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News: Boeing rewards shareholders with latest buyback

The board of Boeing has declared the company’s quarterly dividend will increase 20 per cent to $2.055 per share. The board also replaced the existing share repurchase program with a new $20 billion authorisation, up from the $18 billion approved last December.

from Breaking Travel News https://ift.tt/2Co3G9f

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Chapter 19: Fuji Rock

For years I have dreamed about going to Fuji Rock but never did anything about it. Tickets would be announced, I’d wish I could go but do nothing about it, and time would pass as normal. Matt and I had just moved to Minami Alps when tickets were released for the 2017 event, and we were in debt to ourselves but I said no! We had four weeks of unpaid holiday and we were going to take advantage of them. That night I sat down and got crafty with Google Sheets, emerging with a budget for us to travel Japan.

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The 2017 line up was what my dreams are made of

The months leading up to the summer holiday were boring and, honestly, destitute. We spent a lot of time wandering around Minami Alps and took the occasional long and sweaty ride into Kofu city. We did have plenty of time to research Fuji Rock and buy the necessary equipment.

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I searched for accommodation close to the Fuji Rock site but couldn’t find a thing. Apparently, the hotels in the Naeba ski resort are for the rock stars, and the accommodation around the area sell out fast to the people who come year, after year, after year. There are a few campervan companies in Tokyo but the estimation of hire, petrol and tolls (Tolls in Japan are stupidly expensive) was too much for our scrappy budget.

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That’s where all the stars are

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Well, at least I felt good about our choices after reading this

So we opted for the camping option, and oh boy that was interesting. Camping at music festivals is not new to me and I usually thrive with the experience, even when the festival is all mud. Fuji Rock is held at the Naeba ski resort in Niigata. To get there from Minami Alps took a full day; we woke at 5am to catch the first bus to Tokyo, then a Shinkansen, but not one of the fast ones, from Tokyo station. Once we arrived, there were a number of buses going directly to the camping site for 300-500yen, which was a return ticket.

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Even my friends said I look terrible in this picture

We arrived at about 6 o’clock, giving us enough time to set up before the sunset.
When we arrived we were shocked; we hadn’t thought about the fact we would be sleeping on the slopes of a ski resort. People who had been before arrived early to secure the flat ground, and while we didn’t arrive too late we were still left with the slopes. For the majority of the time we were fine; we’d drink heavily and pass out and be woken up again in the morning suffocating in the heat of the tent.

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The slope doesn’t look so bad in this picture…

One thing I did while preparing for the festival is extensive research. I learned that you could use a Yamato service to taki-bin your tent to the campsite, although you need to do this 2 weeks before the festival start, and that you can bring alcohol into the festival as long as it’s in a plastic bottle. Being an Australian, this piece of news excited me so much. You could never do that in Australia, or the festivals that did stopped because selling alcohol is such a revenue raiser.

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The bugs of Fuji Rock

Fuji Rock Festival has 4 days if you wish; the Thursday night is free and anyone can join. Then there are the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights with the main acts. We were stocked up on alcohol, we had some snacks and bedding. We thought we were set.
Here’s where we went wrong: Fuji Rock is either pouring rain, stupidly sunny or beating down upon you with a typhoon. The year we went was pouring rain and we had little rain protection. We bought ponchos but our shoes were saturated and our clothes. My boyfriend made a poncho out of plastic bags, much to the delight of other punters who’d occasionally cheer or ask for a high five. I had a waterproof jacket but that wasn’t enough.

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Okay it’s another bug but you can see how well prepared everyone else is in the background

I cannot tell you how envious I was of the Japanese crowd. They were prepared with chairs for sitting, watching and napping during performances (Seriously, they can nap through ANYTHING), as well as raincoats that completely covered them and rainboots that had a pull at the top so no sneaky raindrops could enter. Whereas we would squat next to them, trying not to sit on the mud, miserable until we’d loaded up on enough alcohol to forget how wet and cold we were.

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We weren’t actually miserable, just cold and feverish and sick of prunish hands

We weren’t miserable the entire time! There is so much to love about Fuji Rock. One thing is the amazing vendors, we ate so much good food and the prices were so reasonable, particularly for a festival with sweet fish for 300 yen, beers for 500 yen and meals for around 1000yen. Even though we packed our own selection of alcohol we ended up buying from the vendors whenever we craved beer or couldn’t be bothered going up the hill again.

