No, it’s not about Shawn Mendes’s song, although I admit it’s a catchy one. This is the story of the time I got lost in Japan...Kinda funny and unforgettable...
It started as a school trip, my senior year in high school. I went on a science camp, and we toured facilities in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. All the proper student life activities by day.
By night, I was bored. So were the others. So we snuck out. One person knew how to read Japanese map and we thought, hey that’s more than enough, ignoring the fact none of us can really say a full sentence in Japanese.
We split up due to different interests, and were supposed to meet up at 11 pm. Except, I was busy shopping that I didn’t realize it was 11:05 and no one was there waiting for me. Japanese services are really on time people, don’t be late even just a minute.
So there I was, like the song goes, all by myself. Oh and by the way, my phone was at 10%, and you know iPhones, 10% means might as well shut it down. I didn’t speak Japanese, nor I had a return address. Should I have asked for one? Absolutely, but 17 years olds don’t always think through everything.
I think it took about 20 tries before I found someone who speaks English. He was nice enough to call the emergency number that I had, only they didn’t pick up. We Googled my camp name, and found the schedule. “Perfect,” I thought. I found the hotel name. It was a chain, roughly the equivalent of Holiday Inn in the US.
“I really need to leave to catch the train to my buddies now,” said the guy. “Why don’t you go rent a hotel room, ask for a charger, then contact someone in the morning?”
But that would look bad on the camp record.
The fearless explorer in me was persistent. “Just another Google attempt, how’s that?”
We looked up the hotel name, and called their customer service. I told them about my camp, the dates and anything I could remember. They found where I was staying!!!
The kind stranger called a taxi for me and wished me luck, while he went off to the train station. I never really catch his name. I think it starts with an “N”.
To this day, that experience defined my travel habit. I always carry a backpack, along with a charger, a battery, some emergency contact number, cash and snacks. Lots of things, but it helps that my backpack has pockets to organize them. Oh, and I always ask for a card of where ever I’m staying, just in case this whole thing happen again.
Remember kids, don’t run around with a dying phone, not knowing what to say and where you need to be.