Expat hiking in Seoul, S. Korea

Last year, my friend Buyeon asked me why I like Korea, her home country, so much. I replied that I needed to think carefully about my answer before I could give her a satisfying response.

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Cheonggyesan mountain, Seoul, March 2017

On the first weekend of March 2017, Buyeon accompanied me on a Meetup hike to Cheonggyesan mountain, and after a couple of hours of steep climbing, touching spring buds, taking in stunning views and enjoying conversations with new hiking friends, I declared, “Now, Buyeon, you understand why I love Korea!” Buyeon smiled. She has since accompanied me on another hike, and later observed,”it was awesome joining the hiking group,” “it was the best one yet,” and “thank you for inviting me.” Buyeon is now determined to go hiking in her home country more often.

Although Korea has many draws for expats, for me personally, hiking is one of the major ones. I’m no professional. I’m thirty-six years old, possess average fitness level, and have other passions besides hiking. But, the opportunities to develop comradery with new friends, breathe mountain air, soak up quiet moments, listen to laughter and develop physical stamina, make hiking appealing to me. I also really enjoy the satisfying dinners hikers enjoy together afterwards.

Living in Gangnam, I’m surrounded by concrete buildings, the stress of city schedules and people rushing around. I remarked recently to my friends Dan and Sariska that living in Gangnam, I often forget that I live in Korea. I feel like I’m back in urban London. But, getting back to nature on the weekends remind me of the rich culture and diverse landscapes available here.

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“Jeju Hanok Village,” touring with Seoul Hiking Group, 2015

On my first stint in Korea, I joined Seoul Hiking Group several times. Organizer Warren Kim sets out planned visits to various locations all over Korea. I received his updates via his Facebook page. After reading the event descriptions, I would join full day trips, weekend and even events that lasted several days. Together, we visited sites like Namhansansong, the Seoul fortress wall trail, and also S. Korea’s highest mountain, Hallasan on Jeju island.

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Hallasan peak, Jeju trip with Seoul Hiking Group, winter 2015. Photo courtesy of Warren Kim

These longer events require traveling together on organized bus trips, transferring funds to the organizer to cover costs, and include a diversity of activities as well as hiking, such as visiting hanok (traditional) villages, temples, submarines, caves, tea fields, tree museums and partying at the Holi Hai colour festival on Busan’s Haeundae Beach!

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With friends at Holi Hai, Busan 2015 trip with Seoul Hiking Group. Photo courtesy of Emily Jade

Warren Kim itinerary is fairly set, however he is also spontaneous and sometimes plans take a few twists. He has a large following including many expat English teachers, and many attendees enjoy Warren’s trips because of his charismatic, energetic and adventurous personality.

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Hiking Seoul Fortress Wall with Warren Kim, Seoul Hiking Group

More recently, I subscribed to several Meetup hiking groups, and receive invitations to join various hikes in and around Seoul locally. Some hikes draw seventy hikers while other hikes comprise of just four members. I like these local Seoul hikes because they usually require a shorter time investment, and I can invite friends to join who live close by.

The dynamic of large and small hiking groups is also a little different. In a large group, you have the opportunity to meet many people. However, joining a small hiking event enables individuals to get to know each member a little better as you spend more time together.

Over the last three weeks, I’ve hiked Namsun, Ansan, Cheongyesan, and Baekryunsan. The physical experience of trekking the soil and stones, touching new buds and breathing mountain air reminds me that there is a lot more to my short human existence on this planet than eating, working and sleeping. Partying in Seoul is fun, but so are healthful hiking trips! I will briefly describe some of my more recent adventures.

Namsun is my go-to mountain if I want to hike but no organized hikes are suitable for me. I recently met with friend Sue, and together, we headed south from Hoehyeon station (line 4), and grabbed a elevator at the base of Namsun mountain. The elevator brought us to a higher mountain level, from which we were able to access a hiking path. Namsun has various approaches to get onto hiking trails. This mountain is not particularly challenging, but doing this walk in summer definitely requires bringing lots of water. Like other mountains, one of the more challenging aspects when you are not hiking with an experienced tour guide is finding a path off the mountain which leads to a convenient destination.

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Ansun mountain hike with Seoul Hiking & Traveling Meetup group, with (from back) Jin, Anita and Wannapa

I hiked Ansan mountain with Korean guide Jin, and new friends Anita and Wannapa. I found Jin through the Seoul Hiking & Traveling Meetup group. We met at Sinchon station (exit 2) and walked through Yonsei University grounds. At the back of the university, we took a sharp right, onto a hiking path.

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Stop off at Buddhist temple, Ansun mountain hike.

The trails were fairly easy, and the hike, including a temple visit, took around three hours. Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious local dinner near Ewha University station.

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Ansun hike. discovering local temples. From left, Anita, Wannapa, myself and guide, Jin. Photo courtesy of Jin Baek

Cheonggyesan mountain hike was also organized by Jin. We met at Cheonggyesan station, on the Sinbundang line. Our crew included guide Jin, older Korean fella, Yeol, engineer, Kevin, and my friends, Buyeon and Chantel.

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Cheonggyesan hiking crew, organized by Jin, Seoul Hiking & Traveling Meetup group. From left, Buyeon, myself, Yeol, Kevin, Jin and Chantel. Photo courtesy of Jin Baek

Some of the trails were muddy as the ice on the mountain was thawing and this produced a few squeals as most of us almost slipped and fell on our asses.

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Cheonggyesan hike with Jin; quick makgeolli (rice wine) break to give energy!

 

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Fun on trails… Cheonggyesan hike with Jin

 

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Cheonggyesan peak

We spent about four hours hiking trails, and eventually ended up in a casual open-air restaurant where we ate grilled duck, seafood pancake (pajeon), and salad! The food was so enjoyable and we were so relaxed that we hardly spoke to each other! The experience was phenomenal.

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Cheonggyesan hike with Jin; displaying part of our journey!

I joined Climbers In Korea (CIK) for the first time in mid March. CIK group is hosted by Mr. Kim, an experienced, organized, and father-figure type of guide. We met for a mid day hike at Nokbeon Station (line 3, exit 3) to hike Ansan and Baekryunsan in northern Seoul. Around sixty people joined the hike. Seventy percent seemed to be regulars, while about thirty percent were new joiners.

