June 22, 2004
At the end of May, and the first week of June, Eden and I were able to see five of our friends from home who we haven't seen in two years. So it was pretty exciting for us.
Janet and Katherine, our housemates from our fourth year at Queen's would be in Japan for different reasons, around the same time. Katherine and her boyfriend Chris, had been working in Australia for the past year, and were taking a few days in Japan before catching their flight back to Kingston. Janet would be in Kyoto for two weeks for a Physics convention, and although the first week would be nothing other than Physics discussions and seminars, her second week was free. So Eden and I took the overnight bus up to Kyoto to meet them on May 21st. We stayed at a guest house in Kyoto, known as the "Uno house" where rooms went for 1,650 yen per person! This is a third of the price of the next cheapest place I've ever heard of in Japan. In comparison, when I went to Nagoya, I stayed at a capsule hotel. A capsule hotel has a common lounge, and bathrooms but each person has their own "capsule", more like a coffin, where they have a TV, alarm clock and bed. The capsules are then stacked on top of each other, usually two high. The capsule set me back 4,000 yen for the night, about $50 Canadian, and these capsule hotels are often the cheapest option. (However, sometimes you can rent karaoke rooms really cheap from midnight to 5 or 6 am, so sometimes it's better for a group of friends to rent a karaoke room for the night and try to catch a few z's after singing a few songs.)
So, the Uno house was a little ghetto, but being Japan, it was clean enough. We spent three nights there enjoying the sights of Kyoto with our friends, before Chris and Katherine took the train back up to Tokyo and Janet came back down with us to Kumamoto for a few more days.
The next weekend, Eden and I left for Saipan and Tinian to see Jeff, Karla and her family. Karla's father is one of the two doctors in Tinian (famous for being the Air Force base where the atomic bomb was loaded on), where there wasn't more than 2,000-3,000 people. So we hung out with Jeff, Karla, and her family for three days there, before catching the ferry over to Saipan. In Saipan we stayed at an all-inclusive hotel where we could do all sorts of activities, but we mainly spent our time around the pool and waterpark. For me, it was really nice to see Jeff, hang out and play cards.