Friday, January 3, 2014

Japan, Osaka- Currently 2.1.14 Writing about 20th -23rd December, 2013

After a successful return to Osaka, we were pretty tired. I was so happy to be back at J&F- the memories!- but Ange and Mankee weirdly got like, the worst room ever. I’m serious, their beds were really fucked. Mankee’s was like lying on railway tracks. Try and imagine that- you probably won’t come close to how uncomfortable it really was. She slept on the floor the first night.

^^ Osaka, from HEP 5 Ferris Wheel.^^

After angsting about whether to stay or go (my room was fine and I wanted to stay), we met Takumi the next day and Ange and Mankee got single rooms like me. From there, they were content and I was happy. This place is super cheap but I’m fine with it- unlike Stay in Gam it has good kitchen facilities but the showers are… a bit of a nightmare. I mean, the showers weren’t great 3 years ago… but they’ve just sort of been neglected, grown some mould, locks are broken (one of the showers has the entire door broken off and just sort of… hanging there) but I guess you get what you pay for? It was certainly okay and it’s constantly warm in there so even when the water goes hot/cold, it’s not too distressing. Still, instead of buying a new TV and Nintendo, perhaps Takumi should have been investing funds into new showers… just sayin’. [Note: Takumi did update the showers- they were closed for repairs the Friday before Christmas but it’s a bit like polishing a turd… they need replacing!]

The next day… we pretty much didn’t do anything except sleep in, go online and venture out to go food shopping. Glorious food shopping! I was dying for Bacon and Eggs, which by the way, was amazing. Angela, who has been sampling Baskin and Robbins around the world, fell prey to the local at Aeon. That night, I got invited to go out with some J&F people and accepted, sort of forgetting that once you go out in Osaka, you go hard because there’s no going home. (Literally, the trains stop at about 1 so after that you just stay out until 5:30am when the next trains run.) 

^^ Going out the first Saturday- Kei, Austin, Kon, Mika & I. Maika must have taken the photo?^^

Kon and Maika’s friend Mika had friends who were at some bar, so we ended up at this Indian bar. Talk about weird… it was a total rip off to get in, it was tiny, the music sucked, there were a bunch of foreigners who…  I don’t really know how to describe it. It wasn’t a winning atmosphere for me. We got free curry at like 1am, but it is not a place I would ever recommend. Then after angsting about Austin trying to get money, two Italian dudes (including one who looked like a cross between Stefan Salvatore and Justin Bieber, aged about 20 years more) came out with us. We were tossing up clubbing v pubbing and in the end, went to a restaurant where we could get all you can drink for 800Yen. (This to me, was a great deal- or would have been… but that later.)

I tried a lot of Cassis, Fuzzy Naval, a cocktail I ordered purely because it was called “Whitey Bluey”, Sake (bleh), Ume-shu (a plum flavoured Sake which sort of tasted a bit like cherry or faint cough medicine which I quite liked), and a range of others. The alcohol content in them would have been quite small, so I went for quantity as quality was unavailable! (By the end of the night I was only mildly tipsy at best so there really wasn’t a whole lot of alcohol.). Awkwardly, the Italian guys who came with us  ordered all this extra food. They had about 5 dishes, and at the end, we split the bill. Maika and I were like… Why are we paying for their food?, but felt we couldn’t really say anything. I thought it was pretty shit of them not to chip in more since they clearly bumped the costs up a lot for all of us.

^^Maika, Kei, Kon & I ^^

We got back and I slept in more than I thought- Sarah and Laura arrived the next day so I sent them a msg with their room details and my room number if they needed me, then went to sleep and woke up at like 2pm! By the time I went to look for them, they’d left and I didn’t really know what they were doing. We tried to msg them but in the end, gave up and went to Uniqlo and a new local shop ourselves instead. By the time we saw Sarah and Laura, it was that night. They went up to the roof and decided to head to bed early, then we got invited to Karaoke. Well… despite logically knowning it was a foolish idea to go drinking and singing (read: screaming off key) until 5am when we had places to be the next day… well, I think you can guess what happened.

