Monday, November 22, 2010

Mischief Managed

One of the best things about moving to Korea was the fact that I'd be living in the future. Aside from finally being able to start my fortune-telling business, this meant that I was going to be able to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a full fourteen hours ahead of any of you suckers back in the States. Unfortunately, my gloating was short-lived. After I'd already arrived here (read: I was stuck here), mugglenet posted the official release date for DH Part 1 in Korea: December 16th.

Unless you live under a rock, you know that's nearly an entire month after almost every other country in the world. 

I stared at my computer screen in disbelief. Warner Brothers, what have you done? South Korea has the fastest internet in the world, and I could have downloaded the entire movie fresh off the cutting room floor months ago. And yet you've decided to make this country the very last one to release the movie? Not only is it unfair; it's not even a sound business move.

Seeing as the worldwide release for DH was this past weekend, I certainly have access to the movie now. Pirated copies are everywhere, and I could download it faster than you can say "accio copyright infringement lawsuit". The thing is, I'm really finicky about my Potter. Watching it on a computer screen just doesn't have the same effect as seeing it in IMAX; then again, waiting until December is practically torture.

Solution? I went to Japan to see it.

This was the first Potter movie that I didn't get to see at midnight while surrounded by a crowd of my nerdiest friends, but seeing it in Fukuoka almost makes up for it. Although I only spent 32 hours in Japan, I crammed as much in as possible, so this adventure's going to take up a handful of blog posts. I got it in my head that I should write these posts based on activity, completely disregarding chronological order, but I spent the last two hours typing complete crap before finally admitting to myself that I'm a storyteller, not a reporter. I can't write about each event one at a time; I need to tell the whole story from start to finish. So I deleted everything I wrote and I'm going to tell you the story the way stories are meant to be told: from the beginning. (Note: I might be the most OCD blogger in the history of the internet. Oh well. Y'all love me anyway, don't you?)

I had to wake up at 5 AM on Saturday to get to the airport in time for my flight. True to form, I decided around 11 PM on Friday that my laundry positively needed to be finished before I left, so I began my hyper-tourist weekend on about four and a half hours of sleep. Thus, here's me at the airport:

I was dead tired but still had to make a conscious effort to not bounce in my seat; I was on my way to see Harry Potter in a foreign country! You could have sawed off one of my appendages and I still would have been grinning like a fool. On top of my dorkiness, I totally love airports. There's just something about being in a place where people start new journeys that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I wanted to run up to every stranger I saw and ask what kind of adventure they were on. Don't worry, I didn't actually do it. I just really wanted to.

Unfortunately, the flight wasn't the best. I was seated next to an Air Force guy, and my time in Korea has significantly lowered my opinion of the US Air Force (Bradster, no offense to you, of course). As soon as I sat down, the guy told me he had been watching me in the terminal and hoped we'd be sitting together. Charming. He then looked me over and with a super-creepy smile told me I looked like a party girl. Dude, it's 9 AM on a Saturday and I'm wearing fake glasses and a t-shirt that says "Muggle." In what galaxy do I look like a party girl? I tried very hard to look interested in my book while he told me about the Japanese "chick" he was going to visit. Then the jerk had the audacity to ask if we could meet up while we were both in Fukuoka. Um, "hell no" doesn't even begin to cover it there, sweetheart. After the longest hour and a half of my life, we got off the plane, and I hid in the bathroom for half an hour to make sure Romeo was through customs before I came out. It's really a shame that I spent two days in a foreign country and the most uncomfortable situation I was in all weekend was the direct result of my interaction with another American. It's no wonder the rest of the world thinks we're all assholes.

Once I was sure Colonel Jackass was gone, I emerged from the bathroom and went through the customs line. They stamped my passport and released me into the airport, where I had to locate the subway then figure out how to ride it. Three months ago, this would have certainly been enough to cause a full-blown panic attack. I couldn't read anything, and I kind of didn't know where I was going (my parents are beaming with pride right now). I pulled out my ipod and checked the map the hostel had given me, then I found my way to a ticket machine. I'm actually unreasonably proud of the fact that this:

didn't cause me to immediately burst into tears. I double- and triple-checked my map before purchasing my ticket, then I watched a few people pass through the turnstiles before mimicking their actions. I headed down the stairs to wait for the subway. It arrived, looking thoroughly as a subway train should, and transported me to Hakata Station. Easy-peasy.

The station was far bigger than I had anticipated, and I had trouble figuring out which exit would point me in the direction of my hostel. I had been warned by pretty much everyone in Korea that very few Japanese people speak English, so I wandered around stubbornly for a while before giving up and approaching the information kiosk. When I walked up, I intelligently mumbled "help... hostel?" and waited. The girl behind the desk replied, "Oh, are you looking for the Khaosan Hostel?", effectively making me feel like an idiot for assuming that the desk labeled "Tourist Information" wouldn't be staffed with English-speakers. She pulled out a map, highlighted my route, and sent me on my way.

Before I left, I told my parents about my trip and gave them an itinerary, but I conveniently left out the fact that I was staying in a hostel. I'd never stayed in one before, and I was a tiny bit nervous about it myself, so having my parents freak out wouldn't have been very helpful. Japan is crazy expensive, and you simply can't argue with the fact that $20 for a hostel is significantly better than $400 for a hotel. The hostel, however, exceeded all expectations and was one of my favorite parts about the trip. It was immaculately clean and the bed was a million times more comfortable than the concrete slab Korea gave me; additionally, I got to hang out with people from literally all over the world, and that was really cool. I have a ton of hostel stories, but they don't chronologically fit here, so you'll have to wait. :) You can, however, look at some pictures:

The complete album will go up on facebook eventually, but there's a little sampling.

I checked in, tossed my extra clothes in my locker, and hopped online to let my parents know I was safe before heading out to locate the Hawks Town Mall. I had done some research, and discovered a movie theater, a spa, and something called the Dessert Forest Cafe, all situated right next to the beach. Perfecto.

This post is already pretty long, so I'll call it a night. Up next: lunch in the sand, some sight-seeing, and the Deathly Hallows. Stay tuned!


  1. We stayed in a hotel for summer project while in Sweden and I loved it!

    I'm glad you got to experience Japan! One of my closest friends went to Japan to do what you are doing in korea and she stayed and just got married to a Japanese guy. :)

  2. Good job ditching the AFG. Sources report that he was waiting outside the bathroom for 28 minutes and 35 seconds.