As much as I LOVE being on the road and living out of a suitcase and being in completely foreign situations and places, I’m always grateful to return to Melbourne. I’m thankful that I’m in a position (particularly as a female, because there are still a lot of oppressed women out there in other countries and cultures) that I can work hard enough to be able to travel as much as I do, and I don’t take that for granted.
As a single female traveller, Tokyo was the perfect place. It was easy enough to navigate, people are friendly and helpful to unbelievable standards, and it is the safest city (including Melbourne) that I’ve ever been in.
Accommodation aside, it was also a lot cheaper than I expected – I went away with around AUD$1000 worth of spending money for 9 days, and spent only just over half of it.
One of the best things about travel is how much it opens your eyes to things that aren’t your norm, and while Tokyo was a very modern city, there were a few curiosities and oddities I noticed…
– Early morning cafe breakfasts and brunches aren’t a thing.
– Most stores don’t open until around 11am, but they stay open later into the night, around 8pm (as opposed to Melbourne’s general 9am – 5pm hours).
– There’s a system and procedure for everything, everyone knows them, and everyone obeys them.
– ATMs for international cards pretty much only work in 7/11.
– That said, they are truly elegant ladies and dapper gentlemen in Tokyo – heels, pearls and full suits are standard.
– Public transport is quiet time. No talking to the person next to you, no talking on the phone, no eating.
– Litter doesn’t exist. Anywhere. People are literally employed to sweep the streets and walk them with giant tongs to remove rubbish.
– There are designated smoking spots outside, and people actually stick to them. There are “no smoking on the street” signs and they are strictly adhered to without the need for enforcement.
– People line up for EVERYTHING. Especially food. And locals really don’t seem to mind waiting over an hour in (a very orderly) line for their favourite eatery… Incredible!
– One of the things that surprised me the most was the amount of people who refused to use tissues! I find the sniffing thing pretty disgusting (I don’t understand why anyone would want to sniff the snot back up their noses and down their throats rather that just blow it out into a tissue), and was really surprised at the amount of people who would rather just sniff incessantly and occasionally use sleeves to wipe snot on rather than just blow their noses…?!
– While a lot of the older buildings are in the grey/beige/brown 70s styles, the modern architecture is impressive.
I also learnt a bit about myself…
– My organizational skills are one of my biggest assests and truly help me see and do more than a lot of other travellers.
– Can read a map like a boss.
– Observing and writing and recording has always been (and will always be) what I love to do most.
– Anxiety attacks followed me but depression didn’t.
– Slowing down, taking time to breathe, and just stepping away mentally for a few minutes helped the anxiety attacks.
– I’m happiest when I’m in new places surrounded by strangers speaking in foreign tongues, where I can just slip into the background and explore and observe at my own pace.
– Knowing how to say “excuse me” and “thank you” in the local language is indispensable.
– I think I’m actually a bit smarter, stronger, braver and more resilient than I’ve given myself credit for..