Here is Jude at Thomas Land. We went here a couple of months ago, and it was almost disastrous! This is what happened:
So, one nice beautiful morning, about 2 months ago, I woke up and thought 'What a beautiful day...let's go to Thomas Land!' Some friends of ours had been there a few months before and told me all about it. And, it sounded just perfect for Jude, who worships Thomas the Tank Engine. We got dressed and decided to take the train there instead of driving. We had heard that if you drive and get caught in traffic, it can take up to 4 hours to get there. So, we decided to play it safe and take the trains. (We had to transfer to several different train lines to get there.) We only had about 180 bucks worth of Yen (Japanese money). We figured they would probably take credit cards to get into the park and at the gift shop, so we didn't stop to get more Yen from the ATM-- big mistake (I am foreshadowing here, people!). We drove our car to the Seiyu (Japanese Wal-mart) and parked. The Seiyu is across the street from the train station. Keep in mind that in Japan parking is NOT FREE! It costs about 200 Yen per hour to park. So, I kept reminding myself to keep at least 2,500 Yen for parking fees--just in case.
We went to the train station and purchased tickets...it was about 3,000 Yen for each train ticket, but Jude was free. We got on the train and transferred about 3 different times. We almost got on the wrong train, but some really super nice Japanese lady was there to help us out, as usual. As we were sitting on the train, we realized that we were going up in elevation. There was snow on the ground, and our ears kept popping from the pressure/elevation change. I knew Thomas Land was at Fuji-Q Highland Park, but it never dawned on me that Thomas Land was in the foothills of Mt. Fuji. As we kept going up and up and seeing mass quantities of snow on the ground, I realized that we were not dressed appropriately. Jude was wearing a light jacket and long sleeved shirt with blue jeans. I was pretty much wearing the same thing except I had my woobie or blue jean jacket on. We only had one hat and no gloves. Husband only had on a t-shirt, light sweater and jeans. But, we figured we could buy Jude some gloves, a hat, a Thomas sweatshirt, and a Thomas Jacket at the gift shop and just put it on our credit card....so we thought.
We arrived at the park and it was cold! It was as cold as a witches boob in a brass brazier! The wind was howling and we were freezing. We went to purchase tickets to enter the park, and they didn't take credit cards. That's right, no credit cards!! Holy shit! We had already spent about 6,000 Yen for the train tickets, and we would need 6,000 Yen to get back home and another 2,000 Yen to get the car out of the parking garage. 'Oh shit, I royally screwed this up,' I thought to myself. Luckily, because it was wintertime and colder than shit, the price to get into the park was cheaper than we had originally thought, THANK GOD! We got into the park and found Thomas Land- an area of the park converted to look like the Island of Sodor. As soon as we found the gift shop, we realized they DON'T take credit cards EITHER!! WHAT THE FUCK!! Aren't we on the planet Earth where credit cards are used everywhere??!! Apparently NOT! WE are in JAPAN...where cash money is king, not credit cards. Husband left Jude and I at the gift shop, where it is warm and cozy, to go find an ATM machine. Keep in mind, Jude was in absolute heaven. Every Thomas the Tank Engine he had ever wanted was there at the gift shop. I wanted to buy him a sweatshirt or blanket to keep him warm, but I couldn't...I didn't have enough money. I felt horrible...like the worst parent in the entire world. Here we were... at my son's most favorite place on the face of the earth with every toy train he could ever desire, and I couldn't buy him an effing thing because I didn't have enough freaking money in my purse. I felt like a failure as a parent. I felt like I couldn't provide for my family. I felt like SHIT!! I was so stressed out at that point, but Jude had no idea. Jude was still smiling from ear to ear and had no idea of our dire situation.
After about 15 minutes, Husband came back with horrible news...the ATM wouldn't accept our ATM card. HOLY SHIT! I searched through my purse and Husband emptied his pockets. Between the 2 of us, we found an additional 2,000 Yen in change. I emptied my other bag and found a granola bar, 2 small bottles of water, some fruit chews kid's snack, and a fruit roll-up. Keep in mind, we ate breakfast at home and it was already noon. We were starving, too!
As we walked around, we realized that each ride or attraction cost anywhere from 100-450 Yen for each person to see or ride. And, since Jude was only 3 years old, a parent was required to ride with him on every ride/attraction. So, with the additional change we found, we decided to let Jude ride every ride one time, because that was all we could afford. We felt so bad! After an hour of Husband and Jude riding rides-- I just stood in the freezing cold and took pictures-- we could no longer suppress our need for food. We went to the little cafe and shared 5 fried chicken wings, an egg sandwich and few glasses of water. Jude was still hungry, so I gave him the granola bar from my bag along with the juice treats. He was satisfied and ready to go ride more rides. Husband and I were still hungry, but we decided to save the remaining food in my bag for Jude. After all, I have fat reserved and Jude doesn't.
Okay. I'm not rich by any means, but I have never, EVER gone hungry in my entire life. I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with hard working parents that were ALWAYS able to provide for Sister and I when we were growing up. I have never known what it's like to have to do without food or warmth, and I feel especially thankful for that. And, my parents have always told me that as a parent, my job is to provide for my son...no matter what! So, here we were at Thomas Land with barely enough money to survive the day. I really did feel like the worst parent on the planet! We were at my son's favorite place, and I couldn't afford to feed him or buy any toys for him or even enjoy a ride with him because I didn't have enough money. In that moment, I felt what many other parents feel on a daily basis...I felt POOR. I don't want to sound like a spoiled brat, but in that moment I felt humility. I learned just how mothers and fathers across the world feel when they cannot provide food and shelter for their family. Okay, okay, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic about it, but I really did feel poor and I didn't like it. In fact, I hated it!
So, we managed to let Jude ride every ride once. The weather was getting bad and we could no longer take the cold. Our teeth were chattering uncontrollably and our hands were turning blue. It was probably about 32 degrees and the wind was howling. It was snowing off and on, and we couldn't take it any longer. So, we left. We bought our return tickets and realized we only had about 2,000 Yen left. We didn't have enough money to get the car out of the parking garage. Oh shit! Luckily, Husband remembered that if you buy stuff at the Seiyu, they will validate your parking ticket. And, Seiyu takes credit cards--THANK GOD! So, we got on the train and realized that we had missed the rapid train...it took us 2 hours to get to Thomas Land, but it took us 4 hours to get home. We were hungry again and bought a snack at a convenience shop at the train station and shared it between the 3 of us. We finally made it to the Seiyu after 4 hours. We ended up buying about 100 bucks worth of crap we didn't need just so we could get our car out of the parking garage. We finally made it home around 10 PM, and we were starving!
I have totally learned my lesson from this experience. Now, I always carry an extra 10,000 Yen in my wallet, just in case. And, mark my words, I will never let my family go hungry or be cold again!
Just anther day in Weenie's World!