Skip to main content

Return to Osaka

Hello Osaka, we're back!

For once we were fully packed and ready to go when B's brother arrived to give us a lift to the airport. But when I opened the door I was hit by a hyper-excited bundle of brown and cream fluff. Michael had brought Kita (that's Japanese for North and Finnish for jaws) with him. We had taken Kita over to stay with Michael's two Cavalier King Charles spaniels the previous night , but it seemed like forever for our two-year old dog.

When Michael dropped us off at Sydney's International Terminal Kita was left staring at us bewildered and hurt that we were leaving him behind. It was heart-wrenching. Only a week poor pup.

After yesterday's sunshine the weather was now grey and drizzly. There was only a short queue at the Jetstar check-in counter; the staff were still preparing themselves for the morning rush. B's Malaysian passport took a long time to process. The check-in attendant was not aware that visas were recommended for Malaysians travelling to Japan. Fortunately, we were all prepared.

While B sat inside and tried to wake up I climbed the steps up to the observation deck and watched the busy operations of the airport unfold. Then it was breakfast at the food court. I purchased Subway for lunch to take onboard, but we decided that B was safest eating the hot airline meals.

Much of the airport's retail area is closed for building works and none of the remaining shops were of much interest. We were starting to feel excited about the trip as we passed through immigration. One of the things I like best about travel is that it's an opportunity for B and I to spend our time together away from all the demands of everyday life.



Our gate lounge, 54, was tucked away at the back of the airport with no view of the runways.It detracts a little from the experience, lessening the anticipation. Eventually we boarded. B claimed the window seat and for once I didn't fight her for it. The aircraft seemed fairly empty with plenty of free centre and aisle seats. There were quite a few young children. One of these was to delay our departure by 40 minutes. The family of a sick and screaming baby elected to remove themselves from the flight, and as a consequence their luggage had to be unloaded from the hold. I'm not complaining, perhaps we will be in that situation one-day.

The procedure completed, we backed away from the gate and taxied to the runway. The customer service delivered her welcome to the passengers at a breakneck speed. A safety demonstration, then we were ready for take-off. We raced towards the south, over Botany Bay, then turned northwest over the Royal National Park, which we could see through breaks in the cloud.



Once we were above the cloud layer the seatbelt sign was switched off and the first officer introduced himself over the PA. He warned that the meals service would be delayed by 20 minutes due to expected heavy turbulence. That's something I don't like to hear, but it was expected. I had checked the turbulence maps this morning and seen the band of rough sky between Sydney and Rockhampton.



It was rough! A couple of times I could imagine a Monty Pythonesque hand of God reaching down to shake the aircraft. Incredibly, B slept through it all and commented that it was a smooth flight! Fortunately we were seated over the wing, which is definitely the best place to be for the turbulence sensitive like me. I still found most of the flight to be uncomfortably bumpy.

The crew did come through and hand out water. We were served water by Beer. That's what the Thai flight attendant's badge said. He claimed it was a nickname as his Mum drank a lot of beer while pregnant with him.

Apart from the frequent bumps as we passed through high cloud or between conflicting patches of weather the first few hours of the flight were quite dreary. We hadn't hired a video on demand unit and only had the cabin screens for entertainment. What we weren't aware of was that Jetstar have begun charging for earphones. If I had known I would have brought some from the pile I inherited on our last few flights. We decided to pay for a pair.



B watched the Steve Carrell movie "Dan in Real Life". What is it about Steve Carrell and Jetstar? I think we've watched something with him in it on each of our previous Jetstar international flights. That's not a positive, by the way!

We were excited to see the latest (and unseen by us) Doctor Who Christmas Special listed in the Jetstar magazine. Unfortunately, the schedule seems a little mixed up.

Once "Dan in Real Life" finished the map appeared on the screen and I was shocked to see that we were still over Papua New Guinea, that we hadn't even crossed the equator. It felt like a long flight.

