Travel to Osaka

One of my travel dreams is to visit the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan. This country is home to beautiful blossoms of cherry trees,  bowls of delicious “ramen” , and to thousands of undying anime characters. To put this goal into reality, I applied a tourist visa together with my family and was happy that it was approved and received it after a few days.

Guesthouse and Flight

Most hotels in Japan are noticeably expensive even the simplest one. Some of the accommodations at any booking websites which has very affordable rates are having shared toilets and bathrooms. However, convenience and location had helped me decide and break funds for an offered apartment. Renting a local apartment was found the most practical way of getting a comfortable room to stay in Japan compared to the expensive hotel rates especially I am traveling with a small child. The availability of J-Suite East Namba, 4F in Osaka which booked at Booking.com suited our needs.

DSC_0024aThe flight to Japan from the Middle East offers cheaply but the flight using our national flight carrier, Philippine Airlines saves us half of the normal fare. The complications of transit in Manila might be a burden to other nationalities but we, Filipinos, can endure it. We arrived at Philippine Airport Terminal 1 and as instructed by airline transfer desk, we passed at immigration for entry, rode the airline transfer shuttle bus to Terminal 2,  and passed again at immigration for exit stamps before reaching the pre-departure area of our connecting flight. There are changes which will happen to Philippine airports in August this year and I hope that the idea will help for a smooth transit and transfer in the future. At this time, transiting in Manila is not advisable unless it is a personal choice or there are no other options.

We departed from Manila at 4pm and arrived in Kansai at 7pm in Japan’s local time. The flight from Manila to Kansai was less than four hours and was happy seeing the delectable flight meal as the food served was a Japanese bento, a local cuisine in a box. On the arrival, a bio-metrics was taken for all adult visitors before queuing at the immigration counter. The advantages of traveling with a small kid were availing the express lane and no doubting questions expected from an immigration officer. As noticed, most of the person staying longer and being questioned at the immigration window are solo travelers.

After successfully passing the Japan immigration and customs, I exchanged bills to the local currency and headed to the Express Haruka train station for a 35-minute fast ride to Tennoji station. The Express Haruka is a limited express train servicing Kansai Airport to Kyoto with stopover in Tennoji and Shin-Osaka stations in Osaka.

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Express HARUKA luggage space

First Impression of a Japanese

The Japanese have the heart to help. They don’t commonly use English to communicate but they help voluntarily especially to tourist who are struggling in operating the train ticketing machines. We had knew from a young lady that two tickets should be inserted to the ticket gate upon entering the station. While on our way, another woman stood up from her seat and came back with the train inspector to confirm that the train we rode in will stop to the right station because we pronounced the station’s name incorrectly.

Brawling with Stairs at the Train Station

As we get off at Tennoji Station, I started to face the problem that I expected to encounter. I was grudgingly looking to our big trolleys.  There was no escalator but I was happy to see that there was an elevator. We used the elevator but we were lost and confused. We didn’t know the way out for it led us to another train platform. We returned back and used the stairs in going up lifting our now became heavy trolleys. My nerves beat like my heart. My flex was tested while on the stairs while stepping as fast as the pace of newly arrived commuters who were at my back and walked with the flow of the crowd. I left my wife and son but following me behind. Trains are the most used transportation in Osaka so it was expected that the station become crowded instantly once a train stops.

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Getting lost at Tennoji Station

Tennoji station is big and was asked few individuals for direction to reach the station’s exit door. We easily recognized the entrance to Tanimachi subway station, our second train ride in Osaka. A deep long breath was given as I saw that I have to go down manually by stairs equivalent to two-story building. It was the most tiring moment of our travel, grasping and lifting of two big trolleys at each hand while stepping down the stairs. We normally travel together with a single trolley but because we will stay longer in the Philippines after our Japan visit, we carried additional two luggage.

