Travel thread once more! - http://www.mmcafe.com/ Forums


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"Travel thread once more!" , posted Sat 10 Dec 13:43post reply

I've got a lot of time between now and February to do some travelling!

Part of me wants to go to Europe, because I have never been there before, but I wonder if it being winter means that it won't be such a good deal what with the smaller number of daylight hours and the general darker and wetter weather.

Some friends of mine are planning on being in Tokyo in January, and southeast Asia is fine in the winter. I have been in parts of Thailand before, and nobi's in northern Thailand, which would be fun for a visit. I certainly wouldn't mind visiting Hong Kong and Singapore and eating crazy amounts of food there.

I'm interested in both cultural and natural things (I'm kind of tempted to go to the Scandinavian nations in spite of the freezing cold just to see winter there and the aurora!), and I've been recommended to visit Italy when it comes to Europe, and the extreme amount of cool architecture/history/food there is honestly pretty compelling.

What does mmcafe folks with knowledge of Europe think of winter travel there? How about southeast asia?






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"Re(1):Travel thread once more!" , posted Sat 10 Dec 15:40:post reply

quote:
I've got a lot of time between now and February to do some travelling!

Part of me wants to go to Europe, because I have never been there before, but I wonder if it being winter means that it won't be such a good deal what with the smaller number of daylight hours and the general darker and wetter weather.

Some friends of mine are planning on being in Tokyo in January, and southeast Asia is fine in the winter. I have been in parts of Thailand before, and nobi's in northern Thailand, which would be fun for a visit. I certainly wouldn't mind visiting Hong Kong and Singapore and eating crazy amounts of food there.

I'm interested in both cultural and natural things (I'm kind of tempted to go to the Scandinavian nations in spite of the freezing cold just to see winter there and the aurora!), and I've been recommended to visit Italy when it comes to Europe, and the extreme amount of cool architecture/history/food there is honestly pretty compelling.

What does mmcafe folks with knowledge of Europe think of winter travel there? How about southeast asia?



In college I did a study abroad program for a semester in France then ended it backpacking through Western Europe (Paris, Rome, Florence, Bavaria) in the winter. I had a fantastic time. It gets COLD AS HELL though. Especially in Germany. I remember as our train was approaching Munchen, the cold just seeped through everything. I ended up in a giant human hamster pile with my friends cos our clothes weren't enough to keep us warm. I had to buy a new set of clothes just for Germany (Florence was surprisingly chilly too). I've never appreciated a warm pair of gloves more in my life.

You're pretty tall though, so I think you can pack light cos you won't have a hard time finding stuff that fits you in Europe.

I've only experienced Europe outside of France in the winter and I loved it. In fact the snow made everything feel even more magical.

That said, COME VISIT ME IN CHIANG MAI. WE WILL EAT LIKE KINGS.
I can recommend some good day trips too. And if you're curious I can introduce you to all the local game devs.






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"Re(1):Travel thread once more!" , posted Sat 10 Dec 22:53post reply

As a Mediterranean for whom sun is vital (and consequently suffering from sun withdrawal depression 8 month a year in the UK), I can have tremendous fun in south and east of Spain and most of Italy or Greece even mid-January, for example (with sufficient clothing). Amsterdam and Scandinavia would be dreadful, though. Paris and London are much more manageable if only because of the sheer size of it: you will always find things to do and watch regardless of the weather outside.
For some northern people (brits at least), Spain, France and Italy become gradually impossible to survive by May, all the way to October for the more skin-sensitive ones.
Iceland is fantastic but also crazy expensive if you think you're getting a shanty in the middle of nowhere. But then, you're in the middle of nowhere, and in winter can get 4 hours of light but also aurora borealis.

Italy will get you plenty of history, architecture, nature and FOOD regardless of the month, and is south enough so that you would get daylight from 8AM to 5PM in January. That should be enough to do plenty if you're organized enough. The trick will be management of warm clothing, as you can have a sudden chilly spell in the middle of a warm afternoon. Also, obviously, don't bring anything valuable because Sticky Fingers is not just a reference to some obscure band.

The problem in Europe is really balancing what you want to do and what you can actually do. Without enough preparation, you'll end up wasting your day in boring places and miss everything that's actually worthwhile. With too much preparation, you'll spend your time in trains and end up exhausted after the 3rd day without enjoying anything because you need to catch the bus at 12:47.







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"Fuurai No Spoon" , posted Sun 11 Dec 02:19post reply

The Cafe makes a good case for Europe, even in the winter! But if you decide to acutally be warm instead, Southeast Asia should be fine then. Singapore is plenty warm then---you can hang out with Zepy (I think), or go eat perfect food everywhere (kaya toast and dim sum for breakfast, Hainan Chicken and Malaysian food every other time) and then go to Marina Sands and Sentosa, ideally on a sexy business trip with all expenses paid, nominally as your temporary boss' interpreter (this last part will take more preparation on your part). When you get bored, you can go next door to Malaysia and continue to eat well while in warm weather, and maybe go surfing. It is not a bad plan! Not to mention Thailand.





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"Re(1):Fuurai No Spoon" , posted Sun 11 Dec 02:38post reply

I think if I went to Singapore, I would spend a disgusting amount of time at hawker stands until my blood is replaced with laksa.

I am somewhat tempted to do a trip of Singapore->Thailand->Hong Kong->Japan.

I am also tempted to just go nuts and do Italy(Florence and/or Rome)->Thailand(nobinobiland)->Japan(Tokyo, mostly).







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"Re(2):Fuurai No Spoon" , posted Sun 11 Dec 05:21post reply

quote:
(Florence and/or Rome)

Florence > general Tuscany trip >>> Rome.

Pompei is nice but it comes in a package with Napoli which lowers the experience. Sicily is amazing but full of weird people.

Venice is difficult because it wholly depends on your capacity of surviving a giant wall of tourists everywhere.







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"Re(3):Fuurai No Spoon" , posted Sun 11 Dec 05:54post reply

quote:
(Florence and/or Rome)
Florence > general Tuscany trip >>> Rome.

Pompei is nice but it comes in a package with Napoli which lowers the experience. Sicily is amazing but full of weird people.

Venice is difficult because it wholly depends on your capacity of surviving a giant wall of tourists everywhere.



