Archive for March, 2010

To Osaka

I’m in Osaka. The reason for this being my need to get a new visa. It should have been child’s play to get my previous visa sponsor changed, but with my original employer not existing any more and the subsequent employer not being bothered with trivialities like Immigration Law, that wasn’t possible (or it was too much trouble, anyway). So, we’ve submitted a whole new batch of visa application-related documents and I’m now in Japan to await a visa application number so I can pick my new visa from the consulate here in Osaka (wherever that might be – I’ll have to look into that).

On the way over, I was worried that there might be a problem exiting Korea. I have, after all, not been resident there strictly legally for the six months. But, when I got to the Immigration control, the female officer did the usual stuff, scanning my passport and so on, then let me go through. Before I did, I gave her back my Alien Registration Card and she asked, ‘Finishy?’ (she seemed to pronounce the f correctly, but added the extra syllable at the end). I said, Yes, she took the card off me, stamped it and that was that.

The flight over was unremarkable. There were no problems at Osaka Kansai Airport, except for getting away from it. My colleague Seong-uk had recommended that I get a travel pass. It cost £40 for three days, so I decided I’d give it a miss. After wandering round for a long time thinking about it, I finally bought myself a ticket for the train, went through the ticket gates and got on the one that was waiting to leave.

I didn’t think much of the rail line. It was old and badly signed. Nevertheless I got to my station, Shin Imamiya, and, after consulting various maps, headed off to my nearby hotel, the Ranzai South.

If you’re wondering where the Raizan North might be located, the answer is simple: the North and South hotels are two halves of the same building. I’m guessing one is singles and the other is doubles – or there may be some other basic differentiation.

The guys at Reception have been very helpful and informative. They seem to have a set routine of information they give each guest: key deposit (¥1000, about £8), location of facilities, how to get in and out late at night and so on. The room is tiny. There are hotels in Japan called capsule hotels, in which the rooms are about the size of a single bed, with enough room to sit up but no more; they’re stacked two high on each floor. My room at the Raizan is bigger than those, but not by much. It’s about 10 feet long, 6 feet high and 5 feet 8 inches wide. I can estimate this latter dimension accurately because I turned sideways on my bed and had just enough space to fit my 5′ 7″.

There’s a TV, but it has very few channels – none in English – one of which was showing porn when I tried it, but with the best bits pixellated out. There’s also a small fridge. I unplugged the TV and video (there’s a big selection of VHS tapes in various languages down in the lobby) and plugged in my (Habiba’s) adaptor. The place is costing ¥2200 a night, about £17.

The silly thing about my stay here is that my colleagues believed I needed to leave the country (Korea) expeditiously because Immigration were only going to start processing my new visa once I’d left. My first two full days here will be Saturday and Sunday – and no one’s going to be processing anything at the weekend.

My colleagues booked my flight over, but I paid for it. I’m going to be reimbursed for that (about £220), but all my personal expenses while I’m here will be coming out of my own pocket (and not being reimbursed). I’m also not going to be paid for the time I’m missing – and I have to teach some of the classes I’ll be missing next Saturday (in return for which I’ll get some time off the following Monday).

I don’t really have any idea how long I’ll be here. It all depends on how fast my visa issuance number is issued and how quickly my visa itself is issued. Everyone’s hoping/predicting I’ll be back by the end of next week.

I’ll let you know.


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