Once aboard this powerful white steed, quick as the wind, carrying me towards Osaka, I spent five minutes mentally preparing myself for the scene at arrival, and then a good part of two hours on the excellent iPhone game, Sushi Ninja.
As day turns to night, the sunset today draws me from my game to admire its beauty. Flirting with me through the clear carriage window, it beckons me closer still. Inspired and with a renewed resolve, I rumble through my backpack for non-existent maps of Osaka (I love collecting maps) before returning defeated, to the next stage of Sushi Ninja.
Arriving off an evening train at Shin-Osaka Station, the silhouettes of my backpack and me merge, and I trudge off onto the platform. As usual I look to the ceilings for signs to guide me and as usual I feel like a rock in the rapids, commuters surging past me as I sheepishly gather my bearings.
Having spent just about enough time in Japan to learn to trust the locals, I go full ant-in-a-trail mode, leading me out of the train platforms and into the central areas of the station. Now just the small matter of transiting to the subway lines…now what was the station at my hostel called again? Good thing I saved the page on my iSlow.
Each new city requires a new mastery of ticketing machines, so I spend some time fiddling about until I am issued a metro ticket from a very polite ticketing machine that wishes me a great day ahead. As the saying goes: to get what you want in life you just need to push the right buttons.
I eventually arrive at Bishoen station and boy was I taken aback by the lack of people. My ears single out the engine of a lonely car rolling through the main street; My eyes shift from map to street and back to map; My heart pacing apprehensively at the number on top right of my iSlow screen that read 7%.
Following directions from Lawson’s cashier, I take a left into an alley dark as a dungeon. Contact lenses drying up from the exertions of the day, the two specks of light in the distance materialized into two lanterns of hope either side of wooden double doors. This had to be the place. Everything about the scene was ‘quiet, peaceful and nestled in a residential area’ as advertised.
Feeling a sense of victory, I pass through the wooden doors…
Tips to help you get to your hostel:
- In addition to having the address of your hostel, it is very handy to have printed out (or saved in a mobile device) directions from your point of entry to your hostel.
- Make sure your mobile device has battery remaining (25% at least) when you are on the move. Many a times travelers use their mobile devices for entertainment whilst in a train, only to find that the battery is completely depleted when they need it most.
- To get to the central parts of train stations from the platforms, follow the locals and exit signs.
- It is also handy to pick up a public transport network map at tourist information counters at your point of entry. They are usually located in the central areas of the station/airport.
- Don’t be intimidated by ticketing machines if you must use them. Although they exist to make things faster, take your time whilst exploring the on-screen options.
- Once you arrive at the station/bus stop near your hostel, spare some time orienting yourself and map to your surroundings, and grasp the general direction of your hostel before setting off. Majority of travelers getting lost tend to set off in the wrong direction from the outset and get more and more confused while trying to navigate.
- Make sure your travel bag does not have loose ends that might get snagged (eg. on Bicycles, signs etc.) as you’re walking on the streets. The snag may cause your items within to spill out, or worse still, rip you backpack, causing a great deal of inconvenience, loss of time, and heaps of energy.