In my last post, I mentioned it has not always been smooth sailing during my travels. But from the ashes of terrible experiences have emerged a plethora of interesting stories—and many valuable lessons to share! Take this troublesome tale as an example…
During my year as a kindergarten teacher in Korea, I took advantage of a flight deal to spend a weekend in Japan with a friend. At the end of a successful trip, we decided to hit the local amusement park, Fuji-Q, before starting back to Seoul. So we headed to Kawaguchiko Station, taking all of our luggage with us.
Here is what happened next:
7:30 am: We arrive at the train station with our luggage, get our tickets, and board the train.
7:50 am: We’re getting peckish and wonder when the train is actually leaving.
7:55 am: While my friend stays on the train, I ask the ticket booth agent when the train is leaving. He says 8:30.
7:56 am: We ask the conductor to reconfirm the 8:30 departure time by pointing at the “6” on her watch and saying, “Leaving at 8:30, yes?” to which she responds, “Yes, 30.”
8:00 am: We grab some cash from our luggage and head to the shop across the street, leaving everything behind on the train, confident that we have 30 minutes to spare.
8:15 am: We return to an empty track.
TRAIN GONE. LUGGAGE GONE. MONEY, PASSPORTS, EVERYTHING—GONE.
We dash to the ticket booth in our panic and the ticket booth agent then shows us the paper schedule: 8:13.
We both explode. What are we going to do!? Who will help us!? Where is that train even going after the stop at the park!? Heads spinning… screaming curse words… pointing our fingers squarely at the station personnel. We have just become those kinds of tourists, losing our cool in a public space.
Finally, I find someone who speaks English and we explain our situation. She returns to the station with me and we start coordinating with the station personnel. They will radio the train staff and have them take our bags off the train at the next stop, then put them on the next train that is heading to our destination. In the end, we are reunited with our bags and are able to make our flight back to Seoul without incident.
Funny story, now told with big smiles and lots of laughs, but at the time it felt very dire. Fortunately, these experiences have given me plenty of wisdom to share whenever I’m asked for travel advice!
So what’s the takeaway? Check out my top 5 dos and don’ts to get you through any travel mishap…
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