Back Home: My Thoughts

I’ve been home for nearly 1 month now, and it’s the first time in a long time that I didn’t have to think about going back to China. Being home this time round has made me realise some things…

The first is that I don’t actually miss China as much as I thought. Of course I miss my independent lifestyle, my apartment and the transport, but I thought I would miss it much more! Since arriving home, I’m enjoying the colder weather and that I don’t sweat at all now, I’m enjoying my Mum’s food. I like being with my Mum and Dad at home, and I feel I’ve a better relationship with them now than when I left for China 5 years ago. I suppose I’ve matured more.

The second is that I would like to live closer to the family. I’ve been missing my nephews grow up and I know that the next time I see them they’ll be completely different. They won’t be the nephews that I have in my mind 1 year ago. They’ll be brand new boys to me. Also Mum and Dad aren’t getting any younger so that’s another reason.

I know one thing though…. I wouldn’t be able to settle down in my hometown. It’s too quiet, too small, and absolutely nothing happens here. So that’s one thing that I know.

We are moving to Mexico soon so I can learn Spanish, and I kind of have mixed feelings about. I really want to go and learn Spanish, but then at the same time I feel like we are back to square one, and that we’ll always be feeling in limbo. I have no idea where we are going to settle down, and it stresses me out. We can’t buy this or buy that because we’ll have to bring it with us when we move.

We would love a dog but we just can’t at the moment as we have no idea where we are going to be living.

So it’s nice to be home, but at the same time, I’m in limbo!

Aisling

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Hostels We Stayed At In Japan

If you are thinking of visiting Japan, here are the hostels in which we stayed at!

Tokyo

bnbplus Ninjadojo Ueno

Good: The location of this hostel is great. It’s about a 10 minute walk to Ueno train station where we could take the JR trains with our JR Pass. We actually had another hostel booked but we decided to stay in this one longer because the location was so good. Also there is a great street about a 5 minute walk with lots of bars and restaurants.

The showers were fine and there was shampoo and conditioner. Also the bathrooms were ok. It’s also very convenient to get to Haneda airport.

Bad: It’s a bit difficult to find, and also it’s very very cramped. I think there were about 22 beds in it and it’s just too small. There’s nowhere to put your bags so you’re constantly stepping over everybody else’s. Also the host wasn’t really there at all, and if we had any questions for him, it was very hard to get in contact with him. He’s also not the most friendliest of people! It can be very hot in the capsules because the curtains don’t allow air to flow in them.

It’s not really a hostel at all, just a room full to the brim with beds.

Would I recommend? For location, I would definitely recommend it. If you plan on staying just a few days, then this hostel is ok. I think for longer then no, it’s too cramped and sometimes quite noisy (apparently it’s ok to talk loudly at 2am).

Would I stay here again? I think for the location alone, yes I would. But If I had more money I think I would choose to stay in a different hostel but in the same area.

Kyoto

Kaede Guesthouse

Good: I think this was my favourite hostel. The staff were very helpful and the common area was really nice. Free tea and coffee was available all day with free bread for breakfast. The location was also very good as it’s only a few minutes walk to the centre of Kyoto. Also you can wash your clothes and hang them on their balcony which they have. The dorms were big and clean, and the bathrooms were good too!

Bad: Honestly I can’t think of any bad things to say about this hostel.

Would I recommend? 100% yes! We loved it!

Would I stay here again? Again, yes!

Osaka

The Dorm Hostel Osaka

Good: The location of this hostel was very good, just a few minutes walk to the centre. The width of the capsules were big and inside you had your own little shelf to put things on. The hostel itself is very nice and clean! They also provide free tea and coffee.

Bad: I’ve read reviews from this from other people and they said there is a lack of atmosphere, and they are right. I think the staff need to learn how to communicate better. When we arrived we had to sort our bags out and they just stood and looked at us while we were doing this, so it felt a bit awkward. Also there’s nowhere to put our bags before we check in. We had to leave them in the main common area, which we didn’t want to do.

Another thing is that at night there is a bar downstairs which plays loud music, so when you’re trying to sleep you can hear it, which is very annoying. For me, I can only sleep when it’s quiet, so I was quite annoyed by that. So if you are like me and can’t sleep with loud music, buy earplugs!

