Hello friends, back from my 'budget asia trip!' Was way too busy eating over 6 meals a day to even touch Instagram, let alone this blog. Will catch up soon. Obviously I never got round to blogging about places to eat earlier in my 'Spontaneous Europe Trip,' and I don't think I'll have time for this time round, so I'll just do some thoughts here.
Originally it was just to try summer in HK (since I always go in winter) for around 3 weeks, and so I booked return tickets to HK. Then I wanted to see if anyone was free to go Taiwan with me since I can't really speak Mando, so my Dad and I decided to shout a younger cousin to go to Taiwan for a week, that was around 2 months before I left for HK. Then 2ish weeks before departure date, an aunt asked me if I wanted to go Japan and she'll shout for plane tickets/accommodation. Hence, why it's an 'unorganised organised' because ideally you would go from city to city, but I went back and forth from HK airport a few times.
This trip was more 'budget' since I didn't want to spend a lot of money in the outset as I already did a spontaneous Europe trip which was $$$ (well still cheap compared to other people doing Europe, but a lot more expensive compared to Asia). It was mainly food plus some sightseeing/shopping as I've already seen the main sights in Tokyo, whereas Europe was probably half food/sightseeing/museums.
- Japan wasn't really on my 'to-go' list since I have been there before almost 10 years ago. Went with a tour group, and it was my first time going to a different country apart from HK and back then obviously I had no idea in how to plan things since I was just a super young teen, and I think we just had dial up internet...I remember going to Tokyo DisneySea and Fuji Q since that was my main goals to go on rollercoasters, and also seeing Mt Fuji, seeing fresh snow etc. Didn't eat that much and didn't really explore Tokyo a lot. Tbh now I'm older I also can't eat as much...
- Spent 8 days (6 full days) in Tokyo, and that still wasn't enough time! Ate over 5 meals a day, yet there were still some Jap food we didn't have time for, right until the last minute at the airport.
- Went with 3 other aunts and age range a few decades. So thankful and happy they managed to keep up with me. Walked approx 25 000 steps a day (and mainly walked a lot just so I had stomach space to eat more lol). 99% of people think you can't do my itineraries, but I usually prove them wrong.
- Successfully completed my itinerary except for going to SkyTree for night views, Jap Maccas/Mos Burger, and some Jap department stores.
- Japanese people are so, so polite! Still hasn't changed since my last visit. I feel that the whole world needs to learn manners from them. They are so thankful before and after your meal, don't rush you when you're eating even though there is a line of 2+hr wait behind you, and just very courteous.
-They are super clean as well! Our airbnb host even cleaned our luggage wheels, like I only thought my mum and Grandma does that. Even if you go to a tiny 9 seater restaurant in a small alley/quite neighbourhood, their toilets are still clean. I don't use any of the fancy options on their toilets cause I still think it's weird
- Craziest tax free store at the airport. Mainly because Jap food expires in around a week, so everyone buys their foods to take before their departures. Never seen so many people that crazy at Duty Free before, or a store that packed.
- They really like have wet tissues in packages.
- They separate their bins, but every food item comes with so much packaging that I sometimes wonder do they really want to try reduce their waste..? It is so, so hard to find a bin in the subways, and bins don't exist on the streets. Only the bigger subways have bins.
- Their English is pretty bad, even when you're buying tickets to touristy things. I think it's cause they learn English a lot later which gets me thinking, how do they survive when going on holidays? You can't speak Jap overseas, and mostly English is a universal language, so how do they get around...or maybe they don't travel that much overseas or just join tour groups...
- I think I slightly avoided going to Tokyo because I don't think I could deal with their public transport since it looked so confusing. After trying it first hand, I think it's manageable. The good thing is they have a letter and number assigned to each station, so can talk about a station without knowing the name with each other in different languages.
- I see Tokyo Metro as the cheaper subway with more destinations, but JR as a circle which goes to all the tourist destinations but more expensive. We got these cards which you could go on Tokyo Metro unlimited for only $6 a day, pretty cheap since Tokyo public transport isn't cheap. Only some destinations we took JR.
