In Tokyo, the sounds of the city can be intense. With a metropolitan area of around 40 million, you can expect to hear plenty of interesting sounds as you are exploring. Some are completely in your face like advertisements, while others are more pleasing. Both of these have their place in our Top 5 Favorite Sounds in Japan.
We’re toning back a bit on our blogging, as we’re now in crunch time before we leave for our big trip! Therefore, enjoy full posts every other week, with quick travel highlights like these in the alternates. Let us know what you think! We’d love to know what your favorites are!
We had so much incredible food in Japan; how could we pick just one favorite? While we loved the comforting ramen and drooled over the extravagant ryokan breakfast, one restaurant rose to the top, and it still makes my stomach grumble at the thought of it.
So this post will be a tad different from the country profiles we’ve done in the past. We’re still collecting that information, but we didn’t think a table of text was very fun to read. So this will be a bit more personal. We’ll give you more insight as to why we’re considering this for our world trip.
Now first, it’s worth mentioning that China was not originally on Aaron’s list. With dreams of exploring the famous Great Wall and seeing legendary cities like Shanghai, I obviously didn’t realize this disparity between our priorities.
Laos is one of those places that is stunningly beautiful and not as populated as most other Asian countries. This allows more breathing room when traveling to some of the top destinations and a nice break from the overrun tourist areas of nearby Thailand. Its culture is more accessible and isn’t as blurred by the tourism machine.
Laos has many excellent ways to volunteer for those who like helping out in communities while abroad. We plan to do just that. As we travel we do want to find ways to give back and this is the perfect opportunity. With programs like Big Brother Mouse Project, volunteers help children learn how to read and improve their English skills. There is also Cope, which provides assistance and rehabilitation to those who were injured during the Vietnam war (details on both below).
Ok, this post is mostly for the ladies (and those without convenient anatomy), but others might learn something, too.
For those used to western-style, sit-down toilets, something that resembles an elongated sink in the floor might be met with trepidation and confusion. These are squat toilets, and they’re quite common in Japan. Sometimes, they’re your only option, so it’s good to know how to use them.
For those too embarrassed to ask, here’s a quick guide.
To help narrow down the list of countries for our round-the-world trip, I have created a basic planning tool. It will give us perspective on the best time to visit a country, the key things to know before going, and all of the logistics of covering your basic human needs while abroad. As we do more of these country profiles, there will be more things to consider, but this template should provide you with a good start to your trip planning. Our next step will be to create a ranking system, which we will present in a later post.
In America, most walk around with a few credit or debit cards, and that’s all they need. Few carry cash. We use cards for everything from gas to shirts to dinner. We’ll even bust out the card for few-dollar transactions like parking meters and coffee. Even our sole-proprietor food carts take credit cards, and restaurants have to explicitly state if they don’t meet this widespread expectation.
It’s been a few years since we first visited Japan, but that trip was a huge milestone for us. It was Aaron’s first overseas journey, and it was a real dive into the deep end. It was the first major trip we took since our honeymoon (for which we had the assistance of a travel agent), and it was the first time I visited a place that did not speak my native language.
These 12 days are probably also largely responsible for the travel bugs that now fully infest our lives.
We learned a lot about travel and about ourselves with that trip, and we will always hold it in our hearts as that first little wanderlust nugget. These are some of the things we miss about Japan.. and some we don’t.
As you probably know, the Japanese have a remarkable sense of space – particularly in Tokyo. They can cram an insane number of people onto trains, and they’re known for capsule hotels and incredibly efficient tiny apartments. This holds true for their shops, as well. Continue reading “The Crazy Shops in Akihabara”→