On turning six and new beginnings

Six years. Imagine that. Who’d ever thought I’d stick long enough to one particular hobby to actually make it to a sixth year anniversary. I think I just may have found my passion.

Traveling never gets old. At least for me. My decision to stay put in Manila instead of following the location independent nomads helped me keep the excitement for travel. That’s not to say I’m not itching to pack up and leave. I do want to experience living away from home, either in a province somewhere in the Philippines or overseas. I was all set with THE PLAN, when PHL360° happened.

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Category: Wandering thoughts

Project Japan

A lot of you got scared when I posted my Japan travel expenses. It’s understandable — that’s a lot of money to spend for two weeks in one country.

Japan is worth it. It’s very very expensive, yes, but it’s also a really really beautiful country to explore. To those who I haven’t scared off yet, here’s my Project Japan (2196) file, which contains my itinerary, pre-trip budget (which I completely disregarded in the face of sushi), resources and other information. I hope it would help you in planning your dream trip to Japan :D

Category: Destination, Japan, Preparation

Maximizing your Japan Rail Pass

When I published my Japan travel expenses, most of you balked at the price of my train ticket: Php 23,000 or ¥45,100. I also had the same reaction when Ivan told me about the pass, but upon reading up on it and calculating the amount of money I’ll save vis-a-vis buying the tickets separately, I made sure to buy the pass before I left for Japan.

Rail travel in Japan is very comfortable. All the trains are in great condition, and the seats have legroom airlines can only dream of. While it’s cheaper than flying domestic, it is more expensive than taking the bus. While the bus can save you money on fares and overnight buses can save you on accommodation costs, it eats up more time to travel the same distance. Besides, this is Japan we’re talking about! I can’t pass up the chance to ride the bullet train!
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Category: Japan
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Travel Expenses: Japan

Japan is expensive. They do not exaggerate when they say that. It really is. But that’s not to say it’s not a good place to travel in. Japan is incredibly tourist friendly despite the language barrier, and a lot of tourist attractions have free admission (well, mostly temples, shrines and palace grounds).

Now that more budget carriers are flying direct to Japan from Manila (including Jetstar), it’s cheaper than ever to go there. The biggest expenses in Japan are the transportation, accommodation and food. A ride in the subway costs a minimum of ¥200 (around Php 100), same with buses. But if you don’t mind walking, you can make most of Japan Rail’s network to get around for free if you’re holding a Japan Rail Pass. Accommodation costs can be driven down by staying in hostel dorms or even further down by Couchsurfing with a local host. As for the food, Japanese supermarkets and convenience stores offer bento boxes of real food, so you won’t have to live on instant ramen (unless you’re really strapped for cash). Onigiri (rice ball with filling or seasoning) starts at ¥68, bento at ¥350, depending on where you’re buying.
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Category: Japan, Travel Budget

Snapshot Japan: KIX once more

I am officially stamped out of Japan.

As I exited the Kansai airport train station, I glanced down at my JR Pass. Tomorrow’s the last day of its validity.

"I still have one day," I thought. I can still hop on another train or two, exploring as much of Japan as I can. I fought the urge and made my way to the international departure hall.

It’s been an amazing thirteen days. Japan was everything I expected it to be, and it was as lovely as I imagined. I can see myself coming back, maybe in a couple of years or so. I’d go back either in early May for spring in Hokkaido and Shirakawa-go, early April for Hanami in Kyoto, and anytime of the year for Tokyo.

Japan is a challenge for budget travelers. It’s not an exaggeration when people say it’s an expensive country to travel in. But the experiences and the quality you get, it’s worth the investment. I can see why people love coming back to Japan.

Category: Japan
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