Frantic Relaxing

This is our last day in Kyoto and we have seen all we want to. There have been plenty of Temples and Shrines to satisfy our interest for a good long while. So we just went into town ato an air conditioned shopping centre ( not the one attached to the station ) and to walk around, see what was there and get some lunch. We needed a break from our frantic researching anyway…

It seems we are inadvertently living like true Kyoto-ites. It was very busy in town and on the train, so this must be the thing to do on the weekend. It makes sense, if your house is tiny, to go out, get some space and meet friends.

The shopping center had a lot of choices for food on the 4th floor. Aimi endured my excitement to dine at another sushi restaurant, but we had to dine here. They have a sushi conveyor belt AND a robot waiter! It was great fun ordering food from a tablet, having it arrive either by person, conveyor or robot. I’m not sure how they decide which, but it was tastey and fun.

The reason we came to this shopping center is because they have 2 model train stores both with large layouts. They seem to be clubs where you can bring your trains, set them up and send them around the tracks. I’m not a model train enthusiast, but I can appreciate the effort and skill that goes into building the models. These trains were much smaller than those David used to have, but equally detailed.

We got to excersize some frustration in the arcade next on an Air Hockey table like no other. This had your standard puck to hit into the goal slot you had to defend, but like everything in Japan, its all automated. Some times during the game it would randomly release another puck and then you really had a hard time keeping up hitting it and defending. Then on our second game, about 20 smaller and much faster pucks were released all in one go! It was mayhem trying to keep them from pinging into your goal. So much fun! 

We also discovered the best game yet, for its simplicity and enjoyment. Its a gumball machine, but tou get the chance to win more gumballs. When you’ve paid your 100Y (50p) the gumball drops onto a plastic set of ramps. You then use some handlebars to rock the ramp from one side to another to move the gumball higher and higher to some holes at the top. If you’re too aggressive the gumball falls off and pops out for you to eat anyway, so you can’t lose. But after some trial and error, I managed to get one of my gumballs into the 1st hole and got 2 gumballs as a prize! Excellent, simple, satisfying game. 

On the walk back to the house we passed thru a park. It was surprising to see this one needed its grass cutting. Everything is usually so well kept in Japan. On the other side were the old tram cars that used to be used in the city. They have been turned into ice cream parlours and sweet shops with very little internal upgrades so you can see what they used to look like. 

When we got home we had to try to finish what we spent all morning frantically doing. Looking for a hotel in Bali. We have already booked 4 nights in a nice place for the end of our trip leading up to our flight home. But since changing our travel plans and style so we are spending longer in fewer places, we need to book longer on Bali. There is so much we want to see there. While we haven’t been staying in the worst places, this is our honeymoon, so we do want to spend some time just relaxing in some comfort. I think spending nearly 2 weeks in traditionally appointed japanese houses has really made us appreciate the virtues of a sofa and tall ceilings.

It turns out simply booking a nice hotel is a real pain. This is going to sound rather spoilt, but damn it, its our honeymoon so while we do have budget constraints, we aren’t limited too much, yet its still really hard to find somewhere nice. We are booking reasonably short notice, so understand that lots of places are full. But thats not what makes it hard. When looking at reviews of hotels there are some fishy things going on. Like hotels that look very well established physically in the photos. Like they are built around on all sides and have a well maintained but dated decor and they only have 20-30 reviews and only starting this year. Or they have thousands of reviews, but they have all been translated from Indonesian and come in batches of 50 reviews, every week. Now a charitable person would say that must be because they host weddings or some sort of event, and if this was a large hotel with a conference centre attached, I might believe it. But these are tiny, 10 room resorts on a hillside in the middle of a jungle, surrounded by ox ploughed paddy fields. It’s just a bit fishy and means it’s very difficult to pick something that looks genuine. 

The criteria we have sort of built up to weed out these dodgy looking reviews looks something like this. If you answer yes to the majority of these, its probably a bit dodgy.

  • Are the photos all submitted by the owner?
  • Do the reviews come in large batches of dates?
  • Are the majority of reviews only 1 sentence long?
  • Are the reviews all translated from the same language, no variation?
  • None or very few reviews contain photos?
  • Are review photos overly professional looking, or reused over again?
  • Are the photos really low quality or pixelated?
  • Has the hotel responded to negative reviews with a copy and paste preformatted response with zero personalisation?
  • Are the majority of reviews from people with only a few reviews to their name?

In the end Aimi went to bed and I persisted finding one late into the night. She had, afterall, been a good wife today and taken me to Sushi, to see model trains and trams. I needed to find a good one. In the end, I think I found one, we shall see if she approves in the morning!