Look to the stars, even if we can’t.

We went to Ishigaki (ISG). It’s a little Japanese Okinawan island near Taiwan. You can drive from one end of the island to the other in less than an hour.

After passing up the $500 per night Intercontinental and Club Med all-inclusive resorts, this time, I reluctantly opted for an AirB. That is, Air with Beds but no Breakfast, despite the company claiming “AirBnB.” I have had quite poor experiences with Airbnb in the past, in Japan. If you don’t mind surprises and discomfort then I would recommend them.

Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, after booking and paying for the AirB, the host sent a message saying that there was no bedding. Immediately I wanted to cancel, refund, rebook, however a friend had made the reservation and the tight timeline left us to brainstorm within our existing reservation. I decided: we would take blankets from the plane and crank the heat of the Air for our B’s.

Well, it turns out that it was a miscommunication. There were no pajamas, not no bedding. I guess pajamas are expected in Japanese accommodation. No problem, we could all go naked.

One key benefit of this particular accommodation was a free car rental that could be at the airport on arrival and could be dropped off at the airport at departure. An AirBnC. Now that’s value.

IMG_8465
A topical inspection would never reveal…

We proceeded to execute our general tourist plan around the island, interlaced with fresh fruit smoothies and too many photos to share with anyone, let alone the internet. Local beef lunch, secret blue cave, Kabira Bay, general beaches, downtown sashimi dinner, and ending the day by looking at the stars near an observatory. It turns out that Ishigaki is a famous place for star gazing.

We went to a 24-hour viewing area at about 9pm. It was totally dark, no other people around, no cars, and no stars. There was complete cloud cover all the way across the sky.

We sat in the car, turned on the light, and tried some Okinawan creamy tofu. It was nearly as disappointing as the cloud cover. Then, we decided to head back to our AirB, hit the beach at night, and hope for the clouds to blow over for a second attempt at star gazing. But the battery died.

The car battery died. The car didn’t make a sound when I tried to start it. It did seem to be an older car and had made funny sounds while driving during the day but it was assumed to be normal rather than foreshadowing, at that time. Here we were, atop a hill in an empty star viewing lookout with no stars, and no cars, at 9pm. Our phones had had battery power. We also had had spare batteries to charge our phones but no adapter to charge the car. I’ll have to get one of those for next time. Also in retrospect, I am guessing that the car’s alternator died in this car, that keeps the battery going, but this knowledge could not get us from point A to point B. From experience.

The pressing issue for me was our recently purchased beer getting warm. We also had a drinking problem: we couldn’t drink and then drive, if we had to drive…

After repeatedly and hopelessly trying to start the car another car came to the lookout area to experience our starless sky, and powerless car. Their car was the same color as our creamy tofu, in the dark. Lucky for us, they were 2 friendly guys visiting from Osaka. We now had 2 rental cars, 5 people, zero stars, and zero jumper cables. After calling our rental contact, we ditched the car and got a ride back to our AirB on the other side of the island by means of the friendly strangers and their much more modern rental car with all of the battery power that we desired.

It all worked out so well that we could take it for granted, and probably do. I have to say that I am happy that this happened in Japan rather than any other country.

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