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Introductions with CIK; with Chantel and new friends

After walking together to an ideal spot with a large rock acting as a platform, all the newcomers were invited to take center stage and introduce themselves in groups or individually. The fact that this long-established group took the time to recognize new joiners personally made me feel more welcome and a significant member of this community. I really enjoyed this personal touch.

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Views during our hike

After introductions, we followed Mr. Kim through various trails. I had invited friends including Buyeon, Nelson, and Chantel, and had the good fortune to meet many new and interesting people, including Mr. CC Pak. I learned that he was a boxer, and that while his interest is in Aikido training, he really values Muay Thai as perhaps the most skilled and strength-based type of martial art. I was fascinated to learn about his experience. Later, CC informed me about an upcoming CIK opportunity to visit the Pyeongchang Olympic grounds, which were of particular interest to me. Later, we shared snacks during our lunch break on a mountain clearing.

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With our smaller CIK group after a toilet break-induced separation

Recharged, we continued hiking. We stopped for a quick toilet break, and as a result, Buyeon and I found ourselves separated from Mr. Kim’s main group, along with about twelve other hikers who had also stopped to use the toilet. We formed our own small group and eventually reunited with Mr. Kim and the rest of our crew down by Seodaemun prison (Dongnimmun station, line 3) at the end of a hiking trail.

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Dining with friends, Korean style. Left to right: Brandon and Nelson

Mr. Kim led the group to a local restaurant where the staff were expecting us, and we all sat down to enjoy traditional Korean food. The staff attended the table grills at each table by preparing meat for us. Dinner was a nice opportunity to yet again, meet more hikers that I hadn’t had the chance to speak to yet.

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With new friends after dinner, including Mr. CC Pak

After dinner, Buyeon was itching for a coffee. Several other hikers including Brendon, Kate, Argentinian friend David and South African friend Kelsey, joined us at a local coffee shop. Once again, we were able to get to know more people, laugh and share cultures.

Finally, some friends said goodbye, while a few of us decided to show newcomers to Korea, David and Kelsey, Gwangwamun Square and later, take a walk along the Cheongyecheon river. After almost twelve hours of socializing with some very interesting people, I finally said goodbye to brand new friends.

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Coffee-time with new friends. From left: James, David, Kate, myself, Nelson, Brandon and Kelsey

Hiking is one of the most beneficial experiences, on many levels, to enjoy here in Korea. I have come to the decision that one of the best ways to deal with culture shock, and prevent isolation and loneliness as an expat, is to actively meet new people. Not only is hiking one of the best ways to meet likeminded wanderlust friends, but you get to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in Seoul (and Korea), and get fit while doing so! I highly encourage you to join hiking groups as soon as possible.

Kyoto, through my eyes

Take me to a place, O Muse,

where the birds already sing.

Take me away from Seoul,

where the winter cools my limbs.

Bring me to Kyoto,

let my eyes drink in spring.

 

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Fushimi Inari main gate

 

Fushimi Inari, your entrance so grand,

oh how I love returning to your gates.

The pilgrimage up to your lofty heights;

few make your peak.

Wealthy Japanese merchants and businessmen,

have lined your trails with amber gates,

to pay their respects to Inari, god of rice.

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Kinkakuji, The Golden Pavilion; Entry ticket: 400 yen. Travel from Kyoto station, bay B-3; Buses 101, 102, 205; cash single fare: 230 yen (40 minute bus ride)

I gaze upon you, O Kinkakuji,

from across a pond,

your two levels sparkling with thick gold leaf.

Built in a period of opulent wealth,

and burned to the ground;

rebuilt over and over again.

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Sanjusangendo Temple, Hagashiyama 600 yen entry ticket

Sanjusangendo, your thousand statues continue to elude me!

Whenever will I capture a stealthy photo within your walls?

You are Japan’s longest building, made from wood;

within fearsome gods and serene goddesses,

all with different faces.

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Kiyomizu-dera Temple

At Kiyomizu, I’m a fly on the wall.

Nobody sees me.

I watch hoards trekking up your steps,

armed with smiles and selfie sticks.

They bustle by, in Japanese wear,

scoping out a suitable photo scene.

Sitting on stone steps,

an old woman in Kimono passes by.

“I’m from Thailand,” she proudly proclaims,

I reply, “Sawadika.”

She doesn’t listen.

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From left: myself, CeCe and Riley; near Matsubara Dori/ Kiyomizu-Dera

Tourist distractions, on Kiyomizu’s pilgrimage.

 A silly respite from our majestic target

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Caramel rice cakes: Shijo Dori

Shopkeepers sell while tourists queue,

300 yen please for soft, sticky balls.

Hot and sweet. Please give me more.

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Ichiran noodle restaurant, Nishiki Market

Why, O Muse, does Kyoto call?

Delicious enjoyment ready for all!

Use a vending machine to order cuisine,

fill out a form to dictate your norms.

Ding a bell to reorder,

and have cash ready. No disorder.

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Fushimi Inari, mountain of gates

Walking Fushimi‘s steps,

I recalled my dear Beth.

My former travel partner, I missed your spirit.

I saw the same stones, the places we sat,

wishing you were here.

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Neighbourhood map

Kiyomizu Gojo station and the Kamo river,

what a perfect location for an Airbnb.

Between Nishiki market and my special bake shop,

this place was truly the optimal spot.

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My fav bakery: Honmachi, by Sayamachi Dori, Shichijo Station

How I delighted to find you still here!

My favourite bakery in the wide world!

Grandma and Grandpa,

do you recall this former customer?

Your fresh baked bread rolls, stuffed with white chocolate!

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Ippudo, Nishiki Market; meals were around 1,000 yen

Ippudo, I’ll return to you,

no doubt about that.

Mince and noodles, in a spicy broth,

Gyosa dumplings and side dishes.

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Nishiki Market, my favourite!

Nishiki market, endless supplier of tasty food.

Wondering your periphery,

I discover your golden gates.

I’m always ready for your gems.

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Green tea and sweet rice cake

Green tea, how I’ve longed for you.

Macha richness in simple arrangement.

Mother and daughter, trying their best,

your kind café provides sweet needed rest.

img_20170127_171501I discovered your colours sixteen months ago.

Forgetting your location, I hoped to spy you.

Imagine my glee to turn and see,

you in full glory, how enthralling for me!

How many visitors trekking up Kiyomizu

have posed with you?

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Gion, Gion…

O Gion. Where Geiko and Maiko evade my stares.

Let me melt in your narrow alleys.

Fill my eyes with your delicate designs.

