Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fukuoka Visa Run 2012, Part 2: Encapsulated

So I made it to Fukuoka, safe and sound. It’s been smooth sailing since I boarded that flight in Busan. Asia works so efficiently and so methodical that, so far, everything has been on time to the minute. Everything from the plane ride to the train to the consulate: even though I’ve been out here for over a year, I’m still in awe.

Fukuoka is an interesting city to get lost in, and that’s exactly what I did today. After paying a visit to the Korean consulate, it was only 1pm. And, as I had no idea where I was staying, it only made sense to walk around until I found something.

Japan in general is a trip for anybody. This is my 3rd time visiting the country, so I did kinda know what to expect. Regardless, I still found myself at times staring at the vivid colors and sheer volume of advertisements or giving myself a headache just trying to read 1 word in Japanese. The culture is off the wall in terms of style, and people march to their own beat here. It’s vastly different from Seoul, and the more I think about it the more I miss my soon-to-be home.

The top priority today, aside from locating the consulate, was finding a place to crash for the night. I carry gear with me, and there’s nothing worse than strolling in a foreign city not knowing where you’re going to sleep or worrying about getting mobbed for all your stuff. Fortunately for me, I stumbled upon a gem of a place that is not only a rad place to stay, but it’s actually affordable. And for Japan, that’s good. The Yen is kicking our butt right now.

It’s called the Hotel Cabinas, and it is a combination capsule hotel and sauna for about $50USD a night (most 3-star hotels will cost you $150 or more in Japan). Now I am already a professed connoisseur of Korean saunas, and to combine that with the concept of a capsule makes this place an absolute steal.

The capsules come in 2 flavors: shared, and private. I opted for the private one, and my ‘room’ looks something like this:

It’s the perfect home base for me! I don’t need big rooms, I just need a place to drop my gear. I can lock everything up and not worry about the thing. The capsule comes with a reading light, pajamas, and the Swiss-Army knife equivalent of a remote control that powers a TV, radio, and your alarm. Effectively, I could live in this thing if someone kept feeding me. It does make me feel like a puppy at the store, though. It has a strange vibe to it.

The best part of the capsule hotel is with a room you also get access to their rooftop sauna. They have pools that put the Korean saunas to shame, all including an outdoor pool overlooking the 15th story warmed to a perfect 40C. I’ve already spent a great deal of time there, and after walking the entire city with a ton of gear on my back my body needed the break.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be a doozy as well. I have to talk to the consulate in the morning to finalize stuff, then get my Visa. From there, I have so many travel options...and for the first time, it was easy to nail it down to one that is a must see. I’m going to try and visit it tomorrow and take some pictures. It’s going to be an emotionally taxing day to boot.

Now it’s 7pm here, and I’ve been effectively awake since 3am.The fatigue is starting to set in, so it’s about time to settle in my capsule and call it a night. I can’t wait till tomorrow. I’ve been waiting a long time for this one.

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