Japan – Day 2.5

Day 2

I woke up in the middle of the night at the Cross Hotel Osaka and quickly found, to my chagrin, that going back to sleep was not in my immediate future. This is where the drastic time difference started to wreak havoc. Though it was 2 a.m. in Japan, my body was obviously still significantly attached to the time zone it knew and loved at home, where it was 1 p.m.

Hmm…what to do, what to do…

My first inclination was that Reed might like some play time, but when I tried to wake him up he grumpily pushed me away and said he was trying to sleep. Well okay then, jackass.

Screw that. Intent on not doing anything further to annoy Reed as well as not squandering one solitary moment of my trip, I opted to venture out to do some exploring on my own. I wasn’t quite sure what the scene was like outside, or what time everything closed down or whatever, but I could sense that the Osaka night wasn’t quite finished through the limited information I could take in from the hotel window. So I figured what the hey…I’m only wandering alone out in the middle of the night in a foreign country – what could go wrong? I hurriedly put on some clothes and freshened myself up to get this party started. I’m not even sure if Reed registered that I was on my way out or not, and wasn’t really interested in letting him know.

I walked out of the hotel to find the streets of Osaka still alive and kicking. I stood out front for a little bit to take in my surroundings. I had no idea what my plan was or where to even attempt to go. I just had a vague idea in my head of walking off some of my restlessness. But before I could even take a step, I noticed a guy coming over to me. He said a greeting (I guess) that I didn’t understand and then continued with other unknown utterances in Japanese while I stood there tilting my head like a confused puppy and giving him a blank look. He quickly caught on to the fact that I had no idea what the hell he was talking about and pulled out his phone to utilize Google Translate. Oh, the wonders of modern technology! He wanted to know if I wanted to go to a bar. Sure! He indicated that I follow him, and though I was mildly nervous about following some strange man to an unknown location, I did it anyway because I’m just stupid adventurous like that.

As we navigated the crowded side streets and started taking various turns, I make a point to pay strict attention to our path. The potential perils of gallivanting off somewhere with a stranger in the middle of the night are obvious enough, but on top of that I also happen to have a terrible sense of direction.  While there was always a minuscule chance that I’d end up vanishing and/or murdered, I was much more worried about just simply not being able to find my way back to the hotel. To kill several birds with one stone, I started sending texts to Reed to document my trail.

LateNightJourney
The guy who did not kidnap me.

They didn’t go through because I didn’t have cellular service, but they were at least saved into the text message for me to either refer to on my way back, assuming I am alive, or for the authorities to retrace my steps. I also took a picture of this person from behind for good measure. In hindsight, none of that would’ve helped in the least bit in the event of my demise because everything was stuck in my phone and I’m sure that would’ve disappeared along with me, but it felt proactive and intelligent at the time.

We didn’t end up too far from the hotel. It was probably 7 or so minutes before he leads me into a building and upstairs into a nearly empty bar. We commandeer a table and he gestures to me about a drink. I respond in the affirmative and soon after am presented with some random beer. Then we commence mostly staring at each other quizzically and trying to make small talk through his phone.He asks me a question about sex with a Japanese man – I think to ask me if I’ve ever been with one. I couldn’t be sure if that was his way of trying to hit on me or if he was just asking matter-of-factly. He didn’t press either way. I thought it was odd but I wasn’t majorly uncomfortable.

Several moments later a few more guys came out of the woodwork – people who work there that he knows, I surmised. I wasn’t really sure if the bar was open or closed or what its status was, but in either case it was only us there so they sat around to chill as well. Some of them knew more English than others, but communication was still tricky and stilted.

But no worries, because if there is one thing that Japanese people love, it’s karaoke. And soon enough we had a jam session in our midst. And just like that, I’m having the time of my life in a bar in Osaka, Japan, at 3 a.m., drinking and listening to Japanese men who can barely speak English sing round after round of American pop and rock songs. Absolute magnificence. A definite once-in-a-lifetime experience. Notable renditions included Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You and Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On a Prayer. You truly have not lived until you have heard Japanese men singing these songs.