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While this was my second visit,

My former was all awe.

I wrote about your touching beauty,

and hope for a third visit.

May my return be not long away.

Farewell.

Dedicated to my father, Laszlo Victor, who wrote poems and shared them with me and my siblings in childhood.

Also, dedicated to my university professor, Cedric Littlewood, who instilled within me  a deep love for Latin poetry.

 

 

 

 

 

To travel with friends, or travel alone… Part two

At some point or another, every experienced traveller has asked themselves, “Should I invite Jane (or John) on my next trip?” Travel partners impact a traveller’s experience, so choosing who to travel with is an important factor in your travel planning.

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Petra, Jordan

 

This article is the follow-up to Part One https://travelandtash.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/to-travel-with-friends-or-travel-alone-part-one/ which presented my challenges traveling with romantic partners, the importance of communication, compromise, flexibility and patience, as well as the pleasures of independent travel.  Once again, Part Two is a collection of experiences, rather than an explicit comparison, and I draw on these experiences to show the positive and challenging sides to traveling with friends and traveling alone.

STAMINA

People have different expectations or ideas about what they want to do while traveling, and these are somewhat dictated by their levels of endurance or stamina. Here, I refer to physical stamina as the ability to 1) walk , trek, or stay out for long periods of time. This is not necessarily a physical fitness measurement as I’ve travelled with people who are not especially fit or strong. Less fit friends can be driven and push themselves longer and harder to experience more things while opportunities are available. Indeed, my own levels of stamina have fluctuated over the years and have impacted my ability to do what I wanted to do.

I also discuss 2), ’emotional’ stamina, or the drive to seek challenges by leaving your comfort zone. Travel always presents challenges, so unless you travel in a bubble, you will no doubt be pushed beyond your comfort zone. Travellers have different degrees of emotional stamina. Some endure challenges while others seek them out.

I became increasingly aware of physical stamina on my latest trip abroad. While in Kyoto, I discovered that my traveling companions (and work colleagues), CeCe and Riley, preferred to stroll through the streets and sites, while I wanted to walk at a faster pace. My energy levels were so high that I almost skipped through the streets. My physical and emotional states were so energized that I wanted to charge up mountains, and I generally found it impossible for the first two days to slow down.

On our first night there, Riley declared that she would not change her walking pace. Suddenly, our differences in physical stamina placed our trio in a tricky position. Either I had to slow down and possibly resolve to not see or do everything that I planned for, or I had to convince her to speed up. About two days into our stay, we both met halfway. I slowed down while she sped up. The interim, however, had been difficult to navigate. Our third companion, CeCe, had been forced to chose whether to walk slowly or walk quickly, and thus had to chose between which friend to spend more time with.

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Rearing to go! Charging up Fushimi Inari mountain, Kyoto

 

Since the three of us invested time, money and expectations into our trip, compromise was tricky. The potential for resentment to build was present. Thankfully, I had already visited Kyoto, and we were visiting sites that I had visited recently. Not climbing to the top of Fushimi Inari mountain was not problematic on this occasion. But, this would have become an issue for me if we were visiting a location that I had not seen before. To avoid disappointment, I would have split from the group.

My experience at Petra, Jordan was quite the reverse situation. Petra was larger and hotter that I had expected. The famous tomb façade that I expected to encounter was only one in a complex of numerous tombs spread out over a large area. I decided to abandon my usual travel group who were seasoned Canadian hikers ten years younger than myself and all physically fit. They intended to charge around the complex at break-neck speeds to see everything. Thus, I decided to travel with a different crew of friends who wished to savour the experience at a slower speed and were content to see fewer tombs. As a result, I had more time to take stunning pictures and appreciate the site at my own pace.

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Traveling companions (from left), Lisa, Miranda and Aaron: Petra, Jordan

 

Travel with Beth in Asia was simple because we had similar physical stamina. We could both walk for hours, and had comparable energy patterns for travel, rest and play. But, when we met Leonor from Paris, she challenged our emotional stamina by getting us to leave our comfort zones. Walking and touring sites together, we had similar physical stamina, however biking was a different story.

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Touring Ayutthaya temple sites by bicycle

 

In Ayutthaya, Thailand we rented bicycles, and since Leonor was an experienced cyclist back home, she led our little group.  Beth and I struggled to keep up with Leonor, while she was very confident navigating through the Thai traffic. Beth and I were apprehensive and were convinced that we wouldn’t survive! We were glad for her confidence and we learned that we weren’t as hard-core as we thought we were!

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(left to right) Beth and Leonor, Ayutthaya, Thailand

 

Traveling alone is very different. I don’t have to consider anyone else’s physical or emotional stamina. I speed up and slow down at my whim. I may seek out ways to take me out of my comfort zone, or avoid situations that may challenge me. The decision is mine alone. If I join new friends while traveling, once again, I have to negotiate these details, however the rules are simpler.

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Lunch at Ichiran, with Kevin (back) and Marco (front right)

While traveling with my new Australian friend Kevin, I’ve found that we had fewer expectations. We met at our hostel in Kyoto, headed out to lunch, together with our new German friend, Marco and during lunch, we discovered that we had similar plans for the afternoon. We decided to explore Gion together. Neither of us were in a rush to do anything, and so stamina didn’t matter. Kevin patiently accommodated my random souvenir shopping and photo-taking at temples. Later, we parted, and I continued my evening exploration alone. Joining up for adventures and parting ways was easily because there were no expectations which required negotiation.

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Kevin captured this romantic moment on camera at Kenninji Temple, Kyoto

 

MEETING NEW PEOPLE

I found it harder to meet locals and travellers when I traveled within my trio. We also stayed at an Airbnb, with the result that we had few opportunities to meet other travellers. Both CeCe and I are outgoing and talk to strangers easily, and travellers we encountered were eager to reciprocate. But, our opportunities to meet other people were largely while dining at restaurants.

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Meeting new friends, at Wadachi Sake Bal, Kyoto

When you already have friends to share your experiences with, it seems less necessary to reach out to locals and other travellers. Also, others may presume that because you already have a group of friends, that you don’t necessarily want to meet new people, and therefore not take the initiative to strike up a conversation. Also, our Airbnb accommodation provided little opportunity to meet anyone (see my blog: https://travelandtash.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/airbnb-vs-hostels-my-experience-in-kyoto-japan/).

