第一次和 Kim 到日本，好奇心驅使下跑進柏青哥店（彈珠機店），完全摸不著頭腦如何玩法，卻有著初哥的運氣。我們每人投入 1,000 円，短短半小時，腳下已贏了幾盤鋼珠。以為直接到櫃臺把鋼珠換錢，只換來幾個小膠盒，盒中有片金箔。職員看我兩個白癡，好心領我們到門外，指著後巷神秘的窗口，原來換錢的地方不在店內。見其他人從不同的店出來排隊，這明顯是集團式運作。在小窗口遞入金箔，數數銀紙，贏了萬多円。
九州之旅最後一站來到福岡，打開旅遊地圖，第一樣引我注目的就是競艇場，剛好當天有比賽。入場費 100 円，活動大廳有美少女載歌載舞，包圍的都是老頭子。走出外面草坪，有幾輛流動美食車，以為氣氛會像日本馬場一樣，有大人小孩蹦蹦跳跳的嘉年華會，但只有名副其實水靜鵝飛的競艇池。
賽前大銀幕會播出每個選手的衝刺速度作為參考，Kim 和我每人隨便選個號碼，下注 100 円連贏，再在人頭湧湧的室內二樓免費席看比賽。六個選手戴著不同顏色的頭盔，一至六號順序由內圈排到外圈，共賽三圈，每圈 600 米。比賽一開始，在第一個彎位帶出的選手，一直領先到終點，其他的排名亦沒有太大改變，沒有你追我逐的場面，一點都不刺激。
人加機器的賭博，缺少了隨機性，儘管說我陰謀論吧，肯定十賭十騙。消遣娛樂還是可以，看到身旁的大叔以 5,000 円一注，不禁為他心寒。
Noodles on a Slide/Kimberlogic
Our second day of self-driving in Kyushu was my turn to get behind the wheel and drive the gorgeous, winding country roads. Our first stop that day was the Dream Bridge. The bridge is the main tourist attraction in the Kokonoe area. The bridge stretches over a deep gorge and has a nice view of two waterfalls off in the distance, but as it got later in the morning it became packed of people and lost a great deal of its beauty.
Our next destination and the main reason we decided to do self-driving in Kyushu was Takachiho Gorge. Takachiho Gorge is a well-known place in Japan for both locals and tourists mainly for the waterfall and for being the spiritual, sacred ground where it is believed that the gods descended to earth. Because this place is deep in a rural area and not close to anything, our Japanese friend was very interested as to why we were making the long journey. She was surprised that we knew about this sacred place, but when we told her the real reason we were making the journey, she didn’t believe us.
Ming Hay and I knew nothing about Takachiho’s sacredness; our passion for food always takes us on adventures. We were really taking the long drive to see the countryside and to experience noodles on a slide. Once we arrived at the gorge, we admired the waterfall from above but shortly after our arrival it began to rain, so we headed straight for the noodles on a slide.
It was a small, open aired restaurant with only a few seats at the bamboo slide, but it also had a few tables with bowls of circulating water, for noodles in a pool. We both agreed that the pools were not for us, they weren’t very exciting. Luckily, there was no one sitting at the bamboo slide, so we were able to get a great seat and a view of the whole process.
We ordered two portions of noodles and within a few minutes we had a small, beautiful Japanese lunch in front of us, minus the noodles. The woman serving us then gestured to the little hut at the beginning of the slide to let us know our noodles were about to be served. The bamboo slide had water running down which dropped off into a colander before disappearing under the floor. At slow intervals, a perfect, one mouthful portion of noodles made its way down the slide for us to catch with our chopsticks and dip into sauce before slurping up. If we missed our chance of catching the noodles, they would fall into the colander and the woman would send them a second time, if we missed the second time, we were just given the colander.
Our Japanese friend still laughs at us for driving so far to such a sacred place only to get noodles on a slide. The noodles were tasty, but nothing exquisite, it was all about the delivery process and the experience that made this lunch so much fun and definitely worth the trip!