Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back to Civilization

I wrote a few posts while we were on vacation, but was unable to post them due to the spotty internet in our hotels.  This particular post I wrote on the plane between Sapporo, Japan, and Guam:


So here I am on my way to Palau from Japan thinking about our recent days in Japan and how very different it is there than in Yuzhno. 

I used to say this everytime we would leave Qatar for some other destination...."it's back to civilization".  Well, compared to Yuzhno, Doha is civilization.  I forget how remote Sakhalin is until I leave.  I get reminded as soon as I step off the airplane in Sapporo, Japan, how far away from civilization we really are.  Don't get me wrong, I like living there.  We have met great people, and have formed what will likely be lifelong friendships.  We all have that common bond...and we know what life is really like on the other side of the world from our native home. 

Japan is different from Yuzhno in so many ways, it is hard to really say them all.  The biggest for me is how nice everyone is in Japan.  And I mean EVERYONE.  I haven't seen one person lose their smile.  The taxi drivers in particular are the cheeriest people around, following close behind are the salespeople in the shops.  People in Yuzhno aren't necessarily rude, just what I would call grumpy.  After a while, it rubs off on me and I find myself being a little bit grumpy, too.  When we are in Japan, it is hard not to be smiling...usually back at someone that is smiling at us. 

The other big thing that is very different and very noticable is how clean Japan is compared to, well, everywhere!  I mean it is spotless.  From the subways to the streets to even the public toilets, it is squeaky clean.  This is such a contrast to Yuzhno, where it only looks clean after a fresh snow.  Any trash you do have must be separated into combustables and non-combustables and put into the appropriate bin.   

There are also the obvious differences between the two places:  there is much better shopping, eating and just more things to do in Japan.  Just seeing a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos on a shelf in a store excites us now.   And if you could see Adam's face light up when he sees the Golden is the same face that we see on Christmas morning when he comes down the stairs to see what Santa has left him...pure joy. 

So while we enjoyed our 4 extra days in Japan, we are really looking forward to the next step in our vacation...Palau.  I anticipate a lot of relaxing on the beach or lounging by the pool....

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