Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hitch Hike Video Part 1: Summer 2003


After having converted my old videos onto DVD, here is another retrospection video. This is the tape of the hitch hiking trip Greg and I did up to Hokkaido in the summer of 2003. It's a long tape so I'm splitting it into several parts (with commentary). This is the tape up through our first ride. (Also available on youtube here, if google video is giving you any trouble.)


*We started out from Greg's town in Kusu. The night before Eion, Greg and myself went out to "D-styles", a karaoke bar in Kusu, where we stayed until the early hours of the morning. Then we came back and slept on Greg's floor. Because we spent the night at Greg's apartment, it had been necessary for me to do all my packing the day before. Greg however had to wake up early in the morning to do his packing (we were committed to getting an early start on that day). He turned the video camera on Eion and I while we were still sleeping, and you can see me sleepily sit up, and mumble a few nonsense words of Japanese.

*As you can see from the video, it was a very rainy morning and an ominous start to the hitch hiking trip. Fortunately most of that cleared up by the time we actually started.
The red car outside in the rain was my car at the time. I later sold it to my successor, and he in turn had it crushed down when it cost more to upkeep than it was worth. At any rate it was still a lot nicer than the car I'm driving now :(.

*I said on the camera that my previous hitch-hiking experience was once hitching a ride home from University. This is a slightly mispoken.

--First of all I used the word University because I was talking to two Brits, and in British English I've discovered "College" means a kind of high school. My own Alma Mater, however, can be safely considered a small college by American standards

--Secondly I didn't hitch hike from college to home. I hitch hiked from my teacher aiding experience back to the college dormitories.

This was back during sophomore year. As a pre-requisite to get into the education program, I had to spend two semesters doing volunteer tutoring.
Because this was back before I was lucky enough to have access to a car on campus, I used to take Calvin's taxi service to get there and back every week. (What did they call that service again?)

On my last day, I ran overtime tutoring. And then as I was trying to hurriedly get out the door, my supervising teacher came over to give me a farewell speech to tell me how much they had appreciated my help that semester. And then she gave me some gifts (a coffee mug with the schools name on it).

By the time I got out the door, I was about 20 minutes late, and the Calvin car had long since left.

I thought about calling Calvin taxi service to let them know I was still there. But then first I would get chewed out by them for not being ready and waiting at the given time. And then it would be who knows how long before they got a break in their schedule and were able to come pick me up. And during that time I would have to sit around twiddling my thumbs by the school doors, and everyone would be asking me if was alright and if I had a ride home. And then I would have had to explain that I missed my ride back to Calvin because of their good-bye speech to me, and that would just be awkward all around.

So, I started walking down the East-Beltline with my thumb stuck out. After about 10-15 minutes, an old guy stopped his car and picked me up. He brought me back to Calvin, and I gave him the school's coffee cup in gratitude.

*Eion gave us our first ride to the highway rest stop, and then left Greg and I from there.
Eion and Greg had experience hitch hiking in Japan before, and had figured out that the way to do this was to stick to the high way rest stops. That way people already had their cars stopped anyway. Besides it gave them time to look you over and think about if they wanted to give you a ride. (Otherwise if you're just standing on the side of the road, by the time they decide they realize you're there, they're already driving past you. )

As long as we kept to the highway rest areas, we seldom had to wait more than 10 minutes. (The one big exception would be when we got near the Tokyo area).

* Although ultimately we were headed to Hokkaido, Greg and Eion again drew on their previous hitch hiking experience to tell me that it was no good asking for a ride to a destination too far away. So we would ask for rides in increments throughout the trip. Our first sign was for Honshu. I was given the task of making this sign while Greg finished up his packing, but in the end my sign was deemed too sloppy and unsatisfactory by Greg, so he redid it himself. (Greg had procured a bunch of old cardboard from the local supermarket the night before for the purposes of making signs.)

* The cheesy TV documentary style part, in which Greg invites the viewer to come along on the trip, was all my idea. Greg was a good enough sport to go along with it.
I in turn of course got the idea from Brett, who used to use this kind of thing all the time in our old Calvin era videos. (In fact you can still see Brett's influence in some of my videos these days).

* As Greg says in the video, we had made a brief stop at a Photo booth (or "Purikura", as it's called in Japlish) to take photos of ourselves, which we intended to give out as gifts to people who gave us rides. It may be a bit narcissistic I guess, but we wanted to give out small gifts in lieu of offering to chip in for the gas, and Purikura is about as small and cheap as you can get.

* Through out the trip, in between car rides Greg and I would try and guess how long it would be before we got our next ride. Greg, being the optimist, usually took the shorter time. I usually took the more conservative estimate.
We almost always got picked up faster than we anticipated, and so Greg won the guessing game every time. If memory serves, I didn't win once.

*Shoko was watching this video and commented, "Wow, you're Japanese was really bad in those days. I had forgotten how bad it was when we first met." (This video was taken a few months before I met Shoko).
Actually I like to think my Japanese was slightly better than is indicated on this video, even in those days. I think it was just the pressure of the camera that made me nervous and caused me to flub a lot of it.

Link of the Day
Pentagon Caught Infiltrating the Media with Pro-war Propaganda

1 comment:

inertbat said...

Pretty amazing how safe it is to travel around here, isn't it? I've never hitchhiked before, but from what I hear most people stop because they're worried that you'll get picked up by a weirdo, so they stop first. A friend was once given money and told to take the train. I love the spirit of community here.