Tuesday, January 12, 2010

All aboard "whoawhooo"

So after an amazing 10 day tropical island extravaganza we traded in one of Japan’s finest holiday spots for another but this time we headed a little further north to Osaka and Kyoto.

Travel within Japan is pretty expensive so when we heard about an overnight ferry that runs between Beppu and Osaka for a fraction of the cost of catching a train or flying we jumped at the chance to keep a few extra pennies in our pockets. Now I am no lover of ferries.... as in I hate them! So when I say we jumped at the chance what I really mean is Nathan jumped at the chance but luckily for me (and him) it was surprisingly a pretty sweet trip from start to finish. I’d even go so far as to say I would do it again! To begin with the ferry was way flasher than what I was expecting... it even has an onboard onsen!

But what really sold it to me was the fact that I had no idea I was even on a boat! Given that the ferry weaves its way in between a whole lot of little islands along the way the sea was dead calm and only once for no more than 10 minutes could I feel any kind of rocking at all. So anyways after boarding the ferry at 6.30pm and setting sail to Osaka we found our way to what would be our bed for the night. We had paid for the cheapest option – futons on the floors in the main sleeping area.

We were expecting just a giant room with hundreds of people sleeping on the floor together but it was in actual fact lots of smaller rooms – with people still all sleeping on the floor together. All I can say is thank god it wasn’t peak season.... if the boat had been full I can see how it would have been a less than pleasant experience. Each person is allocated a spot on the floor... you have a cubby for your bag, a blanket, a pillow made of vinyl and a thin sleeping mat. There is literally no space whatsoever been each person’s allocated spot. As in you are lying shoulder to shoulder with the stranger next to you.

Thankfully there was hardly anyone onboard so we had plenty of space between us and the next person which also meant we could nab a few extra sleeping mats to help pad the hard floor a little (much to the disapproving looks of the oldies we had in our room, who for the record would have to be the most annoying old people I have ever encountered... laughing and singing till all hours and then complaining to the crew that the TV in our room wouldn’t work... when in actual fact they just didn’t push the button... then going to sleep leaving the TV on even after it had lost reception and was making a god awful ‘I have no reception noise’ until one the others we were sharing the room with were brave enough to go and turn it off ).

Phew – I needed to get that off my chest!

So after docking at Osaka at 6.30am the next morning we pretty much headed straight to Universal Studios. I think maybe our expectations were a little too high leaving us a tad disappointed but we still had a good day jumping on and off all the rides all the while freezing our little faces and hands off (you weren’t allowed to wear gloves, hats or scarves on any of the rides). Our favourite ride was most definitely Spiderman followed by Back to the Future. We also really enjoyed the Shrek 4D movie although couldn’t understand a word of it. My less favourite was the Dream-Caster rollercoaster...

I was petrified from start to finish! I have a fear of falling so the big drop at the start was less than amusing... my eyes were clenched shut from start to finish and my face and hands were so numb from all the cold wind rushing into my face that I seriously thought I had turned into a snowman! Nathan was sitting next to me saying over and over again ‘oh my god, oh my god, oh my god’ meanwhile everyone else around us had their hands up in the air squealing with delight. The most hilarity we had was when we saw the obligatory photo they take just as you come down the big waterfall at the end of the Jurassic Park ride – our faces said it all but were nothing compared with the face of the little kid sitting in front of us!

The park was still celebrating Christmas despite it being well into January so we were treated to jolly carols through the day (cute at the time but oh so annoying 2 days later when we were still singing them) and a street parade featuring giant gingerbread, snowmen and of course Santa himself!

Towards the end the day when our noses and hands could take no more we made one last stop off, this time it was to watch the WaterWorld Movie show they perform in a big arena complete with damsels in distress, pirates doing tricks on jet-skis, jet boats zooming off ramps, canons firing in all directions and of course the manly man who comes and saves the day! But of course our Universal Studios experience wouldn’t have been complete without tucking in to a giant turkey drumstick to help warm us up before jumping on a train... this time bound for Kyoto!