Yeah, Venice as a place looks super interesting even if it's basically Veniceland. Pompeii seems super interesting as well but yeah my other friends have said that Napoli is sketchy.







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"Re(4):Fuurai No Spoon" , posted Sun 11 Dec 05:58post reply

quote:
(Florence and/or Rome)
Florence > general Tuscany trip >>> Rome.

Pompei is nice but it comes in a package with Napoli which lowers the experience. Sicily is amazing but full of weird people.

Venice is difficult because it wholly depends on your capacity of surviving a giant wall of tourists everywhere.


Yeah, Venice as a place looks super interesting even if it's basically Veniceland. Pompeii seems super interesting as well but yeah my other friends have said that Napoli is sketchy.



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"Re(5):Fuurai No Spoon" , posted Sun 11 Dec 06:59post reply

quote:
I want a romantic knight errant life in postwar Italy

Then you will love Napoli: they even kept the rubbish of the war in the street where they fell!







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"Re(6):Fuurai No Spoon" , posted Sun 11 Dec 07:55post reply

quote:
I want a romantic knight errant life in postwar Italy
Then you will love Napoli: they even kept the rubbish of the war in the street where they fell!



Delightful!







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"Re(1):Fuurai No Spoon" , posted Thu 15 Dec 12:15post reply

quote:
The Cafe makes a good case for Europe, even in the winter! But if you decide to acutally be warm instead, Southeast Asia should be fine then. Singapore is plenty warm then---you can hang out with Zepy (I think), or go eat perfect food everywhere (kaya toast and dim sum for breakfast, Hainan Chicken and Malaysian food every other time) and then go to Marina Sands and Sentosa, ideally on a sexy business trip with all expenses paid, nominally as your temporary boss' interpreter (this last part will take more preparation on your part). When you get bored, you can go next door to Malaysia and continue to eat well while in warm weather, and maybe go surfing. It is not a bad plan! Not to mention Thailand.



I hear it has cafes with nice names, too.







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"Re(2):Kimagure Na Spoon" , posted Fri 16 Dec 15:08post reply

quote:
I hear it has cafes with nice names, too.

If there's also one for the equally iconic cafe ABCB, I just maaay have to go back to Singapore on an 80s timewarp.





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"Paging Maese et al" , posted Tue 20 Dec 08:25post reply

General call to anybody who will be in Tokyo in January from the 18th onwards: let's meet up!

You can also all tell me about the places I really should be visiting that I don't know to, like which parts of Kabukicho I should totally (not) go to.

Also, an acquaintance of mine will be working for DoCoMo in Japan starting next year. Has anybody here ever worked for/with them?







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"Re(1):Paging Maese et al" , posted Tue 20 Dec 12:00post reply

quote:
General call to anybody who will be in Tokyo in January from the 18th onwards: let's meet up!

You can also all tell me about the places I really should be visiting that I don't know to, like which parts of Kabukicho I should totally (not) go to.

Also, an acquaintance of mine will be working for DoCoMo in Japan starting next year. Has anybody here ever worked for/with them?



Spoon used "Summon Maese ++"

"Summon Maese ++" was super effective!

If you are going to hit Tokyo around Jan 18th, that's a most perfect timing for me. Hopefully Professor and other Tokyo-ites would be around as well!

Pretty much anywhere around Kabukicho should be fine for a foreigner. The scary part is actually the slums of Kabukicho, that no-man's zone that extends between the outskirts of central Shinjuku and Okubo. The whole place looks like a discarded filming set for some seedy yakuza movie from the 70s. But, then again, you have lived in San Francisco, so that would be like a walk through the park for you I guess. For more depressing stuff you could try the Sanya area, the slums hometown of Joe Yabuki, which has not changed that much since the 60s anyway. But, other than that, pretty much anywhere you go in Tokyo would be shiny and pretty.

As for touristic recommendations goes, I don't know what places of the city you already know, so it's difficult to tell. Anyway, for geeky purposes you can't go wrong with the usual stuff: a walk around Nakano Broadway, a visit to Takadanobaba to hit retro arcade heaven Mikado (and mingle with drunken college students once you are done playing Street Fighter Zero on a CTR monitor), or the usual pilgrimage to Akihabara. While I never liked Akihabara too much, I guess is one of those places you have to visit at least for a couple of hours if only to enjoy the crazy atmosphere. And I have to admit that Akiba HEY is probably the best arcade center in the country. Oh, and just near the JR station you can find two very interesting eateries: Ginzo is a personal favorite of mine, one of the best places to get good sushi for a reasonable price in Tokyo. Bonus points for always playing The Beatles as piped music. The other one is Showa Shokudo, where they serve the best old-style kara age chicken in the city. Nothing overly fancy (this is Akiba after all), but good stuff for affordable prices nonetheless!

But you probably know about these places already. Why don't you catch the Chuo Line from Shinjuku and venture around Western Tokyo, further than Nakano?

Koenji, Ogikubo, Kichijoji... Those places are full of neat little food stalls, awesome bars and great eateries. The atmosphere is great and they're easy enough to walk around. You don't even have to walk more than a 5 minutes distance from each train station to get on the middle of the action. The Japan from the Showa era still lives on these places, and the people is friendly enough to strike a conversation pretty much anywhere. Kichijoji wins extra points for its gorgeous park (featured in a lot of mangas from the 80s/90s, from GTO to Video Girl Ai), and for being a hot spot for curio shopping as well. If you are lucky, you might even walk into Tsukasa Hojo or Katsuhiro Otomo, since they live on the area along with a fuckton of other manga artists. Tsukasa Hojo, Tetsuo Hara and the gang even manage a posh cafe restaurant there (!), which is also highly recommendable.

Western Tokyo is an underrated gem, ready to be discovered. I mean, I live there for a reason! Ask our dark lord Maou for extra tips about the area, he's a huge fan as well. I will be happy to show you around if you want!


No idea about DoCoMo, but for IT companies they are pretty much as big as it gets here in Japan, so that could either mean it's a really nice place to work... or a living hell.






