Chasing Trains

Tokyo to Sapporo. 12 trains, 26 hours.

Start: 2009.08.09 0448h JST
End: 2009.08.10 0607h JST

Aboard the train from Sendai to Ichinoseki. 7 down, 5 to go. This is turning out to be one hell of an adventure.

This morning we had a wee bit of a mishap as we boarded train number 5 (from Utsonomiya to Kuroiso) which had as running across platforms and inside the train itself only to find we were hurtling towards the opposite direction.

We had lunch at sendai where the specialty is tongue but we ended up eating at Mcdonald’s which is quite a bummer. But we only had an hour to eat and the lines to the real restaurants (read: not Mcdonald’s) were extremely long so we didn’t have much of a choice really.

Brief background: this Sapporo trip cost us only 10,000JPY but it involves major sacrifice (i.e. hopping from train to train for more than 24 hours). Sounds like fun? No of course not.

My neck is stiff from power-napping in uncomfortable train seats and my shoulders are hurting from schlepping around what seems to me now as 20kg of unnecessary stuff. And to top it all off, it is now raining. Just perfect.

Aboard the train from Morioka to Ichinoseki
This is train number 10. Just two more and hello Sapporo and hopefully, cold weather. In the last transfer prior to this one David had us all running up the stairs and then down to the next platform in all of two minutes so we could get seats. So that’s how the Amazing race feels like. I hope to never have to do that again.

This particular line is called IGN, and it is godawfully small; thank God someone went down on the second stop, else i’d have to stand for two hours. It’s so difficult to be without a budget.

18:42 – stuck
We’ve been stuck in this station for an hour now. I have no idea why but my guess is it’s the heavy rains. This throws our schedule waaaay off so now we have to shell out an additional three thousand yen for express tickets.  It’s a bit of a piss off but, well, shit happens.

We are fucking stuck in the middle of nowhere and the goddamned train seems to have no intention of moving it’s sorry ass. Can you say stress?

And the train moveth. But the schedule is screwed twenty times over.

Shinkansen to Aomori
We were forced to take the shinkansen due to the delay in the stupid IGN. It cost us an extra 3.5k, but moving at 200kph is so infinitely better than being stuck.

Midnight train to Sapporo
To say that this trip is stressful is an understatement. The moment the Shinkansen doors opened at Aomori everyone started running towards platform 3, where we will be boarding the midnight trains. We didn’t have reserved seating and there were very few cars we could board.

Initially we boarded car 3 and we were quite pleased to find that we could all get seats for the eight-hour journey. As it turns out car 3 was reserved seating only, and we were supposed to board cars 9-11.

So after more running we boarded the correct cars which were pretty full by this time and half of us had to sit on the floor. And then there was this guy who refused to let us sit in the vacant seat beside him until the staff forced him to.

Thank goodness a bunch of people left at some station I am too lazy to find out the name of, so now we are all happily seated.

Tomorrow it’s an entirely new adventure; I’m not sure I’m looking forward to it but I am hoping for the best.

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