Whenever I travel alone, meeting people seems more necessary and is far easier. After CeCe and Riley returned home, I met numerous fun people at my new hostel residence. Khaosan Theater Kyoto hostel provided a very social environment. I meet Kevin, Marco, and many other travellers in the kitchen, basement workshop and bar, and repeatedly hung out with them and shared stories and recommendations. I stayed up until 5am talking with Juan on my first night there, and randomly stumbled across new friend Sandra in a nearby restaurant and joined her for dinner. Making new friends while alone was super easy.

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With new friends, including Bill, Sandra and Josh at Khaosan Kyoto Theater basement bar

To complicate the topic of meeting new people a little further, I will point out that while traveling with Beth in Thailand, as a pair of girls, rather than a group of three, it seemed easier to meet other people. Perhaps our tiny unit made us seem more accessible. This may be an interesting discussion for another blog.

MONEY

Last but not least, CeCe, Riley and I discussed expectations and budgets in the planning stages of our trip. We talked about the kind of activities we wanted to do and could afford to do together, and figured out how simple or posh we wanted our dining and accommodation experiences to be. CeCe initially explained that she wanted to stay in a classy Airbnb and dine out at a fancy restaurant on at least one occasion while in Kyoto together, while I wanted to spend more cash on evening dinners in general. Riley didn’t want to spend money on souvenir or fashion shopping. We all had to compromise because we all had different ideas about how to spend our cash.

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CeCe handing over the mula! Malebranche Green Tea products by Kiyomizu Dera Temple

When I travelled alone, however, I decided how much I wished to spend on food, accommodation and so on. I could be luxurious or a penny pincher, and I didn’t affect, or was affected, by others. I was also solely responsible, however, for my finances and if I got into financial trouble, only I could fix it. I couldn’t rely on friends to provide any emergency funds if needed, so essentially, I was forced to become more responsible.

LEARNING ABOUT MYSELF

One of my personal goals this year has been to become a genuine team player. Traveling with two of my work colleagues in Kyoto was a very good way to develop team skills. I learned to hold my silence when I disagreed with something because it wasn’t worth the confrontation, and also had a refresher course of how to compromise. I’ve also learned that I prefer to travel in a pair, rather than a group of three. It’s easier to compromise with one woman than compromise with two. There were at least two alpha females in our group, so that alone kept things interesting.  Also, I’ve learned that when visiting new locations, a travel partner needs to be willing to compromise as well as have compatible physical and emotional stamina to my own.

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With a handsome stranger: Kyomizu dera, Kyoto.. Me. Happy to be traveling.

Finally, I’ve learned that I really love traveling alone. I enjoy the time to think, make decisions for myself, and be able choose when I want to socialize. Traveling alone reminds me of just how outgoing I am, how independent and self-sufficient I can be. It is one of the biggest self-esteem boosts I’ve discovered to date. If you haven’t travelled alone yet, I highly recommend it.

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What is one thought you agree or disagree with here? Can you add other reasons why you prefer to travel with friends or travel alone? What have you learned about yourself through travel? Share you thoughts in the comments below.

Keep Learning!

To travel with friends, or travel alone… Part One

Two new friends, Riley and Cece, joined me in Kyoto, Japan for the first four days of my January 2017 week-long trip. The final three days, I remained alone. There were ups and downs, challenges and laughter. This trip got me thinking. How does traveling with friends or traveling alone impact a traveller’s experience, and is one option more advantageous than the other?

I began writing this blog with the intention to produce a quick comparison, but while writing, I realized that this is not a simple topic. As a result, I split this blog into Parts One and Two. Rather than produce a systematic comparison, this is rather a collection of experiences that I use to present  both positive and challenging things about both types of travel.

ABOUT ME

Firstly, I should establish that I consider myself an extrovert. I love meeting new people, and tend to make friends fairly easily. With the exception of awkward teenage years, I’ve always been outgoing. As the oldest of three, I have always been the assertive big sister. I loved adventure films, like the Indiana Jones series and the book and movie, The Beach. I grew up in England within a multicultural family with bilingual parents. From infancy, our family traveled to Spain to see grandparents, aunts and uncles. I first travelled alone with my aunt at age eight, and as an adult, later moved to Canada. I now reside in South Korea.

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Humayma archaeological site, Jordan

BACKGROUND TO MY TRAVEL EXPERIENCES

I just took a week long trip to Kyoto, as mentioned above. In the summer of 2015, I also visited Kyoto with my university friend Beth. We stayed there for a week, and thereafter toured Thailand for a month. She returned home, while I continued travelling solo in Thailand, and later Cambodia and Vietnam.

My first time traveling or backpacking alone was in 2012. I traveled to Istanbul, Turkey for a few days. I discovered the experience of traveling alone exhilarating and addictive! I later traveled to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with another university friend, Ana.

In Jordan 0f 2012, I travelled on numerous occasions with groups of friends. As part of an student archaeological team based in Aqaba, we took weekend trips throughout the country over a period of six weeks. These included Wadi Rum, Petra, Jerash, the Dead Sea and desert camping with the local bedouin. We were grouped together to travel as units. I often traveled with my closest friends, Erin and Mike, however each weekend trip brought different hangout friends, and these included Miranda, Aaron, Lou, and Victoria.

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Petra, Jordan – From left: Aaron, Miranda, Sarah, myself and Mike

I’ve also traveled with romantic partners (former boyfriends). We visited Spain, England, Italy, Canada, America, The Philippines, Mexico and travelled through S. Korea. Finally,  as an adult, I’ve travelled with my sister Vivien, brother Joel, and aunty Angela. These were trips to various locations within England, France and Spain.

TRAVELING WITH BOYFRIENDS

They say that if you want to know if a new boyfriend or girlfriend is the right one for you, take a trip together. Travel is stressful. It can be long, uncomfortable, and you are forced to deal with language barriers, cultural differences, frustrations, scams, heat, hunger and irritability from lack of sleep to name just a few.

I travelled to Rome, first with one partner Jeff in 2009, and later, in 2015 with another partner, Wayne. On both occasions, friction began right away. Petty things caused small arguments.  I wanted to shop for footwear which Jeff had low tolerance for. Wayne enjoyed shopping, but we bickered about other things. Our hotel was located a twenty minute train ride from most of the locations that we visited which seemed to extend our travel unbearably at the most exhausting of moments. The forty degree August heat and the lack of air conditioning in our room caused restless sleep, and as a result, our week there was memorable for all the wrong reasons. In the future, I will prioritise having some alone time to indulge in my interests where necessary, and ensure that distance to sites, temperatures anticipated and hotel comfort are addressed better.

