Thursday, October 01, 2009

[Travelogue] Never a dull moment

Good thing I decided to post that last article when I did because when I got back from dinner we were back in Japanese territorial waters on our way to Osaka and so the internet was down again. Since then things have been going non-stop. I've barely had time to jot down notes about all the stuff that has been going on, let alone compose actual travelogue entries. We're at sea today, so hopefully I'll be able to catch up, but even at-sea days can be busy. I spent about three hours today just catching up on email and laundry. Doing laundry is one of the most annoying parts of cruising. The laundry facilities aboard the ship are badly inadequate for the number of people they have to serve, particularly when the ship is at capacity. I miscalculated badly when I figured that the day *after* a segment boundary would be a good day to do laundry. The idea was that no one could possibly work up a load of laundry in one day, so we'd only be competing with the other people who were doing multiple legs for access to the washing machines. I still don't know how, but this morning every single machine was being used, and people were queued up. Maybe people who embarked in Osaka had already been traveling for a while. Doing laundry aboard ship is one of those experiences that make me swear up and down that I will never go on another cruise again.

Then I had to catch up on email after being off line for two days. I had nearly 1000 spam messages stacked up, which took a very long time to download over the ship's slow and flaky internet connection. I really should install a spam filter on my server instead of doing my spam filtering on my laptop, but the problem is that as far as I know there is no spam filter that runs on a server that has a training client that integrates into Mac Mail. Hm, sounds like a business opportunity.

Just to bring you up to date on the high points in case I don't get another chance to post before we hit Nagasaki, we left Tokyo and spent a day and a half in Osaka. When we got there it was raining, and my first impression of the city was something along the lines of, "Tokyo it ain't." But the second day the sun came out and we spent the whole day exploring on our own and the place really grew on me, along with the cuisine (but that's another story). Unlike Tokyo, which has a central core that is easy to explore on foot, Osaka is more spread out and it take a little hunting to find the good parts -- kind of like LA. But once you find them, Osaka is an amazing place. It boasts some of the largest covered shopping arcades and underground shopping areas anywhere in the world, and they are a wonder to behold. Osaka is also a stop for the Shinkansen, the famed Japanese bullet train, which we decided on the spur of the moment to ride. We ended up (after all of twenty minutes, which includes the time we spent waiting for the train) in Kyoto, which is another story in itself. Finally we returned to Osaka and had dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall sushi bar. No one spoke any English, and we got the impression that we may well have been the first westerners ever to set foot in the place. But that's yet another story. First I have to rewind and catch up on Tokyo.

In case I don't get back to this before we enter Nagasaki's cone of silence, we're there for one day, and then we leave Japan so posting should get a little more regular after that.

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