It's almost scary that I've grown accustomed to this 'lack of internet' thing... I miss this community and feel bad that I only manage to check in every blue moon or so. However, I guess I've traded my dA hours for layovers? It's no substitute for this community, but I suppose it consoles my deviantHEART ever so slightly.
One of the best lessons I've learned by living overseas is how to travel -- and how easy it is to do!
Over the past year, my dA Stamps have been trumped by my Passport ones. I can't stress enough how much I hope the rest of you travel as well. It's not a difficult thing to do and it's so much fun.
Traveling is a lot CHEAPER than I imagined too -- but that might be because I'm already based in such a convenient place, and traveling to cheap places. Getting here is expensive, but once you get past that part, the rest is a breeze! Japan is like the gateway to Asia. If you are ever planning a trip to the Asian region, lemme know! I may just hop on a plane and meet you there!
Below I've included ticket prices so you can get a feel for how much it costs to travel in this region. All prices below are depicted in U.S. Dollars (USD) because Yen (JPY) doesn't make sense to anyone outside of Japan. xD All of the ticket prices are roundtrip, too.
Hotel costs listed are per person per night. Oh! And for the record, almost all of the places I stay are booked through HostelWorld.com
because they're awesome. They have places other than hostels listed -- cheap hotels, bed & breakfasts, inns, guesthouses, etc. -- and that site gives me a good idea as to where to stay, what I should be paying, travel tips, and places to avoid. I love it!Tickets to Japan from North America:
About $700~$800 (USD) Roundtrip
Exchange Rate: 1 usd to 83 yen
Hotel Costs: $65 a night (USD)
Living in Japan has taught me many things --- how to eat first and ask later, how to convey any message through charades, how to nod and smile and laugh whenever everyone else is laughing to create the illusion that you're following the conversation.
Strangely enough, traveling within Japan is often more expensive than traveling overseas. In the year and some odd months that I've been here, I've done more and seen more than some Japanese people have done in their entire lives -- not only in this region, but throughout this country. I guess they stay home because they figure they could go out and do all of the stuff I've done at any time, any year. The problem is that if you accept that way of thinking, you'll still be saying the same thing 80 years down the road and nothing to show for it.
I look back on the time I spent back in my hometown --- and all of the time I spent lallygagging around the house --- and can't believe I wasn't exploring my own country more! I have been to more places in Japan than I've been to places back home and it amazes me.
It took living in another country to make me want to visit my own.Tickets to South Korea from Japan:
About $250 (USD) Roundtrip
Exchange Rate: 1 usd to 1120 won
Hotel Costs: $16 a night (USD)
Busan, South Korea is only a 20-minute plane ride from Fukuoka, Japan (or a 3-hour boat ride). The city is so full of sights and sounds -- some of which caught me off-guard when I first laid eyes on them (i.e. Little Granny in the Fish Market with an octopus a third her size climbing up her arm as she tried to shove it, still alive and wriggling, into a plastic bag for a customer.).
The food in Korea a spicy kind of wonderful. I've yet to explore Seoul on anything other than a middle-of-the-night layover, but I hear it's a great place, too.Tickets to Beijing, China from Japan:
About $330 (USD) Roundtrip
Exchange Rate: 1 usd to 7 renmenbi/yuan
Hotel Costs: $14 a night (USD)
Beijing was everything I expected China to be -- and NOTHING like I expected China to be. It's hard to explain. The pollution in the air is much thicker than I imagined and the streets are dirtier than I thought they'd be --- but I had no idea the Forbidden City was so big! And I didn't know the climb UP to the Great Wall was so incredibly STEEP! And I didn't even know the gorgeous Summer Palace on the mountain even existed!
Plus, once you're in the country, EVERYTHING is cheap! Our hotel was maybe $15 a night? Meals were about $2 each?Tickets to Vietnam from Japan:
About $350 (USD) Roundtrip
Exchange Rate: 1 usd to 20,000 dong
Hotel Costs: $11 a night (USD)
Vietnam was a last-minute destination change after that little fizzle between North and South Korean on the island off of Seoul. We figured Vietnam wasn't really tied to either of those countries (or the big powers that back them) so it was a safe enough place to book tickets to without worrying about having to cancel the trip.
