Where I have been
- 21 days in Tokyo, Japan
- 1 day in Kamakura, Japan
- 2 days in Fukushima, Japan
- 1 day in Nikko, Japan
- 5 days in Seoul, South Korea.
- 2 days in Narita and Haneda Airport terminals
- A girlfriend back home in America messaged me over Facebook, asking me where I would be for the next 2 months or so. It turns out she needed to get away, and within 48 hours she was booked and ready to backpack parts of China and Korea with my boyfriend and I through April. Although I was stressed out for a few days from the utter chaos of changing schedules, plans and accommodations to fit 3 people, I think our memories together will be worth the short-term stress.
- Visiting Mt. Takao, (just 2 hours outside of Tokyo) was an absolute blast! I joined a few friends and visited the eccentric temple dedicated to Tengu, a mythical troll of the forest, along with a monkey park and a suspension bridge along one of the many trails throughout the mountain
- Cuddling with foxes at Zao Fox Village in Fukushima was a delight! The fluffy little guys were so precious, I couldn’t help but go back for seconds.
- The tumultuous view of Kegon Falls, and the stillness of Lake Chuzenji in Nikko National Park was a much-needed break from the stress of the city. I don’t think I’ll ever be as keen to live in a mega-metropolis ever again after experiencing the craziness of Tokyo!
- Summiting Baekundae peak at Bukhansan National Park in Seoul. The steep hike was more like bouldering rather than walking, but the view at the top was worth every sweat-droplet.
- Shopping along Myong-Dong and Insa-dong in Seoul: I have been saving every penny I earned towards this excursion, and was so excited to finally pick up souvenirs and Mother’s Day gifts for those I love. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to partake in good, old fashioned retail therapy.
- Attempting to obtain a Chinese visa not once, but three times. The Chinese Embassy is only open for 3 hours per day, and they require a **** ton of paperwork (for little to no reason, as far as I can tell). Talk about frustration!!
- Quitting my job. By far, the biggest low I have experienced in Japan was having to look at the preschoolers I teach and tell them I have to return home to America. Yes, I cried.
- Spending close to 36 hours in Narita and Haneda Airports would have to be the lowest lowlight of the month. A series of mishaps left me with out-turned pockets and drooping eyelids. Be warned: If you attempt to fly budget airlines, like Peach, don’t be surprised if they refuse to correct a mistake on their end (i.e. no seats on the plane) and also refuse to refund your ticket.
- Airfare: I can’t stress enough the usefulness of Skyscanner and Kayak. Between these two sites, I was able to book tickets through Korea into Bejing for $275 total. Neither ticket was over $150.
- Including the mishaps, I spent a total of $300 to get to Seoul, and $100 to get to Bejing
- Accomodations: Through AirBnB, I actually got a better deal than a hostel for a bed in Seoul. It worked out to $6/per person/per night. So, I spent less on hotel costs than I did rent.
- Bus tickets from Fukushima back to Tokyo were roughly 3000 yen ($30USD) rather than a $150USD ticket on the bullet train. It only took a few hours longer (5 hours VS 2 hours)
- I rode the local train and spend 30% of the total cost of a bullet train up to Nikko and Fukushima from Tokyo. Total price: $45 in train fare. Totally worth it if you take in the spectacular view of the sunset as well.
I have a grandiose month planned out for April! I’m aiming to climb 3 different mountains in China, I have plans to paddle-board in Taiwan, and I even have the opportunity to climb the blue mountains in Sydney. I’ll be moving rapidly across 2 different continents and hopefully able to finish out the month before relaxing away May. I’ve been planning multiple road trips across the USA and Canada this summer to include tons of national parks, festivals and long-lost friends I have been meaning to visit.