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"Re(2):Paging Maese et al" , posted Tue 20 Dec 12:15post reply

quote:
Western Tokyo is an underrated gem, ready to be discovered. I mean, I live there for a reason! Ask our dark lord Maou for extra tips about the area, he's a huge fan as well. I will be happy to show you around if you want!
My advice is to follow my man Maese's advice since we love all the same things: old-school Showa-era shoutengai shopping centers, hole-in-the-wall eateries, tiny "live house" concert bars run by some dude who spent his 20s hitchhiking across 60s America and is now the most rock and roll guy in town, nice parks in Kichijouji, etc. Shibuya and Shinjuku are nice for a visitor or to go party, but West Tokyo is where you want to live, and not in a boring live with your 2.1 kids (or in Japan 1.7 ) kind of way. Best advice is to follow Maese around the west side and make sure he takes you to that cool place with the manga art on the walls, then join Professor on the rounds to his favorite spots, and ideally to then lose to both of them at Justice Gakuen and SNK games at Mikado.
quote:

No idea about DoCoMo, but for IT companies they are pretty much as big as it gets here in Japan, so that could either mean it's a really nice place to work... or a living hell.
Hahaha. They say DoCoMo has the best celluar service, but like with people working at their favorite game companies, people may soon find that "liking their products" doesn't correlate to "liking working there." But maybe it's good anyway!





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"Re(3):Fuurai No Spoon" , posted Tue 20 Dec 21:51post reply

quote:
(Florence and/or Rome)
Florence > general Tuscany trip >>> Rome.


%100 Agree on this. Florence is an amazing picturesque city and you're gonna eat the best food and coffee Italy can make there and in the general Tuscany area.

In Rome, aside from the prominent touristy sightseeing spots there's really not much. Don't spend long there if you have to.

quote:
Venice is difficult because it wholly depends on your capacity of surviving a giant wall of tourists everywhere.

Venice can get pretty cramped but I imagine since you'll be going in the winter, there won't be as many tourists as usual. It's still a nice city anyways but it's also a small town so you won't be needing to spend a night there.





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"Re(1):Paging Maese et al" , posted Wed 21 Dec 14:19post reply

quote:
General call to anybody who will be in Tokyo in January from the 18th onwards: let's meet up!


I think I should be able to make it. you can contact me via Twitter or by mail!

DoCoMo is Japan's largest mobile carrier with many daughter companies in the IT/content field. I think your friend will be fine there if it's DoCoMo itself considering they're known to keep strict record of working hours and generally won't allow employees to go overtime (it also means workers are embedded in the the corporate system so they won't have much opportunity working ambitiously to climb up the corporate ladder).

Their HQ is actually right around the Krispy Kreme area that.. used.. to be MMCafe's meetup place.

Kabukicho has become a tourist area in the past 2-3 years so I think it's generally fine now. In fact they have a 4D theater and a Godzilla hotel.


If you're traveling abroad in Japan, I'd strongly suggest getting a JR Rail pass.
If it's just within Tokyo, not worth it-- a simple Suica charge card will do.


There's lots of places to visit within Tokyo too, though it depends on what kind of stuff you and your traveling friends (if any are coming) are interested in. Some people want to shop otaku stuff til they drop, some just want to check the cultural stuff, some want both...

The worst thing to do though, is just keep on going to the arcades 24-7 (yes there are actually people like that).
I've also met a guy who fell in love with strawberry shortcakes here and ended up just going around shopping all over the place and do nothing but stay in his hotel room and eat them





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"Re(2):Paging Maese et al" , posted Wed 21 Dec 15:14post reply

quote:
General call to anybody who will be in Tokyo in January from the 18th onwards: let's meet up!

I think I should be able to make it. you can contact me via Twitter or by mail!

DoCoMo is Japan's largest mobile carrier with many daughter companies in the IT/content field. I think your friend will be fine there if it's DoCoMo itself considering they're known to keep strict record of working hours and generally won't allow employees to go overtime (it also means workers are embedded in the the corporate system so they won't have much opportunity working ambitiously to climb up the corporate ladder).

Their HQ is actually right around the Krispy Kreme area that.. used.. to be MMCafe's meetup place.

Kabukicho has become a tourist area in the past 2-3 years so I think it's generally fine now. In fact they have a 4D theater and a Godzilla hotel.


If you're traveling abroad in Japan, I'd strongly suggest getting a JR Rail pass.
If it's just within Tokyo, not worth it-- a simple Suica charge card will do.


There's lots of places to visit within Tokyo too, though it depends on what kind of stuff you and your traveling friends (if any are coming) are interested in. Some people want to shop otaku stuff til they drop, some just want to check the cultural stuff, some want both...

The worst thing to do though, is just keep on going to the arcades 24-7 (yes there are

-- Message too long, Autoquote has been Snipped --


You should write a comic about your experiences as Tokyo Ambassador Harry! You've played cultural guide for so many people from all over the globe. I'd love to hear all the stories you got.






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"Re(2):Paging Maese et al" , posted Wed 21 Dec 18:03post reply

quote:

There's lots of places to visit within Tokyo too, though it depends on what kind of stuff you and your traveling friends (if any are coming) are interested in. Some people want to shop otaku stuff til they drop, some just want to check the cultural stuff, some want both...


For me this trip is a bit odd because I don't have a super clear objective of what I want to do or get out of it... it seems more like a trip that my pals want me to join in on. I did joke with them that they should just rent a car and drive around Gunma, especially since two were big fans of Initial D way back in the day!

Last time I was in Japan we had a much larger trip planned that did involve the JR pass, but we won't be needing them for this one.

I think one thing I wouldn't mind seeing is Kyoto again, especially if there's still snow there in January, even if it is a bit of a trip.

quote:

The worst thing to do though, is just keep on going to the arcades 24-7


Neither of my two friends who are also going are so bent on arcades to do so, and I certainly won't be doing that, though I will certainly pay a visit to Taito Station or whatever given the chance.





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"Re(3):Paging Maese et al" , posted Wed 21 Dec 18:36post reply

quote:

There's lots of places to visit within Tokyo too, though it depends on what kind of stuff you and your traveling friends (if any are coming) are interested in. Some people want to shop otaku stuff til they drop, some just want to check the cultural stuff, some want both...

For me this trip is a bit odd because I don't have a super clear objective of what I want to do or get out of it... it seems more like a trip that my pals want me to join in on. I did joke with them that they should just rent a car and drive around Gunma, especially since two were big fans of Initial D way back in the day!

