Monday, March 21, 2011

Back story: Amazing Race Osaka

The night before our scheduled flight to Osaka, my producer sent me a message that our visas to Japan were not yet ready. Given the uncertainty, I received an instruction to pack my bags and wait for further instructions early in the morning.

I woke up at 9:00 am on March 10 with no message on my phone. We were scheduled to fly to Osaka at 3:20 pm and I was anxious to find out if we were pushing through with the trip or not. At 11:45 am, I was told to proceed to the airport and wait with the rest of the team for our passports.  I arrived at the airport a few minutes past 1:00pm and met my producer. No sign of our passports. On top of this, we were also waiting for my co-host's (Nat Kiefer) air ticket! The tension was building, and I felt like we were shooting a scene at the Amazing Race. I have never gone to a trip with so much uncertainty yet the whole experience appealed to me.

Jill and Jean helped us make this trip possible!

At 1:20 pm, Nat's tickets arrived and five minutes later, our passports were delivered! The rest of the team, Doc Gamboa and Mael Cautivar joined us at the queue. We had two hours left to make it through check-in and immigration. We were still missing one person. We decided to proceed to the check-in counter and about fifteen minutes later, when we were almost at the counter, Nat finally showed up! Whew! The team was complete and ready to check-in.

Finally, off to Osaka!

Our adventure at the airport was just the beginning of an unpredictable and memorable trip. We arrived in Osaka, in 7-degree cold, lost in translation. It took us a while to get to our hotel (I had to make several calls to hotels at the airport pay phone starting with the line "Do you speak English?"). After three hours, we ended up in a nice 4-start hotel in Umeda for the night. (We then had to move after the 2nd night because it was too pricey! But our second hotel, Hearton Hotel, was equally nice and the location was more strategic.)

Kansai Airport, our gateway to Osaka (photo by Mael Cautivar)
Catching an airport bus at to Osaka station (photo by Mael Cautivar)

We managed to smile in the 7-degree cold! Our jackets weren't thick enough to keep us warm! (photo by Mael Cautivar)

Hearton Hotel Umeda, a few steps away from Osaka Station (photo by Mael Cautivar)

The day after we arrived, March 11, marked the historical moment in Japan which shook the nation and the world.  The earthquake in Tokyo and tsunami and Sendai, and later the meltdown of the nuclear reactors in Fukushima were the heartbreaking tragedies the world witnessed and will remember for a very long time.

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