It’s been a long time since I went on a leisure trip that lasted more than a week. I’m not sure if many would be able to relate, but I’m not comfortable with being away from work for longer than a week. I mean, I just know how much more paperwork will be piled on my desk with each day I’m away. Lol.
Anyway, I gave myself this “free pass” because I’d have to be grounded until around 3rd quarter of 2016, and the traveler in me kind of wanted to be out as much as I can, soak my pores with foreign air molecules, and have a lot of memories and stories to keep me sane until my next trip. This is how this trip came to fruition.
Originally, the plan was only Tokyo and Osaka. Actually, Osaka was priority because Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Hahaha. I’m just a big kid, really. But then I thought, since I’d already be there, why not check out Tokyo Disneyland and see Mt. Fuji as well? So there, an 8-day trip was born.
And then the fangirl in me wielded its fanatical head.
I’ve always wanted to go to Jeju Island ever since I saw it in a k-drama back in 2006. It was always in my “to go to” list, but things kept holding me back, like thinking it’s too expensive there since it’s sort of a resort island, and the thought that I’d be surrounded by honeymooners was just bleurgh. But then another drama called Warm and Cozy was shot almost entirely in the island, and it was just so beautiful that I took the chance and went for it this time (with a bit of delulu hope that I’d meet a guy as handsome as the main actor, lol. A girl can dream~)
With last minute adjustments in early December, I finalized the most ambitious trip I’ve ever made since I started traveling alone. 5 flights, 1 train ride, 2 countries, 4 cities, 11 days.
I stayed outside of Tokyo Metropolis, so travel time really took a lot of my sightseeing time. Still, I managed to hit Shibuya – take a selfie with Hachiko and cross the famous Shibuya scramble. I went up Tokyo Tower and was amazed by the glittering Tokyo nightscape. I hunted down Meiji Temple (because it’s pretty much the only temple I knew) and ended up taking a super long route and missing the entry time because of Google Map’s screwy-ness. But I did make it on my next try! I squeezed along with the crowd in Harajuku, which was a shopping area nearby. Then of course, Tokyo Disneyland!
I was planning on getting the 5 lakes tour package, but instead, I was taken to a surprisingly nice, peaceful place called the Healing Village. You can rent traditional Japanese costumes for only ¥500!
In the last few hours before the clock struck 12 and 2016 began, I raced to Yokohama just so my NYE wouldn’t be spent in bed doing nothing. As a slave to the cut-off time of public transportation, I barely had an hour to find a place to stay as well as check out the one site I picked: Chinatown.
I only had 3 things in mind here: USJ, Osaka Castle, and Dotonburi. I pretty much had only 2.5 days to enjoy Osaka, and one whole day was dedicated to USJ, and the other for Kyoto.
It’s a mere hour-long train ride from Osaka! It’s hard to get lost because there are so many tourists, you kind of just have to follow the stream of people. I had limited time so I chose 1 temple, the most well-known: Tenryuji Temple. It’s right next to the bamboo forest!
The appended leg of the trip! The one thing that I wanted was to walk along at least one of the Olle Trails. The one thing that I learned is how much I underestimated Jeju Island’s size! If you’ve got limited funds and/or don’t have an international driver’s license, then there’s no other way to go around but the bus. This was a bit of a challenge for me, but the beautiful scenery made up for it!
This isn’t really part of the trip, but there wasn’t a direct flight home from Jeju, so I had to go back up to Seoul. It was a 6-hour layover, which one would think was pretty long, but it seriously wasn’t. One goal: have a delicious, filling, authentic Korean dinner. Hongdae was the closest eating spot to the airport that I’m familiar with, so I commenced my search there while running dangerously low on funds. Found a hip new place and a way to get extra cash!
These are just snippets of what happened. I’ll go in depth in future posts and link this one to those. Make sure to come back and check often! Or better yet, follow this blog or my IG/FB /Twitter for constant updates. 🙂