Post-Travel Blues: Back To The 3-hour Commute

It’s already been now a month since I came back from Japan. Where did all that time go? I can remember almost everything so vividly during my 3-week trip and yet I cannot remember what I had for breakfast last weekend.

The past month has been hard adjusting back to, although 3-weeks in Japan is relatively short compared to other travellers going on 3-month, 6-month or even year-long trips.

I never thought post-travel blues was a real thing after coming back from my first proper trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in 2014. I did expect I’d feel the same way after Japan, but this is on a different scale.

[The featured image is of a Buddhist monk that I have encountered when exploring Tō-ji temple in Kyoto, Japan.]

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Solo Travel – Deciding To Go It Alone

Since I’ve been posting about Japan quite a lot, this post will focus more specifically on my first-hand experience of solo travel. I’ll split this mini-series into multiple parts, giving my full and honest opinion on the idea of solo travel, hoping that it can help you to decide whether or not it’s right for you.

Part 1: Deciding to Go It Alone

Solo travel has been on my mind for some time after the events that occurred during my A-Level exams; being hospitalised has not only affected me physically but also mentally and socially since it was the end of college and most of my classmates were going to university. More people were coming out of my life than in. I never got the social opportunities in my apprenticeship as I would if I went to university. I wanted to do something about it and rejuvenate and restore myself.

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Solo Travel Japan – Here I come!

I head out on my solo adventure to Japan tomorrow! There’s been so much excitement but also more nerves nearing the day of departure. There has, however, been a change that struck me earlier this week as I do not know what I’ll be coming back to when I arrive back home in early May.

To put a long story short, I’m being moved to a different project because of a significant reduction in work for the coming months. As a result, I’ve been given my 30-days notice earlier this week and I will have to be assigned to another project on my return from Japan. I am still working for the same company as an apprentice but there are a limited amount of available projects at my current work location which has led to me possibly being moved all around the country and not close to home. Staying at hotels during the week is not something I will want to do, so this has limited my available options. But this has made the process more stressful as I need to get this sorted and accept a project before I leave on Wednesday, otherwise, I do know what I am coming back to on my return.

I want to make sure that this situation does not affect my travels in Japan but it is difficult not to ignore. I’ll just do my best and enjoy the trip as much as I can.

Apart from that, I’ve been very busy, hence the late post, doing packing and further research on my destination. Tomorrow’s the big day so I will share my finalised itinerary and budget before I depart:

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Japan Packing List

So I promised a while back to post a list of what I’ll be taking on my travels to Japan. Although I wanted to choose the minimalist approach to travel packing from reading a bunch of blog posts about it, I want to understand for myself so I learn from my mistakes.

When I went to Vietnam and Cambodia, I took a 75L rucksack and 30L daysack with me and I thought that the size was perfect as I had space for souvenirs and team kit. I’d like to downscale this time and take a 66L rucksack and 18L daysack and fit the daysack in my rucksack when I’m going from one location to the next.

At first, I couldn’t believe that people can spend a month comfortably carrying everything in a 40L rucksack or less, but I now know that it very much possible. However, I do not think it is worth the investment just yet as I want to use what I own already without spending further money.

Without further ado, here’s what I’ll be taking to Japan:

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A Broken Key and Delhi Belly in Phnom Penh

This is an extract of my adventures in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as part of a school expedition, back in the summer of 2014.

It was our final in Vietnam! Back in the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, we visited the War Remnants and Independence Palace. We stopped by a BBQ restaurant afterwards that displayed a poster with colourful and exotic drinks so we decided to go in and order some non-alcoholic drinks. As we were there and the menu looked promising, we decided to book a reservation at their restaurant in the evening.

As we were wandering around the streets, we managed to get lost and couldn’t find our way back to the hotel; team member insisted that we are going the right way but this led to heading to the outskirts of the city, next to the highway. When we made our way back, we had a bit of free time to explore the markets and buy some souvenirs. We were then to meet at the rendezvous point near a McDonalds before we headed to the fancy BBQ restaurant we had our drinks in. Surprisingly, the McDonalds we passed looked fancier than the BBQ restaurant we were going to.

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Adventures in Vietnam & Cambodia – Mistaken for a Local

This is an extract of my adventures in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Dalat, Vietnam, as part of a school expedition, back in the summer of 2014.

It was the Day 27 of the expedition and we leave Phnom Penh and head to Siem Reap. I got up reasonably early at the Okay Guesthouse and being the one to get prepared first in my room group, I made my way down to meet the other group of boys for breakfast. I sat down, had a conversation and ordered our breakfast from a menu that consisted of both Western and Cambodian-style dishes. I ordered a Monte Cristo: a French ham and cheese toastie that’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

After taking my order to the Cambodian lady, we continued our conversation until I was politely interrupted by a German man that was also staying that the guesthouse. It was still early in the morning and most people in the seating area were still half-asleep. This is because as I was seated down with my group talking, the German man put his hand on my shoulder and asked: “Excuse me, can I order a cheeseburger?” in his strong German accent. Haven’t been able to interpret what he has said, I asked him to repeat the question and he did. On the other side of the table, the two guys in my group were laughing in the background, as I never figured out what the laughter was about only until I realised…

I was being mistaken for a Cambodian local, working at the guesthouse. 

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50 Days Until Japan!

Hi, everyone! Today marks 50 days until I head over to Japan. Most of the preparation has been done, however, I haven’t really done any preparation at all – and I’m not exaggerating. Since I booked my flights in the beginning of the year, I have figured out my itinerary, reserved my accommodation, bought a phrasebook, joined a travel forum and researched some travel tips and what to do in Japan. That’s pretty much it.

All that’s left to do is buy a 21-day Japan Rail Pass, sort out finances (I’ll make a post on how I will manage this in Japan), and research more as much as I can so I know exactly what to do  and where to go to get to my first destination when I reach Japan.
The first steps when I get into the country is going to be very difficult. This is because for some silly reason in an attempt to save time, I will be landing at Haneda Airport and will need to buy a data SIM card, exchange my JR voucher for the pass, obtain cash from an ATM, buy food, and take a bullet train to Nagoya to my hostel accommodation.

Note: I nearly confused Nagoya with Nagano! Nearly made this mistake when booking accommodation as it would have seriously affected my itinerary route…

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Preparing for Japan – Have I done enough?

For the past couple of weeks, I haven’t put much thought on my solo travel plans for Japan this April. Perhaps that is a good thing as I can focus on the present moment and worry less about my upcoming plans.

Where will I go and stay?

I have confirmed my 3-week itinerary which I will show you guys below:

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Adventures in Vietnam – A Night to Remember

This is an extract of my adventures in Dalat, Vietnam, as part of a school expedition, back in the summer of 2014.

It was Day 9 of the expedition and we sourced transport from Buon Ma Thuot to Dalat and Nom, our guide from our previous trek, recommended and helped us book accommodation at a hotel in Dalat. When we arrived there, we saw a huge lake filled with swan pedalos and we asked our expedition guide if we could ride on them during our 2 nights in Dalat. Our expedition guide, being the ‘fun police’ of the expedition declined our suggestion due to the risks and hazards and said: “you can only watch the fun”. He was very fun indeed.

We then reached the M Hotel (not its real name), we were welcomed by the owners there and made it to our rooms. At the entrance, I noticed a sign that specified that a price for a room was 100,000 Vietnamese Dong ($5 USD) and a price for a ‘VIP Massage’ was 200,000 Vietnamese dong ($10 USD). This was weird to see that a ‘VIP Massage’ was twice as much for a room, but we get to see the reason on why later.

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