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Japan 9

8:30 am. That’s when my eyes slammed open and I wasn’t able to sleep anymore. I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep, and I’m exhausted yet wide awake. I wish I could go back to sleep but try as I might it just won’t happen. Like any morning after a night of drinking I’m completely sober and without a hangover, headache, or any sign of partying last night other than the fact that I smell like cigarette smoke and alcohol.

Chad is still sound asleep and I’m so jealous of him right now I could scream. It’s not fair that sleep comes so easily for others and so hard for me. I’m not sure how I’m going to get through today. We’re meeting up with Pat and Miyuki this afternoon to tour the boat before Chad has to work his altered shift—6 pm to 2 am. The TV has been left on Discovery Channel. I lay in bed first half watching/half listening to a program on China, and after that a program about the Haj. The Haj, as it explains, is the once a year religious pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, that 2 million Muslims make each year. It’s an informative and interesting show explaining the logistical nightmare that 2 million extra people create on a normally small desert town.    Haji is a title give to those who have completed the 5 day religious event.

Chad finally wakes up and I’m able to convince him to start getting ready as the maids will soon be here to clean the room and I want to grab a bite to eat before we meet his cousin at the train station. Like always he tells me to hit the shower first, allowing him to lie in bed for a little while longer. As we head out of the room Chad asks what I want to eat. Doughnuts sound really good right now and that’s what I want. Once on the street Chad mentions that we have enough time to eat at TGI Fridays if that sounds good. I tell him I don’t care and we’re in one of those, whatever you want, no, whatever you want discussions. I really don’t care, I just want food. He ends up deciding that we’ll just go get doughnuts and I’m left wondering why he brought up Friday’s in the first place. I hate it when he does that!

As we approach the train station we notice there’s something going on. We get closer and see a group of children dressed in traditional costume singing. They range in age from about 3 or 4 to about 8 or 9. I notice some monks standing hind them and figure that it must be some type of religious event. They parade down the street before Pat and Miyuki arrive so I can’t ask them what it was all about. We later pass them on our way to the navy base and Pat mentions the monks are Buddhist but doesn’t go into any explanation of what’s going on.

Pat and Miyuki are both hungry when they get off the train, and after getting their base passes Chad decides to take them to Italian Gardens. We arrive only to find they’re closed. Now we’re off to the Chief’s Club, but since it’s between lunch and dinner, they’re closed too. The Rec Center is our only hope, and they’re open until late so that won’t be a problem. As we eat Pat mentions that this would be the weekend to go to Sankeien Garden as it would be exploding with cherry blossoms or sakura as they’re known in Japanese.

We run into a small snafu when we arrive at the boat. Apparently only active duty personnel can bring guests on the boat. Even with Chad’s clearance the guards won’t let us through. Chad tells us to wait and heads off down the pier. I tell Pat that he’s probably going to find a ship’s force guy to sponsor us on, and sure enough, about ten minutes later he arrives with Larry in tow. Larry is the ship’s lesion with Chad’s office and is willing to tag along as Chad gives us the ‘grand tour’.

Pat and Miyuki are amazed by the size and operation of the boat. Pat can hardly believe the bunks the sailors live in for 6 months or more at a time. They’re both overwhelmed at how big the flight deck is and the fact that the boat can launch a plane every 45 seconds or so. All they can say is “wow” or “oh!” as Chad and Larry explain this or that. I’m amazed at all the stairs and can’t believe that I’m actually going up and down them. Why didn’t I just stay at the office? I’m so tired and sore it’s hard to be impressed with the boat at all.

Chad has to get to work so Larry escorts us back to the gate where we can pick up our IDs. I walk Pat and Miyuki off the base and back to our hotel before saying good bye to them. I’d walk them to the train station but it’s starting to rain and I don’t have my jacket.

The Norfolk guys are all gathered outside so I stop to say hi. Jason explains that they’re all going out to dinner but I’m welcome to meet up with them later. I accept the invitation and head up to the room for a much needed nap. 

It’s amazing what a good two hours of sleep will do for you. While I’m still tired when I wake, I’m not nearly as exhausted as earlier. As I get ready I make myself a PB & J and eat it as I check my email before heading downstairs. 

Tonight we’re starting at the dart bar and we’re supposed to move on from there but we don’t. I don’t feel like drinking that much, and over the course of the night I only order 3 drinks, drinking water the rest of the time. Besides, why should I buy drinks when I can just sip off Jason’s grape chu hi? We’re about the same age so I tend to hang out with him more than the other guys who are either much younger than us or much older.  

Around 2 am I call it a night. We’ve lost about half our crew and Jason wandered off almost a half hour ago in search of an ATM that will take his credit card (not all ATMs will take all American credit cards even if they have a Visa or Master Card logo) and hasn’t been seen since. Since I’m not drunk and we’re just down the street from the hotel I don’t bother asking one of the guys to walk me back. 

Chad got home early and is happy to see that I’m not out as late as I was last night. He asks if I want to go to the base’s Cherry Blossom Festival tomorrow. It all depends on how much sleep I get tonight and how tired and sore I am tomorrow.

Comments are better than two hour power naps!



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