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Monthly Archives: February 2018

Japanese Travel Proverbs

1. The Philosophical:

Here is one attributed to the famous Japanese poet, Basho:

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.” ~ Matsuo Basho

The meaning of this one is pretty clear. In the literal sense, it could be taken to mean that there are many ways to the same destination. In a more philosophical sense, it speaks to the idea of not just imitating the appearance or specific steps of another person’s journey, but rather to let their journey inspire your own unique path.

2. The Romantic:

Here is a Japanese travel proverb that has a romantic undertone:

“Who travels for love finds a thousand miles not longer than one.” ~ Traditional Proverb

From a literal perspective, this proverb tells us that a love of the journey may be just as important as arriving. More figuratively, it tells us that anything that we set out to do with love and passion will be an infinitely easier task than something that lacks such passion.

3. On Being A Fish Out Of Water:

This one talks about human folly and what it is like to feel like a fish out of water:

“When you travel, you can afford to look a little bit foolish.” ~ Traditional Proverb

When looked at from the perspective of travel, this proverb seems to be telling us that it is okay – even natural – to loosen your normal social observances and rules when you are on the road. On another level, this one seems to speak to the idea that sometimes it is okay to step a bit outside of ourselves and have a little fun.

Great Train Trips

Trans-Siberian Railway

At over 9000 kilometres in length, and taking a full week non-stop by train, the journey from Moscow to Vladivostok would have to be close to the biggest train adventure available. Or do the several other Trans-Siberian routes surpass it? Moscow to Beijing is another option, as is Moscow-Ulan Bator (Mongolia)-Beijing with the latter shaving 1500 kilometres and a day’s travel off the comparable trip to Vladivostok. From Vladivostok there is a weekly ferry to continue one’s journey to Japan or South Korea. With around seven days worth of travel, you’ll have plenty of time to get to know the Russians, Chinese or other Western travellers on board!

New York to Los Angeles

The USA also has several different routes at one’s disposal, to get you from coast to coast. One trip gives the option of travelling past the Grand Canyon. Another makes its way through the Rockies. A more southern route takes in New Orleans. The options available makes one want to do a return leg, and see what one missed on the way over! The quickest journey takes three nights, but then again, if you were in a hurry, you would take a plane! The major cities and natural attractions (such as the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges on one route) mean that there are plenty of tourist options to extend the scheduled journey.

Singapore to Bangkok

This lovely trip on comfortable trains gives the traveller a taste of three South-East Asian nations. Apart from Singapore and Bangkok at either end, those deciding to break up the journey can enjoy several interesting stop overs and side trips. Soak up the delightful mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese culture in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. Butterworth is the stop to link into a ferry to Penang island, while disembarking at Alor Setar or Arau gives one the option of linking with transport to beautiful Langkawi Island. All this before one even reaches stops in Southern Thailand within striking distance of that country’s beautiful islands and beaches.

Single Mom Traveling

I think that traveling remains in a child’s psyche and shapes their character in a conscientious and positive way. I saw it first-hand how truly positive the experience was for my daughter Natalia and I plan to continue traveling as much as we can. Natalia was ecstatic when we would finally arrive to our new destination after hours of travel. She would check out our new home and say “Natalia’s house” and we would both gracefully ease into every new destination and travel situation that we encountered.

The Central Valley was the first place we settled for seven days. I wanted to see where in Costa Rica we would possibly like to settle down for a year or two in the future. I would be teaching and dabbling in real estate and Natalia would be getting a bilingual education and basking in the sun. I was pining for the beach, but I did not want to limit my options to just the beach. Most of the jobs in Costa Rica are in the Central Valley and I wanted to get to know the Central Valley first hand so that I could compare my experiences once I ventured out to the coasts. I also wanted to see what would be more enjoyable as well as practical for the both of us, with a good job market, good schools and a kid-friendly atmosphere. I would then decide on the best option for my toddler daughter- discovering life and growing, and for me- a teacher, world traveler and fun-loving single mother.

The Central Valley is a massive area with many cities including San Jose, Heredia and Alajuela. When I was researching these cities, I was getting advice from people and from the internet to avoid them. I have never been to Central or South America. I did not want to overwhelm myself with a big Central American city, while I would already be overwhelmed with my small travel companion. If I were traveling single or with friends, I would gladly check out the big sprawling cities, but with a child, I felt that I should be more low-key. I wanted a homey small town feel with a two bedroom place and a kitchen so that Natalia and I would get acclimated to living daily life in the Central Valley like the locals.

We chose a small village in the country hills called Pan de Azucar which means ‘sugar bread’ in Spanish. Pan de Azucar is in the outskirts of a cozy little town called Atenas. Atenas has a central park in the center and is surrounded by quaint family run businesses and restaurants called Sodas. Atenas has a simple cathedral, Tico-style residential homes and rolling mountain ranges in the background. It is a mellow town, with kid-friendly shops, including a candy shop, toy shop and a delicious bakery right across from the park. It had treats that Natalia loved to eat, like the carrot bread. Atenas also boasts that it has “the best climate in the world”, which was the deal breaker for me. There is something very wholesome and exclusive about the “best climate in the world” and I wanted me and my baby girl to experience it.

After many dedicated nights of research, I found a cozy two-bedroom house on-line through a comprehensive website that rents vacation homes by owner. In my opinion, when staying for longer periods of time and traveling with children, a home type of environment is the best option. The property where we rented our house is Japanese owned and is called ‘Casa de Megumi’. In Spanish and Japanese, it means ‘House of Blessing’. ‘Casa’ means house in Spanish and ‘megumi’ means blessing in Japanese. Finding a Japanese run vacation rental in Costa Rica was a great coincidence for me because of my recent Japanese-oriented past. I lived in Japan for a year and a half, was pregnant in Japan for five months, and it was the last place I traveled to before going to Costa Rica. Since I have a profound fascination with all things Japanese, Casa de Megumi was automatically kindred to me. Moreover, once I got to know the earnestly helpful owner of the property, Hisano Bell, a Japanese woman from Yokohama, I knew in my gut that Casa de Megumi was the right place for us to start our Costa Rica adventure.

Westeners Love Japan

Depending upon the time you can tailor make the trip to visit all Shinto temples, beautiful Japanese gardens, ride on bullet trains or visit martial arts exhibition matches. There are so many things for you to see and do while in Japan.

Accommodation is very cheap and easily available in Japan. One can choose the suitable kind of accommodation depending upon ones budget. From an individual or shared room, bed and breakfast facilities to medium budget hotels and five star luxury suites and rooms, all kinds of options are available for you to choose from.

Check out the airline schedules and book in advance to be able to fare advantage. Tokyo and Osaka are connected to most of the major US Airports by daily and weekly flights by the airlines. You can take the train service for local travel while in Japan.

Landing in the middle of water can be a thrilling experience if you happen to fly into Japan and land in one of the two airports that are built on artificial island in the bay. These are well connected to the mainland through rail and road. The other three airports are on the mainland and together the total traffic is managed within the five airports depending upon weather conditions and traffic. Besides Japan has many more domestic airports and airstrips too that supports local travel.

Within Japan you have the option of taking domestic flights to the nearest airport or take the high-speed trains that connect the various islands and the main land. In fact you get to see the Japanese culture from close quarters when you travel by local trains.

Planning a budget and gathering information on your total cost of the trip is necessary to be able to enjoy your Japan trip. If you plan in advance and do the right bookings you can end up saving quite a lot of money. You can look at the options of buying pre paid card for the train journeys as well as buy international and Local SIM that works out cheaper and you can stay connected all the time.