Last time I was in Japan we had a much larger trip planned that did involve the JR pass, but we won't be needing them for this one.

I think one thing I wouldn't mind seeing is Kyoto again, especially if there's still snow there in January, even if it is a bit of a trip.


The worst thing to do though, is just keep on going to the arcades 24-7

Neither of my two friends who are also going are so bent on arcades to do so, and I certainly won't be doing that, though I will certainly pay a visit to Taito Station or whatever given the chance.



If you do Kyoto you might as well get the JR pass and also hit up Nara. You know, so I can vicariously live through you.






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"Re(4):Paging Maese et al" , posted Wed 21 Dec 20:22post reply

Nobi has a point there since a round trip on the Shinkansen/bullet train to Kyoto-Tokyo is practically the same price as getting a JR rail pass.

There's quite a bit to check out in Tokyo alone. How long are you and your friends planning on staying?







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"Re(5):Paging Maese et al" , posted Thu 22 Dec 04:02post reply

quote:
Nobi has a point there since a round trip on the Shinkansen/bullet train to Kyoto-Tokyo is practically the same price as getting a JR rail pass.

There's quite a bit to check out in Tokyo alone. How long are you and your friends planning on staying?



18th-31st, but the whole JR pass likely is out of budget for one of my friends, so that chunk of the trip might just be me alone. The trip is relatively last minute, which is why it's kind of poorly planned right now.





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"Re(6):Paging Maese et al" , posted Thu 22 Dec 16:00post reply

quote:
Nobi has a point there since a round trip on the Shinkansen/bullet train to Kyoto-Tokyo is practically the same price as getting a JR rail pass.

There's quite a bit to check out in Tokyo alone. How long are you and your friends planning on staying?


18th-31st, but the whole JR pass likely is out of budget for one of my friends, so that chunk of the trip might just be me alone. The trip is relatively last minute, which is why it's kind of poorly planned right now.



If your buddies wanna save money, you can also just take overnight buses from place to place. Not only cheaper for travel, you also save on accommodations. Just be careful that they don't sell out though!






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"Re(7):Paging Maese et al" , posted Thu 22 Dec 16:23post reply

quote:
Nobi has a point there since a round trip on the Shinkansen/bullet train to Kyoto-Tokyo is practically the same price as getting a JR rail pass.

There's quite a bit to check out in Tokyo alone. How long are you and your friends planning on staying?


18th-31st, but the whole JR pass likely is out of budget for one of my friends, so that chunk of the trip might just be me alone. The trip is relatively last minute, which is why it's kind of poorly planned right now.


If your buddies wanna save money, you can also just take overnight buses from place to place. Not only cheaper for travel, you also save on accommodations. Just be careful that they don't sell out though!



I'm totally fine with sleeping at an overnight manga kissa for the novelty, but I don't want that to be my entire trip!







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"Spoon's Bizarre Adventure" , posted Fri 23 Dec 02:35:post reply

Spoon-kun, good news: you have great flexibility in price/transport/accomodations, including the ability to ditch your friends because of the ease of getting around and because hotels essentially charge by occupant, not by room size.

Your accomodation budget will be next to nonexistent unless you are staying in a needlessly fancy hotel or ryokan. Outside Tokyo/Kyoto, a perfectly comfortable business hotel will be 5000Y/50 dollars a night. That is the same price as the psychological counseling you'd need after staying in an American hotel at that price!

If you want something more interesting, there are still state-run pseudo-ryokans and public onsen hotels all around the country. Jalan can find you exactly the hotel or ryokan you need. English site now, too.

Similarly, you can pay the big bucks for shinkansen, or execute a chain combo of super-local trains and scenery in 8 hours intead of 1, for cheap! Use the Norikae Annai and HyperDia sites and apps to chart trips by price and time.
quote:
rent a car and drive around Gunma, especially since two were big fans of Initial D way back in the day!
This, however, is the best option. People are always making fun of my youthful home because it's "boring" and the girls are "not very hot" and the karakkaze dry wind is "really cold." These people are idiots! Gunma will give you:

-rolling flatlands encircled entirely by really cool mountains, most famously Akagiyama, for good driving/camping

-pleasant metropolitan areas in the south-central areas (Maebashi, Takasaki), magnificent gorges and waterfalls up north towards Midori (and Nikko), and famous onsen way out west (Kusatsu, Agatsuma gorge area)

-the kind of gigantic used comic-game-music-fishing gear(!?) warehouses that only the country can house

-an unbelievable museum of Showa-era pop stuff (albums, comics, bromides, old cars) gathered by an eccentric collector, because all non-game media after 1989 was bullshit and we all know it

-excellent soba and udon, and the best local dessert out of any prefecture (I will only tell you if you go)

-Gunma-chan, the number three ranked prefectural mascot character of 2012

-all of the above for cheap because no one goes there!





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[this message was edited by Maou on Fri 23 Dec 04:59]

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"In my restless dreams I see that prefecture" , posted Fri 23 Dec 05:48:post reply

Maou you've totally sold me on Gunma!

quote:
-the kind of gigantic used comic-game-music-fishing gear(!?) warehouses that only the country can house


Ever since reading your loving and vivid descriptions, I've actually had dreams about visiting those warehouses! In my restless sleep they appear to me like the mega city black monolith in the opening of On Your Mark.






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"Gunma of my youth" , posted Fri 23 Dec 10:40post reply

That sounds awesome, and I think long, winding drives around beautiful scenery is something my friends would really enjoy.

I will certainly pitch the idea harder to my pals!





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"Nierly (not) Automatic demo" , posted Fri 23 Dec 14:58post reply

A quick heads up that the demo for Nier Automata is up on the PSNStore (at least for JP).

It's full of Akihiko Yoshida's fetishes so if you're a fan of the artist it's certainly worth picking up. This game is probably one of the good examples of good 3D lighting and texturing. Black velvet looks so natural.


The game on super hard mode is insta-kill for the player. Crazy!





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"Re(1):Gunma of my youth" , posted Fri 23 Dec 15:23post reply

Spoon- For Tokyo, have you guys decided on accomodation? Air BnB seems to be popular nowadays but there's also Sakura House.
My friends tend to stay at Kimi ryokan.







