Trying to somewhat catch up on these re-caps before the year’s over!
October started off with me having finally arrived in Japan after a frustrating 48 hours in transit, and then promptly falling ill due to said journey, but it was all well and good because I was on the road with D again.
The first thing I thought when D picked me up at the train station was “wow, he’s a lot smaller than I remember.” Even though we FaceTimed often, I guess 7 weeks was still long enough for me to kind of forget how my own boyfriend looked like. When I mentioned it to him, he insisted it was because he lost weight in Italy, but did you see what he was eating??
Even though I missed Tokyo (which D fell head over heels in love with), I still had 3.5 weeks in Osaka. We had picked Osaka as our main Japan base because it’s a lot cheaper (less than half the price of Tokyo) and is still a large city.
I have to confess something that will probably get me a lot of hate comments (okay, maybe just some confused expressions): I did not really like Japan. Gasp! I KNOW. Who doesn’t NOT like Japan?! Everyone raves about how beautiful and amazing and futuristic and unique Japan is. Maybe I found it a bit… mediocre… after all that hype. I know I’m being a bit unfair because I mostly just stayed in Osaka, which isn’t exactly known for being too interesting.
We stayed about a 15 minute walk from Dotonburi/Shinsaibashi, which is like the city center of Osaka, with a lot of bright lights, shopping centers, eateries, boutiques…
It looks cool, but there’s only so many times you can hang out there before it gets old.
I think the thing about Japan that I found underwhelming is that the tourist sites are honestly nothing to write home about. Osaka is known for some historical landmarks and temples, but I really wouldn’t go out of my way to see them. Most of them left me with a feeling of “hmm.. this is it?”
I only had two items I wanted to check off in Japan:
- play with the deer in Nara, and
- see a geisha in Kyoto
The first one I managed to accomplish. Nara was my favorite day! I have about a hundred pictures of the deer, so I don’t really want to ruin it now. I will have a separate post soon with all kinds of cute overload, so here’s just a little sneak peek!
The second item, not so much. I was really looking forward to going to Kyoto, thinking that maybe the old town would be more of my style, but it didn’t live up to my expectations either.
I was imagining a quaint, charming town transporting me back to old Japan (you know, like all the pictures you see). But what I found instead was a large confusing modern city with pockets of quaintness tucked away, and you have to search really hard to find them. I had no idea where to find the cute old parts and the public transportation was confusing to use. I’m sure my horrible planning skills are to be blamed.
I didn’t even see a geisha! It was all I wanted to do. However, you can see a thousand tourists dressed up in kimonos.
But it was still a fun trip because I got to finally meet Adelina from Pack Me To (check out her Japan highlights)!! She was one the first bloggers to interact with me and introduce me to the travel blogosphere. We met up in Kyoto and then again in Osaka. One of my favorite things about having a blog is having friends from all over the world! And I really do enjoy exploring a new city with another blogger because we don’t get annoyed with each other when we pause every 5 feet to take photos.
Another thing about Japan that just didn’t do it for me was the food. I’ve never been that big a fan of Japanese food (usually too bland for my spice-loving tastebuds) and I was hoping that I would like it more in Japan, but I’m really sad to say that I remained ambivalent. We actually ended up cooking most of the time with ready-prep foods from the grocery store.
But of course, we all know by now that it’s not a monthly re-cap if there’s no food collage. So even though I can’t say that Japanese food is my favorite, here it is:
I feel kind of bad that I’m saying so many negative things about Japan, because I know it is a great country with a very interesting culture. I want to go back (to Tokyo next time, or Okinawa or somewhere more country-ish) and I want to like it. I feel like I shouldn’t make such sweeping generations when I was only there for a short amount of time and only stayed in one area. But it’s my blog, dammit, and what’s the point if I can’t be honest on my blog?
Usually I get sad to leave a place, but in this case, I started to really look forward to our next destination, because we were going to…
Oct 23- present: Taipei!
One of my favorite cities in the whole world!!
Last April, we were in Taipei for only two weeks. Not nearly long enough to even scratch the surface of the city, but more than sufficient time to fall in love with it. We knew we had to be back. So this time, we’re here for a whole three months, the longest stint since we started traveling! I can’t even tell you how good it felt to walk into our airbnb again. It really felt like coming home.
I think for me, Taipei answers that traveler’s conundrum of whether it is better to go somewhere new or go back to somewhere beloved. As exciting as exploring new places are, there is still nothing like returning to somewhere that feels like home.
Have you been to Japan and how did you like it?