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The End… Or is it? Bum Bum Buummm

“The 5” had one last Chinese breakfast in Nanjing and said their good-byes before heading down the tracks on the high speed train to Shanghai. Arriving in the afternoon, we were excited for the sights of the new city, but a powerful storm blew in just as we exited the train station, knocking down signs and dashing our hopes of a walking tour of the city. Hustling through the rain, we managed to reach a taxi and catch an expensive ride to our hotel in the outskirts of Shanghai, near the airport.

Not wanting the rain to get us down, we ventured through the streets witnessing a still running local farmers market and some new street food. We bought an assortment of noodles and vegetables and headed back to the hotel where we cooked up some fortified ramen using the electric teakettle in the room. We capped off what we thought was our last night with some cards and reminisced about GP, China adventures and good times. China continued to cry on us throughout the night.

We are going to miss all things Chinese. In America, things happen to make sense—people understand us. When you don’t know what someone is saying to you, it can take a lot of pressure off a situation. In China, we’ve found the best answer is “ohhkayyy” and everything turns out just fine. What are we eating? What is that? What am I supposed to do? What is that person doing? None of it really makes any sense, and the beauty lies in the fact that no sense is the best kind.

The airport felt as it has in the past, a place to look forward toward new times, but this time we couldn’t help to think about parting ways for good. This would be our last time together for a while and GP was finally over. We were all reconciling sadness combined with excitement about the future; but then…..

The connecting flight from Tokyo to LA was delayed… then delayed more… then delayed more and food vouchers were given… Finally the flight was canceled as the universe refused to see us part ways.

Around 6pm we were finally headed to a hotel near by airport to spend the night. After quickly dropping off our bags, we set out on a journey to the center of Tokyo!!!
After a bus ride, confusion, and a train ride of about one and a half hours we arrived somewhere in Tokyo. Bright lights were everywhere, while pachinko machines games and interesting activities ruled the streets. We suddenly realized that we would need cash to get anywhere or eat anything, including getting back to the hotel. Scrambling, we found ourselves unable to extract money from Japanese cash machines as we could not read the prompts and when we finally could we were denied access due to the fact that only Japanese cards were accepted.

After calling the bank, asking an Australian, 2 police offices and an encounter with a very strange man, we managed to get cash. We felt a brief sense of accomplishment, but the time was nearing that the last train would run. We thought. Turns out, the trains back to the airport had quit running that Sunday night, but after some more semi-comprehensible conversations, we found that we could take a more local train that would get us close to the airport and our hotel. After fighting with some automated ticket machines, we bought platform tickets that would allow us to pay the difference when we arrived at our destination. Another hour and a half and the train arrived relatively near the hotel, but a taxi was required for the rest of the journey. Hungry and really wanting a drink, we set out to get food and beverage prior to returning to the hotel.

We found ourselves in what can only be described as a Japanese Applebee’s and enjoyed delicious treats such as beer, afro-man potato cakes and sushi (Aaron’s first sushi). At around 2:30am, we finally arrived back at the hotel for a good night’s sleep before the inevitable departure in the morning.

A fittingly interesting/crazy/adventurous end to an amazing journey together. The times will be remembered and very much missed. It is good to have good friends even if they are scattered throughout the country!!! We are sitting in the all-too-familiar Tokyo airport, boarding passes in hand for a confirmed flight. As we trade pictures and make plans for our arrival back in California, we look both backwards and forwards, still reminiscent and excited. Watch out world!