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"Re(2):Gunma of my youth" , posted Tue 10 Jan 17:10post reply

quote:
Spoon- For Tokyo, have you guys decided on accomodation? Air BnB seems to be popular nowadays but there's also Sakura House.
My friends tend to stay at Kimi ryokan.



Thread revival!

Yes, my pals already picked a place. But for folks in Tokyo, please send email to "hokuto" at Gmail

Let's coordinate a meeting or two!







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"THAILAND" , posted Tue 17 Jan 02:16:post reply

THREAD HIJACK

I'm thinking about doing a big trip late this year or next year, and one of the potential destinations is Nobi's homeland if I'm not mistaken*.
I'm still at the early stages of planning so I'm not looking for precise advises, but generally:
* I've heard November was one of the best times as the monsoon is over and the pollution level is still low (traveling with an asthmatic, I'm paying attention to that). True/False?
* Also, I'd be traveling with a weakling prone to stomach bugs and the like. My image of Thai food is that it's safe as long as you don't rely on dodgy food stalls. Y/N?
* How easy is it to travel around Thailand without a car/driving license? Are public services/bus/trains reliable?
* We like to walk. A lot. Are there big natural places we can visit and walk around without risking being eaten by a wild tiger uppercut?
* Has the political situation stabilized? A lot can change in 10 months anyway (hopefully for the better), but just to get some context.
* Any other general thing about the country I should know?

Thanks in advance!



Spoiler (Highlight to view) -
And just like that, Nishimura Sagat has become the face of Nobi in my mind until further notice.

End of Spoiler







[this message was edited by Iggy on Tue 17 Jan 03:53]



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"Re(1):THAILAND" , posted Tue 17 Jan 07:55post reply

quote:
THREAD HIJACK

I'm thinking about doing a big trip late this year or next year, and one of the potential destinations is Nobi's homeland if I'm not mistaken*.
I'm still at the early stages of planning so I'm not looking for precise advises, but generally:
* I've heard November was one of the best times as the monsoon is over and the pollution level is still low (traveling with an asthmatic, I'm paying attention to that). True/False?
* Also, I'd be traveling with a weakling prone to stomach bugs and the like. My image of Thai food is that it's safe as long as you don't rely on dodgy food stalls. Y/N?
* How easy is it to travel around Thailand without a car/driving license? Are public services/bus/trains reliable?
* We like to walk. A lot. Are there big natural places we can visit and walk around without risking being eaten by a wild tiger uppercut?
* Has the political situation stabilized? A lot can change in 10 months anyway (hopefully for the better), but just to get some context.
* Any other general thing about the country I should know?

Thanks in advance!





It's worth pointing out that Thailand is a pretty big place, with double the land area of the UK. Where in Thailand are you thinking of visiting? If either of you cannot easily stomach fish sauce, fermented shrimp paste, dried shrimp, or nuts you will have a hard time.





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"Re(2):THAILAND" , posted Tue 17 Jan 13:57post reply

quote:
It's worth pointing out that Thailand is a pretty big place, with double the land area of the UK. Where in Thailand are you thinking of visiting? If either of you cannot easily stomach fish sauce, fermented shrimp paste, dried shrimp, or nuts you will have a hard time.



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"Re(2):THAILAND" , posted Tue 17 Jan 20:11post reply

quote:
It's worth pointing out that Thailand is a pretty big place, with double the land area of the UK. Where in Thailand are you thinking of visiting?

I do not know yet! I guess I'll be looking at [historical stuff] and [nature stuff] and [walking stuff] and maybe the other guy will want to go to the beach at some point. From what I understand, Thailand has plenty of those, so if I manage to convince him to go there, I'll start looking into it more seriously (we're still at the negotiation phase).





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"Re(1):THAILAND" , posted Wed 18 Jan 03:22:post reply

quote:
THREAD HIJACK

I'm thinking about doing a big trip late this year or next year, and one of the potential destinations is Nobi's homeland if I'm not mistaken*.
I'm still at the early stages of planning so I'm not looking for precise advises, but generally:
* I've heard November was one of the best times as the monsoon is over and the pollution level is still low (traveling with an asthmatic, I'm paying attention to that). True/False?
* Also, I'd be traveling with a weakling prone to stomach bugs and the like. My image of Thai food is that it's safe as long as you don't rely on dodgy food stalls. Y/N?
* How easy is it to travel around Thailand without a car/driving license? Are public services/bus/trains reliable?
* We like to walk. A lot. Are there big natural places we can visit and walk around without risking being eaten by a wild tiger uppercut?
* Has the political situation stabilized? A lot can change in 10 months anyway (hopefully for the better), but just to get some context.
* Any other general thing about the country I should know?

Thanks in advance!





Hey Iggy! Thailand is indeed one of my homelands (the other being the USA). It's a pretty big place and I can't speak with authority on most of it, but I can tell you what little I know.

First off, Thailand is exactly what you make it to be. Whatever your expectations are, you can have them fulfilled. It is a very accommodating country.

If you want awesome food, beautiful temples and relaxed people. You'll find them.

If you want to party hard, do blow and prostitutes, you'll find them (it's not my thing but I won't judge you too much).

If you wanna train hardcore martial arts in the jungle for a year, you can do that.

If you wanna go "digital nomad" and hang out at trendy cafes drinking coffee with free high speed internet all day and night dreaming of how your startup will disrupt society (but really just playing World of Warcraft and Overwatch all day), you can do that too.

There's so much to see and do. Everything you've heard about the country is true to someone's experience. You get what you put into it. I think this is true of most places, but particularly true about Thailand, which is something of the world's playground (you will meet people from EVERYWHERE here).

To answer your questions:

quote:
I've heard November was one of the best times as the monsoon is over and the pollution level is still low (traveling with an asthmatic, I'm paying attention to that). True/False?


FALSE. Burning season begins in November traditionally, but farmers will begin earlier and end later. They don't do much to stop them. Many farmers will try to get in an extra cycle of crops this way. This is maybe my least favourite thing about Thailand. The air can get pretty bad. It makes me really appreciate the USA where air quality standards are legally enforced.

