What Was The Most Difficult Part Of Our Trip To Japan?

Although we loved our trip to Japan, there were two things that proved very difficult for us while there!

  1. Our bags!

Our bags caused us a lot of difficulties for us while in Japan. Not only in Japan but also while we were in Shanghai, they were difficult to lug around with us. We both had 50/60 litre backpacks, I had another smaller backpack, while my fiancé had a smaller backpack and a laptop case…. so he was carrying 3 big bags with him!

Never mind that, the worst thing about it was that most of the things that were in my bag I couldn’t even wear! I had two jumpers (because I naively thought it would be cold in the mountains in Japan) and just thick t-shirts and things that I couldn’t wear, mainly because it was just too hot. So out of all the things in my backpack I had about 6/7 t-shirts that I wore. The rest were sitting at the bottom of my bag.

When we were sending our big box home, we couldn’t fit everything into it, so we just had to bring whatever things we had left with us in our backpacks. So that was quite annoying! I had to throw away a few t-shirts and that while in Shanghai just so I could try and make it lighter. It was very heavy for me.

And then, while in Tokyo…. my backpack decided it had enough and broke: 1 slit at the bottom of it appeared, and then another 2 at the top. So that was it for my backpack! I’ve had it for 7 years so it’s quite old, but that meant our last day in Tokyo was spent looking for another one for me. Unfortunately in Japan they rarely use backpacks, instead using suitcases. I picked up a decent one in the city which fits all my things plus more! No more back pain!

So yeah, it was a struggle with our bags, but thankfully I think my body got used to the weight and it slowly got easier as the trip went on. Now in Hong Kong, I just have my suitcase and my small backpack, so it’s a bit easier now!

2. The heat!

When we arrived in Japan we noticed the weather was unbearably hot! I knew it was going to be hot, but not that hot!! Little did we know, we arrived in Japan in the middle of a heatwave!! We were talking to a few people that live there and they said it’s too hot this July, and that it isn’t until August that it gets this hot. They said that the summers seem to be started earlier and earlier. (There’s global warming in action).

Everyone was sweating; men, women, kids…… everyone. It wasn’t humid, it was just so dry and there was no rain for 14 days while we were there. Plus the sun was just so hot! Everyone struggled with the heat. So the heat, plus our huge bags made for us being VERY sweaty…..everyday.

It was tough!

Apart from that, everything else was a breeze! Really! Japan is such a friendly place for foreigners and it’s very easy to travel around. Yes it is expensive but if you find some cheap restaurants to eat at it’s fine.

Aisling

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Our 2 Week Itinerary: Japan

Having absolutely loved our time in Japan, we really really wish we stayed for more than 2 weeks! Here was our itinerary for our time there.

3 Nights: Tokyo

4 Nights: Kyoto

2 Nights: Osaka

1 Night: Koyasan

3 Nights: Tokyo

For our last night in Tokyo, our flight wasn’t until 1am the following morning, meaning we had a full day to spend in Tokyo and we didn’t need to pay for another night.

With Tokyo, there’s so much to see and do, and with many places outside Tokyo to visit, you would need about a week or more just for this area. There are loads of towns outside the city that we didn’t have time to visit.

Moving to all these places was really easy, we just used either the bullet trains or normal trains. We didn’t need to use public busses once while there! From Tokyo to Kyoto took around 3 hours by bullet train. Kyoto to Osaka literally took 15 minutes by bullet train! It was very handy to get to these two cities! Koyasan is a small buddhist town on the top of some mountains, it’s gorgeous and we loved it. We stayed in a buddhist temple for one night. From Osaka we had to take a metro to the train station, then a train to the bottom of the mountain (the views were beautiful!). Then we had to take a funicular (really cool) to the top of the mountain, and then a bus to where we were staying. That was the hardest trip as we had a lot of travelling with our heavy bags!

During our stay we also went on some small day trips. While in Kyoto, we spent a day at Nara, a town with DEERS!! You can actually touch them and feed them! They are beautiful animals, but once they see that you have food they swarm all over you and nip at your clothes to get your attention. They have also learned to bow, so when you bow, then they will bow, then you give them the food. It’s so cute to see!

During our stay in Tokyo, we visited a seaside town called Kamakura. It’s a pretty town with temples and things, and we spent half a day there. it was a bit busy as it’s also a popular spot for Japanese people to visit!

We also visited Nikko, an area famous for lots of shrines! It’s a very pretty place surrounded by really tall trees, so we got plenty of nice photos of the shrines! The town itself is tiny but it’s also very quiet!

We absolutely loved our time in Japan: the people are just so polite, the transport is great, I loved all the food there,  everything is organised, and it was just a really cool country to travel to. We are already contemplating visiting again as we’d love to visit the north of the country. We were blown away by it. We reckon it’s our favourite country we have visited.

And we miss it already!

Aisling

I’m Really Liking Tokyo

We’ve been in Tokyo 2 full days now, and we are really really enjoying it! The city is great! We’ve been to a few big cities, and of course Tokyo is huge, but I feel it doesn’t feel as crowded as other places we’ve been to. We got a real culture shock when we just arrived, but now we are getting to used it.

