Long winded travelogue as usual. 😉
I wanted to visit my ultimate dream country this year due to a symbolic reason but because time & money did not align with my stars, I choose Japan as my second choice. Having experienced winter and spring in South Korea, I’ve always wanted to experience autumn and Japan really excels at that.
By the time I made up my mind to visit Japan, I have only 5 months+ left to book flights and accommodation to coincide with my approximate calculation of autumn foliage timing. I choose to go with full service airline as the price difference compared to budget airline is minimal (besides, I don’t think I want to walk few kilometers right inside KLIA2
yetagain). For accommodation, it proofs to be a very challenging affair since it was peak timing for autumn foliage (3rd & 4th week Nov and early December) and I only started looking for places to stay with 5 months to go. Every hostels I looked at were fully booked (not dorm, I go for either double or twin room). And imagined how my eyes had looked when I saw how much a hotel room cost in Kyoto? It’s like those animations where your eyes jump out of the sockets in sheer shock. Hahaha Fyi, they cost few thousands! Siao ar. Eventually I found hostels that only open for booking 3 months before the intended staying date. So I targeted those and booked right at the dot so I could secure the rooms I want.
We visited the big three prefectures (since it’s our maiden Japan trip – for some of us); Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka and threw in two more (Nara & Yamanashi). For 16 days and 15 nights (20th November to 6th December 2016) – same length as my Europe trip, we visited Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Yamanashi (Fujikawaguchiko) and Tokyo in my first ever open-jaw trip. I arrived in Osaka and flew out from Tokyo. Reason was because if I were to return back to Osaka from Tokyo and flew back home from Osaka, I would need to spend extra $$ for the Shinkansen (bullet train) ticket from Tokyo to Osaka… which is not cheap btw. Why fork out the extra?
One thing I’m super proud of is I was able to lug my DSLR around for 16 FULL days! Thanks to my weekly exercise and cushioned backpack. Because of that I ended up with over 5.5k photos!!! Another smart move that my sis and me made were to take a small empty luggage with us. We predicted there will be lots of shopping and we were right. And if I can do this again, I will pack way way lesser… yeah so that I can fill in more stuff. LOL. It’s almost winter time and we’re in layers most of the time, so it’s not much different if you wear the same inside outfit for 7 days (hahaha NOT kidding, we washed it la).
Ohh, another reason for choosing Japan was because I’ve seen and heard so many people visiting this country and it has always made me wonder and curious… is it worth the hype? I’ll tell you on day 16. LOL Another BIG question: is Japan expensive? I’ll let you know by the end of this travelogue!
Malaysians need visa to visit Japan but if your passport come with embedded microchip, then you don’t need to apply for short-term visa.
I booked my open-jaw Japan trip with Japan Airline (JAL). The flight to Osaka were a codeshare flight with Malaysia Airlines (MAS). Meaning the flight is operated by MAS. The flight from Tokyo back to Malaysia is by JAL.
We all got a shock when we had to self check-in, print our own boarding ticket and luggage tag. Aiyoo What happened MAS? It’s like flying with low cost airline. Also, from dropping our baggage to the flight snack/meal to the attitude of the stewardess and smiles given, the present day MAS were a stark contrast to few years back. The service given by JAL for my trip back to Malaysia on the other hand were really wonderful. I was greeted with beautiful genuine smiles from the moment I checked-in. Not that MAS people didn’t smile but you can sense something is missing.