walking into downtown Hilo. When we got there we immediately went to the farmer’s market that was going on.

There were so many fresh fruits, trinkets, and clothes! We have seen our fair share of markets in other countries, but this one was probably one of the better ones. We spent a lot of quality time at the farmer’s market.

After the farmer’s market we went to this Mexican place called Ruben’s for lunch. I got a massive burrito that was so great! I also of course had to try the local beer and got a Kona Fire. It was pretty good!

After lunch we were pretty set on going to this place called Rainbow Falls. It had been our goal all day, but while at lunch we ran into our friend Talcott. Talcott was talking about getting a tattoo at this tattoo place that was just up the street. Now I was with Tory and Heather. Tory has been talking about getting 360 tattooed on her wrist for a while now. She was planning on doing it in San Diego, but when she heard Talcott was going to get hers, she immediately knew she wanted hers done there as well.

So the three of us walked to the tattoo place and over a dozen SAS kids were in there getting various SAS related tattoo’s as well. But, Tory’s mind was set on getting this tattoo, so we waited it out.

About an hour later and Tory was all tatted up! The tattoo looks awesome and it only took about five minutes to actually do. I have been thinking about getting a tattoo that would somehow commemorate this trip, and seeing Tory get hers done just makes me want one more! I need to think of a creative of idea on how to commemorate it first though. A ton of SAS kids got 360 tattooed somewhere on their body while in Hawaii, so I want a more original idea.

After all the tattoo shenanigans were over, it was unfortunately time to head back to the ship. While leaving the tattoo place, we ran into some other SAS kids that were looking for a taxi back to the ship. They had a number they could call and a taxi would come, so we decided to split the cost and go with them.

When the taxi came to pick us up it was just a white pick-up truck. So, the six of us piled into this pick-up truck and made our way back to the ship. It was very full circle for me because I rode in the back of a pick-up truck while in Dominica, our first port we visited, so it was a nice way to drive back to the ship for the last time.

Before we got in the back, the driver of the pick-up truck, this nice, older gentleman, told us the granddaughter of Kamehameha was driving with him. Kamehameha was the first king of Hawaii, so this was a big deal. The man told us he would drive us to the statue of King Kamehameha and we would be able to get a picture with his granddaughter, Moana.

Overall we got our pictures and both Moana and the older man were very sweet and kind. We then finally made it to the ship. As we were waiting in line to get back on, there was a girl crying. She had just realized that this was going to be the last time she was ever going to get back on the ship and she just started to ball. There it kind of hit me. The next time I get off the ship, I’m off for good.

Now the end of the voyage is starting to feel real. People are starting to pack up their rooms and finish up their finals. We had an informational meeting about disembarking in San Diego yesterday and that made it feel very real as well. Leaving this all is going to suck. There is no better way of putting it.

For these last couple of days I’ve been trying to hang out with my friends as much as possible and carrying around my camera to document everywhere. It’s all coming to an end, and I don’t like it, but I am going to make these last few days truly count!

Finals Upon Finals

Hi everyone!

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while. First, my computer had a mini breakdown and stopped working for two days, but after spending some quality time with Vijay in the IT department, everything seems to be fine now! Second, finals are consuming me! Being a COSJ/English major I never actually have to study for finals. A lot of my finals are just papers, but not this semester. I have three more finals left (one was taken this morning) and then I am home free. So for the next few days I am going to be working pretty hard to get good grades on these suckers. Once they are done, I promise I will update the blog about Hawaii!

Only six more days on the ship. How insane is that!?

International Date Line, what?

So I am so blown away/confused about this phenomenon that I had to write a blog post about it.

Today is International Date Line day! Youre probably saying to yourself, What the heck is International Date Line day?

To be quite honest, I have no idea what it is, but I am going to do my best to explain this weird concept to you all!

According to Wikipedia (One of the minimal resources I have access to seeing as I already used up my two hours of free internet!), The International Date Line (IDL) is an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth, that runs from the north to the south pole and demarcates one calendar day from the next. It passes through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, roughly following the 180° longitude but it deviates to pass around some territories and island groups.

