Ah, this randomly popped up one day after posting. WordPress usually gives some kind of random inspiration to bloggers, like a muse or excessive drinking. This title caught my eye. “What travel lessons have you learned the hard way?” Let me put this out there and say I am in no way a globe trotter. I have been to my share of strange, different, and exotic places but I haven’t been everywhere. But in my time overseas and a few self-planned trips I can say mistake were made….
# 5. No Faffing About: On the way to Sokcho, Chad and I were almost left behind during a routine pit-stop in the lovely countryside of middle-of-nowhere Korea. Luckily, Chad and I can run fast. However much time the bus drive says you have, just take a piss and hurry back. Whatever you want to buy, or do, or look at, forget it, just pee and hop back on the bus.
#4. On the Map: maps, most are for free, we have them on smart phones and GPS and navigation systems. There are all kinds of neat and niffy way to access a map nowadays. Don’t waste your vacation time lost- look at a map! Everywhere I go, I bring a map or get one at the local tourist information center. If you don’t want to look touristy, cause you’re just too cool for that, check your map in a private location, like a bathroom. Just check it. Most places in Korea (if you look pretty lost and are staring at a map) some kind Korean, will an urge to practice English, will ask you if you need help. You never know, you can make a friend!
#3. Sail the 7 Seas with me, just find your own way: don’t book trips for friends. It’s been a few times now that I’ve planned and booked a trip and was a kind and handy travel agent for my friends. But unlike a travel agent I didn’t get paid and got the shaft. Then I’m left to pay the bill and make the recalculations. (Ya know like reckoning the price on sharing a condo with 5 instead of 6.) If you want to travel with friends, that’s find and it’s a great idea to travel with others, but have everyone book their own way and meet up later.
#2. 867-5309!!! This may seem simple but make sure you have the address and phone of the hotel or hostel or where ever you are staying. Lots of things ask for this. Customs want to know it, some random forms at the airport want it and it’s good to have it on hand if you get lost. (Also try to have it in English and it that country’s language/alphabet.) Even if you know the location and everything- just in case! I knew exactly where our hotel was from the subway station, unfortunately, I forgot which subway station and the name of them hotel once we arrived in Tokyo. It wasn’t until I was staring at a neighborhood map that it click, we were at the WRONG subway station…. This may seem like a no-brainer but simple things just confuse and scary me.
#1. Ah, take the Cash in hand: This may seem strange to some, and I’m sure some people will say I’m all wrong about this one, but trust me when I say, keep cash on you. Not a lot, and always enough to get a train, or bus, or cab, back to the airport, ferry or whatever that brings you home. The morning we were headed back from Tokyo we had spent all our cash, not wanting to carry a bunch of yen back to Seoul. “I’ll just use my card” I thought. Except in Tokyo the only ATM’s that have any English options require you to withdraw a minimum of 10,000 yen which, at the time, was roughly 100 USD. We had just under 100 bucks in my home account, because the night before I used my card to buy dinner. We were stuck with the crippling fear of no way to buy a train ticket to get back to the airport. We were stuck in Tokyo! We had Korean won and even a 50 US dollar bill in my wallet but no Japanese yen. Luckily, the other train company in that station opened at 6:00 AM and Chad was able to scrap enough Japanese to buy two tickets to the airport. This train company had a ticket booth that took card. Thank God for the JR line (Japan Railways Group.)
So these are my top 5 tips for travelers. Bon voyage!!
Happy Birthday Chad! It seems like you enjoyed Akiba. Your face says it all I think. I hope you enjoyed your present!!
I love candy. It’s so pretty and colorful. And it’s pretty tasty too. Japan had some cool candy.
Here is Kompeitō a Japanese traditional candy. It taste just like rock candy on a stick. It’s a hand made candy and taste like sugar.
It was introduced to Japan by Portuguese traders in the 16th century.
Some of the special kind come in more colors this was just a little cheap bag of candy that I bought in a grocery shop.
I’m gonna use this as an opportunity to work on some Photoshop skills and mess around with my camera and do creative… stuff. Because a kinder arts and crafts teacher needs more creative stuff in her life right… I wanted to cheat and use some pictures I just took on the Akiba trip but cheating is wrong and if I yell at my students “NO CHEATING” then I better be good too… (being good is so lame…)
Day 1 I took this around midnight or so last night so it counts… Mr. Saturn! BOING!
Famicom games are the Japanese equivalent to NES games. Akihabara was full of them. Here is a picture of some:
So after we got home we watch Lost in Translation. Great movie. Lots of the same feels in that movie when you go to another country. But the thing is in the movie they don’t make the best of their time there. Well until the part where they meet up and go out for the night. That’s what I think. The best thing is getting lost. That’s where the adventure lies… I wandered off to the next neighborhood from my hotel while Chad took a nap. I had enough yen to get there but I didn’t have enough for the train back. I also couldn’t find an ATM where my card would work to get more yen. So I decided to walk back to the hotel. Then it started to rain. Awesome. It was a fun 30 minute walk in the rain and dark. Tokyo doesn’t have as many street lights as Korea. But I did get some great pictures at the Sensō-ji.
This was the one non-geeky thing I did on the trip. This is Sensō-ji Main Hall. It is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant. But you can read more about it on the Wikipedia page here.
For our vacation we went to Tokyo, Japan. This was what we called our “geeky trip.” We went to see Akihabara the Electric Town. Tons of manga, anime, maid cafes, electronics and video games. Video games is the reason for this trip.
We stayed at a nice hotel in the next neighborhood by Askusabashi Station. It was called Hotel Nihonbashi Villa. It was quiet the adventure. We got lost trying to find our hotel the first day because I got my train stations mixed up and we arrived at the wrong station. Then we had some troubles with getting train tickets back to the airport. It was pretty scary but we got it all figured out and got home safely. I learned that the Seoul metro is 100x better than the Tokyo metro/rail system and cheaper too. And always have emergency cash on you (in that countries currency) in case of ATM trouble. It didn’t help that we had a US 50 and a pocket full of Korean won but spent all our yen on dinner. Should have used card in that case.
Life is always and adventure I guess, for better or worst and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here are some of the highlights: