At the start of the year I wrote a post about mine and my friends travel fails which you can read here. Recently we went on a trip to Asia where we travelled round three cities in Japan then visited Seoul in South Korea before heading home. Of course none of our trips are without fails so I decided to write a quick post of the things that went wrong in Asia!
The worst fail in Tokyo was probably Becca getting sick on my birthday. Anytime you go out for something to eat in Tokyo you’re given a glass of tap water. We’re usually quite sensible and avoid drinking tap water in foreign countries and stock up on plenty of bottled water but by the time we’d sat down to eat after long days of sight-seeing me and Becca were normally quite thirsty so we both drank the tap water. However, I go to the loo way more often and was flushing it out with plenty of bottled water. Becca also eats less than me so the tap water stayed in her system.
I was initially disappointed on my birthday because we’d been planning to visit Disneyland but the weather was rainy and there was a typhoon warning so we did the sensible thing and pushed it to a day where the weather would be better (which definitely was a good idea as the weather was lush when we went). It’s lucky we did as we headed out, got an amazing breakfast at a K-Pop themed café, looked around a district full of K-Pop merch and then headed to Takeshita Street to do some shopping when Becca realised she felt absolutely awful.
In the end she decided to go back to the hotel so we went with her to make sure she got back okay. We had a few minutes rest in the room and then headed back out leaving poor Becca behind. Me and Jess didn’t do tons ‘cos we felt bad but we did head to the Hedgehog café which was a lot of fun. Then as we headed to find somewhere for dinner I fell over in the middle of a busy street because the floor was slippery from the rain. So there’s another fail.
Luckily Becca felt well enough the next day to head back out and didn’t touch another drop of tap water for the rest of the trip but it still sucked that she couldn’t come to the hedgehog café as I know she’d been looking forward to it. Me and Jess brought her back a plushie hedgehog to try and cheer her up but it still wasn’t the same. We definitely need to go back to Tokyo one day.
Another fail we had from the get go was assuming that Japan would be a similar temperature to the UK in October. It was boiling hot and apparently this is the norm, we told our Aokigahara Forest tour guide that it was cold in England in October and she seemed surprised. Always read up about the climate before you go I guess? Most of my outfits consist of warm knitted dresses so I had to suffer in them every day. I don’t think I had a single summer outfit with me and the struggle was real.
Walking around Japan really wore us out so after our day trip to Mt Fuji and the Aokigahara Forest we were all looking forward to an early night and a nice, long, uninterrupted sleep. Japan clearly had other ideas because I was woken up at midnight by the sound of my phone going absolutely berserk, making noises I didn’t even know it could make. In my half-asleep daze I didn’t really think twice about it, I was just so desperate to switch the noise off but was fully awake when I saw a message from the government advising us to ‘Keep calm and seek shelter nearby’.
Other than that there was no context to the message so I woke the others up and told them what it said. Neither were sure and Becca got up to help me look it up. I managed to freak myself out by going on a website that advised me ‘it could be that North Korea have sent a missile J’ but luckily Becca went on Twitter and saw it was actually an earthquake alert.
The girls make fun of me now but we don’t get big earthquakes in the UK so I was worried about what it would be like and whether we needed to do anything so I kept asking them questions but the girls were tired so I shut up and tried to push it out of my mind. In the end Tokyo didn’t even feel the earthquake and the message was sent out by mistake – it was only about a four on the scale and apparently they only send out messages for the bad ones and it was an error. Irritating though that the message had broken our one good long night’s sleep.
We didn’t do much on our last day in Tokyo, we just headed straight to the train station to travel to Kyoto. The train ticket cost about £90 each so if we missed our train we were a bit screwed. But we had just over an hour until we had to go so we went downstairs into their food court section to find something to eat. Me and Jess eventually came across a beef place so Becca sat outside whilst we ate.
