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22nd May - 23rd May

posted May 26, 2013, 6:38 PM by Andrew Glover   [ updated May 30, 2013, 7:19 PM ]

Well today is the day! After many years of dreaming, I have been given the opportunity to go with my Sensei to the birthplace of karate, Okinawa. In my previous style, which I did for many years, this was only available to the "select few".

I had a lot to do today, final preparations took a lot longer than I expected.  My gis have needed a bit of maintenance for awhile and I also had to sew badges onto a gi. Never a fun task! The laptop needed some last minute software and of course the packing.

It is hard packing for 28C and 90% humidity in 12C! Also not knowing just what to take is a challenge. I suspect that i will pack too much.

So before I knew it, it was 5.30pm and Adam arrived and we were off to the station. The train trip was uneventful and we arrived at Mascot on time too met up with Sensei Bob and Sensei Jeff.

After a quick meal we checked through and were on our way. Adam and I scored big time we both had an empty seat besides us. Its nice to be able too spread out a bit. The fight was uneventful and I did manage to get some sleep, though when we landed in Taipei we all were somewhat tired.  After much confusion, with no one speaking English, we finally figured out where to go to get our transfer to the hotel. 

Despite being tired after a well needed shower Adam and I wanted to go to the Taipei tower, but it was over an hour away so we decided to go for a walk instead. In the end we got a coffee from a 7eleven and sat on a bench watching the world go by talking for about 3 hours.  Sleep finally caught up with us and we headed back to the hotel for a short nap, shower and then a hairy taxi ride back to the airport for the last leg of the journey.  Unfortunately our flight to Okinawa was delayed by an hour, I think they parked the plane at the wrong terminal as we had to take a bus to the plane.  It was like being back in South Africa, having to walk on the tarmac and climb the stairs to get onto the plane. 

After a short flight we were finally in Okinawa! Then the fun really started, somehow Adam, Sensei Jeff and I got separated from Sensei Bob. The immigration landing card needed our hotel address and we had know idea. After a bit of talking they let us through passport control. Then at customs they wanted to know where we were staying, when I couldn't say I started getting the 20 questions.  Oh boy I thought, here we go. Especially when the guy signalled to open my bag, that was it. Then he asked "Why come Okinawa?" and I said "Train Karate-do", it was all smiles and we were waved on! Winner.

We finally found Sensei Bob outside waiting with a taxi, what a relief! The airport is about 40 minutes from our hotel unfortunately our taxi driver had on idea where it was, despite his assurance at the airport he did.  After many phone calls, urgent conversations on the radio, numerous stops to ask directions we finally made it! It was very frustrating, the fact that we were already 1:30hrs late did not help.

Once we had checked in, it was after 11pm.  Needing food and a drink we walked to the supermarket, fortunately it's open 24hr and stocked up on supplies. After a beer, some food it was time to call it a night. An eventful trip indeed.

Unfortunately all the rooms at the hotel are smoking rooms, not pleasant! I did get some air freshener, which seems to help. On the up side we have a sliding door that opens out onto a huge balcony, so lots of fresh air and there is aircon.