COMMUNICATION, COMPROMISE AND FLEXIBILITY

Before we set out for Israel, Ana and I discussed our travel style and needs beforehand. I discovered that she was not interested in going to religious sites, and she wanted a more relaxing vacation pace while I wanted to challenge myself, do lots of walking and see pretty much everything.

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With Ana, overlooking the Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

At our hostel located within the old city of Jerusalem, we met travellers, Roxanna and David, and while Ana relaxed at the hostel, I travelled up to Bethlehem with Roxanna and David.

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At the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem. From left: Ana, Roxanna, David and myself

As a fellow Greek and Roman History student, Ana was interested in going to Roman historical sites and the Dead Sea, so we rented a car and, together with Roxanna, visited Masada, the mountain plateau fortress where the rebel Jewish group, the Sicarii, took their stand against a Roman siege in 73AD (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masada). When we descended, since I enjoy physical challenges, I walked down the snake path while Ana and Roxanna took the less strenuous cable-car.  Thus, although Ana and I had different travel styles, we had agreed in advance to be flexible as we travelled together to accommodate our different preferences.

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The Snake Path, a blistering hot, one hour walk down from the Masada fortress. This aerial shot was taken by Ana looking down at me from the cable car

 

PATIENCE

In 2012, I visited Granada, Spain, with aunty Angela. We both wanted to see the Moorish legacy, Al Alhambra palace (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alhambra), so we booked a twin room at Hotel Atenas in central Granada. On this occasion, Patience was a very important ingredient for traveling together successfully. Fresh from my travels in Israel, I was eager to get going in the mornings. My aunty however, has trouble sleeping. Despite this challenge, she was driven and wanted to maximise our short trip there.

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Mosaic courtyards, Granada – With aunty Angela

Aunty Angela took more time getting her day started, so while she prepared, I would wonder the neighbourhood, scope out potential breakfast cafes and take photos of local architecture. When I returned, aunty Angela would be ready to leave.

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Photographing the honeycomb ceiling, Al Alhambra, Granada

INDEPENDANCE = COURAGE, NEW FRIENDS AND PERSONAL GROWTH

The first time I travelled alone, I visited Istanbul. I was worried before traveling and arranged to be collected from the airport and transported to my hostel to ease my nerves. On arrival (Bahaus hostel, Sultanahmet), I met outgoing staff and travellers. Straight away, my fears subsided and my courage grew. Thus began my “romance” with traveling alone.

I realized that it was so easy to make friends with other guests. After venturing out alone on my first day, I joined Bahaus travellers and together we toured the Topkapi Palace, the Spice and Grand Basaar, the Hagia Sophia, and enjoyed a cruise on the Bosphorus strait. This was the singular, most formative adventure that emboldened me to travel the world.

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At the Topkapi Palace overlooking the Bosphorus, Istanbul, with new friends, Chris, (myself), Romain and Nisa

In 2015, I travelled from Koh Samui to Phuket, Thailand. On this trip, I discovered that traveling alone promotes growth by testing your levels of endurance. The journey was physically exhausting as it was twelve hours long, and I switched vehicles (including a ferry) at least seven times. The last vehicle on my journey had no suspension and each bump on the twisty, never-ending roads made me feel like I would throw up. I additionally put myself in a dangerous situation by mouthing off at a Thai head honcho who disrespected me in a jungle clearing. That day,  I wished I had a travel companion there for emotional support. This experience taught me about my limitations for discomfort, ability to befriend travellers out of necessity, and to support each other in tricky situations. See my blog, “My Journey from Hell,” here: (https://travelandtash.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/the-journey-from-hell/).

The aforementioned situation quickly reminded me of the advantage of having travel companions. As a unit, Beth and I had numerous advantages. We had navigated our way to  various locations, tag-teamed to negotiate down fares with tuk tuk drivers (Bangkok), identified scams such as misinformation about the location of train stations (Hellfire Pass), warded off threatening packs of dogs (Kanchanaburi and Ayuthaya), and more importantly, supported each other emotionally while experiencing travel fatigue (everywhere). Also, I felt like I had a special friend with whom to share these amazing adventures.img_20150527_230553

In Part Two, I will address the importance of stamina, opportunities to meet new people and managing money. Finally, I will disclose my personal lessons and recommendations from travelling alone and with others.

Thanks for reading! Please share and subscribe.

What is one thought you agree or disagree with here? Can you add any other reasons why you prefer to travel with friends or travel alone? What have you learned about yourself through travel? Share you thoughts in the comments below.

Keep Learning!

Learning to “invest in myself” – Part Three

This is the third blog in a three part series where I discuss concepts which have pulled me out of a near depressive state. In Part One (https://travelandtash.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/learning-to-invest-in-myself-part-one/), I discussed which sources I turned to for help. In Part Two (https://travelandtash.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/learning-to-invest-in-myself-part-two/), I address Robbins’ “Six basic human needs” which help us understand why we do what we do (human behaviour patterns). I note loving yourself, human need for friendship and the 33% rule as integral patterns needed for basic happiness and fulfillment.

In Part Three, I will conclude by discussing my most recent steps to find happiness and fulfillment: cultivating good routines and habits. Routines and habits are the key to investing in yourself. Tony Robbins (“Hour of Power”) and Hal Elron (“The Miracle Morning”) are huge fans of starting your day off with habits that produce focus and energy. Most “successful” people begin their day with meaningful habits. Let me explain how I have begun to change my habits, and some of the positive effects I have already noticed!

My diary is almost full, and it’s only February. Here’s why. I began following Clark Kegley’s advice about the benefits of journaling. He raves about benefits including creating heightened awareness of your goals and monitoring your progress. Following his advice, I began to journal about things like, what are my short and long term goals, what do I want from my work, rest and play times, what are the things I learned this year, and so on.

I also began to take notes on some of the vlogs Kegley released (https://youtu.be/rh6MflkPPjQ) that summed up the main ideas from influential books like, Think and Grow Rich (Napoleon Hill), How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie), The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey), and others. I became curious about all this potential knowledge out there and wanted to become more informed. I also began writing “gratefulness” diary entries to begin to recognise that, despite the challenges I have been facing, there are so many other positive things in my life. Recognizing my blessings have helped me to put my challenges into perspective.