So I continued listening to music on my MP3 player and chatting with B. Over Guam the plane started shaking with more vigour: it always does. Then, with the sun low in the sky the cloudscape opened up and the flight calmed down. Suddenly it just felt right. This was what flying was about: watching the clouds below turn pink and slate grey in an evening sky as we glide smoothly above. I ceased checking my watch and just enjoyed the scenery outside the window.



Eventually the slate grey sky turned black and there was nothing left to see. Still two more hours of flight and B grey restless. With half an hour to go we finally began our shaky descent into Kansai International Airport, built on a man-made island. Finally, touchdown!

We exited as quickly as possible, though there is a new delay as foreign visiters need to have their fingerprints and photograph captured at the immigration desk. It really slowed the long queue down in comparison with our previous visits.

When at last we had exited with our baggage we quickly checked the tourist brochure stand, then made our way to the train station. It was another ride in the Darth Vader train, the Nankai Rapi:t. Leopard trip seats, a cathedral like ceiling, oval windows and the space helmet front, the Nankai Rapi:t is, without doubt, the weirdest train on the rails.





Under an hour later we were walking on automatic to the Cross Hotel in Shinsaibashi. Quickly checked in, then walked out again to find some dinner. It was past 10pm now and most shops were shut, or about to. We ended up eating udon at the same place as last time. Satisfying! Then a quick stop to a convenience store for some fruits in jelly, as we couldn't see any other place selling fruit.



Finally, back to the hotel room and it's wonderful bathroom, pouring bowls of hot water over our heads as we sat on the little plastic stool. It's good to be back in Osaka, but it was a long tiring flight to get here.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A lazy day at the beach

It's 2am and somebody is still setting fireworks off on the beach in front of the hotel. I can't see the explosions as I have the window shuttered, but I can still hear them. I've wanted to have a lazy day and today was the closest I got. I woke up in the night from a very sad dream. Dreams follow crazy paths, but this one resolved itself as so. An entity had been causing disruption of computer systems around the world. It turned out that this entity had emerged from the computer networks and had been struggling to gain access to more computing power so that it could live. The entity had taken on the persona of a woman. The protagonist who had "defeated" the entity discovered that it was alive, spoke to it. Ultimately fell in love with her. But his prior actions would lead to its death. As a gift to her he downloaded his memories so that she could experience life even as she died. I know it sounds like a pulpy sf or technopunk plot, but dreams are about feeling

Insanity at 40,000 feet - Part 2

We could relax for a moment. The gate lounges at Kuala Lumpur's LCCT were crowded, but our gate was not yet open. Once it was we quickly made out way outside for the long walk to the aircraft. The terminal offered no air conditioned respite from the tropical weather outside and we were perspiring on both sides of the gate. It's a pity that taking photos on the tarmac is forbidden, because the tropical evening sun cast a beautiful orange-gold light. Our flight to Singapore was on an AirAsia A320, the workhorse of a low cost carrier. The legroom was shorter, but still adequate and the width felt greater than their longer cousin we had just flown. Alex sat at the window and was excited to see the world outside, chattering loudly. Captain Raj gave a detailed, but clear, explanation of the flight, listing runways and routes like an aircraft enthusiast. We launched into hazy grey skies that were soon dark for a very typical hour long flight to Singapore.

The sound of running water

We made it home from Osaka. There is a special feeling that comes when your arrive at your house after a holiday. It is utter relaxation. No longer do you need to worry about other language or customs. There is no need to look up directions, to plan out your day, to journey between sights. Then again, you now need to clean up your own mess, to make your own bed. Rather than eat out you need to cook your own dinner. The shower is weak and the toilet doesn't wash your bum. And you need to wake up early tomorrow morning in order to spend a day at work. You are back to your old routine. Looking back upon this holiday in Japan I've decided that the theme of running water has applied to each of the days. Sunday - Arrival in Osaka - washing ourselves Japanese style Monday - Matsuyama - water from the hot springs at Dogo Onsen Tuesday - Takamatsu - waterfall at Ritsuen-koen Wednesday - Tsumago - streams of water throughout the town Thursday - Takayama - the sounds of rushing water e