The downstairs area was so big that when we came out we immediately got lost and couldn’t find our way back to the train station. We knew it was up but everywhere with stairs seemed to be leading outside and we had no idea where to go. In the end I plucked up the courage to ask some men the directions to the station and they did look at me like I was a bit of a moron but they pointed me in the vague direction. You have no idea how stressed I was, we really didn’t have the time to be lost and as the pessimist I am I was convinced we were going to miss our train.
Luckily we found our platform in the nick of time and our train was still there so we jumped on and went walking through the carriages to find some spare seats next to each other. We managed to find three one in front of the other, put our massive suitcases away and finally relaxed. We’d all been a bit stressed and cranky looking for the correct platform so I think missing the train may have genuinely been the start of a fallout but luckily that didn’t happen.
We arrived in Kyoto at about 2PM and requested a 3PM pick-up from the train station – we were staying in an apartment where they didn’t give out the address and someone had to pick us up to take us there, give us the key etc. Someone already had the 3PM pick-up so we figured no big deal, we’ll just get the 4PM one.
We headed over the road with the idea of getting some food in the café. However, when he came over to take our order Jess said “Three hot chocolates please” and the guy assumed that was the end of our order and none of us felt confident enough to call him back either. We had our hot chocolates then headed back over to be at the station for 4PM.
4PM came and passed with no sign of our car. We were all still hungry and there was a McDonalds across the road but none of us wanted to take the risk because the driver could literally turn up at any minute. We waited until about 4:40 and I messaged the guy to ask if he was still coming and eventually got a reply to say it would now be a 5PM pick-up. We carried on waiting and it got to a point where we were checking every car registration and none of us actually expected him to come, we were really shocked when he eventually came. None of us complained because we’re not like that but we were all starving.
He drove us to the apartment and he really stressed me out because he answered his phone while driving – I don’t know Japan’s view on that but in the UK that’s a massive no, I yell at my Mom for even glancing at her phone. We went inside and it did look really nice and he began talking us through the features of the apartment which was all going fine… Until he showed us how the air conditioning worked.
He hit the on button and the flaps to the air con opened and out fell the biggest bug I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Me and Becca both looked at each other but neither the guy nor Jess had noticed this bug. He carried on talking us through everything else but I was now on edge looking for this bug. By the time he’d gone and we were able to mention it, the bug had gone missing.
We went out to Kyoto Tower and by the time we got back the bug was now back on the wall. This turned into a massive hoo-ha because we obviously couldn’t leave this massive bug just wondering around the apartment so Jess bravely got a glass and went to capture it. She got really mad at me and Becca ‘cos we were both a bit wimpy at this point but in my defence I did help. Luckily Jess caught the bug in a glass and we got rid of it outside – it tried to fly in her face but we ran back inside and locked it out.
Luckily Kyoto was relatively stress-free compared to the other places we visited, except for when we visit Kyoto Imperial Palace and it absolutely threw it down with rain and Jess said we should run to the next bit with shelter because the rain had ‘calmed down’ a bit. We looked like drowned rats by the time the rain let up.
And finally, on Jess’ birthday we decided to visit the Bamboo Forest and Monkey Park both of which were fabulous but by the time we were done me and Jess were absolutely starving so we looked for somewhere to eat nearby. The only places near us in Kyoto were very traditional looking places but after scanning the menu of a noodle place we headed inside where we waited for a table to become available. When it eventually did I settled on some duck noodles as I like duck and I like noodles so I figured it couldn’t be too bad. Until it was brought over and I was like “Jess, why does it smell so strongly of fish?” and she replied “Oh… I think it’s been cooked in a fish broth.”
I tried to suck up the noodles as quickly as possible but all I could was fish as I did so and I’m really, really, not fond of fish. I left a good majority of it.
On our first night in Osaka we decided to visit an arcade that we’d read about online. At this point we didn’t have long left in Japan and we all had quite a bit of money… Which is probably why me and Jess went a bit mad.