It was probably a little after 4 a.m. by the time I started to feel like I should wrap things up. I excused myself to the restroom and then came back and indicated somehow that I ready to get my tab and roll. My tab came to 18,000 or so yen, or $160ish American dollars. YIKES! Between the drinks and the karaoke rounds I sang, those bastards got me. Take THAT, stupid American tourist! But whatevs. I had a good time and I really hadn’t spent any real money yet, so it was worth it. I paid, wished everyone a good night, and left to try to find my way back to the hotel.

Back outside it was still dark, but the sky was at the beginning stages of lightening. The streets had cleared out for the most part, but they weren’t completely desolate. I felt maybe the slightest bit more intimidated being totally alone, but I didn’t have any problems. Between my memory and my notes, I didn’t have too much trouble getting back to the hotel.

What a delightful random adventure that was.

Reed was still asleep when I got back to the room. He probably had never even known I left. I still wasn’t tired at this point, and as dawn was now upon us I figured I’d just go on ahead and start readying myself for the day, starting with the marvelous shower room.

ShowerRoom
The marvelous shower room.

The Case of the Missing Phone

You never really know what it is to suffer until you drunkenly accidentally leave your cell phone in the back of an Uber. (First world problems.)

That was to be my unfortunate fate on Friday night after hanging out with a girlfriend and getting a tad bit inebriated. I woke up Saturday morning to a missing phone that I surmised I must’ve left behind in the Uber I took home.

I have a program I can use to track my phone (thank you, Lookout Security!), but it was going straight to voicemail at this point when people tried calling it so obviously the battery was dead. I proceeded to try to track it anyway, but as expected, the site was having problems picking up a signal.

Trying to resolve this issue with Uber was like pulling teeth because it can only be done via email and while customer service is fairly quick to respond, it was a hefty delay in them being able to get in contact with the driver, which became frustrating. I was 95% sure my phone was left in the Uber because I would’ve needed it at least up until the time I ordered the Uber to go home in the first place.  There was a 5% chance I may have left it at the bar, but I didn’t think so.

The problem was that Uber was giving me the runaround about being able to reach the driver to actually confirm whether it was in fact in his car or not. I guess he wasn’t working at the time. Meanwhile, I can’t really be sure if I in fact DID leave it in the Uber, although I’m quite sure I did, or sure that even if I did leave it there, that it wasn’t kidnapped by a subsequent rider.

Lookout actually got a signal from it and sent me an email around 4:15 p.m. on Saturday to tell me they had it “near” a certain address in a town about 20 minutes away. My first thought was maybe that’s the Uber driver’s residence or something, but when I looked up the homeowners on Facebook  – an innocuous looking married couple  (I am an expert stalker, thanks) – the husband was definitely not the driver. So then I thought maybe they had taken the same Uber after me and picked my phone up for safe keeping or something?? I don’t know, but I was desparate. I relayed this information to Uber and asked if by chance they could tell me if the driver lived in the town in question at least, but they didn’t answer. I mean, I guess that makes senses in terms of the driver’s privacy, but I didn’t really care about that at the moment.

So what do I do? I drive to the house, of course. I ring the bell and the wife answers the door and I apologize for bothering her and the odd circumstance, but does she know if anyone in her house has a random cell phone? She looked at me like I had 3 heads and answered in the negative. I smiled and thanked her and did a prompt about-face. My bad.

So clearly the Lookout GPS is not exactly accurate, but it did give an error margin of 20 meters or so and unfortunately this happened to be a community of townhouses. So while my phone was not actually at the poor little hassled housewife’s address proper, it was probably in fact somewhere in that neighborhood. I briefly toyed with the idea of knocking on a cluster of doors, but I wasn’t quite ready to stoop to that level of obnoxiousness.