So, for the past three months we have been blowing through multiple time zones. In our last port of Japan, we were 13 hours ahead of east coast. So, the only way of remedying the fact that well be in the States in less than a week (Hawaii) and our current time doesnt match up with the time in Hawaii, we have to cross the IDL and experience a double day.

SO, today is Friday, April 20th, right? Well for everyone on the MV Explorer, today AND yesterday were Friday, April 20th. Insane, right!? So for the past two days it has been Friday, April 20th. Apparently this is the only way the time zones make sense again. So, by tomorrow, everyone on the ship will be six hours behind the east coast instead of ahead like we have been the entire time we have been on this voyage.

Pretty wild.

Other than that, life on the ship has been great! Ive just been working on some papers and getting ready for finals which happen after Hawaii. We arrive in Hawaii for the day on Wednesday, which will be a nice break from shipboard life.

Overall Ive just been trying to soak everything in and make those last few memories before this whole thing is over for good!

Well, I hope my ramble about the International Date Line was somewhat interesting and the concept blew your minds like it blew mine!

Japan: Part One!

Hello everyone!

I feel like I was just here blogging about China, and now I am here blogging about Japan! Everything has been moving so quickly, so I am trying to keep my travels fresh in my mind so I can journal and blog about them.

So here is my Japan story. I hope you enjoy!

Day one:

Day one started in Kobe, Japan. Japan is pretty strict about immigration, so it took us several hours to get off the ship. Each individual had to do face to face immigration where we had to get our passports stamped, a picture taken of us, and finger printed. Needless to say it took a while.

While the ship docked in Kobe and 7 a.m., we didnt actually get off the ship until about 12:30. Unfortunately for me, I had a required trip that I had to meet for by 1:45. So, with the hour or so we had, my friends Destiny, Kara, Alyssa, Tory, Heather, and I took a five minute subway ride into Kobe. There we went to a local bakery, and grabbed some amazing backed goods.

Okay, I have to explain these bakeries. They were everywhere in China as well. For some reason Asian countries really enjoy them. They basically are these little French bakeries where you walk in, pick up a tray and some prongs, and pile your tray as high as you can with fresh baked goods that are scattered throughout the shop. Once you have what you want, you take your tray to the register where they bag everything up for you. I have been to at least three between China and Japan and they are all amazing! It is a really great idea, and I wish they existed in the States.

After eating our baked good, it was time for Destiny and myself to head back to the ship to meet our professor and the other students to go on our required trip.

Now let me explain the situation to you a bit. Destiny is deaf. She can lip read very well, but her preferred method of communication is through signing. Now, I know a good amount of basic signs. I can get by with some casual conversation, but by no means could I ever interpret a conversation so that Destiny would understand. Destiny normal has her interpreter with her, but for certain trips, Kara (her friend and interpreter) doesnt come. So it was me and Destiny and I was going to try and interpret this entire trip for her. Thank goodness another girl, Courtney, who knows sign better than I do, was also on the trip. So between the both of us we faired as pretty good interpreters.

Now, the required trip was interesting in its own. The trip was to the Bunraku Theater in Osaka, Japan. It was for my music class. You all need to Google this because I cannot do this justice. Basically we saw an extremely human-like puppet show. It was all in Japanese, so I didnt understand a lick of it. It was a very long narrated puppet show with an instrument called a shamisen playing in the background. It is extremely popular in Osaka and is a pretty well known art form in Japan. Overall it was a very interesting cultural experience, and I am glad I experienced it.

Another awesome cultural experience I had at the Bunraku Theater was the toilets that Japan has to offer. The toilets that are in Japan are from the future. Lets just say I struggled for several minutes trying to figure out how to actually flush the toilet that is how weird they are. Firstly, every toilet in Japan has a heated seat, which was quite pleasant. Also, while you are sitting on the toilet you can choose to listen to music or have water sprayed on your bottom. There were so many buttons that did so many different things! I was too nervous to try any of them, so I just did my business and got out of there. They were super cool though and I experienced them several more times while on my travels.

