For the first time, I met the rest of the participants of Travel Factor at the airport. On board the budget airline Cebu Pacific, we flew from Manila to Kansai International Airport (KIX), Osaka and won for the 2nd time the on-board fun games a pouch perfect for my shades.
I was seated next to a Japanese guy in his early twenties. I knew he was eager to strike a conversation and so we engaged in one. He shared some valuable tips and showed some of the pictures he took around Japan. He speaks English fluently and a little Tagalog. He has been in the Philippines for several years, working for the Philippine Retirement Authority and owning a hotel in Angeles, Pampanga. He loves the Philippines but thinks that he will die young eating Filipino food... oily and salty. :)) That LV wallet and lexus car that was meeting him was a status symbol that he was one wealthy kid! haha Our chit-chat made the 3-hour flight short.
It was quite a long and slow queue at KIX immigration. The interiors of the airport seems not impressive, in contrast to what I was expecting after watching the Mega Structures documentary on National Geographic.
With some pencil pushing, I budgeted 3,000 yen a day for pocket money but my peers brought 3 times more. Is it really that expensive out there? After immigration and getting our luggage, I had to exchange more US dollar to yen at the airport. (Forex rate in the Philippines was a better deal.) Gladly I did, you can hardly find any money changer in the city.
Our ultimate destination for that day was Kyoto, so we had to take an hour van ride from Kansai to Kyoto. TF pre-arranged with MK Skygateshuttle Counter a shared van ride from Kansai to Kyoto which costs 3,500 yen per person. The van sits nine pax and is necessary to book two days in advance.
MK Shuttledesk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org +81(0)75-778-5489 and the counter is open from 7am to 10pm.
From Osaka's cityscape, we drove into a quaint and quite neighborhood then we thought, we must already be in Kyoto. The side streets were narrow, you had to hold your breath on behalf of the driver but even on these alleys, the streets are well paved and clean. Since we occupied the whole van, the driver dropped us right in front of the guesthouse where we will be checking-in. It would probably be difficult to locate it on our own.
Bola Bola Guest House is one typical Japanese home, small and clean. It's quite cramped to fit 20 guests but I love the interior, it was truly a local experience to keep shoes off all the time, to squat whenever you wish to rest, to figure out how to flush the toilet, to use common bath and to sleep on those mats on the floor.
Guest House BOLA-BOLA
25-17 Horigauchicho Uzumasa
Ukyo-ku Kyoto-city, Japan
rates are from 2500 to 3500 yen per pax, sharing rooms, common toilet and bath
However, sharing rooms wasn't such a pleasant experience. The snore echoed through the night on that tiny room and air conditioning wasn't cool enough on a hot summer night (the same case in all the places we checked-in), which kept us awake all night.
We arrived Kyoto at nine in the evening, lucky we found Sukiya around the corner. Sukiya (すき家) is a Japanese restaurant chain serving gyūdon, other donburi, and curry but we had a dilemma... they don't understand english and there was no english menu available, although the menu came with pictures, guessing game and sign language was put to test... viola, to my surprise, my meal came with a snoopy spoon on a snoopy plate. :))