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Another aspect we loved was the acts. There were your foreign acts like Gorillaz, LCD Soundsystem and Major Lazer who were all awesome, but we got to see some new acts and Japanese bands. The main stage usually has Japanese artists during the day and I’d recommend checking it out from time to time. We also managed to catch some older bands like Jet, who are more popular in Japan than they are in Australia, and Train.

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Check that poncho

Now, story time. A word of caution if you will. As we were able to bring our own alcohol in, we were able to get as messy as we wanted. The Thursday and Friday night I didn’t drink too much; Thursday I was with friends and Friday the Gorillaz were headlining so I wanted to be in tip-top shape. Saturday night was when the rain really started to pelt down. Aphex Twin was playing at the main stage, someone who I’ve wanted to see for years but was of no interest to my friends. They left me and my bottle of alcohol to go to LCD Soundsystem early. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the excitement of seeing an Aphex Twin show, maybe it was just my alcoholic soul, but whatever it was I got tanked. Towards the end of Aphex Twin, I realised that LCD Soundsystem would be starting and I wanted to catch them. LCD Soundsystem were playing on a smaller stage (This was actually a bad staging call by the announcers, they definitely should have been swapped), so by the time I started to move a huge line had already formed to get there. Why was there such a line? I’m not sure.

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A blurry photo because I was shivering so much (Aphex Twin)

Some other punters, who had arrived at the same time as I did, decided to walk next to the path. We trod through, ignoring the looks of disdain from the people patiently waiting. We went as far as we could then stopped. The bridge to get to the main stage was blocked. Everyone else shrugged and decided to wait, while I had the amazing idea of crossing the stream.

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An actually decent band photo of the XX, who were definitely one of the top acts

Please, please do not ever do this unless you have gumboots or something. In my drunken state, I thought I would be fine. I took two steps into the river in my, previously dry, Adidas shoes and my feet gave way due to the cold. Punters waiting called out to me as I fell face first into the freezing water. Did I give up? No, I took my shoes off and kind of crawled my way along the river and clambered up the other side. I sat, shivering, and put my shoes back on. It took a couple of tries to stand up because my feet were like ice blocks and had no feeling.

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This was at like…..1pm that day

Once I could stand I walked up the mountain to find there was a dump between me and the stage. I’d come this far, I wasn’t about to give up (I don’t think I had the state of mind to check any other entrances either) so I climbed over the trash and then ran into the crowd. I must have looked like a trash monster to the unsuspecting security guard.
I didn’t find my friends that night but I’m pretty sure I told a Japanese man that I loved him, walked around screaming lyrics and thought I’d lost my phone until a girl pointed out it was in the front of my overalls. She also gave me a big hug. I blacked out before I arrived back at my tent, suffering from hypothermia. Luckily my boyfriend returned from his lovely, warm onsen to look after me and keep me warm.

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He really hated me

The next day I woke up sore and sad. I had big plans for the Saturday night and ruined them. We were watching Jet on Sunday when I decided to go to the onsen; the best idea I’d had in 24 hours. Going to the onsen was so refreshing and I definitely recommend a visit. It’s not fancy but sitting in the hot water and feeling clean gave me a second breath of life. I left, tried to have a nap but that hill made it impossible to get comfortable, then met up with my friends again.

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That night we finished our alcohol and ended the festival with a set from Major Lazer. We decided to go to sleep early so we could wake up and beat others to the bus. That night, anytime I tried to sleep I’d feel myself sliding down the hill. The music kept playing until 5am and seemed to hit us right in the face. When the sun was rising and all was quiet in the world, the festival workers came around ringing a bell and saying good morning at 6.30am. Apparently, they really wanted us to get out.

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Spoiler: we didn’t see them in 2018

We waited in line with other punters, the majority of them stressing they were going to miss their prebooked shinkansen. In the line we spoke with a couple who had been to 13 Fuji Rock festivals, they were laden with chairs and rainboots. They told us they packed for both types of weather and arrived as early as possible to get one of the flatter sleeping spots. Once we pulled into the station we said goodbye, they ran to catch their shinkansen while we headed to Nippon Hire a Car for our first Honshuu road trip.

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