After the show was over, we tackled the extreme subway system back to Kobe. We literally had to switch on to four different subways just to get to Kobe which was 30 minutes away. We also were doing this all during rush hour, so there were hundreds of people rushing in and out of the subway trains constantly. It was a bit overwhelming, but we made it out alive.

To end the long day, my friends I decided to get our favorite double chicken burgers with cheese at the Pool Deck Bar and call it a night. Successful first day in Japan.

Day two:

Day two is when our Japanese adventures began! That morning, Tory, Heather and I woke up, went into Kobe where we purchased some necessary grocery items, and hopped on to a subway headed to Kyoto. We were told to go to Kyoto for the beautiful cherry blossoms, so that was our goal!

Unfortunately for us, this day of travel was absolutely ruined by rain all day. Transferring subways while battling the rain was really miserable. Something you have to deal with though!

Once we arrived in Kyoto is when the real struggles began. The day before we booked a night in a hostel, so we knew what it was called, we just didnt know how to get there. We also got to Kyoto in the early afternoon, and we werent allowed to check in until 4 p.m., so we decided to do some Kyoto sightseeing in the downpour rain.

We decided to stop at this beautiful temple in the heart of Kyoto. I cannot remember the name of it, but it was really beautiful and it was awesome to walk through. Also, thoroughly enjoyed the no shoe rule in Japan. You have to take your shoes before you enter certain buildings, including temples. I love running around barefoot!

After our stop at the temple, it was now time to try and find our hostel. What hurt us the most in trying to find this hostel is that we had the name of the hostel in English, but not in Japanese characters. Not many people in Japan speak English, let alone read it, so that was a definite struggle.

Basically for over an hour we roamed the streets of Kyoto in the rain trying to find a cab driver to understand where we needed to go and then take us there. It was getting pretty ridiculous, so after walking for what seemed like forever, we finally made a stop at this very welcoming McDonalds. While ordering our food, Heather proceeded to ask the very nice woman behind the counter if they could help us find our hostel. Who would have known that the women that work at McDonalds understand English the best out of anyone else in Kyoto? The one woman proceeded to call the hostel for us (we had the number for the hostel, just not a phone) and wrote down directions for us in English on how to get there.

Once we thanked the women at McDonalds profusely for helping us, we set out back into the rain to find the hostel. Surprisingly it was very close to the McDonalds we were at, and arriving at this hostel was the best feeling ever.

The minute we got to the hostel we checked in, were escorted to our two bunk room (which we were sharing with a woman from Taiwan), took off our wet clothes, and then took about a two hour nap that was much needed. Being lost in the rain can take a lot of you.

At around 8 p.m. we decided to wake up and go find some dinner. The owner of our hostel suggested a place, so we walked outside and went straight there. The place was super cute and the people were very friendly! For the next two hours, Tory, Heather, and I proceeded to order Japanese food that I had no idea what it was and beer. It was a lovely dinner!

After dinner we headed to the local grocery store, bought some candy bars, because who doesnt love candy bars, and then headed back to the hostel. When we got back to the hostel the owner let us use his dryer to dry all of our clothes, which was really awesome of him. It was overall such a friendly place! After our clothes were dry, it was time to sleep! So the three of us crawled into our heated blanket beds and slept peacefully.

Day three:

The next day we woke up, packed up our stuff and checked out of our hostel in Kyoto. We then proceeded to go to breakfast at our favorite McDonalds and then explore Kyoto!

We were told to go to Kyoto because of how beautiful the cherry blossoms were there. The owner of our hostel suggested that we go to this place called Philosophers Path where the cherry blossoms were apparently extra beautiful. The owner of our hostel also told us that the cherry blossoms bloomed a little late this year, so we came at a good time.

