As of December 3rd, 2018 at 2:30pm standard western time, I have logged 605 hours into the game PUBG. 24 days of my life I’ve spend in another world either driving around doing back flips, shooting at opposing squads, and sometimes my own team mates. Out of all the networks that I could have fallen into that have enabled something spectacular, this game probably takes the cake.
Now the game directly did not net me too much but it did introduce me to a few other people who I enjoyed to play with. I have a few friends here in Socal who are into corollas and I joined a discord started by Julien (neckbrace). These guys had friends from New Zealand. After spending enough time on the Discord server I eventually crossed paths with them.
Stan and Keisuke, known as 4x114 and 86fighters respectively, were among that group of people who I met through video games. Stan came down to visit last year and we had a great time driving, eating and screwing around. I had not met Keisuke until I landed on the other side of the world. How’d I get there?
Keisuke and I struck it off quite quickly through a few games and some banter. I expressed how it would be a dream of mine to fly to Osaka, Japan for Kansai All-Star. He asked why I just didn’t go. Then he argued that I will just stay with him in Izumiotsu. What was he unwittingly getting himself into?
I had some money left over from hosting an event and happened to work a few shifts that week. I had the money and saw the light. I turned alerts on my Hopper app and waited. Being that it was a bit short notice the prices for flights were markedly higher, especially since it was tourist season.
A week later I get the alert that I’m waiting for. After playing with a few arrive and depart days I booked my ticket. I chose to go from August 4th - August 28th. I notified Keisuke. We were both pumped and I was excited that my day dream was materializing. I began to fantasize. The food, adventure, and drifting were all in my cross hairs. With nothing but time in my way I just let the days beat forward until it arrived.
When I landed I had trouble finding my bag. I waited until the bags stopped flowing. As I headed to the kiosk I finally saw it sitting all alone in the middle of the room. Someone had pulled it aside, lucky me! Meanwhile Keisuke patiently waited for me to get out. As I exited the airport I immediately took my sweater off. The air was humid and warm. It was almost perfect, but mind you it was 8pm,.
After roaming around for a bit I see Casey’s Suzuki Wagon R. Then I see Keisuke’s big smiley face. We high-five and we decided to head straight to Stacked in Osaka to prep his car for the track event the next day. First thing up was to change tires out. I had now idea what I was doing. This is where I learned how to mount and dismount tires. I began to sweat shortly after moving around for a bit, and before I knew it, I was dripping all over. This was also my introduction to JDM hell flys, otherwise known as “mozzies”. You either learn to ignore them and accept your fate, or you’ll go mental.
We finished up everything we had to do. The boys washed their cars when they were all buttoned up. A few jokes later and we were all set. Ryota-san from cutting works Splash was kind enough to tow Casey’s car to the track. Sweaty, tired, and hungry we loaded up and headed out to have some dinner.
I cannot explain how good the food was. In the U.S I wouldn’t really be into cooked veggies and salads but here I was blown away. Everything was so savory. It was so fresh and fulfilling. I left utterly satisfied and ready for bed. We had an early morning.
By the time we all showered up and chatted for a bit it was ~1:30am. We had to get up at 4am to head to the shop and set out to Motorland Mikawa. As fast as I closed my eyes, it was time to open them again to begin the day. Google maps said it will be a 3hr 41min journey. We had to get crackin’.
Having a few minutes to kill, we stopped by the Konbini. Japan has the best convenience stores. If you’re even the slightest bit thirsty or hungry the Konbini will have anything you’re craving and more. I was almost consistently snacking and drinking beverages that aren’t available to me back home.
We met up with Takumi-san from Sky Motors along the way. With the sun still tucked away it Keisuke worked to get his front wheels switched out to some temp wheels so it could fit on Takumi’s two car rig. We got everything sorted out and set off on the road trip.
The event was being hosted by Garage Dual. There were a wide variety of cars attending. Not only as far as make and models go, but also the general styling and driving style. Teams like MCR, A Boo Moon, and 326 Power. There was also a bevy of competitive drivers that came out for a good time. It was ALMOST overwhelming. Seeing photos and videos of these cars online, then seeing them in person had me all sorts of giddy. I had no idea how lucky I had gotten until I sat down to write this.
It was UNREASONABLY hot when we got to the track. The day called for a high of 103F. We didn’t pay too much attention to that though. The boys unloaded the cars and began to prep the cars for the track. I was eager to start taking photos of drifting. I slowly got myself closer and closer track side. Eventually I made it into the infield. I couldn’t help but start to laugh from joy.
Eventually the heat had gotten to us. Mikawa provides a water hose in case anyone needs to refill their radiators or anything. We straight up took showers throughout the day. It was the only way to stay cool.
The highlight of the day for me was being infield while they ran the track backwards. I was able to get some of my favorite shots of this trip here. I hadn’t see this amount of speed, angle and commitment so close before. I started to take less photos and began to be more present.
This is the crew all together. Takumi was chasing Casey and they were being lead by Keisuke. Macey managed to squeeze onto the track as well, or his arms were at least. There was a Triple drift competition at the end of the track day. Teams of three partnered up to see who could run together the best. Its particularly cool to see friends drive with each other. Its certainly a different environment and energy when they’re driving. Instead of the lead driver trying getting away, they are trying to find the best line for their friends to follow.
As surely as the sun would go down the day would come to an end. We all sat around to hear the closing ceremony as well to support the drivers who had won prizes. As I sat there confused and not able to understand much of anything I thought “wow.. I’m here because of Pubg”. I would always feel guilty when I’d be off playing video games on the computer. Don’t get me wrong it is very fun but also time consuming and sometimes you would be better off doing something maybe a tad bit more productive. But another thing I learned is not to write off this time as entirely useless. If you’re spending time with friends and having fun, it’s never a waste of time. Happiness and fun are never a waste of time. After all, you never know where it may take you if you’re open to it.
Ironically enough I came not feeling all but satisfied. I returned home feeling more empty than before I had gone. I pondered why? Why if I went abroad and go to experience so many great things and amazing people do I feel like this? I do love photography and I enjoy writing from time to time. But at heart the thing that makes me happiest is driving. I was in the middle of selling my car and taking up a new car and build. I spend most of my money on the trip.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking what would make me happy? Video games and drifting? Sure but that’s not a sustainable way of life. While I don’t mind my job as a Respiratory Therapist and do get a good bit of fulfillment from it, I’ve decided it’s not my life’s passion. So again I asked the question, what would make me happy?
If I could find a way to travel places, meet people, go drifting and share these experiences to help inspire people to drive, travel and get into some skitz shit... that, would make me happy. It’s a monumental task but so is life, so fuck it.. I’ll go for it.