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Author Topic: International Travel Haps.  (Read 2010 times)
Yoda
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« on: July 09, 2013, 06:37:29 PM »

I gather a lot of you have done quite a bit of travel to various parts of the globe. I'm thinking about taking a few weeks off of work to go a place outside N. America.

Tops on my list are Poland, Scotland, Japan. I'm probably leaning towards Japan but I have a few questions.

I know Tokyo is an international city but I have no knowledge of Japanese at all. How possible is it to navigate there then? Also, if you've done a extended stay in Japan... what's a good budget to operate on? Figure in a few quirky gifts and possible drinkin out nights. I'd be spending at least 5 nights there I think. Why go all that way for anything less?
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Kevadu
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2013, 07:20:00 PM »

If you stick to the big cities and tourist sites in Japan you should be fine even if you don't speak a word of Japanese.  It's a different story if you're out in the countryside...but that's true in most countries.  English is an international language (ignoring native speakers for a second, no language comes close in terms of how many people learn it as a second language) and any place that deals heavily with tourists (like hotels, etc.) will have somebody on staff who can speak it.  I think where you'll have the most trouble is in restaurants.  Sure some places have English menus, but then you're limiting yourself to the more touristy places (which aren't necessarily the best...).  It can be hard to get a truly authentic food experience without knowing the language or having some sort of guide.

Also, navigating Japanese maps can be a pain in the ass even if you know some Japanese because location names are all in kanji and proper names have their own set of rules.  Even native speakers won't necessarily know how to pronounce the name of every city, street, etc. if they haven't been there before.  Seriously, Japan, but some furigana on your maps...you might think to just buy a tourist map that's in English (or use your GPS or whatever it is the kids do these days...), but the thing is you can't actually compare that to the signs you see since those signs are in kanji.  You need something with both.

In terms of cost...well, given how much a flight to Japan costs I would recommend spending around two weeks there (or more if you can swing it...) to make it worth it.  Seriously, those flights aren't cheap.  You can stay for surprisingly little in Japan, though.  I know a lot of people say it's an expensive country (an it is in some ways), but I was able to find rather cheap hotels that were still quite nice.  I stayed in major cities for under $40 a night.  Honestly, I'm not sure Japan even has dive hotels the way we do in the US.  As you go down in price the rooms get smaller (they can get very small indeed...), but they always seem clean and safe.  And what do you really need besides a bed?  I assume you're going to be out and about most of the day, not sitting around in a hotel room.  Like most places, food prices vary a lot depending on what you're getting.  Good but cheap options are things like ramen, okonomiyaki (seriously, if you've never had it you have to try it),  and donburi.

Finally, don't limit yourself to Tokyo.  Well, Tokyo is huge...feels more like several different cities connected together.  But even so there are so many places to see in Japan.  The shinkansen (bullet train) is a great way to get around, and there are rail passes available for tourists that give you unlimited rides.  They're kind of pricey, though, so I do recommend doing the math to see if it's actually worth it.  They make sense if you're going to be traveling between cities a lot but not necessarily if you're only going a couple places.
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Yoda
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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2013, 07:25:47 PM »

Thanks a lot. I'd love to go outside of Tokyo for sure.

Also, I'd be making this journey solo. I feel like a big trip like this is something I have to do alone at least once in my life.

I'd invest in a new phone that has GPS for sure. ...
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insertnamehere
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2013, 09:01:42 PM »

Some relevant videos/channels about Japanese culture and stuff.
Xenophobia
Bullet train
Stuff not to do
Retro games
Snack food
And maybe check out Go Go Nippon for touristy places to visit.
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Yoda
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2013, 09:09:32 PM »

Some relevant videos/channels about Japanese culture and stuff.
Xenophobia
Bullet train
Stuff not to do
Retro games
Snack food
And maybe check out Go Go Nippon for touristy places to visit.

Great help there... that guy in the things not to do video has absolutely no tact lol. So groanworthy... he belongs on a morning FM zoo radio show
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Agent D.
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« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2013, 11:17:01 PM »

I hear the Emerald Isle is pretty nice this time of year. Plus....you know.....alcohol.
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Yoda
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« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2013, 11:41:09 PM »

So are the South Sandwich Islands
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Lard
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2013, 03:16:47 AM »

If you're thinking about Japan, I'm going to suggest doing Osaka/Kyoto instead of Tokyo.

They're two cities close together and you can travel between them easily.

You can do cultural stuff in Kyoto and do some video game shopping/nightlife stuff in Osaka.

Plus I find the people are friendlier.

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Starmongoose
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2013, 03:56:16 AM »

Here is a nice guide to Scotland if you are considering: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFubsxHTApw
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GrimReality
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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2013, 10:46:37 AM »

I've never traveled internationally. There are so many places I'd love to visit, though. Scotland, Ireland, England, New Zealand, Pretty much everywhere in Europe.
I'm terrified of going somewhere where I don't speak the language. That would be so difficult and stressful.

I have still have a HUGE list of places to visit in the states, so there won't be any international travel anytime soon.
Plus, plane travel freaks me out.
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ultra7k
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« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2013, 11:11:46 PM »

My brother went to Japan last year by way of Korea by himself. First time traveller and all, he seemed to do just fine. My brother doesn't a speak a lick of Japanese and people were super friendly, and even if they didn't speak english they tried their hardest to help him in Tokyo. A few random people on the street went out of their way and took him where he needed to go, or at least in the general area.

He wishes he spent a few more days in Japan, but couldn't due to time constraints. Also, he used Air BnB to find an apartment to stay in that was used by an American guy and his Japanese wife (while they were there). Basically he was just renting a room from them for the duration of his stay, and they were also super helpful and really, really nice. He plans on going back and I think he will look at staying with them again.

Another big help was the people he was renting from loaned him a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot thing that really helped him out just in terms of being able to access the internet on his phone, and use maps.

But, as mentioned above, entering stuff in Japanese doesn't really work so well when you can't read it or translate it too easily into English. But then again, most people are pretty friendly so you shouldn't have too many problems there, but if you have the mobile hotspot and do your research before hand, no real reason to get super lost.

Besides, getting lost for a part of the time is part of the fun of travelling haha.
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Daggerstrike
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« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2013, 01:39:25 AM »

Go to Scotland at some point. It was super nice. I could almost understand my bus driver at one point when I was taking a scenic tour up towards Loch Ness.


I intend to go back within the next 2 years.
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Agent D.
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« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2013, 03:24:04 AM »

I went to New Jersey last week. I am comfortable knowing that that's probably the furthest I will travel outside of NY voluntarily.
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Daggerstrike
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« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2013, 04:33:20 AM »

I went to New Jersey last week. I am comfortable knowing that that's probably the furthest I will travel outside of NY voluntarily.

I can't imagine that feeling.
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Kevadu
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« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2013, 06:03:22 AM »

I went to New Jersey last week. I am comfortable knowing that that's probably the furthest I will travel outside of NY voluntarily.

I can't imagine that feeling.

Me neither.
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