Melbourne time

Hello, こんにちは Kon'nichiwa

Well hello, Kon'nichiwa, or should I say こんにちは.....

This blog is about my trip to Japan later on this year. The countdown has begun, today is Easter Sunday, 27 March, I fly to Japan in 70 days, 5 hours and 10 minutes! I know three words in Japanese - hello, thank you and goodbye. I don't drink beer and I don't like raw fish. But I love meeting people, seeing new places, culture and history. I will only pass this way but once and I feel the need to try and see as much as I can in as little time as I have. .
Cheers. 乾杯

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

2. Where To Go

Now comes the next part - where to go. On previous overseas trips, I've had a good idea where I want to visit and stay and usually just needed a bit of fine tuning. With Japan however, I'm in a quandary. I know I wish to see Kyoto and have known this for a long time, and of course Tokyo. The rest of the country I'm not sure about. Yes, I've heard of Mt. Fuji (who hasn't?) and Yokohama and Osaka and Hiroshima and Okinawa (I loved Teahouse of the August Moon), but this is, or was, the extent of my knowledge which now that I think about it, is pretty woeful.

Remembering there is a Malaysian Tourism office in my city (from which I found brochures and leaflets), I checked online for a Japanese counterpart but alas, there is none in my state. Not deterred, I emailed the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) asking if they had any leaflets they could send and received a lovely reply from them.

In it, they said most people travelling for the first time tend to go to Tokyo, Kyoto/Nara, Osaka and Hiroshima. They will send me some general brochures and once I've decided where I will go, can request additional brochures from them. This is good and I can hardly wait until they arrive, which should be some time early next week.

I'm going to do some day trips from Kyoto - Nara and Osaka have been suggested. Researching a bit about Hiroshima at the moment and am taken with the red pillars standing in the water - the floating Torii.

Someone suggest spending the three days in the Japan Alps - one night in Takayama and two in Kanazawa, or three nights in Osaka, with one day trip to Okayama and one day trip to Himeji or three nights in Hiroshima, with one dedicated to Miyajima island and perhaps another day trip somewhere.

At this stage, I have no idea where or what to do with those three days. For the benefit of those reading this, this is my itinerary so far:

Day 1: Melbourne to Tokyo to Kyoto
Fly Melbourne to Narita airport, arrive 9:05AM. Train to Kyoto

Day 2 to Day 7:Kyoto

Day 8: ?????
Day 9: ?????
Day 10: ?????

Day 11 to Day 14: Tokyo

Day 15: Tokyo to Melbourne

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

1. How It All Started

It all began on Friday (18 September) with an ad on the television - Jetstar have a sale. Fly to Japan from $349 and fly back for free! Ooh, that sounds good, thinks I. No, no, no, no, no - you can't afford it, forget about it.

Saturday, I remembered that ad, no, no, no, no, no, don't go there. Don't even look online. Ha! Famous last words.....I did look online, selected some dates, yes, $349 from here to Tokyo, and yes, $0 for the return. But - there's always a but, isn't there? The $349 does not include checked baggage or meals. And you don't get to choose your seat. Hmm. So, automatically the checked baggage comes up at 20kg for each leg at $35 a pop. Now, if you're like me, you'll be smart and know you don't need the same amount of luggage weight setting off on your trip as coming home. After all, most people end up with more stuff coming back than when they set out. Souvenirs and all that.

So, I altered the checked baggage weight from 20kg to 15kg - a saving of $5.00. Meals? At $24 that's a fair whack on money. And you don't need to eat in the middle of the night on a plane when your flight leaves at 15 minutes after midnight, you'd normally be asleep at that time, not filling your stomach. So no meals there. A saving of $24.00. The return flight was another matter. Departing at 12.15PM, you will need food, so it makes sense to book your meals. I chose the chicken something or other - found out it's two meals.

Anyway, getting back to things, what with charges for baggage, meals, seat selection and - get this - a $25 fee for credit card (gee they know how to get at you) it came to over $400. I was already to hit the "Confirm" button, but held back. No, no, no, no, no, I told myself, walk away. Do not pass go, go directly to gaol (Monopoly). So I walked away. Shut down the site and walked away.

Came back later for a second shot now didn't I? This time I did pass go, this time I went directly to gaol! Have booked myself a two week trip to Japan. I would have preferred 11 nights, but the flight out was $100 dearer, so I thought better to have an extra three days in Japan, and spend that $100 on three extra nights. (I will be staying in hostels). I'm very glad I decided to do this (I almost wasn't going to you know), but something held me back. Luckily for me, when looking at the flight on the 9th June, I found it wasn't a direct flight. It was Melbourne to Cairns, Cairns to Tokyo, flying time of around 14 hours. That flight leaves Melbourne at 6.10AM and arrives in Tokyo at 18.45PM.

So, went for the 14 day option, direct flights both ways, flying time just under 10 hours. Will be flying out on Monday 6th June and departing from Tokyo on Monday 20th June. If flights go to schedule, I will arrive in Tokyo at 9.05AM and arrive back in Melbourne at 11.10PM.

Adding fees for checked baggage, meal, seat selection (I always have an aisle seat) and the $25 credit card fee, it came to the grand sum of $478. Not exactly the $349 advertised but a bargain nonetheless. Now all I have to do is start saving like mad.