I do love arcades but British ones are a bit depressing and feel like a waste of money because I can see I’m throwing away actual hard earned money. But I had tons of Japanese yen which didn’t feel real so I converted a lot of it coins and had a go on most of the machines. There was a Studio Ghibli one and I quite quickly won a little Totoro figure which I was over the moon about. There was a little Jiji figure (from Kiki’s Delivery Service) in the machine that Jess decided she wanted so we both spent tons of money trying to win it for her. In the meantime I won a ton of other Ghibli figures but eventually Jess got her Jiji figurine.
We went around going on different machines – we went up to the different floors but they were more competitive gambling and weren’t as fun as the bottom floor which was full of prize games like crane machines etc. I wasn’t taking it too seriously until Becca won a Winnie the Pooh bear out of a crane machine. It was quite big and none of us were sure how she was gonna bring it home.
My competitive streak was on then and I went around the different crane machines until I eventually won a Boo plushie from Mario. That was also quite big and although my suitcase was massive it had been pretty much full to the brim before we’d left the UK so I wasn’t sure how to bring it home. Did that stop me? No.
There was a machine where you had to stop the spinner at the exact time and you’d win a big tube of pringles. We were all having a go on that and I made a joke about how as Becca’s a vegetarian she hadn’t been able to eat much in Japan so if I won the pringles for her it might be able to keep her going until we get home. Tons of money later, I finally managed to win the massive pringles tub.
I should’ve quit while I was ahead but no – Jess hadn’t won anything on a crane machine and felt a bit left out so she kept going. She nearly won a chipmunk but she ran out of coins and when she went to buy more a little girl had a go and won the chipmunk she’d spent so long lining up which she was annoyed about. I had a go on a unicorn machine and won a little unicorn plushie.
We were eventually persuaded to leave the arcade but we soon found another, smaller one with more crane machines so Jess decided to try her luck again. She nearly won a big dog plushie but unfortunately it got stuck and she couldn’t get it. I can’t remember if she did win anything from a crane machine but at the end of the night I realised I’d probably spent about £60 in the arcades. Becca had spent significantly less and moaned that we should’ve spent it on something worthwhile but listen, me and Jess had a good time and I won a few things to show for it. I did manage to squash that Boo into my case, Becca had to carry the Winnie the Pooh plushie onto the plane which was a bit of a pain but at least she got it home.
Osaka was another relatively stress-free location but disaster did strike again at Nara Deer Park. Jess had heard of it and suggested we took a visit and we all agreed it would be fun. We could feed some polite bowing deer in a peaceful park, what’s not to love?
It didn’t take too long to get to Nara and the deer park is really easy to find. The deer looked really sweet so we all bought them some food. I noticed the food had drawn a couple of deer’s attention but didn’t think much of it and stepped into the park with the intention of politely feeding the deer. What a mistake. The moment I stepped inside I was swarmed by about ten deer and one of them bit me in the side immediately so I shrieked and felt really overwhelmed by the amount of pestering deer so I chucked the food on the floor and ran, much to Jess’ amusement.
The other two managed to feed the deer their food but it had to be done quickly as the deer were not patient in the slightest. I left the park and it was then that I saw the sign advising to be careful as the deer could bite, butt and kick you. None of us got kicked luckily but the horned deer did some to have it in for Becca and kept butting her ass. One of them did try to go for her and she had to hold onto its horns to get it to stop.
Truthfully it was still a lot of fun and I would recommend that people visit, but it definitely wasn’t as peaceful as we’d all been imagining.
The only other fail was when we visited Universal Studios and as I was waiting for Becca and Jess to get off one of the rides I fell asleep. The trip was exhausting, can you blame me?
We got up super early to travel from Osaka to Seoul and originally we had planned to make the most of the day. But the trip had taken a toll on us so in the end after checking into the hotel, we walked to the local supermarket, stocked up on some food and just had a lazy day with an early night. We also made the most of the free laundry facilities and washed enough clothes to see us through until the end of the trip.
