Monthly Archives: September 2011

A short return to Bangkok: Seven Days of Madness

My five weeks in Japan had been amazing. Truly five of the best weeks of my entire life. I experienced so many things. I met so many people. I fell in love with both the country and the people of Japan. However, it was too expensive for me to continue running around Japan. I had only been out on the travel road for five weeks and I had many more months of travel on my mind.

My friend, Justin, who I have mentioned before in my posts, was currently living in China. I hadn’t seen him in a very long time, plus I had a sudden urge to go to China. It’s best to follow those urges when you get them.

Many Americans share the belief that we are accepted with open arms any time we decide to visit a foreign land. As an American, I have found that this is not true in many cases. One of the biggest examples of this is China. In order for most nationalities to visit China, you must pay a visa fee. No big surprise there. Many countries across Asia require a small visa fee in the area of $20 to $30 US. And many of these countries offer the visa on arrival, meaning you can just head to the border and obtain your visa while in transit. Unfortunately in many of these countries, the money goes into the pockets of the government and not the people. But again, no big surprise.

Enter the Chinese Visa. China is one of the more difficult countries to obtain a visa for, in Asia anyway. Most of the time, you need to have specific dates of travel in mind with all flight and hotel arrangements in hand when you apply for the visa. This presents a problem for the backpacker. Especially one like myself, who had planned to do most of his traveling by land, not by air. My friend said that I might be able to get my visa for China while still in Japan, but without having these specific pieces of info, I was betting not.

My plan was to head up to China via Vietnam, which I would also need a visa for, but would be comparatively much easier to obtain. I also wanted to visit Cambodia en route. I had read that it might be possible to obtain my Chinese visa in both of these countries, but no one could confirm this. However, it was expensive to fly into either country from Japan. Choice C: Fly into Bangkok and try there. Again, no one could guarantee I would be able to get my visa, but at least I could try. If I couldn’t get it in Bangkok, then I could attempt to get it in the other two countries as I was passing through.

I’ve been to Bangkok before. There’s not much there. It’s hot, humid, busy, dirty. BUT the street food is delicious and cheap. So I figured why not head there for a few days and attempt to get my visa then quickly get outta town. I booked my flight in Japan for a relatively cheap price. I was ready for a relaxing few days. I would eat some good food. Drink some cheap beer. Maybe stroll around the tourist sites again for nostalgic reasons. Apparently I should have done a little research before going.

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Photo of the week – September 26

Maruyama Park, Kyoto

I’d like to say that this picture was well planned out. However, that’s not the case. I’m not even sure what the subject was for the photo, but I love how it turned out. Enjoy.

 

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Kyoto: The Hanami Picnic

Up to this point in my trip, I had mostly been sightseeing and exploring Japan via inanimate objects. After living in Seoul for a year, I needed the four weeks of decompression. Four weeks with little to no human interaction. People often have a hard time understanding this part of me. There are often times in my life when I just need to get away from everyone and every thing. This doesn’t reflect on anyone else but me.

With my soul cleansed and my body relaxed, it was time to branch out a little and really meet some people. My Japanese friend I had met earlier in Kyoto invited me to a big gathering in central Kyoto along the river. I was quite excited about this outing. It would end up generally reflecting a shift in the nature and framework of the rest of my trip. Although I would still continue to soak in culture and explore the hidden places in my soul, I also would start to, for lack of a better phrase, party my ass off.

So I headed out of my hostel, grabbed a bit of lunch, and headed to the river to meet Koji. I stopped in at the Family Mart adjacent to the river to grab some snacks and some beverages. My choice of beverage at the time was a few small bottles of sake. A great way to start off a celebration, I thought. I ran into Koji at the store, conveniently doing much of the same. We quickly paid for our items and made off for the picnic.

How to picnic in style

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