For those who don't know, pachinko is a like a Japanese form of slot machines or pokies or whatever you call gambling machines. Being Japanese, it has to be way more advanced yet way more antiquated than gambling machines elsewhere. There also have to be a heap of stupid rules.Read More
November for me is Arashi concerts! Which is the most awesome thing you can do in November, in my opinion. This year's concert was especially fun. Of course, you can't take photos inside but this is the display outside Tokyo Dome.
I left Tokyo for a few days in Sapporo (for the concert). Since I've been to Sapporo before, I didn't do much sightseeing. I did go to the famous fish market but it was an exceptionally cold day and it looked like everyone was packing up early.
I started at the best Airbnb in Sapporo. A tiny apartment but well set out. The bonus was when I opened the fridge and found it stocked with absolute everything you'd need. Beer, wine, snacks, food.
Arashi concerts, of course. I went in Sapporo and Tokyo. Best concerts ever.
My sister and her boss came to Tokyo for work but we had a day of sightseeing. We went to Meiji shrine then walked around Yoyogi Park before heading to Yanaka. Lots of sightseeing packed into one day!
I learnt to play pachinko (the Japanese version of slot machines). Full post on that to come.
I went to Yokohama to check out the history archives. Interesting place with issues of all the old newspapers from the beginning of the foreign settlement just over 150 years ago. Probably not a top tourist destination for the casual visitor but exciting for me because a lot of stuff I've looked at for research in Japan has no dates or details attached to it, well not in English anyway.
I started writing a new book which is the most fun book I've written in ages. I'm not sure if it's going to sell well but I'm enjoying writing it, that's for sure.
So many irritating annoyances this month. Just stupid things. Like I'd contacted the takkyubin (luggage delivery) service to arrange to have my suitcase sent to the airport while I travelled around Japan for 10 days. After a bunch of emails, they told me that they couldn't pick up more than a week in advance. I'd told them the dates in my first message!
Then I'd rented a wifi device for while I travelled. The day they were due to send it out they told me they won't post to an Airbnb. I have nfi why. I could understand if it was a shared place but I had my name on the door of my apartment and on the letterbox. No need to be so damn pedantic.
Things like that drive me nuts about Japan.
The other big challenge was that I run a major promotion on one of my book series and it flopped big time. I've never had that happen before. I think the series just doesn't resonate with readers. I guess that's one of the hardest bits of writing. You can spend months on something that doesn't work.
Most Popular Post:
Jeez Louise, I only wrote one post this month. Slack!
That was my post on Hostelworld. I've updated because they got in touch with me to apologise and sort things out.
Most Popular Photo on Instagram:
Work and Money:
I wasn't nearly as productive as I'd hoped. Only 10K words written. I really wanted to get more down than that.
My earnings were not what I'd expected either, because of the failed promotion. I think I need to analyse why and work on that.
Coming in December 2016:
Travelling in Japan then back to Australia for Christmas.
ETA: Since writing this post, Hostelworld sent out their usual feedback form. I wrote something suitably scathing. A few days later, I got a response from a customer service manager to say they'd refund my deposit and with apologies for how things had been handled.
There are so many hotel and hostel bookers in the travel industry, you'd think that a company would want to go the extra mile in customer service. Repeat customers are gold. But recently I had a nasty incident with Hostelworld that means I will never, ever use their service again. I won't say it was a blatant rip off but it came close.
I rarely use the Hostelworld booking site. For starters, I don't stay in hostel dorms so most of their listings don't apply to me.
When I use them to find a single room in a hostel, I find them super annoying. You can filter on single rooms but the price you get is the cheapest rate (ie. for a dorm bed) so you have to go into every single listing to get the single room rate. I don't have time for that.
Recently though, I wanted to book at one of the cheap budget hotels in Osaka. Being Japanese, if you book direct, you email them then wait for a person to get back to you to let you know if they have a room etc. It's time consuming and annoying so I figured I'd go through the Hostelworld site to have an immediate booking.
That was fine. I booked it and paid the extra buck or so to have a flexible booking plus my deposit.
I have NFI why you even need to pay a deposit. No other booking site I use asks for one.
Then I decided to change my booking. I'm going to Osaka for the Arashi concert but my ticket is for the Friday night and I'd booked to stay for 3 nights after that as well. I'm getting the Horuriku train pass that takes you through Kanazawa and other parts of Japan I've not explored so I figured I'd get the hell out of Osaka after the concert and go to new and exciting places.
I figured I could go on Hostelworld and change my booking. I was giving a few weeks notice.
Only I could find no way to change the booking.
