Thursday, January 31, 2013

Strawberry fields

Holy Shite! I got left behind!!

The day started off with the alarm clock rudely waking me up at 5am on a Sunday morning so I can be on the train at 6am to get to Ikebukuro to join a day trip I foolishly agreed to. The train ride was uneventful and I managed to find the meeting place with little trouble.

A gal pal I met through this site (and popped her girl on girl cherry) started a business and part of it was organizing day trips to venues near Tokyo. She contacts me through FB asking if I'd be interested. Shabu shabu lunch and strawberry picking sounded like fun so I said I'd go. Tochigi is well-known for its strawberries and there are fields and fields with greenhouses growing strawberries. She didn't mention that we'd be touring shrines in Nikko first until later, but I told her I won't be going in the shrines but will roam around the surrounding area taking pics. I do not like shrines or temples and have no interest whatsoever in touring around them. Hell, I live near Kamakura, temples and shrines galore without the 3-hour bus ride. Come to think of it, there are strawberry fields about an hour away, but the quality isn't as good as I'd get in Tochigi.

I was the only one from booniesville and the rest of the tour participants were living in Tokyo, so they enjoyed the chance to get out of the big city. I can get that. I don't like Tokyo all that much. My gal pal is a Filipina so most of the group were her friends from the Philippine network, with the exception of one of the hubbies and gal pal's BF. It was interesting that some of the group thought I was a Pinay and started talking to me in Tagalog. Uh . . . huh? Lo siento, no hablo . . . wait . . . that's Spanish!  :))  So I spent the day listening to Tagalog flying around on the bus.

Egads! Is that snow I see on the ground?! Seems like it snowed the day before in Nikko. BRRRRRR!!!  The snow was so fine and light, it was fluttering down from the pine needles from the breeze, glittering in the sunlight as it fell.

The tour started with touring the shrines. The major shrine in that area is the Toshogu, which is the mausoleum of Ieyasu Tokugawa, the Tokugawa shogunate founder and also dedicated to the spirits of Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Yoritomo Minamoto. There are lavish carvings which would make for good pics, but I wasn't feeling like climbing a bunch of stairs to get to a shrine I'm not interested in the first place. So while the rest of the group were I was roaming around the surrounding paths taking pics and staying in the sun to warm my freezing ass. Now we were told a time and place to meet after touring the shrines so I mosey on over to the meeting place to find that there's nobody from the group in sight. WTF?!  Where is everybody?! I saw that my minor carrier had reception at the parking lot, which was a good 15 minutes away on foot, so I didn't think anything about it until I went to call my gal pal. EEK! No reception!! Plan B, text with tablet . . . wait wait wait . . . no reply . . . WTF?! Then I logged into FB to see if there was a message for me. That's when I got a text from her through FB. Seems like they thought everybody was there so they headed off to where lunch is before the meeting time, and I was there 5 minutes before, even. Ho-ly Shite!! Either I made no impression whatsoever so can be so easily forgotten or made such a strong impression that I left a shadow of my presence behind. Either way, I got left behind. Later I learn that my gal pal dropped and stepped on her cell that morning and cracked the screen so couldn't receive texts and she used someone's iPhone to log into FB. 30 or so minutes into waiting, the tour guide, who was in tears, came to get me and take me to the restaurant. She was profusely apologizing since it was something that shouldn't be happening in the first place.

Lunch? I was told it was shabu shabu, but it was more like sukiyaki. They didn't have to be so stingy with the meat, tho. The rice with chestnuts was good. I liked that. It wasn't a filling lunch, but since we were going strawberry picking, it wasn't a big deal since we needed to save room for the strawberries.

Hi ho hi ho to strawberry fields we go. After an hour long bus ride, we get to the fields where we saw rows and rows of greenhouses growing strawberries. There were poles for the roofing along the paths between the greenhouses and couldn't help giggling to myself thinking about how my 6'2 friend would be banging his head on these poles at least once had he been there since he has a bad habit of mindlessly following the shorty walking in front of him. LOL We were given a few instructions on how to pick the strawberries and warning that there's a wooden box where the bees are kept to pollinate the flowers. It was all you can eat for 30 minutes. That doesn't sound like a long time, but strawberries can fill you up long before the 30 minutes is up. Man, were the berries sweet! So sweet that you didn't need condensed milk to go with the berries.

I picked up a couple of bottles of fruity vinegar that make a nice refreshing drink when mixed with soda water at the shop (adding vodka doesn't hurt, either ;) ). They had cakes other sweets that used tons of strawberries and looked mighty tempting but since I had a long train ride home, I decided against getting a cake.

The bus ride back to Ikebukuro was uneventful and I dozed the whole way. I was pleasantly surprised to find seats the whole way back to my neck of the woods. I lucked out on one of the trains since nobody seemed to sit next to the foreign dude. LOL He was mildly shocked when he found that I spoke English. He needed to get out, so he said sumimasen (excuse me), where I said I'm getting off too (in English, of course).

All in all, I'd say I had a good weekend. Of course I wasn't happy when my alarm clock rudely woke me up at 6am on Monday morning, like it always does. Next weekend sees a new month. Hopefully a new hello will come along as well.

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