Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Back on the Road

Interview with Ileana Ruxandra Dascalu

Here you are, after two and a half years after you finished your round the world trip, traveling again and writing in your blog. Why?

Because we like it and because there are many people in our lives that like to “travel” with us. I thought of starting a new blog just for our trips, but decided to continue to write in this one. We are still traveling around the world, though in small steps.

Why Japan?

It was Mihai’s favorite country while traveling around the world, it is an old love of mine and the rate yen to dollar was incredible when we decided and bought the airplane tickets. And because it was the first country, we didn’t experienced it at its full value. We didn’t take enough pictures. Long list…

First time in Japan you had all your steps planned. How is it going to be this time?

The opposite. We had an airbnb room for the first night in New Chitose, Hokkaido. For the other night we just finished the day earlier and looked for a hotel. But this works only for Hokkaido. Later in the trip we will have to be more proactive, because the fall color season already started and everybody travels. 

How do you cross the language barrier?

Now is easier then ever. The technology is incredible, Google pinpoints your position and there are apps for recognizing kanji or translating words. Not that they work all the time, or that I know what words to look for, they don’t separate them, but between these, and the human gestures, and what I know, we get the gist of it. In Utoru we arrived at our choice of hotel only to find it closed for the season. The man was saying something that I couldn’t understand, but his hand showed me to go along the street and I will find a hotel. I started walking and soon he was in his car driving ahead of us to show us another hotel.

How did you learn Japanese?

Twenty something years ago I took lessons for three years, one hour a week. In June I started brushing it on the internet.

I understand that Ioan learns Japanese too. What is his level?

Several years ago, he was watching anime and liked the sound of it. I would say a degree of beginner. As you probably know, Japanese has two alphabets, hiragana and katakana, and uses kanji, those squiggly lines. Prior to this trip we were studying daily and he learned whatever the book was teaching him, useful for an exchange student, not for a tourist. We hope that this trip will be incentive enough to continue to study Japanese.

What about his school?

Being homeschooled makes the trip a lot easier. While on the road he works on Calculus homework for his AP online course. We rented a portable internet device. The rest of it is on hold until we’re back home.

What about Mihai’s job? Does he have so much vacation?

I think no job can give us as much vacation as we would like. He took an unpaid vacation that he  asked for 6 months ago.

Where are the girls? Why are not they here with you?

They have their college lives. Maria, as sophomore, declared mathematics as her major. She has a five course load this semester plus working on her novel. Ileana is a freshmen in illustration. She adapts to different standards and requirements. They are unperturbed by the fact that we are on vacation and they are not.

How does it feel to be on the road again?

Normal. The condition of a one bag trip excuses us from many artificially imposed societal norms. With the ryokan’s conditions (rooms with heating elements, extra blankets and futons, washing machines) even our meager possessions seem too many. I’ll tell you more after we have to carry or use them. We’re back into our self assigned roles Mihai taking care of the tools of trade, lodging and logistics, myself with luggage, laundry. Ioan is asking questions and sometimes becomes frustrated, we don’t understand his haiku-like communication or he is the sole subject of our parental attention.

Are you going to drive all around Japan?

No, we rented a kuruma (car) only for seven days for the Hokkaido island. The places that we want to reach are remote and the bus schedule is unreliable. We bought a JR-pass for two weeks, giving us unrestricted access to any Japan Railroad trains (there are several other lines) for no other extra-cost. An app helps us find the trains for any hour and any direction. We will activate it when we move to Honshu, the main island.

Do you have a high-point of the trip?

Hiroshima. I was born on the day that marks its bombing.

We’ll stay tuned for the real blog-posts. Safe trip.

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