I also stumbled across Hal Elron’s The Miracle Morning (https://youtu.be/U0uRp7BoPVY). I watched a video where he describes going through two seemingly insurmountable challenges. He later explains that he noticed that the major reoccurring pattern for successful people was their morning routine. Thereafter, he presents six steps that he began implementing immediately.

I have been doing Elron’s Miracle Morning for the last nine days. I used to awake every day around 11:30am, and head to bed around 1am. I now awake at 8:30am, and head to bed around midnight. My productivity has gone through the roof. I began working through all the Miracle Morning steps.img_20170209_104406

I begin my day by doing yoga (https://youtu.be/92y33hYJec8) or following an aerobic dance video (https://youtu.be/CLgPUDU4PM0) (“Exercise”) on Youtube to create energy. These vary between 10 minutes to half hour. Motivation to work hard and do a lot with your day comes, in part, from physical stimulation. I have done yoga on and off for over fifteen years. When I don’t do yoga or some form of exercise daily, I begin to feel depressed. Numerous studies advocate the importance of physical exercise to feel happy. Once again, the importance of physiology, mentioned in Part Two, is incredibly important to our mental state. I’ve finally decided that I just have to look after me every day by working out. I see exercise time as “me time.”

I follow this up with meditation (silence). This usually comprises of either prayer, following a yoga meditation practice with Ekhart Yoga (https://youtu.be/Ht2vvt9IQoc), or practicing yoga breathing. I’m really just starting to figure out what meditation actually is, so I’ve largely been following Ekhart meditation variations to figure out what to do, and why it is supposed to be so useful. So far, I’ve discovered that I feel really calm after meditation practice.

Then, I visualize what steps I need to take to reach my goals and what my life will be like once I’ve reached them. This step is super useful because I can think clearly about the challenges to get to my goal, and strategize about what resources I can use to get to my next step toward reaching my goal. I’ve found that visualization has been one of the most surprisingly effective steps because I get most of my ideas during visualization. For example, my short term plan for now is to build a blog that caters to expat female teachers, however, I’ve not worked hard on finding ways to reach my readers. I’ve focused on writing itself. Yesterday, during visualization, I suddenly decided that I needed to research how to market my blog better. Sometimes, the epiphanies may be simple, but with so many distractions, sometimes even the simple steps can be sidestepped.img_20170217_134015

I also write in my journal (scribing). I update goals and steps required to reach them, and always write down one thing that I am grateful for. I’ve included simple things, like being grateful for my tablet, my make-up artistry and aesthetician skills, and the convenient location of my little bachelor apartment. I additionally write about my progress so far so I can reflect on the usefulness of what I’m doing. It’s very interesting reading diary entries from only six months ago, and noting how much I’ve developed.

Thereafter, I read or watch something inspiring (https://youtu.be/2ciJQ6yA9HE) that may give me an idea for the day. These might be lifestyle guidance or something related to my goal. This is where I seek out my mentors. I subscribe to, among others, Richard Branson (Virgin group), Clark Kegley (Journaling) and Evan Carmichael (“Believe”), and love to read or watch something from one of them daily. I have begun actively posting replies to their blogs and vlogs to engage with my mentors, show gratitude for their efforts, and connect on a deeper level with the content they write about. Today, I read and excellent article about marketing my blog which has given me lots of ideas to consider.

Finally, I read affirmations, namely, notes that I have written which boost my self confidence. In last year’s diary, I wrote down a list of my accomplishments (see my blog post:https://wordpress.com/post/travelandtash.wordpress.com/2238), and I review these accomplishments to help me feel as empowered as possible at the start of my day. As mentioned earlier, while scribing, I also began monitoring the improvement I’m making toward my goals. Additionally, I’ve begun making goals for my month, and usually do this within the first few days. After the month is over, I review how successful I was with these goals. I then add successfully accomplished goals to my list of accomplishments so far for this year and this practice is very encouraging for me.img_20170217_134048

I also started adding a goal to help with my personal development. This month, I wrote down that I want to be more patient and kind, especially when I’m under pressure as this is when I find it most challenging to be empathetic toward others.  I want this characteristic to be part of my character for the long haul, and so I make a mental note daily to try to bring this to my awareness repeatedly throughout my day. It’s been quite hard to recall my monthly “character” goal, especially when I’m at work, however, practice is making it easier, and I’ve already begun seeing differences in my behaviour.

I’ve put up coloured posters as daily reminders to remember various things. I’ve posted my goals, skills, the steps to my Miracle Morning, and also some of my favourite quotes which are just by my door. I like to read one or two randomly during my day.img_20170217_130135

As I mentioned in my previous blog (Part Two), my need to keep learning is paramount to my need for fulfillment. My research and efforts to improve myself continue daily on my quest for happiness and fulfillment. There are many resources out there, and it is my hope that, if nothing else, my blog will help you to be aware of just how much help there is available, if only you take the time to look.

I expect to follow up this series up in a few months, updating it with new strategies to aid me on my quest to feeling fulfilled.

Thank you for reading! Keep learning!

Comment below. Please share what you do to energize, stay motivated and enrich your lives daily.

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Learning to “invest in myself” – Part Two

The first seven months adjusting to life in Seoul, S. Korea were among the hardest I’ve experienced to date. Intense loneliness and emotional pain from a romance which left craters in my self-esteem drove me to seek help. Initially, I wallowed in my near-depressive state, but a catalyst (revelations by a friend) helped me to see the situation for what it was. Suddenly, I resolved to become ‘normal’ again.

I realized that in thirty-six years, I had never take the time to focus on my self-development. You see, I’ve always been distracted by some project or another, and didn’t make the time to discover what makes me feel fulfilled and happy.

My years as a university student are some of the fondest I remember. I had no time or spare cash, but learning made me feel alive! I later discovered from Tony Robbins’ “Six Basic Human Needs” that growth is one of my personal, primary requirements to feel happy. But, I’m no longer a student. What else can I do to be on the right track to learning about my fulfillment and happiness?

In Part One (https://wordpress.com/post/travelandtash.wordpress.com/2611), I discuss the process of recognizing when I need motivation, and seeking out help. In Part Two, I will discuss steps I took to regain my self esteem. These include basic human needs, loving yourself, and the importance of friendships. I hope that by sharing what I’ve learned and how I applied it, you too can extract something useful to apply in your current situation.

