Location, Location, Location

January 19th, 2009

So…Bill has posed the question – how will I make the most of my time in Japan? Well, the answer may not be the standard, but it’s true for a lot of people here – I’ll make the most of my time in Japan by getting out of Japan as often as possible. That’s right, folks, I’m all about international travel.

Being an ALT on the JET program is a unique opportunity. I’m young, much of my cost of living is subsidized – so I have some expendable income, and I have the ability to take chunks of vacation whenever the schedule has an opening. Also, I’m geographically much closer to a lot of places of interest than I was when living on the east coast of the United States. Most of Asia is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. I will likely never be in this situation again. I’d better make the most of it, no?

Some folks are far more serious than I am about travel, but I’ve still done my fair share. In my time here, I’ve been to South Korea, North Korea (technically…if you count 5 minutes over the line in the DMZ), Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, and the Philippines. (Posts containing photos and video clips from each trip are available by searching around. Too many posts to link to here.) And I’m currently looking at a trip to Taiwan in March. Of course, I’ve done loads of travel inside Japan as well – again, far too much to even list.

I still want to go to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia*, India*, Russia, mainland China, Australia, New Zealand, and some other spots. But we’ll see. I might be able to knock out 1/3 to 1/2 of that list by the end of my stay here. If not, I’ll at least give it my best shot. That’s how I plan on making the best of my time in Japan. Other than financially saving as much as I can – yes, it’s doable even with travel expenditures – and improving my Japanese, that is.

*Providing they are safe enough for me to go.
** Yes, I borrowed the map from GraphicMaps.com, so sue me. Figured I shouldn’t erase their watermark if I was gonna use their image. Ha ha.

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  • http://tomschaller.wordpress.com Tom

    Nice. You’ve packed in a bunch already. All I did in my first year was Cambodia and (very briefly) Singapore. I’d love to do more, but I think I have to actually start saving money from now on! Luckily I’ve done a bit of Asia when I was younger. I will try and manage Korea though before I leave, seeing as how it’s just a jump across the sea.

    I wouldn’t be too overly concerned with how safe India is either – or at least, I’d worry more about places like Thailand and Russia in the current climate.

    Toms last blog post was: Poetry about boozing.

  • http://www.rockinginhakata.com Deas

    Tom – yeah, I need to save a bit too, but I really want to travel! Ha ha. You can do it on a reasonable budget if you’re willing to try. You’re not spooked by the whole Mumbai donnybrook, then? I’ve been told that the Trans-Siberian is a horrible experience by a fellow who works in Russia…so I’m writing off a China-Mongolia-Russia trip for now. I’ll probably try to do China, maybe Mongolia, but I’ll probably save Russia for a European-side trip later.

  • http://www.nicolecleary.com Nic

    really? trans-siberian is a no-go? :(

    disheartening. I wouldn’t let one person’s opinion spoil the idea though…

    Nics last blog post was: A Voyage There And Back: Fuji-san

  • http://www.rockinginhakata.com Deas

    Nic – well, really, it wasn’t just one person…however, that one person DID make it sound so, so bad. Ha ha. I’m still open, though. Specially if you plan to come back and join the trip. Ha ha. :-)

  • http://mistersanity.blogspot.com/ Jonadab the Unsightly One

    If you’re anywhere near Cambodia, don’t miss the opportunity to see the Killing Fields Museum (near Phnom Penh). Everyone I’ve ever spoken with who has been there has says it’s something you really have to see to understand.

    As far as Russia, it would technically count as being in Russia if you just popped up to Sakhalin or, for that matter, Etorofu. But personally I think it’d be neat to visit Yakutsk. In winter, by preference.

    Jonadab the Unsightly Ones last blog post was: A Treatise on the Length of Handles

  • http://www.goddesscarlie.com Goddess Carlie

    If you come to the wonderful (because I’m here!) country of Australia, and you like all things budget, I recommend flying via jetstar. (http://www.jetstar.com.au). They aren’t the best plane flights, but they are cheap as chips, especially if you get a good sale price. I’ve been on more expensive airlines and I think Jetstar were on par or even better. But the food is really bad, so bring your own along for the flight. Last year I got flights to Japan for $AU150, which is better than $2000 I’ve seen on other airlines. Eep, I’m rambling!

    Goddess Carlies last blog post was: Making the Most of Japan

  • http://theghostletters.blogspot.com/ freedomwv

    Their is a huge advantage to living in Japan for the travel minded person. I have a few spots of my own I would like to visit.

    freedomwvs last blog post was: J-blog of the Week Ed. #2 Gaijin Tonic

  • http://www.nicolecleary.com Nic

    May I ask? What exactly did they say was so awful bout it?!

    I’m still thinking about it. :)

    Nics last blog post was: Don’t Forget To Blink

  • http://www.rockinginhakata.com Deas

    Jonadab – I’ve heard that the Killing Fields is a pretty solemn visit. Similar to Hiroshima or Nagasaki in the sense that the weight of the tragedy is more easily experienced at the actual site. I’d love to go if the chance arose. But I won’t lie – my primary target in Cambodia would be Angkor Wat.

    Carlie – that is an awesome hint. Thanks so much for the inside scoop, there. I can deal with a budget airline no problem. The only question is one of baggage / carry-on restrictions. And, of course, of whether or not a trip to Australia / New Zealand is possible in the first place. Ha ha.

    Freedom – I know you took a trip over the winter vacation. Where are you thinking of traveling next?

    Chuck – the toilets, the food, the climate, the bedding, the cabin fever, the scary movies (joke), and the total lack of English-friendly tourism. Not that I’m at all opposed to using a phrasebook. For me it was the toilets and food thing. But like I said – I’m still open to the idea. Just might take a little reverse convincing. ;-)

  • http://www.nicolecleary.com Nic

    Well the toilets and the food on the train ride across China was pretty shit too. The toilets got really scary just after about 10… so I can imagine what they must look like doing even further than China.

    But still,

    Part of the experience, AND does make for better stories, ne?

    I still want to see the movie!

    Nics last blog post was: Don’t Forget To Blink

  • http://tomschaller.wordpress.com Tom

    What happened to the toilets after 10…? Did they become enchanted or something?

    Toms last blog post was: Poetry about boozing.