After buying our tickets from the machine with the help of two locals, we entered the platform and shortly traveled for three minutes to Shitennoji-mae, the station near to our accommodation. Another stairs going up was waiting for me and my carried bags.

Self Check-in Accommodation at J-Suite East Namba, 4F

It was 9pm when we got out from the station. We walked another four minutes pulling our trolleys until we found our rented apartment. The offline map and the access directions emailed by the owner saved us. It was my first time to experience the self check-in method upon entering an establishment. The room key was kept inside the postal box and the password was separately emailed by the owner together with a house guide. Before we traveled, I researched on how to unlock a postal box and gladly opened it at a single attempt.

cofJ-Suite East Namba is a four-story small building, one room apartment per floor, with occupants on the first two floors and the remaining top floors are for rent. The entire 4th floor was for us as our base for our Osaka and neighboring cities tour.

The room has a refrigerator, microwave, heater and  with kitchen utensils free to use. The most appreciated tool we found in the room was the pocket wifi that can be brought when going out. This handy tool kept us with internet connection anywhere while staying in Japan.

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J-Suite East Namba, 4F

The Golden Triangle of India

I disbanded from the culture I newly known and started to love. This is what I felt after the Golden Triangle trip in India.

The Golden Triangle is the most preferred tour as most of the tourists I met were with the same route. It refers to the triangular shape formed in the map of the three cities of India; New Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Tourists preferably choose this tour to see the marvelous Taj Mahal of Agra, archaeological sites within Jaipur, and historical landmarks in New Delhi for a certain duration.

The six-day tour price ranges between 12 to 15 thousand Indian rupees per head including 3-star accommodations, transportation, tour guides, taxes, rides and other services as agreed with the tour agency. The more people to join the tour reduces the marked price. Budget tour packages for cheaper option was also offered by the tour agents.

DSC_0180Our customized itinerary prepared by Map My Tours was so hectic but I personally enjoyed it. I traveled with a small kid so we didn’t follow the normal tour program. The continuous communication of the tour agent was necessary to well discuss the arrangements and lay out the certain possibilities of changes to the tour. The role of Mr. Shrawan of Map My Tours was very important and his replies to our messages timely attracted us. His tour package was grabbed which urged us to apply tourist E-visa online to enter India. Besides, he agreed that the whole amount of the tour package will be paid upon arrival. His presence on our arrival and meeting on us on the last day of the tour was deeply appreciated.

I’m very thankful to Sanjay for driving us safely to the tourist sites of the Golden Triangle. He was neat and kept the car clean. He was consistently on time and always offering a cold bottled water to drink after we came back from every tour. He talked less but his working attitude gave us comfortable ride from traffic jam of New Delhi towards cows dominated road of Agra and mountainous highway of Jaipur. I felt sad when he finally brought us back to the airport on the last day. His personality marked on our hearts and I highly recommend him to be my tour driver if ever I visit New Delhi again.

Hotel Reviews

All the hotel bookings during my Golden Triangle trip were arranged by the travel agent. It is my part to give feedback, both positive and negative, on things I encountered. This is my personal assessment and I hope it will be accepted positively.

Taurus
Comfortable Bed of Taurus Hotel

Taurus Hotel is a few minutes drive from New Delhi Airport. This hotel was our tour starting point. The building is under renovation so the vicinity I’ve seen on arrival was not safe and convenient. The receptionists were so accommodating and helpful.

The room was in ordinary size but the bedding was so comfortable. The AC was working nicely and so cold that we need to adjust its setting.

The hotel has two operating restaurants but we chose Alpha 63 for our early dinner. The restaurant was untidy to look especially the utensils and the table. Flies was also spotted even we were inside the building. The restaurant staffs were so busy at that time, but they managed to entertain us. The “biryani” was served very spicy though I requested to make it non-spicy. The assigned waiter offered to replace it but I declined. I knew, the waiter will be charged when the food was returned. However, the vegetable pizza was delicious and cheesy. This restaurant introduced the levels of spiciness to us.