Aside from burning season they also don't enforce emissions regulations on cars, so there are a lot of diesel fueled monstrosities on the road. It's a serious problem. It's getting a little better lately. For instance, Bangkok is MUCH BETTER now than when I was a kid. But just be on alert, especially if your friend has athsma. It's not as bad as say Beijing, but the air quality will be significantly worse than what you are probably used to in the USA or Western Europe or the UK. I really don't recommend jogging outdoors or even intense bike rides because of this. Tourists see the beautiful weather and palm trees etc and I see them running like, roadside, during rush hour, just breathing in the toxic air! DONT DO THAT. It's ok to just run on the treadmill at your hotel. Your lungs will be so much healthier for it! (if you really need a running fix just wake up super early, like 4am or so before all the traffic starts up and earlier than the farmers will be burning).

quote:
* Also, I'd be traveling with a weakling prone to stomach bugs and the like. My image of Thai food is that it's safe as long as you don't rely on dodgy food stalls. Y/N?


TRUE. Thailand is very clean compared to most tropical nations. I've been here 2 years now and haven't had any serious food poisoning (although keep in mind I'm a slob who will eat yogurt a month past the sell by date). My friends who have visited from other SE Asian nations have all remarked on how amazingly clean Thailand is compared to their home countries.

The best restaurants will have enough pride to run a very clean operation. For food stands, just stick to the popular ones. If there's a line it's probably actually good and clean. No one will return to a food hawker who has poisoned them!

Don't worry too much about dietary restrictions too. Unless you are deep in the countryside there's always going to be a 7-11 within walking distance offering the comforts of sandwiches and junk food. Thai 7-11s are actually really good. Up there with Taiwan and Japan. The frozen microwave foods ($1 each) are surprisingly tasty and not overly processed.

If you're in a destination city like Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket, there will be tons of western food options. And these days they are getting quite good. There are lots of cafes with breakfast/sandwich/pasta options that would be considered good by San Francisco standards.

But of course, if you can stomach the spice and the fish sauce EAT AS MUCH THAI FOOD AS YOU CAN (I will help you with this if you swing by for sure).

quote:
* How easy is it to travel around Thailand without a car/driving license? Are public services/bus/trains reliable?


Bangkok is not walkable at all. The BTS system is pretty good, but it's limited in where it goes. You will definitely need to take cabs to get around. Uber is getting really big now though. It's SUPER CHEAP too. I recently took a ride that was probably about 25 mins, 10km at it was less than $3. I'm pretty sure they are subsidised somehow.

Chiang Mai is SUPER WALKABLE if you stay in the city. And it's super easy and cheap to get around in the red trucks. Uber is also extremely easy to use here too.

I can't personally speak on Phuket and the beach towns, but I hear biking is not a bad option there.

Depending on where you go, you might even want to rent a van. You can get a huge comfy van and personal driver for an entire day. It's under $100 and you pay for gas. You can see A LOT in one day. If you're with a group this is totally worth it. Don't do tour groups, just hire a local driver. They'll know the best spots to eat too, even if you drive out to remote temples and parks.

For travelling across the country buses, trains and planes are all very reliable. I actually highly recommend the overnight buses. There are some that are styled after airlines, replete with an airhostess serving snacks and personal tv stations full of pretty recent movies. They're comofortable enough that I can actually sleep on them (unlike a Greyhound bus in the US). Buy tickets ahead of time though, they tend to sell out on weekends and holidays.

The train is also great, though it's a very slow way to travel. Much slower than the buses actually. But very comfy.

quote:
* We like to walk. A lot. Are there big natural places we can visit and walk around without risking being eaten by a wild tiger uppercut?


I can recommend some places for you in Chiang Mai. Lots of great day trips. And even in the city you can do a hike up to Doi Suthep, the locally famous temple (where they shot Mortal Kombat and Surf Ninjas!).

I've heard Pai is really great for natural beauty too. Well, depending on who you talk to it's also called a drug haven for dirty hippies. But i've also heard from recently married couples that it's beautiful and great for hikes.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/mae-hong-son-province/pai

I haven't been down to the beaches since I was a little kid, so I can't speak on them. But my friends who have visited have had a great time. They are extremely beautiful, though they're also very very crowded. Tourists everywhere. Protip: DO NOT GET BLACKOUT DRUNK OR HIGH in the beach towns if you're out and about. People will scam the hell out of you. You might even get beatup. They're generally a lot sketchier than Bangkok and especially Chiang Mai.

quote:
* Has the political situation stabilized? A lot can change in 10 months anyway (hopefully for the better), but just to get some context.


Unless you are in the border towns visiting an islamic separatist village you'll find Thailand to be very safe. The country is very stable right now. I was pretty worried after the former king passed but, life has gone on as usual. No recent coups, no economic crash.

There IS a curfew still in effect since the last coup though (we have A LOT of coups though they're not as dramatic as you might think). Most places stop serving alcohol after midnight. A few places have special exemptions (they are well connected with the police) so they stay open later. You can usually find some little mom and pop shops selling beer after hours though.

quote:
* Any other general thing about the country I should know?


If you visit Chiang Mai, I'd love to hang out! I'd be really happy to show you guys around! I'm not big into clubs or partying or sex tourism (not that I'm judging--just I simply wouldn't know how to help you there), but if you want to eat awesome local food, visit temples, get the best coffee in South East Asia, look at art, buy used books and comics, visit a bug zoo full of giant beetles, that kind of thing i can help you with.

Oh, also it's super easy to meet people on Tinder here. Gets to swipin' before you come! Whether you're looking to hookup or actually genuinely make some new friends, it's a very viable way to meet people throughout Thailand.

Also look out for free sim cards when you land. Usually the company called "True" will have people handing them out. You can probably get a week of free service out of the card. When you run out you can refill it at any 7-11 in the whole country. It's really easy and every clerk will know how to do it for you.

If you have any more specific questions let me know.

Oh one more thing. If you or your friend are vegetarian then you should DEFINITELY plan to visit during the Vegetarian Festival which takes place from October 20-28. During this time the whole country will focus on eating healthy but DELICIOUS vegetarian food. Every major chain will have vegan options marked by red and yellow Chinese letters. 7-11 (which is ubiquitious) will offer tons of Vegan stuff during this week nation wide. And there will be tons of pop up stands offering the best tasting stuff I've ever eaten that no animal had to die for. Karasu, you should visit at this time too!

