Osaka Arcade

Guys, I had a breakfast sausage!!! A real breakfast sausage! Bless you Swisshotel and your legitimate American food. Your pancakes with “maple flavoured syrup”, however, were not quite as wonderful. No matter…A real breakfast sausage!

As I have previously mentioned, I’ve done a horrible job of packing. It’s also a bit colder in Japan than I expected, so seeing as how we’re setting out to trek through the mountains tomorrow, I will probably need some warm clothes. All I’ve got right now are tank tops, t-shirts, and a rain jacket. Osaka has some big shopping malls, (usually referred to here as arcades) and our new hotel is actually located inside one. We leave behind the beautiful Swisshotel and move our stuff to the hotel chosen by Mountain Trek.

Mountain Trek is a Canada based company in British Columbia, where they run a trekking/weight loss/lifestyle change program in the mountains near Nelson. I flew from China to meet Dad there last year for a week of trekking before starting my summer in Lake Louise. Every year, Mountain Trek also does an international trip (in previous years traveling to Peru and Nepal) and this is the real reason I am in Japan now. Dad is the one who heard about it and signed up for this trip, then invited me to come along. We’ve just tacked on an extra couple weeks around the trek to do some more exploring. During our week trek, Mountain Trek arranges all of our accommodations, most meals, hiking guides, and more along that line. So for tonight, as the official night of the treks commencement, they have arranged for all the Trekkies (haha?) to stay at the Oriental Hotel in the arcade.

It’s perfect really, because the arcade has a ton of shopping and I need to find some warm stuff to wear. Angela shows us around the area and I find some good warm hiking gear.

After shopping, we stop to get a massage at a cute little place in the arcade. One last relaxing experience before a week of long hiking days!

At 6:00pm we are to meet everyone from the Mountain Trek group in the lobby and then to go for dinner. For the first time ever in the history of the whole world…Dad and I are the first people to arrive. Us! The two Lai’s who are most notorious for being late. I’m so proud…and also a little concerned that we’ve gotten something mixed up. Shortly after we sit down, though, some other mountain trekkers start to gather with us in the lobby. I meet the group of 13 other people who will be hiking with us for the rest of the week. One woman, Linda, is a familiar face who had been with us at Mountain Trek last year in B.C. The group is mostly made up of Canadians and Americans, though some of whom are living in different parts of the world now. It seems like a really interesting and fun group of people!

Kirkland, the angel who basically runs the entire Mountain Trek experience, and our guide, Ted, give us a quick run down of what to expect in the coming week and more details on our itinerary for tomorrow. Tomorrow nights accommodation is at a Buddhist temple, which I am very much looking forward to.

Dinner is at a buffet restaurant around the corner from the hotel, so Ted leads the way, with Kirkland taking up the rear through the arcade; their herd of foreigners following behind them like baby ducks. It feels a little bit like being back in school on a field trip. Use the buddy system!
The buffet is quite good and has many healthy/vegetable options. A mixture of western and Japanese food is available, but tonight I stick mostly to the Japanese options.

There is no wifi at the hotel (they pretend they have wifi in the lobby, and it technically “connects” but then nothing ever really works) so after dinner Dad, Linda and I go to Starbucks and try to use their wifi. No dice. The free wifi only works if you have previously signed up for some Starbucks account (which, ironically, requires a wifi connection to do), and even then it doesn’t actually seem to work. We mess with it for a really long time before giving up.

It’s not just tonight. As a whole, Japan has been a bit of a struggle wifi wise. For one of the most technologically advanced societies in the world, I’m shocked at how difficult it is to get a simple internet connection. Especially while in more remote areas of smaller, less tech savvy countries, there is easy access to free wifi everywhere
at little to no cost. Even our wifi connection at the Swisshotel was dodgey.
I have a love/hate relationship with wifi. Mostly love. But I do look forward to having some kind of “off-grid” time…even if it’s somewhat forced.

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