The complimentary breakfast was mostly Indian cuisines. The attitudes of some guests during our stay were noticeable for they were standing and eating near the buffet table.

Heart Rate: Room ♥♥♥♥Staffs♥♥♥Foods♥♥♥Restaurant♥♥

Taj Vila
Comfortable bed of Hotel Taj Vila

Hotel The Taj Vila was our luxury hotel in Agra located near the mall. The receptionists were already expected our arrival. A welcome drink was served while relaxing comfortably at the reception hall.

We had a nice executive room with a coffee table and modern amenities. The bedding was very comfortable which gave us a peaceful night. Unfortunately, the internet was slow so I didn’t enjoy much of my social media life for a night.

The restaurant’s non-veg pasta was the first food we ordered through room service. As expected, it has a little spicy taste. Some menu can’t be served without hot savor. The complimentary breakfast in the restaurant was superb for selection of Indian and Intercontinental cuisines as buffet. Eggs can be cooked according to  desire as the standby cook was available. The restaurant has stylish decors and relaxing fined dining atmosphere.

Heart Rate: Room♥♥♥♥Staffs♥♥♥Foods♥♥♥♥Restaurant♥♥♥♥♥

The Anuraag Villas was our next accommodation situated in the middle of residential village in Jaipur for two days. This hotel gave us the feelings that we were just at home. The receptionist was approachable and comfortable to communicate. We were so touched that he offered a complimentary cake for our trip buddy who was celebrating a birthday. The staffs are mostly young and humbly shy on talking just like me. Speaking English language is not our comfort zone.

The room was wide and bedding was basic but that old wood cabinet massages our eyes. Simplicity is beauty as what we called it. The window’s location of the bathroom was so challenging. There was nice view from the window while sitting on the porcelain throne. At night was my greatest concern, my silhouette might be seen from the outside when taking a shower .

The restaurant is purely vegetarian so expected that there is no meat found on the menu aside from eggs. The complimentary breakfast was prepared upon ordering and can be served either in the room, restaurant or in the garden. Breakfast at the garden must be tried to experience dining while a flute musician is serenading.

Heart rate: Room♥♥♥Staffs♥♥♥♥♥Foods♥♥♥Restaurant♥♥♥

Clarks Inn
Comfortable Room of Clarks Inn Hotel

Lastly, the Clarks Inn Hotel was our hotel in South Delhi for two nights. Its location is excellent because it’s near to metro station. There is also a good restaurant named Storm Bar and Grill which is few minutes away by walk.

The room was big with an old sofa. The bedding was so nice and soft. However, the bed’s headboard was with bad odor so we were avoiding to be near it. The plastic water dipper and bucket in the toilet were dirty.

The restaurant rid us from spicy food. The unknown chef was very appreciated for granting our request of zero spicy taste on our ordered food. It was important for us as we are traveling with a kid and I also have low tolerance on spiciness. We preferred the menu served in the hotel than dining out.

Room♥♥♥♥Staffs♥♥♥Foods♥♥♥♥Restaurant♥♥♥

Conclusions

I was surprised that most of the hotel bellboys are always expecting a tip from guests. They didn’t ask verbally but their gestures are showing that they were asking of it.

Majority of the foods served in India are spicy. My sense of taste was crippled due to spiciness. We always relied on the flatbread, “paratha or nan” every time that we can’t survive on the ordered Indian food.

DSC00888The level of cleanliness in India specifically for toilets and bathrooms were so different compared to previous hotels where I stayed. The toilet bowls were not properly cleaned. Black stains were visible in the toilet bowls of all hotels where we stayed even at the restaurants and Delhi’s modernized airport.

Overall, my trip in India ended with a smile and satisfied feeling. The Indian greetings, the daily transfer, the hot and spicy foods which has burning sensation in my ass, the squirrels, cows, crows, monkeys, and pigeons… I am missing them all.

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