So alas, I returned home still phoneless and frustrated, starting to resign myself to the fact that I’ll just have to have my phone company replace my phone through my insurance plan, which would cost me a deductible but still be cheaper than buying a new one. I wasn’t particularly worried about pictures because I back them up constantly through Dropbox and thus rarely even keep pictures on the phone itself as I can just access them through the Dropbox app, but I knew there was some stuff that was stored on the phone itself and thus would be irretrievably lost and a pain to reproduce. Like my calendar information, to-do lists, etc.

Oh well. No one’s fault but my own.

I woke up Sunday morning to Lookout advising me that they had tracked my phone around 10:30 p.m. the night before to ANOTHER town about 35 minutes away from me this time. So my phone was on the move, it seemed. But getting farther away. Not good. I was still holding out hope that it was actually in the Uber itself and that some random person had not found it and taken it. I emailed Uber my findings and concerns in an exasperated tone, explaining how the chances of recovery fade for as long as they cannot get in touch with their own employee and he possibly starts driving and accepting more rides which exposes my phone to people that might be tempted to pilfer it if they find it in lieu of him.

Lo and behold, I was able to breathe a sign of relief when they wrote back a little while later and told me the driver had in fact recovered my phone. They asked where I lived; I gave them my address but added in that  I’d be willing to meet him wherever. They wrote back that he had my address, but also gave me a contact number for him to make arrangements. At this point it was later in the day and pouring rain and I was relieved at least that I knew where it was so I figured I’d just wait until the next day to call him somehow and make arrangements to get my phone back. I’d already gone over 40 hours without it, I could survive another half a day.

How pleased was I when, 2 hours later, my doorbell rings, and it’s the driver with my phone. My precious baby! He insisted it wasn’t necessary, but I gave him 20 bucks. He came all the way back to my house to return my phone in rather nasty weather. It would’ve cost me more than 20 bucks plus a fair amount of time, effort, and inconvenience to replace my phone, so it was more than worth it to me.

CRISIS AVERTED.

I am glad I got my phone back, of course, but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world being out of touch. I wasn’t dare going to try to attempt any outings without a cell phone, so I stayed close to home all weekend and got the chance to partake in an interesting series on Netflix – Slasher. Rather gruesome, but intriguing and spooky and a storyline that seems all over the place at some points but ends up making sense in the end. I liked it.

In other news, this morning I ran in a Memorial Day 5K. I allegedly ran 3.1  miles in 25-something minutes, which I have to doubt the validity of being as running is not at all my forte. But I’ll take it. It was all for a good cause. Elliot ran in it too. I don’t think I’ve seen him in person since St. Patty’s Day. We’ve texted here and there since all our near-drama or whatever to call it, but his response rate is still severely lacking. Even still, we were able to have friendly conversation in the midst of other people, which is the way it should be.

Aaaaaaaaand, I reset my Tinder account. Starting fresh. I had accumulated upwards of 710 matches yet obviously I’d not gotten anywhere substantial with any one of them, so what’s the point? Reed and I were still matched on there. Unfortunately, I felt the need to wistfully peruse our 9-month old conversation and that made me reluctant to even reset my account for some reason – like I wanted to remain connected to him somehow. For what, I don’t know. I highly doubt he’s even active on there, being as of a few months ago it appeared he was back with his homely red-headed Marine ex-girlfriend. He probably deleted the app from his phone but doesn’t realize that you have to actually delete your account BEFORE you delete the app, otherwise your profile will still show up even if you don’t have the app on your phone.

But I managed. I reset it. Goodbye, Reed. We haven’t spoken since November, so, I had nothing to look forward to there anyway. Just memories of a hopeful era that has long-since been incinerated to ashes. I did take screenshots though. UGH.

Japan – Day 2

Day 1

I woke up on the early-ish side to a bright, sunny, glorious day. I was momentarily taken aback to open my eyes to a room that was not my own, and then it suddenly hit me: I’m in Japan. Reed was still asleep; I let him be because I wanted him to rest and I really didn’t know what his routine was. Besides, I wanted to get the chance to primp and look my best without him being privy to all my beauty secrets. It’s a girl thing. I showered and dressed and made myself up and then kind of just waltzed around the house on my own, exploring some.