Unfortunately although there was a washing machine there wasn’t a dryer and we weren’t really sure what to do. We hung some clothes up in our room and then I mentioned the clothing rail I’d seen on the balcony and said we’d have to put the rest there.
Me and Jess headed out onto the balcony with the basket of wet washing when the light in the opposite building switched off. We both noticed and as a joke Jess said “Ooh the demons are coming to get us.” Which was funny, until we heard footsteps approaching from that building. All I said was “Actually, I’m a bit creeped out now” and suddenly the two of us were speeding back to our room – except, we were both so eager not to be at the back that we got stuck in the doorway. I fell onto my knees and Jess fell on top of me.
I was peeing myself with laughter, as was Jess, but both of us were still scared so we were trying to go forwards but with Jess still on top of me neither of us were going anywhere. We eventually got through and we raced down the corridor into our room, peeing with laughter while Becca asked what had happened. All I hope is that whoever was walking in the other building didn’t come onto the balcony and see me and Jess trapped in the doorway.
We found places for the rest of the clothes to dry in our room as we now didn’t trust the balcony and Jess said we needed to take the basket back downstairs but she wasn’t gonna go on her own. She opened the door and we heard footsteps again so I dived onto my bed only to discover it was just a tourist heading down the stairs. We’re such idiots.
Seoul was difficult to navigate because firstly none of us had any data – Jess had paid for it in Japan but it was either more expensive or not available in South Korea so we had to rely on free Wi-Fi to get directions to places. The directions were difficult regardless because Google Maps doesn’t work in South Korea, instead of planning the route for you it just shows you the way in a straight line.
This was probably why we ended up on a bus we weren’t supposed to get on to get to the Museum of Illusions. We waited for our number bus and when it came on we all piled on – the driver asked Becca if she was going to the airport, Becca replied no and just went and sat down. So me and Jess tapped in and followed her.
The bus was a lot fancier than the other ones we’d been on and we quickly realised that although the bus was stopping to let people on, nobody was getting off. Everyone else had luggage and was clearly on their way to the airport so we got in a panic about whether we were supposed to be on the bus or whether we’d end up at the airport. We stayed on there for a while but our stop was approaching and we weren’t really sure what to do.
At this point the driver stopped the bus, physically came down to us and asked where we were going if it wasn’t the airport. Jess tried to communicate the name of the stop and kept telling him it was the next one coming up to which he eventually said “Fine, get off.”
He hadn’t seemed happy so we weren’t sure if he meant immediately or at our stop so we stood up and then the bus pulled off so at least he was taking us to our stop. We were worried that he’d looked annoyed so we walked down and stood by the doors, I’m not sure if that was allowed or not but we were keen to get off at this point. He eventually pulled up to our stop and we piled off as quickly as possible because he really hadn’t been a happy bunny. Listen, we’re idiot tourists, we didn’t know the bus was only for the airport! We were just following Google Maps!
Speaking of public transport, we decided to pay a visit to Seoul Tower and caught a bus to take us there. Google Maps advised us of the stop to get off and when we got off we couldn’t see the tower anywhere so we headed in the vague direction of it.
It turns out Seoul Tower is at the top of the biggest hill I’ve ever seen in my entire life. We walked up some stairs and I kept thinking we must surely be near the top. The steps were never ending but when they did eventually end we were now on a hill and still had ages to go to reach Seoul Tower. It was the most painful climb of my entire life but we eventually made it, drenched in sweat.
I don’t know why Google Maps advised us to get off because there had been a bus stop at the top of the hill which we used to catch the bus back to the hotel. As we got closer to our hotel I noticed a sign… Advising us of the cable cars nearby… That would take us to Seoul Tower. We’d walked up that hill for absolutely nothing.
So although there were a few fails it was still an amazing trip and I want to visit Japan again at some point because it was definitely my favourite place I’ve ever been.