For all of November I’ve been sharing stories from my trip to Asia, but now that we have transitioned to December I feel that it’s time to call an official end to #Asia2017. I could keep sharing little tidbits from Japan and Korea through to the end of the year about the journey but a man can only keep living in the past for so long, and it’s time for me to leave the subject behind, at least for the foreseeable future. With that said, today I though I’d share some final details on my trip that I don’t believe have been mentioned yet.
Let’s start with the route of my journey. Back in June of this year I published a writing piece with what my itinerary was looking like at the time. My actual route turned out a little different though some parts were similar to the original idea. Below is a map with some poorly drawn arrows to help visualize where I went. I’ve colored coded the lines to help make the route easier to follow. Start with the blue lines, and then follow the green lines, then the red lines, and finally the yellow line.
Written out, the route was:
Tokyo & Kamakura —> Nikko & Lake Chuzenji —> Hakodate & Onuma Park —> Sapporo & Otaru —> Kanazawa —> Kyoto —> Osaka & Nara —> Hiroshima & Himeji —> Miyajima —> Nagasaki —> Itoshima —> Fukuoka —> Seoul & the DMZ —> Busan —> Jeju Island —> Busan (again) —> Tokyo (again)
The journey was six week long, and my goal was to keep the total cost of the trip to under $5,000. Before and during my time in Asia I kept a very meticulous record of all my spending and last weekend I finally got around to tallying up all my expenses. The final costs of #Asia2017 was….
Now, the actual final cost is probably a little higher or a little lower than that due to changes in the exchange rate of the Japanese Yen and Korean Won, but I don’t think it’s significantly higher or lower. I was actually a little surprised when I got that final number because while I was overseas it felt like I was spending a lot of money and I had a bad feeling that I was going to go over my budget goal, but it would seem my fears were unwarranted.
The so-called language barrier didn’t prove to be that big of a problem for me. Part of that had to do with the fact that I’m not the type to strike up conversations with strangers, but another part was that I have the advantage of being a native English speaker and English is currently a common second language in that part of the world. While in both Japan and Korea I came across a lot of dual-language signs and audio announcements and the little bits of Japanese and Korean I knew were enough to get me through most situations. When my feeble language skills failed, the Google Translate app on my phone worked surprisingly well, especially the microphone feature which allowed me to speak English into my phone and have a Japanese or Korean translation come out.
Since returning to America I’ve had people ask me if I’d like to travel again to Japan and/or Korea. The answer is a definite yes. I wouldn’t consider myself any sort of japanophile or koreanophile, but I did enjoy my times in both Japan and Korea and would like to see more of each country. Money, of course, is always the greatest restriction and I don’t see a return trip to either country within at least the next year or two, but one day I’d like to return. Some things like Tokyo and Seoul I’d want to see again, but there’s also so much that I didn’t have time to experience this time around. My Suica card (for the Tokyo metro) is valid for ten years and has a little bit of money left on it, plus I have a 1,000 yen bill (and a few Korean coins) that I didn’t use before leaving Asia, so I sort of have a down-payment for the next journey. One day I’ll return. Count on it.
And with that the stories from Asia 2017 are officially concluded. On Monday I’ll return to my normal inane ramblings. Hope you enjoyed the ride.