Hello from Osaka!
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - November 16, 2015 - 9:00am

Osaka, Japan — After the successful hosting of the 15th Grand Wine Experience last Friday at the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Hotel, we flew to Osaka last Sunday afternoon together with the whole family of Bobby Joseph via Philippine Airlines flight PR-408 from Manila to Kansai. The first thing that I noticed when we arrived at the Centennial Terminal 2 was the number of vehicles that clogged the road to the terminal. As we got down, I was quite surprised to see the long queues of passengers lining to enter Terminal 2. 

Bobby Joseph told me that the people of Manila wanted to get out of the way of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, which is slated to be held this week in Manila. This is why traffic even on a Sunday was terrible because the police were doing their rehearsals for the arrival ceremonies of the heads of state. Inside Terminal 2 was hot and humid because there were just too many passengers at the international station of the terminal. I’m sure that the domestic side was just as full. This is also due to the fact that there are no classes this week in Manila. Thanks to the APEC Summit.

Now this is the first time I flew to Manila after the media exposed the very embarrassing “tanim-bala” incident. I was just observing many passengers who are scared of being victimized by this scam (although in fairness to Centennial Terminal 2, they don’t have a tanim-bala incident there) because a lot of them lined up to that machine that wraps a thin plastic sheet on your bag for P160 bucks.

Whoever owns that machine must be making a killing these days. But certainly the issue has not waned. More so, NAIA General Manager Angel Honrado is now blaming the media for the overexposure of the incidents. We in the media always get the blame when we are but mere messengers of the problems that they incurred themselves.

As usual, because of runway congestion, which no one in the Department of Transportation and Communications could solve, flights were all delayed. As the plane taxied out of the terminal, I could see three C-17 Globe Master III from the US Air Force bringing the advance party of US Pres. Barrack Obama who is coming to Manila for the APEC Summit. As the plane took off, I felt a sigh of relief that I was out of Manila. I will be back this weekend via a direct flight from Kansai to Cebu.

We arrived in Kansai International Airport at 7:00PM and it was my first time to go to Osaka directly by plane. My two previous trips there, I took the Shinkansen Bullet train. I have heard so much about this International Airport, which is a man-made island that began operational in 1994. It’s an airport reclaimed from the sea for one runway. Later because the first island was sinking slowly, they built a second runway on another reclaimed island.

This is one man-made island that can be seen from space!

Thus Kansai International Airport is now a major gateway or international airport hub serving flights from all over the world. Meanwhile we in Cebu are still dreaming of our second runway. Sigh! This just gets my guts that the DOTC just cannot fix the runway congestion problems plaguing NAIA these days when solutions can easily be found.

To get around Japan, you must learn to travel using their system, which is very convenient except that most of the instructions are in Nippongo. But if you know where exactly you are going, it is really an easy train ride to downtown Osaka. From KIK, we took the train to Namba in downtown Osaka to the Hotel Nikko Osaka. It was a short 40-minute train ride with numerous stops. But the trip from Kansai to downtown Osaka is a 50-kilometer trip. Come to think of it, that’s from Cebu City to Sogod Town already.            Most of the plane passengers also took that train.

Inside the Nikko Hotel, you will immediately notice something that you can only find in toilets in Japan. Their toilet seats are heated and have a bidet which can wash your behind automatically. As they say, only in Japan can we find these things. The weather today in Osaka is like Baguio during December. A thick jacket is enough to warm you.

Then we had to eat our late dinner. So we walked from the Nikko Hotel along Shinsaibashi Ave. to the Kamakura Noodle House five-minutes away. It’s a small Japanese restaurant manned only by four people. But you just don’t go inside and get your order. Their style is a bit tricky, but simple. Choose which noodle dish that you wish to order and put your money in the machine and press the number corresponding to your food. Then voila! Your receipt will come out including your change. This is just an example of the things you will notice in Japan because labor is expensive so they rely on machines to reduce manpower. We also dropped by the Family Mart, which is now becoming a fad in Cebu. But their Family Mart is really complete.

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.


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