I’ve made it safely to Osaka, a city that I’ve decided I quite like and luckily my stay here will be short enough that it won’t have time to go down in my estimation. The train trip was a success. Despite it being a 23-hour trip, I found it quite preferable to travelling by air. No hassles with check-in, security or a long trip to the airport. Best of all, though, was my sleeper compartment. I was able to lie down for the whole instead of being cramped into an under-sized seat.
My compartment companion had an element of the trainspotter about him and spent a lot of time walking up and down the train assembling what I assume was a fairly comprehensive digital image of the entire train. When I took my camera out to photograph through the window, he seemed to think I might be a kindred spirit but when he realised I wasn’t, I didn’t see much of him again. He hid behind his section’s curtain and later disappeared to the salon car. At one stop I saw him walking up and down the platform photographing the train from the outside.
He wasn’t alone in this, though. There were trainspotters on every platform we stopped at on the way. Some with tripods and two slr cameras. I wonder what they do with all these train pictures. Do they lovingly print them and put them in albums to review in the long afternoons of their twilight years? Keep them as proof that they really have seen these trains? In any case, I realised the train I was on must be a little special when I saw even ‘normal’ people whip out their phone cameras and take a snap.
When I got to Osaka, I met my friend Richard at the train station and set about reassembling the Trucker. This got us a bit of attention from the locals, who slowed down to check out the bike on the way past and one even worked up the courage to ask us where we were from before taking off again. I got pretty filthy putting it all back together and a passing lady offered me some tissues. I showed her my hands and joked that she was too late so she apologised. I do hope she realizes I was joking. We did thank her very much for the tissues.
I rode the bike back to Richard’s place and first got used to the lighter steering thanks to my heavy pannier bags at the back. Then I got used to riding in the city traffic, which involved alternating between the footpath and road depending on which I felt was safer or less busy. And finally I had my first big-city fixie experience. I was cruising along the footpath when I saw a bloke whip past on a fixie, looking very much like he’d spent a lot of time getting the look just right – disc rear wheel, track bars, no brakes, hooded top (hood on), headphones and messenger bag. I reasoned that if a bloke with no hearing, peripheral vision or brakes could ride on these streets then I shouldn’t have any troubles. If there was going to be a crash it would surely be him, not me and there was a headwind so I could tuck in behind him. I joined him in running red lights until I finally lost him when he went through one that I wasn’t game to try but luckily by then I had just about got to Richard’s place.
I’m hanging around Osaka today and tomorrow will be back on these busy streets all the way to Wakayama where I’ll catch the ferry to Shikoku.
Thanks all for the messages. I’ll try to reply but it’s pretty slow going typing on this iPhone. I feel like I’ve been typing this post forever. This is also my first go at using email to post to the blog. Hope it works! Do check my Twitter for any 140-character or fewer thoughts that I may have during the day.