SIX BASIC HUMAN NEEDS

Humans are complicated. According to Robbins, we have six basic needs. These are the need for,

  • Certainty
  • Uncertainty
  • Significance
  • Connection or love
  • Growth
  • Contribution (the need to give back to others)

Robbins (https://youtu.be/Cpc-t-Uwv1I) encourages his listeners to identify their top two needs. I thought my top two were significance and love, but upon further reflection, I realized that significance was no longer my major need. Growth and love currently are my top needs, while contribution, or the opportunity to teach others, has become increasingly important to me. This breakdown of six needs began helping me to access what is really important to me. To learn more about these terms and categories , I recommend that you watch the Robbins link above where he discusses these in greater depth.

LOVE YOURSELF

Self love is a hard topic for me. I suspect it is hard for many other people too. Robbins presented the expectation of self love something like this, “When God said, ‘love your neighbour like yourself,’ it pre-supposes that you indeed love yourself.” So, we are in fact expected to love ourselves.  Oprah Winfrey (https://youtu.be/7a8ncSBU-Eg) explains that she works on herself, “fills her cup” or nourishes her soul which in turn enables her to help others.

We have the responsibility to look after ourselves emotionally. Giving myself love includes standing up for myself and recognizing me as someone who deserves self respect and the respect of others. To paraphrase, Robbins explained, I am my own best friend. If I don’t stand up for me, who will? These words affected me powerfully, and motivated me recently to call out someone who would have continued to think it was okay to treat me poorly if I did not address his behaviour. I felt so proud of myself after telling him that his behaviour was  not acceptable, and regained a piece of self-esteem right then and there.

Loving myself also means listening to and acting on the emotional messages that I receive, rather than suppressing or ignoring them. Robbins explains that feelings of anger, fear, hurt, and so on, are our minds giving us messages or “calls to action.” They mean, “I must change something!” Listen to the advice that your brain is trying to tell you. I learned this lesson after the fact, recognizing that all the signals were there but I repressed them. I now intend to be more aware of and trust my emotional messages in the future.

Robbins shows how you can love yourself by recognizing that you are capable of dealing with difficult situations. He suggests recalling a past experience where you had to deal with a similar emotion. On reflection, you will realize that you were able to successfully handle that emotion and situation. You will immediately regain control as well as your self-esteem. Taking Robbins’ advice, I recalled a similar situation (the break-up of a past relationship), and remembered that I could, in fact, survive it. Past experiences proved me capable and recognising my past strength empowered me to survive this disappointment.

Loving myself also requires controlling how I feel throughout the day. Robbins (https://youtu.be/n-zFTHqaRZ4) explains that focus, namely, the questions you chose to ask about a situation, affect our emotions. When I lose control of or suppress my emotions, I’m not showing love or respect to myself. Instead, I’m allowing my focus to interpret a situation negatively, developing pain as a result, and reacting using my usual reaction routines. I personally developed feelings of hurt which led to pains in my chest. My focus had begun to adversely affect my health.

Additionally, Robbins  stresses the importance of being aware of our physiology, or how we use our body, to change how we approach or react to a situation. These include using movement, dance, smiles and so on, to change and manage our mood. I highly recommend that you watch Robbins’ videos directly (https://youtu.be/n-zFTHqaRZ4) to understand better how focus and physiology affect our state of mind. Using his recommended techniques to change my physiology  was incredibly empowering, and catapulted me out of my near-depression stage. I particularly began using singing, dancing and yoga to lift my body and mind of out my emotional slump. Managing my physiology is one of the most important life lessons I’ve ever learned.

HUMAN NEED FOR FRIENDSHIP

My parents had three children together. I was the oldest, and grew up in a social environment where I always had another sibling to play with. But, as an adult currently living alone, I’ve actually grown somewhat accustomed to enjoying my own company and just seeking out companionship when I need it. I’ve become self-reliant, and working as part of a team became challenging for me. A Linguistics program recently demanded that I work as part of a four-person team to research and write and present one paper, and this terrified me. As an adult, I’ve largely grown accustomed to being an independent player.

A few months ago, I came across a talk on YouTube where Robbins stressed being a team player, and suddenly, I realized, in part, why I had been feeling so isolated since moving to S. Korea. You see, I’ve been quite skillful at putting up an invisible wall that puts distance between me and anyone I’m not ready to befriend. It’s hard to explain. Perhaps it’s British ‘attitude’, whatever that might be. I’ve always liked to engage with others on my terms, and I don’t like others to be overly familiar toward me when I have not invited it.

But Robbins presented the idea of a team player as advantageous, one which will provide challenges that will help me grow, but perhaps more importantly, a base that will provide genuine support when I really need it. In response to learning about this, I decided to invest time in getting to know my current co-workers and adding them to my circle of closer friends, with the result that our relationships have been greatly enhanced. I’m slowing gravitating toward valuing new friendships and becoming a team player.

I have also sought out a handful of new friends outside of work and regularly invite them to hang out. I rarely get invites from them, but I continue to invite them out because I know that I need their friendship, even if they don’t need mine. I also occasionally meet new friends through Meetup groups. Through Meetups, I met people with similar interests, hikers, Spanish-language speakers, and people interested in culture and history.

“33% RULE” for FRIENDSHIPS

Tai Lopez (https://youtu.be/7bB_fVDlvhc) mentions a 33% rule and breaks it down something like this. We need to spend 33% of our time with three categories of friends, people that we help, peers that are at the same level as us, and mentors who can direct us  to reach our goals. Please see the link above for details.

Additionally, we are the average of people that we spend most of our time with (https://youtu.be/GEHJN6aqenM). If our friends are consistently negative, or insecure, make excuses for why they haven’t achieved their goals, or don’t have high expectations of themselves, we too will measure ourselves by similar standards. We will rationalize our lack of drive or failures because we compare ourselves to our friends’ mediocre situations. Therefore, because our friends are very influential, who we chose to spend time with is especially critical.

I’ve been aware of these ideas for a while and regularly make a conscious effort to be around positive people who build me up. Also, I have found it fairly easy to find people to help and peers on the same level as me, however finding mentors requires that you have an idea of your goals before you seek someone who can guide you. I’m currently figuring out my goals, who my mentors are, and how to engage with them.