The country is beautiful. When you get a chance, run a Google Image search for "Ha Long Bay." The food here is also divine -- from super sweet rice cakes in a coconut cinnamon and peanut soup; to insanely spicy noodles topped with cilantro lemongrass and strange chewing things resembling ...meat?; to odd flavors and textures that aren't comparable to anything else I've ever tried (...a white, sugarless, flavorless pear thing that makes you thirsty, dipped in a spice resembling a tame salty chili powder...?). ...No idea what that was. xD
The exchange rate is definitely in your favor here. Everything was cheap -- even when people were ripping you off. I preferred the northern part of the country, but both areas were cool. Crossing the streets was like taking your life into your hands. Imagine a Real Life Frogger game, up against hordes of motorbikes.Tickets to Cambodia from Japan:
About $350 (USD) Roundtrip
Exchange Rate: 1 usd to 4000 riel
Hotel Costs: $12 a night (USD)
The Angkor Wat ruins in Siem Reap are even cooler in real life than they are in video games. Safer, too!
I really liked riding around in "Tuk-Tuks" -- which are basically buggies hooked to the back of motorbikes. We met some wonderful people in this country and despite the tourist trap areas, I thought it was a beautiful country. Parts of it really reminded me of Hawaii. Not the flower-lei-and-tiki-torch Hawaii, but the local and laid back Hawaii. The greenery was similar, and the Khmer people resemble people in Hawaii quite a bit, too.
The food is a bit spicy and they're fond of a strange tangy flavor that they pour on everything. They eat a lot of beef here, too. One thing that surprised me was that they use US Dollars alongside their own local currency. (I wonder why that is...?) This means everything in Cambodia is a bit more expensive compared to its neighbors (like Vietnam).Tickets to Hong Kong from Japan:
About $250 (USD) Roundtrip
Exchange Rate: 1 usd to 8 hong kong dollars
Hotel Costs: None, lol.
I'm not sure if I can count this one... For one, it's kind of part of China. For another, I only spent 11 hours here in the middle of the night during a long layover.
I left the airport and wandered around the city, meeting cool people, wandering to old temples, and having a great time -- but I've never seen this place in the daylight. f(^~^;
I can attest to one thing, though: This city was built on a HILL. A big hill. A STEEP
hill. Think... steeper than the trudge up to Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto, Japan. Or picture Seattle, Washington or San Francisco, California in the United States. Lugging a suitcase up and down those streets for eleven hours was quite a workout! From what I saw of it at 3am, the city looks really fun. Full of art galleries, restaurants, shops, street food stalls, and then some. I'll have to take a proper trip there one of these days.Tickets to France from Japan:
About $500 (USD) Roundtrip
Exchange Rate: 1 usd to 0.7 euros
(Do they still use Francs there?)
Hotel Costs: $60 a night (USD)
The next place on my list is Paris, France! I've decided to wander beyond the Asian region and head to Europe. I've never been to Europe before!
I'm heading there in about... 2 weeks actually! Tickets have been bought, hotel has been booked. Should be fantastic! Paris is like the Great Wall --- it doesn't really exist in my head. I can't wait to see it in person! And I'm definitely going to try to go to Mont Saint Michel.
It's just too pretty in the pictures to pass up!
Traveling is so easy. And the booking process is so ...painless! I realize now that the only thing that ever held me back from traveling was myself. Money, okay yes, I suppose -- but mostly myself. Have you ever stopped to consider how much you spend on coffees every morning? Avoid Starbucks/Fast Food/Cigarettes for two months and you'll have saved up enough for a ticket to a nearby country!
Before I'd caught the travel bug, the idea of traveling to different places throughout the world seemed too... surreal. Even though I'm living overseas, the idea of just hopping on a plane and traveling somewhere on vacation didn't really seem plausible to me. But once I'd done it -- once I bought a ticket and booked a room -- I realized how simple it was! And how inexpensive it can be! Now that I know what I'm doing, the process is even quicker. Booking tickets to Paris literally took me six minutes over the phone. I even took a picture of my phone's call log for memory's sake.
My next goal is to travel somewhere on my own to a country that doesn't speak English as its primary language (or at all). I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to do this yet, and that's exactly why I want to do it.
The Moral of the Story: Go out there in the world! It's not as hard as you'd think.
Journal Layout by: