Hearton Hotel, Osaka, Japan

Pronounced as Heart-ton not hear-ton, the hotel is as what the reviews state it to be. Good location and good value for money. Well situated 5 minutes away from the Shinsaibashi Train Station and 3 minutes from the Shinsaibashi 1km shopping strip. It is a haven for shoppers as the strip is lined with stores like Takashimaya, Zara, Loft, Uniqlo and the much sought after second hand / pre-owned luxury bag stores like Daikokuya. I counted around at least 7 second hand stores in that strip.

Hearton is very cheap at $100 per night for 2 persons already. The room is a bit cramped and not for lounging around in. But it is clean and has the standard amenities for budget travelers like hot water boiler, mini ref, free Wi-fi access and Shisheido bathroom essentials. All TV channels are in Japanese though. We stayed at a semi double room, the bed is a bit small for 2 so I suggest you get at least a twin room. Hearton allows you to leave your luggage at the front desk in case check-in/check-out waiting time is long. Do request for a non-smoking floor upon check-in – we didn’t get one which was a bummer for a non-smoker like me.

To get there, use exit 5 north in Shinsaibashi station, cross the big street so Loft and Zara should be at your back. Walk a little bit inside Shinsaibashi strip and turn right on the first corner (less than a minute walk) – it is a side street with Key Coffee on the left. Walk straight ahead – you should pass a huge bowling pin statue on your left, an AM-PM convenience store on your left. Hearton Hotel is the corner hotel on your right – sign is a bit small but you will see their logo. Staff can speak a little bit of English, enough to complete check-in and check-out transaction smoothly.

I booked the hotel through Agoda.com. At first it was fully booked but we waited a few days and some rooms opened up so was able to get a room. I would highly recommend it for shoestring travelers.

Hotel Name: Hearton Hotel Minami Senba
Address: 2-12-22 Minumisenba Chuo-ku,
Osaka, Japan

Splash Island: Cool off at Splash Island

It's 34 degrees outside and it's time to head out once again to Splash Island. It has been 3 summers now and Splash Island has almost become a ritual for me and the kids. Big wide open space + water = FUN, FUN! Now it is very critical that you go at the right time unless you want to swim with the entire Philippine population.

We always go on a weekday and usually just right after school ends. It is our right of passage to summer v-v-vacation!

The kids try all the water rides the height requirement permits (hehe takes after me). My boy welcomes wave after big wave at the wave pool. I never ever let him out of my sight at this point.  Horror stories of wave pools are for real - drowning and hitting head on the pool wall. So take caution.

Then the favorite raft ride.  It permits a group of 4 to ride a big rubber raft which will be dropped from a high winding slide -- Wohoo!   Age catches up on me as my heart thumps like a voodoo drum beat. I heard that they will even add heart stopping rides just for this summer.

So far, the times we have been there has been pretty slow, that is, I see water and not heads. We have had that in Malaysia, but that's another story. First I make sure we go on a weekday. Do take that leave - it's a must for your enjoyment. Secondly, I call to find out if there are truck loads of people coming in. Sometimes, there is a big corporate event - red light, stop, postpone.

To my dismay, they have relaxed their swimwear rules, accepting shorts and shirts on the pool.  But then at least, you don't have to buy Yaya a swimsuit. Do follow the safety rules to avoid injury and keep your eye on the kids - always. Kids and water are not exactly soul mates though kids would like to think so.

So there, go, frolick in the sun and soak in the cool, cool water ...

Operating Hours: Friday - Sunday 8am - 8pm P 500 adult / P 400 child
Monday - Thursday 9am - 5pm P 400 adult / P 350 child
*Summer Schedule only.
Address: Splash Island Spa & Resort
Southwoods Ecocentrum Binan, Laguna Philippines
Contact Numbers: 0918-912-9177 / 986-5058

Website:  www.splashisland.net