One more note about being vegetarian in Thailand: although Thailand is a very Buddhist nation, it's surprisingly un-vegan friendly if you don't know where to go. Thai Buddhists don't place much emphasis on being vegetarian. Much like the historical Buddha, Thai monks actually just eat whatever people offer to them. If it has meat, so be it. So much like Japan's love for dashi, there's a good chance anything savory you eat will have some kind of fermented aquatic animal's essence ground up into it.

Anyway, thanks for your inqueries! Keep em coming! As you can see I absolutely love playing travel guide for people who visit.

If anyone else from the Cafe is gonna be in this neck of the woods, let me know. We will eat well! (See you soon Spoon!)






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[this message was edited by nobinobita on Wed 18 Jan 03:39]



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"Re(2):THAILAND" , posted Wed 18 Jan 05:56post reply

quote:
Nobi's amazing wall of detailed and precious information

Gosh. I knew the Cafe would not disappoint, but this is something else. Thank you very much!

Just one thing: if November is a no-no from an air quality perspective, when would be the best time to visit to prevent asthma issues? October? December? Maybe January?

I like how you leave subtle hints about alcohol and partying and debauchery like that you assume that's the kind of things I would be
quote:
bug zoo full of giant beetles

WHAT IS IT HOW DID YOU KNOW I WOULD BE OH GOD SIGN ME THE FUCK UP DO YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT ME I HAVE NO SECRETS LEFT YES I DID MURDER COLONEL MUSTARD WITH THE CANDLESTICK.







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"Re(3):THAILAND" , posted Wed 18 Jan 09:56post reply

quote:
HOW DID YOU KNOW I WOULD BE OH GOD SIGN ME THE FUCK UP DO YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT ME I HAVE NO SECRETS LEFT
quote:
If you want to party hard, do blow and prostitutes, you'll find them

He's certainly onto you!

Taking good note of this invaluable Thailand for my own...purposes in the future, as well.





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"Re(4):THAILAND" , posted Wed 18 Jan 14:01post reply

quote:
If anyone else from the Cafe is gonna be in this neck of the woods, let me know. We will eat well!



Nobi has just sold Chiang Mai to me... I think I already know where I'm gonna spend this year's Golden Week holidays!

I visited Bangkok last year and it was pretty awesome, so this time I'm heading up North to see some more jungle, some more temples and some laid back coffee shops. Any doubts I may have had have been completely dissipated by Nobi's eloquence. You'll be hearing from me soon, good sir!






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"Re(3):THAILAND" , posted Thu 19 Jan 14:24:post reply

quote:
Nobi's amazing wall of detailed and precious information
Gosh. I knew the Cafe would not disappoint, but this is something else. Thank you very much!


XD :D
You're very welcome. I looooove travelling and also playing tour guide for travellers.

quote:
Just one thing: if November is a no-no from an air quality perspective, when would be the best time to visit to prevent asthma issues? October? December? Maybe January?


Correction to what i said previously. Burning season traditionally starts in January, so the very worst months tend to be Jan-March. However, from my experience I've smelled smoke in the air as early as November. November and December will still be much lighter than Jan - March, so if November is the best time for you to travel I'd stick with that. Burning season is particularly a problem in Chiang Mai since it's nestled inside a mountain range which traps in a lot of the pollution (like Beijing). If you're going to the beach or Bangkok you won't notice it.

quote:
I like how you leave subtle hints about alcohol and partying and debauchery like that you assume that's the kind of things I would be



Haha well I don't judge (too much!). I'm just trying to be considerate! I know there are many reasons why people visit Thailand haha. I recently had a friend show up in Chiang Mai and essentially tell me "hey wtf where are all the hookers and blow? This is NOTHING like Bangkok!" and I was like "uh ... that's not really what people come to Chiang Mai for ..." I mean you can do that stuff here too, but it's not on the insane scale that you can do it in Bangkok.

quote:

"Bug Zoo"


Ah! Nice! I always mention this place to people and outside of a few close friends (always other artists or Kamen Rider fans) no one ever goes! But the Siam Insect Zoo is SO COOL. It's a ZOO not a MUSEUM, so you get to handle giant awesome live insects! Giant Stick Bugs! Scorpions! Beetles from all over Asia and even South America! The gigantic phallic grubs that will turn into them! Caterpillars that will turn into beeautiful butterflies! It's sooooooo cooooooooooool.

It's located in an area called Mae Rim, which is where a lot of the animal/outdoors attractions are. So if you wanna wash an elephant, ride an ATV, shoot a gun etc, you can do all that in the same day while you're out there.

quote:
Taking good note of this invaluable Thailand for my own...purposes in the future, as well.

quote:
Nobi has just sold Chiang Mai to me... I think I already know where I'm gonna spend this year's Golden Week holidays!


I look forward to seeing you guys again! Iggy, I hope we get to meet in person sometime this year!






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"Re(4):NOBILAND" , posted Thu 19 Jan 15:22post reply

quote:
hey wtf where are all the hookers and blow?
Which reminds me, the official image song for Iggy's Mad Thaiventures is now my favorite breakdown from the Kanzuki Beach theme, whether he thinks he wants to enter a beach of iniquity or not (he must).

...the last time I saw a cool-ass bug museum was the first time I ever went to Costa Rica. Costa Rica is rad. Maybe a Cafe member will go there next.





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"Re(4):THAILAND" , posted Thu 19 Jan 20:44post reply

quote:
But the Siam Insect Zoo is SO COOL. It's a ZOO not a MUSEUM, so you get to handle giant awesome live insects! Giant Stick Bugs! Scorpions! Beetles from all over Asia and even South America! The gigantic phallic grubs that will turn into them! Caterpillars that will turn into beeautiful butterflies! It's sooooooo cooooooooooool.
Can I move there?
Like, not just in Thailand. Move all my stuff inside the zoo and live there for ever and ever.

quote:
So if you wanna wash an elephant, ride an ATV, shoot a gun etc, you can do all that in the same day while you're out there.
As long as the gun is not pointing AT an elephant (or anything alive), I'll be good!

Again, thank you for all of this, you are the best tourist advisor!





