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With two weeks passing by, my time with travel buddy Joanna was about to come to a close. I couldn’t have asked for a better travel buddy and without her suggestion I never would have made it out to Palau or Taiwan.
This day was largely a transit day and with some preplanning we worked it out that both of our flights out of TPE were around the same time. We woke up at 6 to get ready and at 7 I ran over to the lounge to pick up our breakfast boxes. Upon checkout I bought some stamps at the front desk because up until that point I had both neither stamps or postcards – always my bane during travelling.
Once we got to the airport I checked into my United counter. While doing this I asked the guy if I could get two vouchers to the lounge since I told him my friend had checked-in earlier. Without much question about whether my friend was flying United or anything else he gladly write up another voucher for me. Sweet!
After we crossed security and customs we started hunting for my postcards. Initially I had no luck it all but after venturing deeper into the airport we found a bookstore that had some pop-up postcards that I picked up. Seriously I should have just bought the cheap-o postcards that I saw earlier on the trip. I always think I’ll find better or cheaper ones later on but that never ends up working out.
With less than an hour left before my flight we made our way to the Kris (Singapore Air) lounge. I barely had enough time to write my postcards and grab some quick snacks. I said goodbye to Joanna and we made our way to our respective gates.
My flight was UA838 (10:20AM-2:40PM) and apparently a plane ultimately bound San Francisco so this was a big plane. The only thing I have to say about this flight was that it was FREEZING. I had the blanket over me and I was still cold! Luckily they had the personal TVs to keep me busy.
Landing in Tokyo and Storing Bags at Yamato
Landing in Tokyo was really smooth and I was quickly out of the baggage area. With some time to kill before Chantelle’s arrival, I had to get a few things done. First I needed to drop off my big suitcase at this shipping company called Yamato that offers baggage delivery service. The logo is green and yellow with two black cats and took a bit of time to figure out where it was in Narita but after some charades with a few info desk ladies I finally got pointed to the right direction. They’re pretty much the equivalent to a UPS or FedEx in Japan. I did quite a bit of research on this and initially I had intended to subway all the way to the Conrad to drop off my bags personally but the time and extra subway fare wasn’t worth it. Eventually the TripAdvisor forum posts lead me to Yamato. Their baggage service is so amazing and brilliant because who wants to lug their huge bags in a country which relies so much more heavily on rail transportation. What some travellers do is actually just ship their bags from city to city so that their bags will always arrive at their hotel before they get there. The paperwork to get everything set up was relatively simple as the counter agent could at least understand a bit of English. All I had to do was give him the address of the Conrad. $25 CAD later my bags were taken away and due to arrive at the Conrad 2 days before our arrival back in Tokyo. How simple is that! I made sure that I had my confirmation and arrival date on the shipping label. I also made sure to call the Conrad before I left Shanghai to make sure that they’d be okay with receiving bags in advance.
Once that was done I hastily made my own pick-up sign on a blank piece of paper so I could be like one of those limo drivers picking up their customers. I realized I still had a bit of time so I explored the underground part of the terminal which connected to the JR office where we would need to exchange our JR Pass vouchers and also a convenient store to pick up some gum. I then waited patiently at the arrivals gate. An endless line of locals, tourists, pilots and flight attendants passed by until Chantelle finally appeared at around 4:30PM. I was so excited to see her as it had been over a month since we had seen each other in Shanghai!
Getting our JR Passes
We went downstairs to exchange for our JR Pass and then made reservations for Narita Express and Tokyo to Osaka Shinkansen. We quickly caught our 5:16PM Narita Express train and had my first Japanese bullet train experience. Coming from the rest of Asia I was really impressed with the efficiency, cleanliness and organization of the rail system. The bullet train was also so damn smooth and fast. Farms zipped by our window one after another. After our stop in Shinagawa, we had to transfer over to our Osaka train which wasn’t too hard to find on the display boards. Since we had a few minutes to spare we picked up some boxed Japanese meals.
If you’re looking to do any travelling around Japan, I highly recommend picking up a JRailPass. Keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase it before your trip and ship it to your home.
Onwards to Osaka
I have never had high expectations of boxed lunches but for something that doesn’t look refrigerated, isn’t reheated when you purchase it and comes in a normal looking plastic wrapped box, we had an amazing Japanese dinner. There wasn’t any raw fish in it but it was delicious all the same. Mine was basically chicken cutlet on rice and Chantelle’s had an assortments of meat and tea egg on rice. Thumbs up to random cardboard box meals.
Our Shinkansen arrived in Shin-Osaka at 8:26 where we then caught a local subway to Awaza. Once we got out of the station we were hopeless lost. We had printed out some directions from the hostel we were staying at but because of the lighting and confusing wording we didn’t know which direction to head towards. We first ask one gentleman but he doesn’t know where it is. Then true to Japanese reputation, a car pulls up and an old man comes up to us asking if we need help. We show him the address and immediately he starts telling us that we should follow him and that he’d take us to our hostel. He waves off the driver of the car. Apparently he’s some sort of neighborhood watch guy. Amazing!
Looking for Hostel 64 Osaka
The hostel entrance is in a small street with a tiny stairway up to reception but we were pleased to finally set our bags down after a long day of commuting. The check-in process was simple and seemed to be relatively new and well maintained. The décor was also very welcoming and warm. When we got to our room on the third floor, I was even more impressed. For what we paid and considering we were in Japan, our room was the largest I have ever been in and probably the nicest hostel room I’ve stayed at ever. The showers were a bit interesting with their midget entrance doors but once we figured that it we were good to go.
- Need baggage delivery service? Find Yamato either at the airport or anywhere in major cities to get it done. Fast, simple and reliable.
- JR Pass is so key. We really appreciated having it throughout the trip and missed it when it expired.
- Hotels are not the easiest to find in Japan but Hostel 64 Osaka was recommended by my Japanese friend and it sure was a winner. Highly recommended. It has many of the hostel qualities but out of all hostels I have ever stayed at this has to be #1.
- 6AM wake up
- Pick up breakfast boxes from Sheraton Taipei
- Cab to Taoyuan Airport
- Hunt for postcards
- Kris Lounge to write the postcards
- UA 838 flight (10:20AM – 2:40 PM)
- Drop off bags with Yamato
- Reunite with Chantelle
- Narita Express to Shinagawa
- Shinagawa to Shin-Osaka
- Subway to Azawa station
- Escorted by neighbourhood watch to our hostel
- Check-in to our hostel Hostel 64 Osaka
Check out the Next Day
Can’t get enough? Head on over to Day 75 – Nara and Osaka – When Deer Attack.
Curious what else I did on my trip to Asia? See the full itinerary and all 89 days.