My favourite online lifestyle mentors include Tony Robbins, Clark  Kegley, Evan Carmichael, Hal Elron, Tai Lopez and Richard Branson. I suscribe to their YouTube channels and blogs, and have recently began leaving feedback on some message forums to engage with them and their readers. As a travel and lifestyle blogger, I have recently begun to read blogs by Nomadic Matt (http://www.nomadicmatt.com/), Don’t Forget to Move (http://dontforgettomove.com/), and watch Hey Nadine (https://youtu.be/rSvrcvPQ9jk?list=PLNCkTa4XO7OIg2w-kKPW2t6dVlfehuwdF) to find driven, travel blog mentors.

In Part Three, I’ll finish up the series by discussing how I use routine and habits to produce an extraordinarily productive day. I have recently changed my morning routine. I detail what I’m doing and how these habits are helping me to stay focused.

Thank you for reading! Please comment below. Share what are your top two basic humans needs, what is your routine to “love yourself” and what friendship lessons are important to you?

If you liked this blog, please share and subscribe!

Keep Learning!

 

 

 

 

Airbnb VS. hostels: my experience in Kyoto, Japan

I was about to book my flight ticket and hostel to stay in Kyoto for seven days, when suddenly, two of my colleagues from work decided to join me. Neither of them, however, were keen on staying at a hostel. They raved about “Airbnb.” I found out that Airbnb is a host site that facilitates booking to stay in someone’s house or apartment at your holiday destination. These homes provide  usual household comforts like your personal kitchen, bathroom and so on. These are especially ideal for friends or couples traveling together in pairs or groups. I was curious about which accommodation I would prefer, so we went ahead and booked four nights together in our Airbnb, and I booked three nights to stay alone at my hostel for the last leg of my trip.

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Kiyomizo-dera temple

The Airbnb was a bachelor style apartment. The location was fairly central as it was halfway between Kyoto station (south of the Kamo river) and Nishiki Market (north), and just a three minute walk from Gojo station. I booked my hostel accommodation at the Khaosan Kyoto Theater, as I had originally intended. This hostel (https://www.facebook.com/khaosankyototheater) received rave reviews on hostelworld (http://www.hostelworld.com/), particularly for its ideal location, friendly staff and cleanliness. It also had a bar in the basement and a large dinning room/ kitchen on the 5th floor.

My Airbnb and hostel experiences were quite different. As I compare my them, please note that my opinions reflect my personal tastes and my experience with these two locations specifically. Another Airbnb and hostel may provide a completely different experience for you.

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Sanjusangendo: Temple of 1000 Buddhas

Pricing

I travelled in late January, 2017. Airbnb apartments were rather hard to find for three friends traveling together. Most Airbnb places accommodate pairs. When we finally found a suitable size with three separate beds, the price worked out to around $25 US per person per night. When looking for hostels, I usually use hostelworld.com because the website makes managing bookings very easy. Khaosan Kyoto Theater was just under $30 US per night, so the hostel stay was a little dearer than the Airbnb shared between three people.

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With travel buddies, Riley (center) and CeCe (right)… When they returned home, I checked into Khaosan

Privacy

Our Airbnb was bachelor size, and we quickly found that sharing a small apartment gives you little privacy. If your friends adventure without you, you may get some alone time, but otherwise, you could be together most of the time and will have to adapt to each other’s needs for downtime while at the apartment. At Khaosan, I had a solid wood ‘pod’ sleeping-space with a curtain which drew across. The height was tall enough for me, at 5’6, to sit up in. Although I could hear noise from my neighbours since I shared a room with possibly eight other people, I felt that I had my own privacy within my pod sleeping area, and largely, everyone in our shared room was very considerate. The enclosed wooden bed functioned well in keeping out neighbouring noise, however,  the top bunks are a little harder to climb up and down from. I had to plan more carefully what exactly I needed to bring with me, for example, organizing for bathroom trips and bringing everything I needed which was temporarily residing in my pod area. I didn’t have this issue while at the Airbnb.

Wi-Fi

My Airbnb apartment had unreliable Wi-Fi which would drift in and out. Khaosan Wi-Fi  was largely consistent, and if it dropped out, I could log into the hostel Wi-Fi on another floor. Khaosan’s Wi-Fi was infinitely better than the Airbnb internet service.

Planning travel

Staying at an Airbnb means  you largely have to plan your travel yourself, whether it be to explore the local tourist spots, find your way to your next destination, or return home. This could be challenging if information is largely available in Japanese and you can’t read it. At Khaosan, the front desk staff helped me plan out how to return to Osaka airport early in the morning. They listed for me exactly where my local bus stop toward Kyoto station would be, and printed out the timetable for the JR express trains headed for Kansai airport. Khaosan hostel also plays videos featuring the local sites so that tourists can receive easy reminders about the popular tourist spots.

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Tourist hotspot, Fushimi Inari

Space

As mentioned earlier, the Airbnb I stayed at with my two friends was bachelor size, and although it was comfortable enough, it was by no means spacious. Many of the Airbnb properties in central Kyoto seemed to be small, and while small living spaces may be a Japanese city norm, the hostel was a very different experience. Although my private pod space was small, it felt larger than beds that I’ve experienced at other hostels. Additionally, the numerous open spaces for the guests’ use, like the lobby, the upstairs dinning room/ kitchen, the basement bar, and the workshop, gave me a feeling that I had a large, temporary home to live in. The minimalist décor as well as the well-situated furniture added to a feeling of more space.

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Basement workshop chopstick-making event, Khaosan Kyoto Theater

Meeting new people

Finally, and I suspect that this is true for most Airbnb and hostel experiences irrespective of where they are in the world, that when you travel with friends or a partner, you are likely to continue hanging out with them almost exclusively. No matter the accommodation you chose, you will likely come across opportunities to meet locals and other travelers while out and about, however, it easier to meet new people staying at a hostel as a single traveler. At Khaosan,  I meet a stream of new guests constantly within the hostel itself, whether at breakfast time in the kitchen, chatting to guests during hostel organized workshops, or enjoying the bar scene in the evening. I found easy access to socializing with new people especially appealing as I was able to seek social situations when I wanted them.

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Fun at the Khaosan Kyoto Theater bar

In conclusion, generally, the Airbnb was comfortable, while the hostel was sociable. I’m glad I tried the Airbnb experience, and intend to use it again if I’m traveling with a group of friends or in a pair, however I will definitely continue to stay hostels, especially when traveling alone.

What has your experience using Airbnb or hostels been like? Is there anything mentioned here you agree or disagree with, or can you add any comparisons between these two types of accommodations?

Thanks for reading, and please comment below to share your opinions. Don’t forget to suscribe to my blog and share!