Run Forest! Run! This is how I was the day I left Tokyo to Kyoto. Tokyo Station is bigger than what I ever imagined or what I came across before.
Left the house 50mn before my bus departure, and the walk should not be more than 30 mn to the station , I figured I have enough time to buy my ticket. Well first I couldn’t resist stopping for Japanese breakfast: warm Mizu soup in a cold weather, served with rice and fried egg emmm.
As a budget traveler so far I have not been spending on food or looking to have food experience but in Japan it’s a different story. Food here has been part of the trip experience. I assumed Sushi is the main food and I will try it once may be and as usual instead from going to different restaurant on every meal, I will just limit myself to what I can cook and small sandwich I make, the casual budget-traveler food.
I was wrong, totally wrong. Japanese food is so diverse, is so rich, that it’s so irresistible. There is no single lunch or diner looking like the other. Add to the the fact that the culture of eating out with people is about ordering food together and sharing, In a single meal we will have about 5 at least different plate. I’m not kidding, that’s with no desert and still the menu so long and diverse that we can order another 20 dishes J
Hence I can’t miss the opportunity to try different restaurants and meals. In fact that breakfast was so yummy that I forgot myself, looked at the clock and it was already 6:50 and I still have half of the road to walk. What a gringo! Gobbled down the rest of the rice and run to the station. I finally made it in 10mn; relieved I said I’m in the station 20mn before the bus departs that’s more than enough.
I got to the first ticket office but it turned out it’s not the one I need. Of course with no Japanese on my side a little English on the officer side communication was not the easiest, but thanks to McDonald, things becomes easier to explain as McDonald in an international word, no matter what language the country you go to visit the word is always the same. I started to like McDonald on this trip. It seems to be travellers’ saver around the world: got lost say you are in McDonald and they will find you, need direction, MC Donald will be the indication of what to turn, broke, McDonald feeds you for less than 5 $. I bet if I loose my passport I will find someone to help me in McDonald.
Any way back to my morning marathon, so here I am walking and looking at Mac Donald at the end of the corridor that never ends and hopping I will get there on time, the walk was of at least 1/2Km, no joke, there was indication to certain metros inside the station of 300m 350m and at that point trying to get on time to the ticket office it seemed like the last 500m in a full marathon, you’re not interested anymore by how good is my timing but let me get to the end. Finally made it, sweating and out of breath, got my ticket and went to the get 3 minutes before my bus leaves.
Here I am on my seat the only non –Japanese. It feels strange but great at same time. Nothing matches a local experience while traveling and inter-city busses are the transportation mean that offers that experience everywhere I went, plus more than 80% of the times they’re the cheapest. (Bus from Tokyo to Kyoto 42$, train for the same distance is 140$, true the trip is shorter, only 1/3rd of the time but when you have time why not save some money J) On the other hand, bus usually crosses few small towns and offers more opportunity to discover the back country or also save a night in a hotel when use night busses (which happens to be even cheaper in Japan but don’t get me wrong very comfortable, they offer blankets and large feet space with chairs leaning back further than day busses.) Check also last minute busses they offer even more competitive prices such as WillerExpress, they even have bus pass which offers more flexibility than the Japan Rail pass.