Traveling the hard way

When leaving for this trip, there were a few details which I tried to keep on the down-low. For example, the fact that I had not booked a single place to stay in Japan until the night before, or the fact that I only have a very fuzzy idea of what I want to see. Of course these details would come out after a few minutes of conversation, and I always got these weird looks like “you’re going to be screwed when you get there”. So yesterday I attempted to travel the way I like to travel.
I went to the train station and reserved seats on a series of trains to Sapporo. This is where things started to get bumpy.
For some reason when I looked up the train schedule online it claimed that the trip would only take 4 hours. “Damn, those bullet trains are fast!” I thought. Nope, 10 hours. Oh well, that sounded a lot more reasonable than 4 hours. This, however put me in town after 5pm.
As a rule of thumb, when you are looking for a place to stay without reservations you want to to get there before 5 so that you can be sure to have plenty of time to try your backup options. If you are showing up late, there is a good possibility that reception will be closed, so in this case you have to call ahead.
Japan’s railway is, however, almost too convenient, they allow only a few minutes to transfer between trains, and once on board, there is no possibility of making a phone call. So this is how I found myself sitting on a train at 5pm hoping that there would be enough time at the next transfer, the last one before Sapporo, hoping that there would be enough time to call ahead to the best place and reserve a bed. Now, at this point, most people would start to worry, but the way I see, it there are always other options. In Japan, there are at least these options (in a decently large city): 24 hour cafe, hostel, love hotel, capsule hotel, and then a whole range of mid to high level hotels. So my backup plan was to get a capsule hotel if I could not get into any of the three hostels in town. On my todo list for this trip is staying in a capsule hotel, so I was kind of looking forward to this experence.
Luck was in my favor, however, and I was able to squeeze in a quick call to the hostel and they said they would wait up for me, so the capsule hotel will have to wait until later.

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4 Responses to “Traveling the hard way”

  1. eleanor Says:

    Sapporo! i just see it in the map. it’s far from tokyo! it’s way up there!!! 10 hours in bullet train, huh….
    i’m sure you’re enjoying your vacation 😉

  2. Mariko Kishikawa Says:

    OH Mike,

    How are u going to meet japanese girls in capsule hotel. Did you know Capsule Hotel is MAN only hotel. woman can’t stay there even they want to.
    There are internet and TV are installed, so enjoy.

    in sapporro, Make sure eat Butter Ramen

  3. lisa Says:

    Not a particularly bad way to travel. Although, I must admit the only place where I’ve not booked ahead of time is when traveling to Thailand b/c I know how readily available accommodations are there.

    Even then I usually book the first day, so that I have some place to tell the taxi driver to go when I get out of the airport.

    The rest of the trip has been a free for all, both times. Worked out just fine, especially when we took the scary ferry to the island..

  4. Kym Says:

    I never plan ahead! That takes all the fun out of it…

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