Japan – the journey towards Nihon

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Osaka Castle

This post follows the prelude that I posted quite some time back. Man is it hard to put your mind to one thing and see it through in today’s life , just way too many distractions. But anyway here I am typing on my partially non-responsive ant raided keyboard. Wonder what stokes theses ants into ruining my keystrokes. If you see some missing y’s ou know the reason !

 

I have to admit that I faced significant pressure from my parents to cancel this long planned trip because of Visa issues. Biggest one the I was unemployed and preparing for my GRE.  When I tried calling up a travel agency, the lady who picked up started grilling me with questions like – “How do I know you will come back?” – I politely asked her to buzz off. Funny characters we have over here trying to needlessly augment the already exaggerated fears in the Indian public regarding traveling abroad without agents’ help.

I managed to get my Visa sorted with my dad’s help from his company’s travel desk. Cost me some 2k overall, 500 being the visa cost. Would have done the consulate work myself but the agent’s processing fee was cheaper than return tickets to my jurisdictional consulate in Chennai from Hyderabad. Again big thanks to my father for providing all the documents for financial capability, and standing as my sponsor. I didn’t have much to show on my bank statements after leaving the first job at the voldemort of financial services  in 8 months.

Hyderabad to Tiruchirappalli (aka Trichy)

I booked my ticket to Osaka from Trichy with AirAsia as it was significantly cheaper than one from a metro like Chennai. Took a night train to Chennai from Hyderabad on 16th of May 2015. Reached in the morning and leisurely took the local to the airport only to find out that the connecting flight I thought I booked at 1 in the afternoon had left at 1 am!

Point to note : while planning the bigger parts of your trip , don’t forget to recheck on the smaller ones!

Expensive lesson learnt, paid 7000 for a 4 hour taxi ride to Trichy. The cheapest flight was 12000 , more than the price I paid for my ticket from Trichy to Osaka. Thankfully I had more than enough time as my flight was at 1130 pm. The driver told me he was gonna use the money to get some rims for his car – nice chap was happy for him. One man’s pain pays for the next man’s alloys.

I reached the Trichy airport very early. It didn’t feel much like an airport though. Not much bustle. I talked to the security guys who let me in. Spent close to 5 hours just loitering around and sleeping like Mr Hanks in the Terminal.

Finally the time came for me to go through the Visa checks. I went up to a gentleman in one of the counters. Started speaking to him in Tamil – I knew enough to get by having spent 5 years studying in the number one greatest very very first class college in Chennai. He seemed to be extremely suspicious of me , he couldn’t believe that I was travelling alone to Japan. For a moment I thought I’m gonna have some trouble. Then he saw that my passport was issued in Hyderabad. He questio
ned me as to how I knew Tamil if I was from Hyderabad. I told him that I had studied for 5 years in Loyola.

“Woh Loyolaa vaa!”

 

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Craft to Nihon

His expression and demeanor changed with the utterance of that one word. Another man came running from the left. They asked about the college, how
much were the fees, how hard is it to get admission and so on. Then with smiles and great respect he stamped my passport and bid me well. That day I understood the full weight of importance and reverence the folks in Tamil Nadu have for people who have studied in Loyola. I’m sure I wouldn’t have got such royal treatment if I told them I’m from Harvard or if I was the crown prince of England.

 

The flight to Kuala Lumpur was around 4 hours. The stop over in KL was around 8 hours , which I spent just walking around the terminal, browsing on the free wifi and sleeping. Many people working at the airport were Indians, I could hear Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu around me.

 

The flight to Osaka-Kansai airport was good. First time one a twin aisle airplane. It was interesting to see the difference in conversational style of the airhostesses towards the Japanese natives and towards others. Sat beside a good natured Japanese man, Tabu it think. Turned out to be the drummer for a Japanese punk rock band Easy Grip. His eagerness to converse with me in English by using his mobile phone to translate words was something that echoed through my entire trip in Japan.

 

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Tram ride to Arrival

 

 

 

It was along flight about 6 hours as far as I remember. I slept through quite a bit of it. The Korean style food I had prebooked was nothing to write home about. I reached the Kansai airport close to midnight. Took a tram/rail inside the airport to get to Immigration. There were a long queues, took close to an hour to clear it. But everything was smooth, no hiccups.  Met a young chap from Hong Kong, Hau Cheung. First time I saw him, I could see he was like me, solo traveller. Walke
d up to him, got talking.

 

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Kansai Airport

 

 

We got some sim cards from the vending machine. Got some bento boxes from the supermarket next to the Koban police box. Sat down to eat at one of the far end empty table in McDonalds, but we were shooed away. I don’t blame the waiter , but it was probably the most unpleasant experience I had through my trip. We spent the night in the airport on the benches facing the Koban, looking out for each others stuff. Funny how we come to trust some who we have barely met a few hours ago. We woke up early next morning, picked up our rail passes, bade farewell and went our separate ways. I took a Haruka pass and went straight to Nara via Osaka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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