One Night in Fukuoka

Fukuoka Travel Blog

 › entry 3 of 44 › view all entries
Okay, so I don't actually have photos for Fukuoka but I do have a little story.

After waking up in Pusan, I went to the international ferry terminal with the hope of catching a ferry to Fukuoka, Japan, and then take the train onwards to Kanazawa where my friend was waiting for me to come visit.  I was a bit later than I thought I'd be.

I ended up not getting the earlier ferry because by the time I figured out where I had to go, they were sold out of tickets.  So I had to wait for the next ferry which wasn't until about 2pm.  I ended up killing some time by chatting up the only foreigner in the terminal.  He was obviously in the same predicament as I was in so we kept each other company until it was time to board.

By the time we disembarked in Fukuoka, we a discovered a new problem.  It was Sunday.  And not only was it Sunday, but we had arrived at about ten past 5.  Unfortunately for us, the only foreign exchange counter closed at 5pm and there were no ATMs in sight.  We were a bit screwed.  Neither of us had any yen!

A nice man selling tourist souvenirs from a cart offered to buy our Korean won for a terrible exchange rate, but we had no choice.  We were far from the nearest bank and desperately needed bus fare.  With the little money we had, we boarded a bus for the center of town. 

This wasn't the best laid out plan.  There were still no ATMs to be found anywhere and all the banks had closed at five.  We were really screwed.  How were we to pay for a room to sleep in for the night?  We asked for some help from a tourist info desk.  They told us that there were no ATMs around, but they did have one great idea: go to the airport.  We had enough fare to take a short train ride out to the airport where there would still be a forex open.  So off we went.

By the time we got there, our spirits were starting to look up.  There were people everywhere.  Surely the airport would have a bank or forex still open!  But as we wandered around, none were to be found.  We asked for help, but she didn't speak English.  So she ran off and got her friend, and together they told us that we needed to go to the international terminal for a forex.  They escorted us to the free shuttle service and waved goodbye. 

We managed to get to the forex at about 6:50pm - a.k.a. ten minutes before closing!  What a HUGE sigh of relief!  We made it just in time and now we had the funds to buy a bed for the night!

So of course finding a cheap place was yet another hurdle to tackle.  Neither one of us had planned on staying the night in Fukuoka, but by the time we had money sorted out, it was getting late and there was no way I'd make it to Kanazawa that night.  We went back to the central train station and found some adverts for local ryokans (budget inns).  Not being a much of a tourist destination, there were no backpackers or hostels that we knew of.  We found a place with good rates and took off on foot - in the wrong direction!  The only map we had was written in Japanese and we didn't realize at the time that we had left the terminal through the back entrance and not the front! 

Totally exhausted from wandering in circles with our heavy backpacks, we were about to give up.  The sun had set hours ago and we were starving.  We asked for some directions from a convenience store clerk and a kind young woman overheard our plight.  She spoke some English having learned some at uni and decided to take charge of the situation.  She told us to follow her.  So off we went with her father and mother and down the street we walked...... to her parked car!  She insisted that she drive us to the ryokan so we would no longer be in danger of getting lost yet again! 
She even called the inn while we were in the car to ensure that the inn keeper would unlock the front gate to let us in.  And sure enough, when we pulled up, the inn keeper was waiting patiently by the gate with a warm smile on her face. 

We were so humbled by our driver's kindness that we insisted she take a little souvenir bracelet my friend had in his pocket from being Korea.  It wasn't much, but we felt the need to show our appreciation.  I remember thinking how humbling it was to see her act so thankful for us giving her a token of our appreciation.

It was the first time I encountered a stranger's random act of kindness while on that trip, and it was one I will probably never forget.
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photo by: Nzelvis