Sunday, April 14, 2013

Osaka trip

NZ had a work deal to attend in Osaka this past week, so Sal and I tagged along for the trip and another stamp in our passports. I'm a bit envious of Sal, at all of 14 months old, having just three fewer stamps than his mama. Although he won't remember much of the travel during his early years, I hope that he gains a sense of adventure and a can-do attitude about traveling to new places.

Standing on seats. Totally appropriate when you're ONE.
I couldn't have exchanged Sal for a better kid on our travel day to Japan. From the 5:00a departure from Wuxi, a two hour drive to Shanghai, plus time in the airport lounge, and then the hour and a half flight to Osaka, he was a perfect angel. Before anyone goes hating on me, just recall my last flight from the USA with him--I've earned at least one easy flight after dealing with that shitstorm. It was "enough to make me question ever flying back to the states again, until our contract is over", bad. So, I cashed in my easy flight card this time. Could've helped that the seat between NZ and I was open, so I was more relaxed about him bouncing all over the place. He was pleased as punch sitting like a big kid, reading his books, and pulling clothespins off himself.  A while back we discovered that pinching small clothespins on his clothes is a great sit-still activity. He sits there pulling them off and handing them back to us to put back on, so the clothespins made the trip with us.

I know, we're weird brilliant, right?

We spent our first afternoon walking the surround of the Agora Regency-Sakai. The smell of the ocean air was such a nice change from smog ridden Wuxi. We saw truly blue skies for the first time in months, and the sight of the ocean was a little taste of "home". Growing up in Southern California, one becomes accustomed to having the ocean in their backyard. I will never take it for granted again.

Osaka Bay
The ocean is home.

On Thursday, Sal and I went out on our own. We set off on foot, and walked for two hours. We saw a few temples, a shopping mall, a grocery store selling fresh sashimi ( we watched as the chef made it to order), and ended up at a local park, where Sal made a few friends from a local preschool and terrorized the pigeons. We had passed the preschool group on our walk, as they were being pushed in what looked to be a pack-n-play on wheels. They all ended up at the park with us, and one of the teachers spoke English so she practiced by conversing with me. I found it refreshing to not have people staring, touching or hovering over us while out and about. This is so opposite of what my day-to-day normal is these days.

 I think I just needed a breather from it all.

Playing at the Park
Temple Guard
On Friday, we explored some more, this time we made it over to Sakaihigashi station and a huge seven level department store. We found roast beef at the deli on the main floor and then ventured up the elevator to the upper levels. 
On the seventh floor,  I thought I had died and gone to Heaven.

Swoon. Japanese fabric.
                             I took NZ back with me the same evening and browsed to my hearts content.

Right before my very eyes, I saw mounds of quilting fabric. It's been months since I laid my eyes on fabric. Sal and I picked out some to send home to his auntie, and then headed back home for nap time. When NZ finished up his conference, he met up with us for sushi & beers.

Sushi dinner date
Saturday morning at we were woken up by the buzzing of our cellphones and the eerie feeling of being on a boat, all the while knowing that we were not on a boat, but instead experiencing a 6.3 earthquake while on the 23rd floor of a hotel. Our cellphones were alerting us of the earthquake as it was happening.  We quickly dressed once the rolling and rumbling stopped and called the front desk. They advised we stay put for the time being, so we did. The elevators were out all morning, but we finally made it out around 8:45a.m. headed for the Osaka aquarium.

As NZ says, "we can mark surviving a 6.3 quake in Japan off the bucket list"
 To get to the aquarium, we used google maps and figured out that we would have three subway changes to get to our destination. It felt like out own version of " The Amazing Race" as we stood in front of ticket kiosks written in Japanese and stared up at the criss crossing railway lines. With the help of some nice Japanese people we figured out each railway exchange and ticket counter.

waiting for the train bound for Namba
What I wasn't prepared for though, were the bone crushing, take your breath away, pack-em-in-like-sardines railway cars. There are official train pusher on-ners (yes that's a word) that stand on the platform and push people in. At one point, I had to pass Sal up to Nick because we got packed in so tightly that I thought he was going to get crushed.

Mama, I can't breathe! Packed in like sardines.
You'd better believe we high fived each other when we reached our destination.

My handsome ol man celebrating our successful train transfers
Here fishy fishy, I wanna eat you!
The aquarium was awesome. It's the second biggest in the world. NZ and I loved it. Sal mostly loved all the people, and paid minimal attention to the fish. He was on display for photos just as he is back in Wuxi. They had fish, penguins, sharks, dolphins, turtles, otters, sea lions and everything imaginable from all over the world.  If you ever make it to Osaka, kids or not, it's worth your time to make a trip to the aquarium. Super impressive.

Showing off his ring prowess on the (much less crowded) train home
All in all it was a fabulous trip, a memorable experience, and just what the Doctor ordered.
Blue skies, ocean breeze and an earthquake for spontaneity.

1 comment:

  1. Japan! That's so exciting!

    I seriously love reading about your adventures. The ocean, sushi, no smog, that pack 'n' play on wheels... everything! What a cool adventure you guys are on.