We then started our travels to Philosophers Path. One long bus ride later and we arrived! The cherry blossoms were beautiful! The path was extremely long and every inch of the way was covered in cherry blossoms. We took some amazing pictures, bought some ice cream, and just enjoyed the nice spring day.

After spending an hour or so there, we decided to make our trek to the train station to head out to Tokyo! Once we made it to Kyoto Station, we had to figure out what type of train to take and when they left. It was a bit of a struggle, but in the end we took the bullet train (or Shinkasen as they like to call it) to Tokyo.

The bullet train was awesome! I took one in China from Beijing to Shanghai, but it was early in the morning when we took it, so I just slept the entire time and missed out on the coolness of it. This time I didnt. This bullet train looks like its from the future. It looks like a giant robot and that goes really fast. So, for the next few hours we jetted off to Tokyo on the bullet train. It was a really nice ride, and also a good place to catch up on some sleep.

By around 6 p.m., we finally arrived in Tokyo. The first thing we realized once we got off the train is that we didnt have the Japanese characters for our next hostel called Asukusa Smile. As we walked into the main streets of Tokyo, we hoped and prayed a taxi driver would know where we needed to go.

So we walked up to the first taxi we saw and showed him the address for the hostel. After a few minutes of confusion, the taxi driver immediately understood and typed the address into his GPS. About ten minutes later we arrived at the lovely Asukusa Smile.

We paid the taxi driver and walked into Asuksa Smile. The place was huge and it was full of guests from all over the world speaking in different languages. Once we checked in, we were told that we were staying in the other building that Asukua Smile owned. So we gathered up our belongings and walked over to the other building.

The best way to describe this hostel is that it was one giant dorm. We were on the second floor. On the second floor there was a shower room, a laundry room, a kitchen area with a dining table, a room with four bunk beds, and a bathroom. It was actually really nice. We had four other roommates; three boys and one girl. We only really introduced ourselves to them, so we didnt get to know them well, but they all seemed very nice and friendly.

Once we set down our stuff and made our beds, the three of us headed out into Tokyo to find some dinner. Now, let me describe the money issue we had in Japan before I get to dinner.

Japan is probably the most expensive country we visited. The prices are somewhat comparable to the States (a little higher even). Seeing souvenir things that cost more than $10 was actually a culture shock for us. All of these other countries we had been in were so cheap, and now Japan was demanding large sums of money and it was quite annoying.

With that being said, many of the ATMs in Tokyo would only let you take our 10,000 Yen (Japanese currency) at a time. 10,000 Yen is about $125 U.S. Dollars. Now I didnt have any money on me at the time, but I also wasnt planning on spending $125 in two days. So, Tory decided to take out that much and Heather and I decided to just depend on her until we found an ATM that would let us take out less.

So, seeing as someone had money we went on the hunt for some dinner. Tory has been craving dumplings for days, and we still hadnt found any, so we decided to search. After about 15 minutes of searching, we stumbled upon this fantastic dumpling place! We went in, sat down, and proceeded to order too many dumplings for our own good. They were so good though and so worth it. On top of the dumplings we also ordered fried rice and chicken, so we had one fine feast.

Fifteen minutes later, the feast was gone and three of us were disgustingly full. Once we were done with dinner, we decided to go back to our hostel to get our free drink we received while checking in at Asukusa Smiles bar.

One rum and coke later and the three of us were ready to hit the town! Unfortunately for us, we had no idea where to go or what to do. The rest of our night consisted of the three of us just wandering around Tokyo. Many restaurants were open, and a lot of people were out and about, but there didnt seem to be one single area to hang out in.

Later we ended up reading in a Lonely Planet book (travel guide book) that Asukusa (the area we were in) wasnt really known for its night life. So, after knowing this information, we decided to go to bed and wake up early in the morning to explore Tokyo.

Here is where I will cut it off. Keep reading below!

Japan: Part Two!

Day four:

Day four started off on a good note when Heather was trying to climb down the ladder from her top bunk and proceeded to completely break the ladder and wake everyone up in our room to her shrieks of shock. She ended up being fine, but it was really funny to watch the whole process.

