Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Fukuoka Visa Run: Day 3

As planned, we got up early on Wednesday morning to go to the South Korean Consulate. Again, doing a lot of research beforehand made this journey a lot less daunting than it could have been. So there's my advice to you if you're about to make the run: Do your research! Look at blogs and Google Streetview so that you know the way before you even get there!

Breakfast was a meronpan that I excitedly picked up at a 7-Eleven. So tasty! Very sweet, fluffy bread, with a sweet cream and melon flavoured filling.
At the consulate there are some guards that hang around outside, and a little booth that you need to sign in at, much like you would have done at the airport. I wasn't sure if I should speak in Japanese or Korean, but the guard just looked up at us and put us out of our stumbling, mumbling misery with a single muttering of "visa?" at which point we nodded and bowed furiously, and had a pair of forms slipped towards us.

This is where the drama happened. We got told that, contrary to what our recruiter (who had previously phoned the same consulate to check processing times) had been told, our Visas wouldn't be ready for collection until Monday. Not Friday as we had been told and planned.

A panicked (and presumably expensive) phonecall to Korvia led to either Korvia or IMOE (everything was conducted in Korean so I'm not sure) contacting the consulate and miraculously bailing us out to some degree. The amount of effort and assistance given to us by these organisations has been unreal, and I'm very grateful. Anyway, in the end we were told that we could pick up our Visas at 9:30 Monday, rather than the usual late afternoon slot, so that we would get to Incheon only a few hours late (as opposed to the day or two late that staying at home would have achieved).

So, we handed our bags into our new hotel, the Heiwadai Hotel 5 (we chose the week of a big Hawks game at the Yahoo! Stadium, so most of the hotels were fully booked for the entirety of our stay, hence the hotel-hopping), and looked around the Tojinmachi area. It was quite refreshing to be out in the daytime without any bags, especially as the weather has been HOT. Having a few hours to kill before we could check in properly, we went to get lunch.


After a while wandering up and down a lovely little shopping arcade, we realised we were probably going to have to actually talk to someone in order to get some food. We went with a deduction of "if they have romaji on their sign they might be more likely to know some English" added to "eigo-ga wakarimasu ka?" ("do you understand English?" which has proven to save us on more than one occasion, thank you Pimsleur). This led us to COCOKARA, a cute little cafe/restaurant with the loveliest people inside. They were very patient with us and explained the lunch menu for us, and overall served us very well. We went for a set lunch, as it looked enormous for the price, as well as delicious.

We weren't wrong.
At ¥980 each, which is about £5.70 (including a drink and a bowl of miso) I think that's a pretty sweet deal. It felt varied and relatively healthy in contrast to most things you can get at home. As a side note, it took me a while to work out that a lot of signs in Japan use 円 instead of ¥, which can be helpful to know when you're frantically scanning a board of hiragana looking for a price. But whoever it was that had been saying "oooh, Japan is so expensive!", I don't know where you're from or possibly where you're going, but to me everything is SO reasonably priced.

Stuffed and tired, we thanked the staff of COCOKARA, and went back to our hotel where it was finally about time to check in. I asked a few questions using my scant knowledge of Japanese and, seemingly, I'm a bit too convincing as I was met with a long string of information as a response. Poor girl looked disheartened by my horrified/blank stare before realising I just had no idea what she'd said.

Anyway. We finished up by budgeting out our food and transport money for the rest of the week, as well as having an ill-timed nap (read: 7-hour sleep).

I'm really bad at ending these posts in any way other than just...stopping. Sorry.

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