Finally, the top bunks are extremely difficult to get in and out of.  As you can see from the picture, the opening is too small. At one point I thought I’d never be able to get out of my capsule, as it’s too narrow! Ask to stay in a bottom bunk!

dorm

Source: booking.com

Would I recommend it? No, I wouldn’t. I like to know that I would have a good sleep, but here I knew it would be noisy at night from the bar downstairs. Also the lack of energy in the common room isn’t very good.

Would I stay here again? No. The reviews on booking.com are good, but for me, not being able to get out of my capsule to go to the bathroom at night is a no no. Plus the music at night does not lull me sleep!

Koyasan

Sekisho-in

Good: This is a buddhist temple that allows tourists to stay. It’s extremely expensive but it’s not very often you can stay in a temple. The location was perfect, with the main road right outside. Our room was very nice and the monks were also helpful.

They also had an Onsen which at first was very very intimidating (I thought there were showers) but I took the courage and went in anyways, which I was very happy I did! If you don’t like having a bath with others, then this may be a problem.

Bad: The dinner and breakfast wasn’t the greatest. It was just too different for me, plus there was lots of seaweed and tofu which I don’t like. Also we thought it was a tad too expensive.

Would I recommend it? If you want a different experience, then yes!

Would I stay here again? No. Once was enough. It’s very expensive and I think it’s only a one time thing.

We used booking.com to book these places, so if you thinking of staying in Japan these could be options for you!

Aisling.

What To Prepare For Japan

Because we can’t speak Japanese and it was our first time in the country, we prepared some things to make our travels that little bit easier!

JR Travel Pass

japan-rail-pass-worth-it

Source: google

This has been so useful for travelling. We bought them online and then after we arrived in Haneda airport we went to an area where they will give us our pass. This allows us to travel on certain trains as we have already prepaid for it. We never used busses while in Japan, only relying on walking, taking the metro or trains. This pass doesn’t cover metros, so you’ll have to learn how to buy tickets for those. We were unsure whether it would be worth it, but we actually used the JR trains quite a lot, sometimes 4 times a day. And it’s very handy just showing the pass to the employees and they just wave us through instead of having to buy a ticket every single time. It’s expensive but really worth it!

A Wifi Device

We heard that it’s very hard to find free wifi in Japan, so we decided to buy a wifi device and that is our wifi for wherever we go! When we were lost, we simply turned it on and then we could figure out where we were . It’s very handy when you need to use google maps or search for restaurants nearby or whatever. We collected ours at the airport and then when we were finished we put it in a post box in the airport when we arrived back. The website we used for this is: Sakura Wifi Device

Plenty of bottles of water

As we arrived during a heatwave, I’m pretty sure we spent most of our money on buying bottles of water! But I would recommend maybe buying a flask or something so you can refill it. We had ours but we didn’t use it as much because they did become heavy with all the water! But yes, if you arrive during the summer you should expect to drink tonnes of water… and spend lots of money on it too!

Food

Since booking our flights, I had  been worrying about the food in Japan, that they only eat fish and sushi……

But when we arrived, we actually found out that they eat lots more than just those! For one thing, they really enjoy curry, and they have quite a few places that do curries. Also, Japan is famous for ramen, and it actually is delicious! I can honestly say that I never had one bad tasting thing in Japan. Everything was so nice! And I don’t like sushi! So if you are worried about the food, don’t be….. it really is more varied than you think!

Restaurants

As we knew Japan is very expensive, we found 3 restaurants that were cheaper than others, and all 3 of them were really good!

  1. Yoshinoya
  2. Sukiya
  3. Coco’s Curry House

We visited Yoshinoya more than the others as it was just more common to see. We went to Coco’s Curry House only once but we were hoping to find another one to go to! So if you want to go for cheap food, head to one of these…. cheap but delicious!

I’m pretty sure that all of them have an English menu so it wasn’t difficult to order food.

Japan is such an easy country to travel to, but it’s just good to prepare for everywhere you go, such as for trains and what not. They leave on the dot and they certainly won’t wait for you! And if you’re stuck, a Japanese person will try their best to help you!

Aisling