Follow your instincts – a winning concept
I was in Osaka recently. Fantastic place. I’d been to Japan a couple of times before and am a big fan of the country but had never left Tokyo. Apart from one night when I stumbled upon a rave just outside Tokyo (more on that another time). But at least in principle, never.
I had heard rumors about Osaka previously. Mostly from people in Tokyo who say the people in Osaka are completely mad. By this, they mean they are less shy and a bit more outgoing than they are (I love the people in Tokyo, just saying). My main reason for going there was to meet a guy I had bought stuff from online, and to see his store.
Flexible with EuroBonus
I had already planned a couple of weeks on Bali, but I played around with EuroBonus points and went on a different trip instead. A brilliant 24-hour party in Bangkok, three fantastic days in Seoul and just under four days in Osaka. Then a week on Bali where I’m writing from right now.
But getting back to: Osaka. A waitress in Seoul advised me to stay near Dotonburi. That was close to the store I was going to visit, so it seemed perfect. I arrived at my hotel at 10pm, dumped my bags and headed into town. The area was a bit touristy but still fun in that Japanese way with loads of flashing lights. Japan is always so wonderfully pretty. However, I couldn't find anywhere to eat that felt 100%, so I kept on wandering around and headed to what proved to be Shinsaibashi.
I had been walking quite a long time but had a feeling something fun and good would turn up. And quite correctly - after a while I found a small side street that felt promising. It was packed with the kind of hole-in-the-wall restaurants that are pretty common in Japan, or at least in Tokyo and Osaka. They look like one small room with a tiny bar and kitchen, with a bar counter for about seven people.
I went into one place that seemed lively and it proved to be owned by Hiroshi. He was celebrating the fact that that evening was exactly one year since he opened his own restaurant. This tiny place was full of his friends who came and went. Everyone invited me to sake and beer. It was a house party where I stayed until the wee small hours and had a wonderful evening.
In principle, I spent all the next day in a record store. I was given plenty of tips on clubs to visit (if you want to party like a local, always go to record stores and pick up flyers) and ended up at a psychedelic reggae concert in some suburb. On my last evening I found myself at a house party of some Irish ex-pats. An artist I know was playing in Osaka that evening, so I saw the band and met the Irish guys at the show.
Things like that often happen to me when I travel. No research, that's not really my thing. Occasionally I check something while I’m waiting for take-off or boarding, but I’m not that interested in sightseeing and must do things in a city. That last day in Osaka, I took that train that takes one hour to Kyoto, and took that photo of the temple, but I spent most of my time in record stores. I prefer to follow my instincts and find my favorite area and then stay there, meet new people and acquire some routines. Shinsaibashi is now yet another place I feel at home in. Fantastic.
Security at Amex
I lent my Amex card to a colleague to book and pay for a flight. Except with a competing airline to SAS, outside the Star Alliance. Amex called me immediately and asked if I knew where my card was. Great that they know me.
When I flew in over Bali, for some reason I was listening to Walking In Memphis with Cher. The final chord coincided with the landing. Perfect timing. Great to be back.
The other week when I was working my third 14-hour day in a row, I got a fantastic surprise in my hotel. An upgrade to a suite, alcoholic present and a text message from ready to party pals. Perfect – till I realized I had to start work again in 6 hours.
June 15, 2018