Shinkansen it up!
Trip Start Apr 25, 2006
76Trip End Apr 25, 2007
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I'd forgotten how heavy my bloody pack was - the ground remains its preferred location. I certainly hadn't forgotten how munted my feet were, but was reminded nonetheless with every step taken. Luckily I have a technique for scrunching my toes up that makes the pain less excruciating, and I continue to fool myself into believing "tomorrow" I will finally have a rest. Well you know what they say... tomorrow never comes!
Anyway, when I made it to the Shinkansen (SuperExpress) I discovered that only smoking seats were available. I had to take one for the team seeing as I had already organised to be met at the other end, so my crappy aisle seat in the smoking caboose (car 16) was the reward for not booking ahead. Fast? Well, the 60 minute trip to Yokohama I did the other day was covered in about 10 minutes by this baby, and going around corners the track even banks (slopes) so that a higher speed can be maintained. In fact, it's so fast that all the chain smoking businessmen also seem to be up to the task of smoking as fast and as much as possible so that they reach their quota before their stop. However, unlike my previous adventures in Indonesia with a bus full of Gudang-smoking madmen, this was a more bearable venture, complete with efficient smoke extractors and even a couple of air purifiers! Not much to see thanks to a bit of rain and clouds, but noticed there are a surprising number (for me) of tunnels along the way. The train never seems to go up and down - just through.
I got off the Shinkansen at Shin-Osaka (New Osaka) and looked for a train to Osaka. I bought some "Lemon Water" which purported "This lemon refreshment is suitable for rehydrating after perspiration". Not quite as catchy as "Puts back what the sweat takes out", but I got the gist. I noticed a sign on one of the carriages said "Ladies only" - I discovered later that this was because Osaka men are a little too fond of a bit of grabass during the peak hour squash. When I finally arrived at Osaka (which was guesswork more than anything else thanks to lack of english signage) I found an exit and found a phone to call Keiko. Let's just say mobile phone coverage still needs some work on the rail network, but eventually we spoke and discovered the awful truth - Keiko was at Shin-Osaka, where I had just come from! She came back and found me ok, so we jumped on the subway for the long journey home. At this stage it was peak hour(s) of course, so I kept my eye out for dodgy old men playing grabass in the extremely cramped quarters. None to report I'm afraid. We got to the end of the Midosuji Line and transferred to the Senboku Kousoku Line for a couple of stops, then waited for pickup by Keiko's lovely mum, Kayoko. I was then able to fill my empty stomach with a long-awaited meal of Nikujaga (beef & potato dish), talk a while, hit the shower and then crawl into bed.