on the bus here I was amazed at how beautiful it was. there are steep hills that remind me of hong kong. but the water is clean and the buildings are low and set apart. it looks like a place out of the apocalypse because there is steam rising in so many places from all the hot springs. I didn't realize Beppu has the most hot springs out of anywhere in the world. I feel so lucky to be here.

earlier today I thought about how most of my friends who love traveling wouldn't consider visiting Japan because of the language barrier. even if they would, traveling alone to a place you don't know anyone is kind of weird. I was thinking about this as I got off the plane and didn't know how to get to Beppu, a two hour drive away. after checking my train schedule app. I decided a bus would be a better idea. the trains cost almost as much as my discount flight did. there's probably a cheaper way to do it but as it's my first time here I don't know yet. so I found the bus terminal and got myself a round trip ticket. not cheap, but less than one way on the train. and the bus came soon and was very comfortable. 

it's not that my Japanese has gotten really great and I feel confident buying bus tickets. I still sound like a baby and don't understand everything, but I'm used to that now. I expect to make mistakes and not understand. I thought about how someone who grew up as sheltered as me was absolutely comfortable taking a bus alone in a new place. it's because I got there in small steps. just last summer I traveled with a coworker to an island in Korea. no reservations for that night, basically no Korean ability, and no problems. unlike that travel partner, I feel less stressed if I have no defined plan. no expectations to let me down. remaining the pathalogical optomist that I am.
but really, I just slowly got used to doing things this way. it's funny because lately I have a hard time with not knowing what I'll do in spring. I keep telling myself I don't have to know. it's okay to choose later. I don't know what I'm doing tonight, why does that matter?
and here, with that attitude, I was pleasantly surprised. I get to share a good sized tatami room with a Japanese girl working here who was so excited to get to study English with me. I expected to be in a 12 person dorm room or something - like the hostel in Tokyo. maybe this hostel has smaller rooms. I'll see tomorrow.
and tomorrow becomes today:
I wonder if I'll get to blogging about last summer while I'm here. of course I intend to, but I also have a lot I'd like to share about here and now. and feel up to writing as things are happening because I have the opportunity. I'll see how it works out. 

I'm temporary help staff at a youth hostel this month. I do 15 hours of cleaning a week in exchange for a room here. yesterday was my first day working. it was easy work, but it gets really hot and I was exhausted before my three hour shift ended.
I ended up surrounded by a group of staff, all asian, all awesome, all the time. A girl from Taiwan is leaving today, a couple of the guys are leaving soon, and two people I barely met left yesterday. I befriended a Korean guest who arrived yesterday and we had a big feast last night. one of the staff cooked for a bunch of people twice yesterday. I love when people cook for me but feel like I need to contribute something in return. maybe I won't eat out as often as I thought, I'd prefer to share meals with staff and guests here. I forgot how much I missed eating with people. another reason I don't like living alone. 

anyway, I'll find my routine soon and visit some onsen around town, go hiking, find the beach... it's too easy to hang out in the hostel a lot. 

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