When Reed eventually awakened and got his morning hygiene routine going, I took the opportunity to venture outside and check out the neighborhood some in the daylight. His house was about 30 feet away from some train tracks that brought a train rumbling through a couple of times or so an hour, but it wasn’t particularly loud or disturbing, thank goodness. Seemed to be a pretty decent neighborhood. Clean and quiet and scenic.

Japan
The tracks.

 

Japan2
Cute houses in the hills.

I only had a vague idea of what the plan for the day was. I knew we were going to Osaka, but I wasn’t really clear on how far away it was or how long we were staying. I learned last minute that it was several hours away by train ride and we’d be staying overnight, so I had to hurriedly pack. Part of me was not so keen on having to do any heavy traveling again being barely half a day removed from a 12-hour flight, but I set my feelings aside in the spirit of going with the flow.

My spirits lifted exponentially once I saw that Reed came out of the house holding a beer for himself and a chu-hi for me, properly equipped with koozies. A chu-hi is a Japanese flavored malt beverage drink very similar to the American Four Loko. That told me he was in the mood to relax and chill out and make a whimsical adventure of our journey at least, so that put me in a better mood. One great thing about Japan, among the plethora of great things, is that public alcohol consumption is not illegal, and thus we were free to comfortably partake in our respective beverages along our half-mile journey to the train station.

A chu-hi.
A chu-hi.

Reed was delightful in showing me the ropes in navigating the Japanese metro system. I suppose it’s pretty standard issue despite being in a foreign country, but I’ve not taken public transportation much since my high school and college days so I’m pretty much a novice at it. We had to take a couple of metro trains until we finally arrived at the station which housed the bullet train, or shinkansen. There, Reed secured us 2 tickets for the train that would take us to Osaka. I later found out they were a plenty hefty price – I think they were a little over $100 U.S. dollars a piece, which he graciously paid for without mention. I told him I’d pay for them on the return trip.

The bullet train was a pleasant experience. It was a 3+ hour trip, so that gave Reed and I chance to connect some and I got to see some beautiful Japan scenery.  The seats were comfy and a cart came around every so often filled to the brim with snacks and chu-his. We had our fill of alcohol along the way, but it wasn’t to the point of drunkenness…just a giddy tipsiness.

Once we arrived to our destination station and disembarked, I think we had to take one more normal metro to get us within walking distance of the hotel. Or perhaps we were already within walking distance of the hotel as it is. I can’t remember.

In any case, we arrived and checked in to the lovely Cross Hotel Osaka. I had absolutely no input into the hotel selection process, which didn’t bother me a bit as I’m not astoundingly picky when it comes to accommodations, but Reed made a good call. I always especially enjoy boutique hotels as opposed to the ubiquitous chain. Boutique hotels have character. And Cross Hotel Osaka was all about character – it wasn’t particularly bright and smiley and inviting…it was dark and moody and atmospheric. It was almost a little scary, with its black walls and blood red striping on the doors in the hallways. Something different though, at least.

CrossHotel
Cross Hotel Osaka – our hallway.

It was mid- to late-afternoon at this point. Reed and I got to our room and settled and then chilled out a bit while we decided what to do for the evening. Dinner was definitely markered in on our agenda for some time later in the night, but to whet our appetites beforehand we decided to head to a bar or something to continue getting our drink on and maybe a snack.  In the meantime we were just lying together on the bed talking and having not a problem in the world. Great day so far.

Until I jokingly made reference to an incident involving a Chinese fighter jet toying with a U.S. plane. And yeah, I  made it in an impish sort of way to pick at Reed the Navy pilot, i.e. in a manner as to suggest that the U.S. military got punked by the Chinese military, but in a completely light-hearted way.

