I am now an official Costco Gold Star member. It was like getting my driver’s license or something. I felt so official and grown up. I mean, kids don’t have Costco memberships; only adults do, right? But here is a bit of a contradiction. I am 19 years old, living in a foreign country by myself, with a Costco card and absolutely overjoyed about this little piece of plastic with my name and an absurdly bad picture of me on it. And on top of that awesome little card, they have the most amazing shopping carts system I have ever seen. The carts are on the third floor with the parking lot, so you go up there, grab one, and the go down the little sloped moving paths like at the airport. I wouldn’t be so thrilled if that is all it was though. When your cart’s wheels hit the downhill conveyer thing the wheels lock. And, as soon as they are off, they unlock. How cool is that?! How does it work? Is there some field generated underneath? I don’t know, it just seemed so amazing at the time. One of those little wonders worth appreciating, or at least I thought so.
Now to the contents of Costco. Although the multiple stories make it seem quite larger, I’m not even sure if it is as big as the ones in the US. How often do you see two story Costco’s? It seemed like one of those giant Ikea buildings (which they just so happed to also have a few miles away).
The first thing I noticed is that they also have those snow white, super soft fur things. I wanted one but, alas, it was like $100. I have always wanted one of those for a couple of reasons. First, it is just so soft and warm. Who wouldn’t want to wrap up in it? Secondly, how posh Victorian Britain would you look with a giant fur blanket thing? Feel like a king or something.
Anyway. Moving on. I got some basic stuff like deodorant, shampoo, blah, blah, blah; then I went downstairs to the food department. Heaven. Problem is, its kinda like being a kid in a candy shop with not a dime to your name. Not only in the literal since of a budget, but also because I only had a backpack with me and was trying to limit what I bought. Not to mention my lack of refrigeration.
So I grudgingly, I moved on to the dry foods. First thing I picked up: ramen. Just like in the US, there is nothing cheaper to live on than instant ramen. Unfortunately it is more expensive here at more than $.50 per little container. I bought a package of 15, but I’m thinking I’ll get the 40 pack next time. How can you go wrong with really cheap ramen?
I had wanted some good desserts, so that was the next isle I headed to. This time I was truly a kid in a candy store and still, even more unfortunately, bound by my aforementioned restraints. I picked up 3lbs of chocolate almonds, 3lbs of wrapped Hershey’s chocolate and 42 truffles. All for the same amount I spend on chocolate normally per month. Hopefully I don’t eat it all out in a few days with it sitting right next to me all the time. It’s not easy to stop at just 5 or 6 or 20 chocolate almonds.
And right before I checked out I picked up the more practical apple juice and peanut butter filled pretzels. The apple juice was only practical in the nourishing sense (or possibly for a workout), but I didn’t realize that at the time. I realized that after checking out. There I was with my backpack STUFFED full with 2 gallons of apple juice, a thing of pretzels, and a box of ramen still in the cart. We had a problem. Well I picked up one of their huge shopping bags for like a 100 yen and managed to fit everything but a gallon of juice in it. I could carry it all now, but I had not considered the weights involved. I think this can be equated to getting too much food at a buffet. It doesn’t look like that much on the plate, but once faced with the task, you find that optimism may have played a part in your decisions.
I weigh, roughly, 130 pounds.
2 gallons of juice: 16.5 pounds
Almonds: 3 pounds
Chocolate: 3 pounds
Pretzels: 3 pounds
Shampoo/Conditioner: 7 pounds
Ramen: 2.5 pounds
Deodorant: 1 pound
Prunes: 3 pounds
Soap: 4 pounds
Total: 43 pounds
That is about a third of my body weight and I had a 30 minute walk (unencumbered) to the first train station, two switches, and a 15 minute walk home.
Needless to say, I did not make that trip back in the same time it took to get there. About half way to the first train station, as I waited for a light to turn and turn again while I rested, I realized this was going to be one of the more arduous experiences. The problem was not the weight in my backpack; it was the bags and gallon I was holding. By the time I made it to the Kasai (home) train station, I could only go about 50-100 feet before I would have to put them down and switch arms (as the gallon was lighter than the bag). I had to set goals, make it, then sit and look pitiful for a few seconds before picking them back up and moving on. All the locals were looking at me like “What the heck is wrong with you…that looks heavy.” I sometimes felt like assuring them that it was quite heavy and, if they had nothing better to do, I was not averse to having someone carry a bag or two.
None the less, I did make it home and am now reaping the rewards. I had ramen on Sunday after I got back, almonds, chocolate and a truffle that night, and pretzels today. Worth it. (despite the sore shoulders, forearms, and legs)