The Day We Caught the Train

source // imgur

source // imgur. Capsule Hotel.

Wednesday, 2 January, 2013

Osaka, Japan

“What’s not to love? Especially when you see how I party. It was epic. The run I was on made Sinatra, Flynn, Jagger, Richards, all of them look like droopy-eyed armless children.” – Charlie Sheen

Our four days in Osaka simply turned into one ginormous, endless party – particularly New Year’s Eve. On that night the entire group were separated, and everybody came back with their own unique tale, each story eclipsing the last – Pete, for instance, woke up alongside a tramp on the floor of a bus shelter in the middle of nowhere.

I, on the other hand, accidentally ended up on a 7.30am train leaving Osaka – yes, that is how I started my 2013.

After waking up with rather large hangovers, we headed to Kyoto on the day of New Year’s Eve which is an hour long train ride from Osaka (I clearly just couldn’t get enough of trains on this trip). Kyoto is a really soothing part of Japan – we saw some magnificent temples there, such as Zenrinji-temple, as well drank traditional tea alongside some local Geishas. I would have loved to have stayed longer.

However, it was New Year’s Eve and we were keen to party. We got a crate of beers and started drinking on the train heading back to Osaka at around six o’clock – drinking the entire journey. We then went back to the hostel, in which, half of the group were staying (not my half) and drank there for another few hours – we were already getting pretty wasted and it was only around nine.

I am going to take a momentary step away from the story, and share the details of our accommodation because that, too, is pretty interesting. Basically, we stayed in a capsule hotel – now, how best to describe it?

On the outside, your ‘room’ looked like a washing machine which was stacked on top of another guest’s washing machine (in my case, a very old Japanese man that seems to always be sleeping, every time I went to my pod he was there and asleep – come to think of it, I hope he is not dead).

While through the room’s window (it can’t really be labelled a door) it felt like the inside of a coffin, which offered space for nothing more than yourself and a bed sheet – good job nobody was on the pull, could you imagine bringing a girl back to that? “Oh, that guy? Just ignore him, he’s always asleep, or dead – he won’t disturb us.”

It was actually a pretty cool experience to be honest, and I can sleep through pretty much anything when drunk – so, it supplied my needs just fine.

Ok, back on track. We soon left the hostel and headed to a bar in town, which was very pleasant. The atmosphere was buoyant, as you would expect, and thankfully not overly crowded – it was busy, but not squished inside a small, broken lift with eight fat people kind of busy, as most bars on New Year’s Eve usually are.

We stayed there for two drinks and then discussed our options – it was at this point that our scripts all started to alter. Outside the bar, we began talking with an old, hippy guy, who could tell good stories. Chrissy and Luke opted to stick around with him, smoke flavoured cigarettes and listen to tales of chasing purple elephants through fields in India – it was a tempting options. The rest of us, however, chose to head to a club instead.

The club was packed, and while my drunken naivety had me delighted with the evening’s offer of free drinks all night (at the cost of an extortionate entrance fee, of course), on hindsight, this deal wasn’t overly beneficial considering the amount of alcohol I had already consumed. I got as drunk as I’ve ever been, and at some point, within my ‘must drink as much as I can to get my money’s worth’ mindset, I lost everybody I know.

Still, I stumbled about, partied, and stumbled some more; right up until the club closed. I remember feeling a weird array of pride at being one of the last few standing. The sense of achievement I assume one gets when they complete a marathon, although my triumph was undoubtedly more fun. Sadly, none of my other friends made it to the end.

I was drunk, alone, and lost. I did know that our capsule hotel was pretty far away though, and that I would likely need to take a train. As I was leaving the club, I noticed a black coat that resembled Cteve’s in the cloakroom, assumed he must have forgotten it and took it with me. I would later find out that it wasn’t Cteve’s coat at all – hopefully no police officers read my blogs.

I don’t really remember getting there, but, somehow I made it onto the platform station – my next move was uncertain. The station was completely empty, of course it was, it was 7am on New Year’s Day. I then saw one girl standing on platform three. She didn’t know it yet, but she was about to become my saviour – that much I had figured out.

I approached her and then froze, I suddenly remembered that I had no street names or area memory at all – the only useful piece of information that my brain could offer was the name of our accommodation. Thankfully she knew it, and told me that I was on her train. I was saved!

We waited on the platform for around thirty minutes, taking us to 7.30am. Drunk was beginning to be chased by hungover and my washing machine bed was suddenly becoming my greatest desire.

source // wikipedia

source // wikipedia

I decided that it would be impolite to sleep through the journey though, plus, I assumed she was probably in a similar state to myself. Therefore, decided to indulge in small talk. As it goes, she was Korean and an English teacher – if I wasn’t still blowing beer bubbles, we could have probably had a decent chat.

I can’t recall much about our conversation, I just remember that the journey seemed to be lasting far longer than I anticipated. However, I quickly just dismissed that to drunken impatience and didn’t think about it too deeply.

When we arrived, I looked at the clock and it was now 8.30am. Something wasn’t right, the train I wanted doesn’t take an hour. I then saw the platform sign that read, ‘Kyoto’, the name of the place we went to the day before. Seeing that signpost made me extremely confused – I even questioned if beer can make a person hallucinate.

We then got off the train, and she asked, “Which temple would you like to see first?”

I was lost for words, ‘come with me’ evidently translates to ‘let’s go sightseeing all day’ – sure, it isn’t entirely impossible that I may have accidentally agreed to do this while drunk, but still, this was not ideal!

I simply shrugged my shoulders to her question, to which she replied, “How about Zenrinji-temple? I’ve heard that one is pretty.” Yes, the exact place I visited yesterday – wouldn’t that be splendid?

I was too polite to explain what a terrible mix up this arrangement was, and that I’d actually rather just find a park bench and collapse on it. Perhaps I could get away with sneaking in some shut-eye in the temple? This was probably the last thing anybody would want after their heaviest night ever, and yet, there I was.

I did have my limit though, and in that moment, Cteve’s coat was beyond my limit – it was big, bulky and I simply didn’t care to carry it around for a full day temple tour with no sleep. There were lockers in the station. I put money in and the machine ate my coin, I tried for a second time and the same thing occurred.

Having lost two coins while trying to put another man’s coat into a locker in order to see a temple that I saw yesterday, all of which with a creeping hangover, I couldn’t help but curse. That’s right, I swore loudly and aggressively at an inanimate object.

My new friend saw my pain and suggested I go back and get some sleep – yes, that would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?

She accompanied me on the train back, even though I begged her not to. I felt extremely guilty that she was wasting the morning of her holiday going up and down train tracks with me. However, she insisted. I guess I must offer riveting conversations when I’m drunk; who knew?

Once back in the correct area, I grabbed a taxi. The driver somehow, against all odds, knew where to take me. I was finally back! I immediately dived straight into my pod and slept until 3pm – much to my friends’ concern. I disappeared for the most part of New Year’s Day, they probably thought I was dead!

As for the coat, well, it turned out that it was actually Pete’s. So I wasn’t a thief at all, and instead, just a great guy.

Happy New Year!

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