Well, Reed took serious offense to my comment to the extent where he snapped at me very abrasively. I don’t remember exactly what his initial comment was, but he went off on a rant about how I don’t know what I’m talking about and I don’t know anything about the U.S. military.

Hmmmkay.

Well that caught me off guard because that was the first time that he had ever been mean to me. Scathingly, willfully mean. It hurt my feelings and it’s not my normal style, but it was within hours of being my time of the month and he was being a first-class prick, so I got a little teary-eyed. I didn’t, like, start boo-hooing or anything, but that did sting me a little.

I apologized, turned away from him, and then we sat in awkward silence for a little while as he looked up local bars. He kind of thought out loud at some points as if he wanted feedback, and I would give him short answers that I’m sure made it clear that I wasn’t really in the mood to talk with him. At one point he DID actually make a half-ass apology, but I didn’t really wanna hear it at that point and I made it known. Which never helps matters because at this point I’m just tossing the volley back at him when he was trying to make amends, but again, IT WAS ALMOST MY TIME OF THE MONTH AND I AM ALLOWED TO BE SALTY FOR AS LONG AS I WANT!

But I would never let a sour attitude get in the way of drinking, so once he found a place he was satisfied with and figured out how to get there and was ready to go, I dutifully followed him out of the hotel and we embarked on probably the quietest, most awkward 10-minute walk that has ever taken place in the world. Very physically together; very mentally distant. And it showed, as he walked slightly ahead of me most of the way and I lagged behind. But again, to his credit, he would make intermittent efforts to communicate on the way – like pointing things out to me about our surroundings.

It wasn’t long before the bar was in sight and I felt a sense of relief at the opportunity to be around the energy of other people that would help to dilute the tension between Reed and I. Success!

Or not. The bar wasn’t open yet. We were like 12 minutes too early. Round 2 of forced-company awkwardness as we stood on the street looking dumb waiting for the bar to open. Not speaking, not making eye contact – like strangers.

This episode lasted until Reed made some comment on something or other and I replied back that I’m actually not stupid, which he never actually said to me, but I guess that’s just how his mini-tirade made me feel for some reason. He came over to me, stood right in front of me and explained that he never said I was stupid and then apologized again and gave me a kiss. Aw.

We debriefed each other right after on why this became a “thing” – the moral of that story was that Reed takes it severely personally when he thinks anyone is trash-talking the American military. Duly noted. Very Type-A, prima donna-ish characteristics that I guess I should’ve expected from a Navy pilot and been careful about.

After that, all was well. We let bygones be bygones and by that time the bar had opened and so lots of ingestion of alcohol ensued. I can’t remember if we ate anything there or not, but we had several rounds of drinks and did a shot or two. I got pretty inebriated, so exactly when we left is a mystery to me, but I know that Reed had selected a restaurant within walking distance that he wanted to go to and we were headed there. Only…he had trouble finding it. Most likely because was drunk. And maybe a little bit too that it was his first time in Osaka, but probably more so because he was drunk.

Osaka
Osaka!

But we had not a care in the world because we were drunkenly meandering around the neon-lit streets of Osaka together, giggling away when each successive person we tried to have direct us to this restaurant didn’t really seem to know what we were talking about or where this place was. We pressed on for a little while despite the odds, but then eventually hunger got the best of us and we decided to head into another random restaurant we happened past.

It turned out to be a yakiniku restaurant. There was a small grill pit in the center of the table, and the servers brought out bite-sized portions of raw meats of our choosing, along with various chopped vegetables and rice, and we grilled them right there at the table. Reed took care of all the grilling, and the result was absolute delectable-ness.

After that we made our way to another bar…God knows where because I was intoxicated and know nothing about Osaka but it was all within walking distance. We weren’t there for too long though because eventually I started feeling worn down and suggested we head back to the hotel. There, we secured ourselves a couple more chu-his from the lobby area or wherever and then returned to the room for a little more drinking and a little more sex. And passed out. The end.

Day 2.5