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"Re(5):THAILAND" , posted Fri 20 Jan 17:20post reply

quote:
But the Siam Insect Zoo is SO COOL. It's a ZOO not a MUSEUM, so you get to handle giant awesome live insects! Giant Stick Bugs! Scorpions! Beetles from all over Asia and even South America! The gigantic phallic grubs that will turn into them! Caterpillars that will turn into beeautiful butterflies! It's sooooooo cooooooooooool. Can I move there?
Like, not just in Thailand. Move all my stuff inside the zoo and live there for ever and ever.



Maybe you can be their bee keeper! I don't think they have bees yet

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"Re(6):THAILAND" , posted Sat 21 Jan 01:32post reply

Now that it's come time to look into living in a country other than the US I've realized one of my main criteria for expatriate home shopping is how close I can be to a bug zoo.





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"Re(7):THAILAND" , posted Sun 22 Jan 03:57post reply

quote:
Now that it's come time to look into living in a country other than the US I've realized one of my main criteria for expatriate home shopping is how close I can be to a bug zoo.



I'm really happy to see so many bug lovers on here.

When I find out someone loves the form and function of bugs, I can't help but feel an automatic kinship with them!

"This person 'gets' it!"






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"To South Korea once again" , posted Sun 5 Feb 03:00post reply

Hello again, cafe members. First I gotta apologize for not being as active on here as usual but I will strive to fix that. Second, as luck would have it I'm planing to visit South Korea in mid-March, and this would be my second time there since my last visit 2 years ago (in which I have also consulted you good folks on a travel thread just before).

This time, I'm hoping to stay longer and to go outside Seoul for a longer period of time, probably the majority of the time in South Korea even. All your suggestions will be greatly appreciated.





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"Re(1):To South Korea once again" , posted Sun 5 Feb 17:37post reply

quote:
Hello again, cafe members. First I gotta apologize for not being as active on here as usual but I will strive to fix that. Second, as luck would have it I'm planing to visit South Korea in mid-March, and this would be my second time there since my last visit 2 years ago (in which I have also consulted you good folks on a travel thread just before).

This time, I'm hoping to stay longer and to go outside Seoul for a longer period of time, probably the majority of the time in South Korea even. All your suggestions will be greatly appreciated.



To answer professor's thought from a few years ago, Chinese "fried sauce noodles" have a lot less sauce and the sauce is a lot oilier and saltier than the Korean counterpart.

What did you see last time?

I was amused to see not an insane local offering at KFC, but that Subway was there and had an essentially identical menu to North America. Perhaps the insipid mediocrity of it is a novelty there.

The Dongdaemun Design Plaza is interesting if only to see an extravagant use of space wherein somebody designed a half melted starship enterprise to serve as a museum. I greatly enjoyed walking to and visiting the royal palace, as the massive plaza before it was still full of very orderly protestors, while the palace itself lets you feel like you are in one of countless medieval dramas. I suddenly gained a much stronger appreciation of how it could seriously take minutes for word of a fight happening in one corner of the grounds to reach another.

I like hiking, so hiking some of the wall was really cool. One western part of it has monuments to historical oppression by the Chinese as well as a nice hike that may see you encountering Buddhist chanting on the way up. Past a certain point there are reminders not to take photos in a particular direction, which would likely be the direction of the royal palace, visible below.

The grounds of the major temple honouring past kings to the east of the old palace is interesting for many little notes, like how the performance grounds are deliberately uneven so people are instinctively discouraged from running across it.

Insaedong is touristy, but it is a delight to look at because of its big variety of building facades and the numerous art galleries in and around it.

If you haven't walked it before, Cheonggyecheon river bank is quite with a walk.

There are places to eat everywhere, but the area East of Jonggak station is packed with late night eateries frequented by salarymen and younger people. As such, the restaurants there tend to cater to group meals rather than solo ones.

Make sure you eat your Banchan! It's how you maintain good digression in the face of all the meat you might eat! If your going as a group, you can certainly look for places that serve makgeolli! I don't think that that is very much fun to have alone.







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"Re(2):To South Korea once again" , posted Sun 5 Feb 23:00post reply

quote:
What did you see last time?

Last time I didn't really venture outside Seoul. And even then I only had maybe 2 days of my 6 day stay where I was able to go around and see places like Gyeongbokgung Palace and such. I loved the time I had in South Korea but it always felt like a missed opportunity to me.

This time I'm planing to go to Busan so we can visit the nearby historical city of Gyeongju, I'm also looking to check out Jeju Island, which is this cool small volcanic island off the south west coast of Korea.





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"Re(8):THAILAND" , posted Thu 9 Feb 14:07post reply

quote:
Now that it's come time to look into living in a country other than the US I've realized one of my main criteria for expatriate home shopping is how close I can be to a bug zoo.


I'm really happy to see so many bug lovers on here.

When I find out someone loves the form and function of bugs, I can't help but feel an automatic kinship with them!

"This person 'gets' it!"



The lady who was handling the bugs and had sufficiently fluent English to handle all my questions about lifespan of the critters, where they come from, do they have problems with escaped critters/ants, how they manage feeding of all the critters, etc. and had no fear whatsoever of the bugs (teasing a scorpion to get it to grab something with its claws, even!) made me think for a moment:

"I think I've met a real-life mushihimesama"







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"Re(9):THAILAND" , posted Thu 9 Feb 22:04post reply

quote:

"I think I've met a real-life mushihimesama"

GAME OVER

Spoon has completed the travel game. There can be no further travel by anyone ever because the ultimate accomplishment has now already been achieved.
quote:
do they have problems with escaped critters/ants, how they manage feeding of all the critters, etc.
...and, and!? Do/how do they? You are keeping us in suspense, man!





人間はいつも私を驚かせてくれる。不思議なものだな、人間という存在は...


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"Re(10):THAILAND" , posted Fri 10 Feb 10:06post reply

quote:

"I think I've met a real-life mushihimesama"
GAME OVER

Spoon has completed the travel game. There can be no further travel by anyone ever because the ultimate accomplishment has now already been achieved. do they have problems with escaped critters/ants, how they manage feeding of all the critters, etc. ...and, and!? Do/how do they? You are keeping us in suspense, man!



I used to think that SHE was the real Mushihimesama, but it seems I might have been in the wrong!






A Talking about Japanese History sword in hand