After our hike we jumped on the next train bound for Sapporo. We were excited about drinking the famous beer right from the source and eating Genghis Khan, a hearty meal of lamb traditional to the region.
Once in town, we headed straight to the youth hostel, and all of our good spirits were washed away again. They were full, and assured us that everywhere else was as well. Apparently this was a long weekend in Japan and everyone was traveling and filling the rooms. What is frustrating about youth hostels in Japan is that they are often filled with octogenarians Japanese instead of, you know, international younger persons, and this regardless of time of year. This was just making it worse.
We headed back into the train station and asked the tourist information center for help. Unable to find a place to stay, and unable to leave town until tomorrow, our only option was to stay in an internet café. This is a weird concept, I know, but something normal in Japan. It serves as a solution for those who miss the last train home and cannot afford the cab ride (which are ludicrously expensive). Before heading out to the café though, we stored our luggage into lockers at the train station and went for dinner. We were dead set on at least getting a beer and some lamb!
After dinner we walked in the pouring rain to the closest internet café. There, we were shown to a private room with a computer, a TV, a small desk and two chairs. We had been expecting a couch but did not get one; instead the floor would have to do for the night.
Right now, as I type this, I can hear the keyboard clicks of others around me. I can hear their TV and my nose burns with their cigarette smoke. The smell is giving me a headache, and as much as I’d love to sleep I know that the bright lights, the soft jazz music playing corner to corner in the building, the muffled sound of slippers moving around, running water and just about everything else will create yet another sleepless night. As cool as this place is, it’s really not meant for sleeping or resting… as much as it has the potential to, it just won’t do.
Tomorrow is yet another long day on the move. We will be heading to Kyoto, as far away as we can get in one day. There are no sleeper trains available, and so we must go forth by day, and hopefully we will not be too overly tired that we won’t fully be able to enjoy the city over the next few days.