Last known location: London, England

Su Zhou Hao, Seasickness, Sushi and Singing

We made the 46 hour journey across the Sea of Japan to Osaka on-board the Su Zhou Hao ferry, which was pretty good as ferries go! It had capacity for 270 people, but there only about 40 making the trip so it was nice and quiet. We booked to share in a 4 bed cabin, but because it was so empty we had the cabin to ourselves which was a bonus.  The ferry had a restaurant, a bar and we seemed well set… until we got out to open sea. Then the sea slowly started to get rougher, the waves gradually got bigger and the boat started to sway more and more. We were fine for an hour or so of this but eventually we gave in to the sea sickness and ended up in our bunks at about 6pm, where we stayed, barring a few brief trips to the outside deck, for the next 24 hours!  Luckily we didn’t actually succumb to throwing up but it was a close call on several occasions!  Frustratingly, on the last day on the boat, we spotted anti-seasickness tablets at the reception desk.  Not much use to us by that point!

Early on the second evening we moved into inshore waters between the southern islands of Japan and suddenly everything was fine again, and we managed to finally haul ourselves out of bed. We both sampled the Japanese baths (separate rooms for males and females with jacuzzi-like baths in them) and wolfed down some dinner – both pretty hungry by then!

We made it to Osaka fairly early the next morning and found our hostel. Accommodation prices are much higher in Japan so we’d booked beds in dorm, but we seemed to be the only people staying in the whole place, so again we had the room to ourselves. Found an all-you-can-eat sushi lunch nearby so we filled up on that. I managed 16 plates, and thought I’d done quite well, but the man next to us had had 37 plates and was still going by the time we left. Getting his moneys worth!

Explored Osaka Castle that afternoon which had good views over the city, before we headed home for a few beers in the sun on the balcony of our room. It’s sunny and quite warm here (sorry if that makes anyone jealous!).

On Friday we had a quiet morning, wandering around the streets local to our hostel before heading to an udon noodle restaurant for lunch.  A popular thing here in Japan is to have realistic plastic models of the dishes that the restaurant offers on display in the window, so the language barrier isn’t too much of an issue so far.  We both filled up on very tasty noodles before continuing to explore Osaka on foot.

Another thing we’ve noticed here is that the hotels offer two types of rates – sleep or rest.  Rest seems to be a shorter service, and people can drop by in the daytime to get a couple of hours “rest”.  We’re not sure if it’s the area we’re staying in or just a common part of life here, but we’ve already seen a few very glamorous women take gentlemen into these “rest” hotels, though I’m sure the last thing on either of their minds is resting!

After a quiet day we thought we’d explore Osaka by night. We had our first taste of Sake at the hostel beforehand, which wasn’t the nicest, although I did by the cheapest available at the nearby corner shop, so maybe that didn’t help! The first place we visited was a South American bar on our road, which looked a bit like a shed from the outside, but had room for about 10 inside. The barman was from Peru, so Gem impressed me again with what seemed like fluent Spanish whilst chatting with him! There were 3 Japanese business men sipping tequila next to us so we struck up a conversation with them too. It was a bit long winded though – if I wanted to say something I’d tell Gem, she’d tell the barman in Spanish, and then he’d pass the message on in Japanese, so we didn’t get very far! They had all been to the UK several times and seemed particularly impressed with Piccadilly Circus and The Cotswolds! They then left and were replaced by a very drunk older man who insisted on buying us a drink, but according to the barman he was bemoaning the demise of the Japanese empire!

We ended up staying at this bar until nearly midnight, partly because Gem was DJ-ing and treating everyone to Take That’s greatest hits on YouTube, so our exploring hadn’t got very far. When we did eventually leave the barman took us down the road to Karaoke bar which he recommended. It had separate private rooms for each party so no-one else had to endure our awful singing! It cost about £15 each for an hour, but you got free drinks included with that, so there were frequent calls downstairs for more cocktails to be delivered! Gem managed to wangle an extra half an hour free too, as it took us nearly that long to figure out how to use the little song selection machine. Our singing wasn’t the best – there is a video but I’ve been told I’m not allowed to put it on here, so you’ll just have to use your imagination! We finally staggered home at about 3am, via a small shop selling deep fried octopus balls, which seem very popular in Osaka.

Enjoying Japan so far, very different to China but probably in a good way. Fewer people everywhere, no shoving, and everyone’s polite! The conductor on the train to Kyoto this morning turned and bowed to the carriage every time he entered or exited! They also have very fancy toilets – with seat warming and bum washing facilities!  Much nicer than China!

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