- Not many stations actually have barriers before boarding the trains. More JR, a lot less Tokyo Metro and only the big stations had a floor to ceiling barrier. Some had half, but most stations I went had no barriers
- Food was amazing! I would go again for the food. Didn't even have sushi that much, like only 2 meals out of a hundred...Savouries or sweets, I will go back one day....
- Although the inventor of MSG is a Jap person, Japanese aren't afraid to use it. They just know how to use the right flavours plus MSG, especially in sauces.
- So many Michelin restaurants which are affordable. Luckily I didn't watch MasterChef cause then I would have an unaffordable list of restaurants to go to.
- I didn't even spend that much money until the airport when I saw all those Jap snacks and cakes such as LeTAO and raw royce chocs which pretty much only survive for 4 hours, the perfect flight times back to HK, but way too long to survive back to Aus.
- Will be posting more food pics on instagram
- My friends won't joking about the humidity. You walk outside and just sweat like crazy like you're showering. I've never sweater that much in my whole life. Singapore, Malaysia etc doesn't compare with Taiwan. Shirt was wet which seeped into my backpack. You get used to it after a while. You try to find somewhere like a 7 eleven to sit and cool off in air con, then once you rest a bit, then you step outside and sweat like crazy, then repeat and try to find air con.
- Shopping centres are rare, didn't even go in one.
- No shame in using my UV proof umbrella in the sun. I got so tanned after a week in Taiwan.
- Their subway is quite easy to use. Most of them had barriers before boarding the train.
- I feel so filthy rich in Taiwan when buying food. Food was alright, but not as great, and not as many varieties. I think my favourite thin was mango shaved ice tbh. Not a big fan of deep fried stuff, but still tried it anyway.
- Was worried I would get food poisoning so when I did go to the 'small stores' it was recommended by a friend.
- I won my first ever toy from a claw machine! Then from a lucky drawer I won an even bigger soft toy. Jap claw machines are more rigged/harder imo.
- I probably won't go Taiwan any time soon. It's good to see, just not in summer, and didn't find food amazing. I just loved the prices.
- It's like a short HK, but with so many scooters, and they drive on the wrong side of the street. The cars turning won't give way to you when you're crossing the road, they just dodge around you...Better than Malaysia I guess since they don't even bother dodging and just head straight towards you...
- It's like a home away from home for me. Been back here so many times know that I don't need a sim card to make my way around. I had around 2 full days then 4 half days but didn't bother getting a sim card.
- Most people don't like HK cause of the crowds and the streets aren't that clean in comparison, but I do love how they have so many department stores to help find aircon.
- Still had a decent amount there even though my stay was super short. I still haven't really done the famous hikes but it was way too hot/didn't have enough time. It's humid, but it's just bearable.
- I think when I was younger I just took relatives for granted, but now I'm older (and hopefully more mature), making the time to visit grandparents and other relatives. I guess I'm pretty lucky to still have all 4 grandparents. The oldest one is around 94, which is pretty impressive.
- The pressure to get a bf is real lel. Can I just be single 4 lyf?
- I felt that I gained more money than I spent in HK...Yay for Asian culture and red packet giving even if it's not Chinese New Year
- Never flying cheap planes again. I just wanted a more 'budget' trip this time, and wanted to see how it felt flying a cheap airline. Waste of time and the planes are actually quite noisy. Or maybe A380 was just exceptionally quite and so big that turbulence doesn't really affect it...
- Small cheap planes also fly slower. Eg. syd to sg 8.5hrs then to hk 4hhrs, but flying a non budget airline from hk to syd also just takes 8 hrs. instead of 14+hrs including transit time.
- Landing in Hk, the budget airline plane couldn't find a parking space so just dumped us in the middle of the airport. It was pouring as well and I sat at the back, but that meant that they finally organised some ponchos for us to walk down the stairs onto the tarmac to transfer to an airport bus, then transfer to the regular in airport subways to make it to the immigration part.
- Japan airline has the best plane food!
Before you ask, yeah, I do use my savings for food and travel. I'm pretty good at saving, but I save for holidays and once I'm overseas, I spend without giving too much of a 2nd thought.
Wow, these thoughts were a lot more extensive than my Europe post...