After we got ready, we decided to go out and get a good ole fashioned Dennys breakfast! Lets just say the Dennys menu is quite a bit different in Japan, but the food still ended up being really good.

After we had our Dennys, we decided to do some market shopping and visit a temple that was nearby our hostel. The market and temple were both very cool. I still didnt have any money, so I had to continue to depend on Tory for that. I only bought a couple of things at the market because I felt bad using her money.

After visiting the temple, I was pretty fed up that I didnt have any money, so I decided to get the 10,000 Yen. Not the best idea, but I was now happy that I had my own money to spend.

Once we got some money, we decided to take the subway to Ginza, which is apparently the Fifth Ave. of Tokyo. A short subway ride there and we arrived. This area of Tokyo was very big and reminded me a lot of New York City.

While we were there, we decided to check out the three story Gap. I am so sad that we did. Everything was significantly more pricy than the Gap stores back in the States. They had so many nice clothes, but everything was just so expensive that we had to leave empty handed.

After being said about the Gap, we decided to walk around some more and look for lunch. We stumbled upon this little place that had dumplings and beer, so we were sold. It was an awesome lunch, but yet again, it was very pricy.

After lunch, we decided to head back to our hostel, check out, and make our way to Yokohama where the ship was docked. The whole in transit thing that happened in China happened in Japan as well. The ship was in Kobe for two days, in transit for a day, and then in Yokohama for two days.

So, we headed back to our hostel, checked out, and made our way to the subway to get us back to Yokohama. Yokohama was only about an hour from Tokyo, so it was pretty easy to get there via subway.

A few subway rides later and we arrived in Yokohama! Heather spotted another one of those super cool bakeries that were everywhere in China and Kobe, so we decided to stop and have a little snack. That little snack for me turned into a sandwich and a chocolate croissant that filled me up pretty quickly.

After our meal, we got back on the ship, chilled for a little, showered, unpacked, and decided to head out into Yokohama.

The three of us were so tired, but it was our last night in Japan, so we decided to explore Yokohama. Unfortunately, we didnt make it very far. From the ship we found the closets bar, ordered one drink, made friends with the owners cat named Kuma, and left once we were down with our drinks. After that we walked back to the ship and passed out almost immediately. It wasnt the most exciting night, but at least we tried!

Day five:

Day five started with me waking up, walking to the terminal where our ship was docked, and I called and Skyped my parents and boyfriend from my computer. I got to talk to the three of them for about two hours, which was great. It is always so nice to hear their voices instead of just typing them e-mails.

After Skyping, I had made plans with some other friends to go to a local baseball game that was later in the afternoon. Unfortunately it was rained all day. My other group of friends and I decided not to go, because it was this cold, annoying rain that just wouldnt stop.

So, for the rest of the afternoon I decided to do some last minute shopping in the terminal. I got some snacks for the rest of our journey, as well as some last minute souvenirs. Unfortunately for me, I still have 6,000 Yen from when I took the 10,000 Yen out in Tokyo. I am definitely going to have to exchange that when I get back to the States.

Once my shopping was done, it was time to go through the face to face immigration process and get back on the ship. This time immigration didnt take as long, but it was still pretty tedious.

At around five I was back on the ship and ready to start the trek to Hawaii!

I cannot believe that Japan was our last international port. It was very strange, but Japan was the first port where I physically and mentally felt a little tired. As much as I have loved traveling throughout these past three months, it definitely feels like I need a break.

Well, I am definitely going to get a break, because for the next ten days we will be on the MV heading on over to Hawaii, which is our official last stop before we dock for good in San Diego. We are only in Hawaii for the day, but Im really looking forward to it!

What Im not looking forward to is all the work I must complete before and after Hawaii. There are lot of papers and quizzes to get out of the way, so that is what I will be doing for the next two weeks or so!

Well, thank you very much for reading about Japan. Im sure I will post before I get to Hawaii. Until then!