^^ Too many 5am returns... this one was Karaoke: Pol, Carly, Angela, Kei, Austin, Maika.^^

Mankee decided she wouldn’t go, so it was Ange & I, Maika, Austin, Kei, Pol, Masami, Hiroko and Ayaka. It was hilarious because Ange and I were clearly the untalented ones with singing voices. (It always seems that way- every time I’ve been out for Karaoke in Japan, the Japanese are great singers as are the foreigner’s who’d come out with us.) They were clearly unprepared for Angea’s ploy (Not unlike the song “Razzle Dazzle” from Chigaco, for any Chicago fans.)  They realized we couldn’t sing (I got kudos for rapping a bit- and I owned everyone else there, except for perhaps Ange) but were absolutely gobsmacked when Ange just yelled into the mike and screamed passionately.

J&F Karaoke: Austin, Pol, Ange, Masami, Ayaka, Maika, Hiroko, Kei & I. ^^

 (They were nearly in tears when Ange screamed the climax in Aerosmith’s “Don’t want to miss a thing” and Austin kept on laughing and saying “You girls…” and then trailing off in shock. I did an excellent duet with Pol for Aqua’s Barbie Girl- I was Ken and he was Barbie. Suffice to say the night was a lot of fun and we didn’t get back until 5:30am, which did not bode well for meeting Reiko at 11 the next day. (We got there at 11:30, but in our defense, we got genuinely lost coming out of the train station.  

^^ I sure do love me some hiking boots.^^

Mankee met Sarah and Laura and went to Umeda early with them to do some shopping, as I previously mentioned we met at World World Buffet and Ange and I were late after doing a fair bit of wandering trying to find the right building. World World Buffet is in the basement of the Hilton complex (not to be confused with the Hilton hotel which is right next door- which we did.) We met Rieko and Noriko there with the others and quickly launched into the buffet- we were ½ hour behind the others and had to make up for time. Unfortunately there was no soft drink this time (eschewing the “Apple Vinegar juice” which- WHY?) so I drank water and loaded my plate up with cheese pizza, which was quite nice, and some curry, which was quickly eaten in favour of more pizza. From there we did a bit of dessert sampling (jelly, cheese cake, ice cream, fudge, white chocolate fountain) and unfortunately, Ange and I did not have time to get in the crepe line.

^^ Rieko, Noriko & I.^^

After that, we did some shopping but there was a bit of a misunderstanding. Sarah announced she wanted to buy waterproof boots, and I chimed in “me too!” thinking of my Kmart black leather boots which leak water and pretty much went mouldy. Sarah apparently did not find this strange, but I later realized she meant hiking boots. (Can you imagine me buying hiking boots?!) So we looked in a few shops and Sarah got some men’s hiking boots as women’s sizes were too small. They still looked fine though and she was happy with them. From there, we went on the HEP 5 Ferris Wheel, a red ferris wheel on top of the HEP 5 shopping centre complex. We went with Noriko and Rieko and it was fun, especially when we remembered you could play music with an iPhone or iPod and plugged Sarah’s in.

After that, Noriko had to go, so we said goodbye and then went shopping in Don Quixote, a big store near HEP 5. Don Quixote is one of the best stores to shop in, being both cheap and having so much amazing stuff. Angela bought a giant panda head, Mankee a Japanese Ogre Onesie, and I bought… I can’t even remember but I’m sure it was junk, wonderful, wonderful junk. One thing we did observe, as the great low prices of alcohol, in such fantastic different types. It was exciting, and the start of a great and terrible plan.

From there, we headed to Umeda Sky Building, bags and all. It was beautiful at night, but very popular (especially with the markets below. I say “markets” very loosely, because it looked to be a series of about 10 german food/wine stalls and a few knickknacks… nothing too impressive but then I didn’t look particularly closely. Perhaps it is clearer to say nothing interested me there) so the lines for the elevators were long. Umeda Sky was beautiful as always, but it was very cold. We had fun playing with the fluro lights (our teeth looked quite frightening) but I think there are many things I would not do for a third time, and Umeda Sky was one of them. Still, the views were lovely, it was great to see Rieko again, and we went home quite happily to sleep.

xx Carlos the tired

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