So, next best thing, I contacted the hotel directly. After a few emails confirming my details, they told me they couldn't do it. I had to go through Hostelworld. Jeez Louise. Get with the 21st century.
I went back on Hostelworld and found out the only way to change my booking was to cancel it and rebook. I was a bit wary about doing that because it's Arashi concert weekend. Rooms are in high demand.
Anyway, I cancelled. Then I tried to rebook. I tried a whole bunch of times and it kept just booting me back to the start of the booking process. I had no room booked and began thinking that I'd be sleeping on the streets of Osaka!
So, I contacted their customer support. After a few hours of hearing nothing from them, I went on another site and found a room at a different hotel and booked that.
A day or so later, I got a reply. It was the standard thing. You know when the customer service person (maybe not even a real person, actually) does a quick scan, finds a key word then answers a question unrelated to anything you've actually said.
I emailed them back and told them their reply did not help me at all and asked for my deposit back since I was unable to rebook on their site. I think that was a reasonable request considering they didn't give me the functionality to rebook.
The customer service person got back to me (this was two days after I cancelled my booking), telling me to clear my browser cookies! WTF! I've never had to do that on any other site and there was nothing in any of their help or instructions to tell me that. I can't say that, when a website malfunctions, my first thought is clearing my browser cookies.
I sent another email saying that even though it wasn't their policy to give a cash refund, in this case I wanted one because it was impossible to rebook. I got another unhelpful email back.
And the issue was not caused by Hostelworld website but by your browser cookies. Sorry for this happened to you, if it keep happening in future, we sugguest you clear cookies and normally all cuased by browser cookies. Thanks for attention.
Hope this clearlifed. [sic]
So Hostelworld can keep my $13 since it means so much to them. I will never use them again. I will tell everyone I know never to use them. I've used other booking sites in the past who've gone out of their way to help me. I made a double booking with non-cancellable bookings on Booking.com, totally my fault and I was prepared to wear the cost but, when I got in touch with them, they let me cancel one of them. That's the kind of customer service you remember and you tell people about.
Can you believe I almost wrote 2015 for the year? I'm so behind the times. This year is going crazy fast, although super long at the same time. Things I did in Jan and Feb seem like years ago. I have a feeling this is going to the best month of the year because Arashi concerts!Read More
If you are learning a foreign language, like Japanese, going to karaoke is good way to get practice. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe I’m just thinking that because I’d rather faff off to karaoke and sing Arashi songs than do real study – but then again, if I wasn’t doing that, I’d just be faffing off playing spider solitaire or posting on facebook anyway so at least I’m doing something, right.
I think this would work for any Asian language since there seems to be a huge amount of Asian songs available. If you are studying a non-Asian language, like say Bulgarian, you might be out of luck. Or maybe there are a heap of Bulgarian karaoke boxes that I just don’t know about.Read More
Whether you're saving money to travel or for other big life plans, there are a heap of shonky tips out there. Reuse your tea bags? No thanks. Give up your daily latte? Never.
These are five tips that have worked for me.Read More
I spend way too much time on planes, and way, way too much time in airport. Man, I hate airports. If I could travel the world without ever going on a plane, I would. But, since I'm based in Australia and don't fancy cruise boats, flying is a necessity.
So, to make life as simple as possible, I have stock standard, no fuss/no muss travelling outfit. Keeping it simple means you have more time to stress about all that other shit you need to stress about at airports. Okay, for me that's usually 'where's the smoking room?'Read More
I'm all over the internet at the moment. You can find me here:
Talking about how much money digital nomads spend with Gigi Griffis.
Talking about blogging on Trip Happy.
Reviewing my backpack on Her Packing List.
I also made my Japanese television debut! Well,it's not been aired yet. Whenever I'm Japan, I apply for every opportunity that comes up with the Arashi fan club to do audience stuff but never get picked. But last week, finally, I got my chance. I got to be an extra for a movie filming. The best part, of course, was that I got to have a day of perving. The movie is on New Year's Eve in Japan. I'm not sure if I'll actually be in any shots but it was fun.
Other than that, it's been work, drinking coffee, karaoke and the usual life stuff.
What have you been up to lately?
Say you're planning a trip to Tokyo. You do your research and read up all the guidebooks and blogs. There's one problem with that though. The information you get is out of date and could even be completely wrong.
Things in Tokyo move slow. Until they move, then they seem to move really fast. I've been travelling here at least once a year for the past eight years and there have been some massive changes in that time.Read More
The winner of my casual poll from last week is Natalie! If you could email me kathryn.a.ohalloran at gmail.com with your address, I'll get stuff sent out to you :)