Stuck in Osaka
Osaka Travel Blog› entry 4 of 23 › view all entries
I woke up around 7, had some tea and decided to explore the airport a bit while I was waiting to get out of there. I made friends with a couple of other typhoon refugees (Steve and Heather) that were diverted here from a flight from Seoul. They were in the textile business in New York, and had been sourcing product in Korea. We went to the Starbucks in the airport for coffee, then found a place where we could get a shower. It was only 600 yen at a place called "Refresh" -- and trust me, it was well worth it!
I met another refugee, Abby, at the Refresh. She was student at the University of Tennessee and was on her way to Hong Kong to meet her boyfriend. We got booked on the same flights to Taipei and on to Hong Kong together, so bonded that way. Not wanting to spend another six hours at the Kansai Airport, Abby, Heather and I decided to take a train to the city for lunch (Steve decided he was not the adventurous type and stayed behind at the airport). What an adventure!
We had to clear customs and immigration and then caught the train to Osaka City. It was 895 yen each -- about 9 dollars. I learned that the airport was built on a landfill in the middle of Osaka Bay across from the city. We crossed a bridge over the bay into the city and it was quite beautiful. The rest of the ride was not as scenic -- just a lot of urban sprawl.
The city center was called "Namba." It was crowded with tall buildings -- offices, hotels, and shopping areas, and lots of workers. Osaka has 2.5 million people, and is the fourth largest city in Japan. We walked around a bit looking for a restaurant for lunch. All the restaurants had menus with pictures on them so we could see the kind of food being served. We decided to stop at one that looked very authentic. We had to check our shoes at the door, were led to a low table and sat on tatmi mats on the floor. I ordered a large bottle of Asahi Dry beer for us to share and we started trying to decipher the menu. Abby went first, and pointed at a particular dish and asked what it was. The waitress said it was "Kim Chi" -- and poor Heather let out a big sigh. She had just spent a week in Korea -- and now finds that we wandered into a Korean restaurant here in Namba! It was too late for us to change places though, because if we did, we would not get back in time for our planes. So, we just ordered another beer and enjoyed a Korean lunch in Japan! Abby and I had Kim Bop -- a delicious dish with rice, vegetables and beef served in a lava bowl, with a raw egg on top -- and Kim Chi, of course. Heather had beef strips which she also enjoyed.
The train back was very easy and fast. I am so glad we did this trip as I would have gone stir crazy if I had stayed at the airport that long. The other bonus was that I made two new friends -- Heather and Abby.
We got back through airport customs and found Steve and our hand luggage at the JAL lounge. I got to meet Bill Walton there -- one of the Portland Trailblazers NBA team. He is so tall! Really a nice guy -- he was headed to Beijing. We talked white water rafting for a bit, and then it was time to head to our planes. Heather and Steve were booked on a plane to Los Angeles at 5:30pm. Abby and I had a 5:30 flight to Taipai and on into Hong Kong at the same time.
Our flight to Taipei was on a Boeing 747 -- and they put me up in First Class. I ate a bit, and then passed out as I was dead tired.