Also, I am confused about the Shinkansen to JR transfer. When we arrived at Hakata, we were able to transfer directly to the JR limited express without any other ticket. But then on the train, the conductor wanted our JR tickets, which we didn’t have. Eventually, we worked out that we would pay when we arrived at the station but there has to be some way to pay for JR tickets at the beginning. Currently, it’s an awkward experience that I’d like to avoid. Also, a side note to this experience- always have extra money on me in Japan. Yikes! The transfer station did not have ANY foreign ATMs. The main tourist/international ATMs are at the 7-11 and when there’s no 7-11, well…it’s no bueno. Fortunately, I didn’t need the money since we got picked up by the duty driver but it was still pretty stressful.
Next up…Sasebo! The clinic went well although there were fewer patients then Iwakuni. Sasebo is a beautiful place with rolling green hills that meet the water and gorgeous sunsets. The base is pretty small. We had a mini-adventure getting there since I thought Nagasaki and Sasebo were on the same train line. They’re not!
So, in Sasebo, I went out with a former medical school classmate who’s a GP right now. He and his friend Edgar took me out to the most delicious yakitori place, followed by a karaoke bar where they had bottle service. The bottle service concept confused me at first. I thought, “Wait, we’re about to spend $250 on a bottle in a random bar on a Thursday night?” No, thank goodness! They frequent this bar and they buy a bottle of alcohol at wholesale cost. Then, each time they go, they pay a flat fee of 800Y and they can drink as much as they want from their bottle. We stayed out until midnight, which was later than I was expecting but a lot of fun. To finish off the evening, we went to “Ra-ra ramen,” which was so good! I can’t wait to take SMS and see if he thinks it’s better than his L.A. spot! Then I took a cab back to the hotel while Edgar and Scott walked back to their apartments off-base.
The next morning, I was sleepy but I had one patient and then we were off. The corpsman and I went off to Hiroshima for the evening before heading back on Saturday.