The weather is HOT, the food is delicious, and the people are so polite. The city is spotless, the drivers are courteous, and literally everything is organised and on time. This is the complete opposite of Chengdu, where nothing is organised.

It really is a unique city, and we’ve been enjoying walking around and not being bumped into, walking in spit and not being constantly stared at.

We’ve been walking tonnes so my legs need a break, and the sun was very strong today so I got burnt (what a surprise there). I think my body is also slowly getting used to constantly being on the go which is good!

We are heading to Kyoto and Osaka so we’ll look forward to seeing what it’s like in those cities!

Aisling

Chinas obsession with its phones

Every traveller who visits China will say the same…”Chinese people are obsessed with their phones”.

And they are correct. On the bus, everybody has their noses stuck in their phones. In a restaurant, in a cafe, in a park, in the metro. Everywhere. It’s actually quite terrible to look at. 6 people in the metro sitting together and every single one of them is on the phone, oblivious to what is going on around them. The amount of times people bump against me because they are too busy looking on their phones while walking I can’t even count. When parents take their kids to a restaurant and all of them are on their phones, even the kid! On the bus, the parent will be sitting with their child and the the mum/dad have their face stuck to the phone constantly, while the child just sits their quietly….. not getting any attention whatsoever from their parent. It’s really quite sad to see.

But that is the reality now in China. They are absolutely obsessed.

We recently went to a bar and our friends had a thing connected to their phone. We didn’t know what it was. They replied that the bar rents out power banks so you can charge your phone. Our Chinese friend who was with us said “That’s exactly why Chinese people are addicted to their phones”.  So they don’t even have to worry about their battery running out; just rent out a power bank for 1 hour and they are good to go!

While myself and my fiancé were in McDonalds, a girl and boy couple sat beside us. As soon as they sat down, out whipped a phone and the girl started playing a game on it, of course with the sound turned on really loud! Then the boyfriend took it off her and for the whole time we were there, he was sat there playing with his phone….. while the girlfriend hand fed him chips.

So he was busy playing the game while the girlfriend just sat there looking around her. Sometimes he would say something (i’m not sure if it was to the girlfriend or just to himself), but apart from that, there was no interaction with them at all. Then to make things worse, he had a big smudge of mayonnaise on his face and not once did the girlfriend mention to him/ clean it off him!!

Me and my fiancé were just there sitting there looking at them in disbelief. No communication between the pair of them…… mayonnaise on the guys face….. girlfriend didn’t even bother telling him….????? Honestly we couldn’t get over it at all.

How can these people become so addicted to their phone? We know other Chinese friends and they are the same; stuck to the phone… even when they are with a group of people, they don’t care. They will just continue on their phone and not make conversation.

Now not all of our Chinese friends are like this, and even one of our Chinese friend admitted that this addiction thing is really bad in China.

Another example of this is in Starbucks. Sometimes we would go there and treat ourselves, and we would constantly see people on their phones. No talking, no nothing. Just on their phones. When we were in Mexico, we realised how cheap it actually was, so we decided to go in and have a drink. We looked around and EVERYONE was talking! We looked around and not one person was on their phone. They were talking, playing card games…. interacting with one another.

We then realised how different it was in China. I suppose we didn’t really notice too much, we just became accustomed to it. But yeah, I think we kind of made a mental note to ourselves not to use our phones as much.

But yeah, it’s a terrible problem that Chinese people have… and I really don’t think it’ll stop. They use their phones to pay for things, buy things (such as cinema tickets)….. pretty much everything!

We even saw a homeless guy asking for money with a scanner code! You simply scan the code he has, then you pay him through your phone!!! That is actually a thing now!

So yes, I won’t miss the obsession with phones here. I’m not sure if it’s the same in Ireland (I hope not) but I’ll definitely try harder not to use mine as much!

Aisling

Shanghai

So we’ve arrived in Shanghai and this will be our last full day in China! The weather has been great here the past two days, however today is cloudy and apparently there will be a typhoon hitting us. It seems ok at the moment though, and the lack of sun is a relief for me, it was very very hot the past two days!

With regards to Shanghai, it’s a pretty city and all, but I don’t think I could live here. The metro is crowded and unorganised, everything is very expensive, there doesn’t seem to be many parks about, and finally theres a lack of tree coverage from the sun. Myself and my fiancé aren’t too fussed on Shanghai to be honest. It’s nice to say we’ve visited but I’m not blown away by it.

We’ve heard from other people who have visited that they weren’t really taken with the city either. We also have a friend who moved from Sichuan to Shanghai to work and when we met them here they said they don’t really like it and want to move back to Sichuan.

The Bund is very pretty at night but the crowds are terrifying! And this is every single night! I can imagine the crowds during a festival! It’s crazy here during the night, as everyone heads to the Bund to see the views of the high rise buildings at night. Plus it’s much cooler than during the day so that’s when everyone is out!

We are heading to Tokyo tonight (another crazy city), so I don’t think we will sleep at all as we will be flying at 12:30am. That will be fun!

I’ve been very tired the past few days here though; the sun, our huge backpacks that we have to carry is taking it’s toll on me. Hopefully my body will get used to the travelling and I’ll be ok soon. It’s the worst when you’re travelling and all you want to do is sleep!

Aisling