I typically don’t live life with regrets, though if I was pushed to name one regret, it would be not being able to speak a foreign language.
Especially since I used to be able to.
And to be honest it’s quite embarrassing. Being in a foreign country where the locals are making all the effort to speak in English and I can’t string a sentence together in theirs.
Telling people that yes, I did learn Japanese in High school, but now it’s all but disappeared.
So on my most recent trip to Japan I decided that enough was enough. I was done with feeling ashamed and guilty that I hadn’t put the effort into retaining Japanese as a second language, and I wanted to replace that with a feeling of pride at being able to thrive in real world conversations.
I told myself I wasn’t going to travel with a portable translator, and a couple of months before I left I downloaded Rosetta Stone on my desktop and phone.read more
It’s one thing to see pictures of incredible wildlife online, but getting up close and personal with them is another matter entirely.
From meeting pandas in their natural environment, and snow monkeys in Japan to ethical experiences with elephants in Thailand, here are six amazing travel ideas for animal lovers.read more
If you’ve ever heard of the Silk Road, this refers to an ancient network of Eurasian trade routes that once connected the East to the West. These were routes that emerged across both land and sea, along which silk and many other goods were imported and exported.
For many years, this was the primary source of cultural crossover between Europe and Asia. And while the Silk Road stretched all across Europe and the Middle East, it is the Asian stops of the Silk Road that are most worth the trip today.
This is where the Silk Road originated, when China opened up to trade in the first and second centuries B.C. But while goods were obviously traded, imported, and exported in and out of Asia, it has a much greater cultural significance. The constant movement and mixing of populations also brought about the transmission of knowledge, ideas, cultures and beliefs, which had a profound impact on the history and civilizations of the Eurasian peoples.
For those with an interest in history and cultural heritage, the Silk Road is a great path to follow when travelling in China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries. Here are 3 must-see destinations you shouldn’t miss.read more
Japan could easily be considered to be among the world’s most desired destinations. I mean, who hasn’t dreamed of watching the sun set over a tori gate, visit the thousands of shrines in Kyoto, or witness dawn from the top of Mt. Fuji?
And in terms of getting around, the country has one of the safest, cleanest, fastest, most efficient, punctual and convenient public transportation networks in the world. But while you might be tempted by the city subways, bullet trains, or even by catching a flight, we opted for an entirely different way of seeing Japan: by bike.
With considerate drivers, great infrastructure, and a well connected network of roads, Japan is a perfect destination for bicycle touring first-timers. We spent 3 months on our bikes exploring Kyushu, Shikoku, and Southern Honsu, but you still can easily cover a wide cross section of Japan in 7 – 10 days.read more
If you could only ever explore one region of Japan, Kansai would be a good choice. The cultural heartland of the country, which includes the cities of Osaka, Sakai, Kobe, Nara and Kyoto, no other region offers as much cultural and historic significance into such a compact size.
This has been the cultural center of Japan for centuries, having given birth to traditional Japanese theatre styles, Japanese Buddhism, the tea ceremony, and hosted many Japanese capitols throughout time. It is a patchwork of intense urban life mixed with traditional sites; exciting modern architecture sits next to a diverse legacy of beautiful castles and temples from ancient times.
It is a hub of Japanese experiences in food, religion, and ancient tradition, and is the perfect region to sample Japan’s diversity. No other region of Japan offers as much variety as Kansai.read more
In this increasingly divided world, there are still a few things which remain that unites us all. And one of those is that we all love a good old snooze. However, just as the language we speak and the food we eat differ depending on the country we live in, so too does how we sleep.
Unsurprisingly, our bedtime routines reflect the differences in everything from our environment, to our lifestyles and cultural values. Below are just some of the countless ways in which the world gets its rest on.read more
One of the most colorful seasons in Japan is Hanami; a season where the country’s famous cherry blossoms put on a spectacular show, a show cherished by tourists and locals alike. Groups gather in city parks to bathe in the pink atmosphere of the flowering cherry and plum trees, and spring parties are thrown which can last well into the night.
The Hanami season begins in March and lasts until late May, and fortunately, some of Japan’s most iconic cities are also the best places to witness the flowering spectacle. But the cherry blossoms are fleeting, and most cities only offer a short window of 2-3 weeks (you can check online flower forecasts to find peak viewing times across the country).
We therefore decided it was best to head on an organized tour. And the great thing for anyone wishing to catch the cherry blossoms in 2018, is that Luxury Escapes is offering 40% off the tour we chose.read more
Getting to see a volcano up close is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Whether they’re dormant or active, standing on the crater fills you with wonder (and sometimes dread) as you gaze into the maw of these colossi.
For the purposes of this article, we’ve chosen five different countries with live volcanoes. Though some of these have more than one volcano currently active, so keep an eye out for that, too.read more
Japan is a wonderful country known for it’s blend of traditional culture and modern dynamic cities. And while the buzz is all about it’s pop culture, neon-lit streetscapes and architectural wonders that redefine what a city should be, there is also an incredible outdoors and nature scene.
Over two-thirds of Japan is made up of mountains, perfect for hiking, and there are majestic volcanoes, thundering waterfalls, bubbling hot springs, and vast forests inhabited by monkeys, bears, deer, cranes and other wildlife. The tropical beaches of the south are popular for sunning, snorkelling, diving and surfing, and in fact, Japan’s coastline is one of the longest and most impressive in the world.
So to inspire you to make your visit to Japan a little different from the standard Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima itinerary, let me introduce you to 5 beautiful places you shouldn’t miss. Because Japan is much more than one large, densely populated megacity!read more
To much of the developed world, especially in recent years, tattoos are seen as beautiful/trendy additions to one’s personality, with many tattoos succeeding in telling interesting stories about a person’s past.
But in some countries, tattoos are still seen as extremely taboo. Exposed tattoos in such countries can commonly result in arrests, and where a traveler is concerned, sometimes deportation.
So the following is a list of countries where you should be extra careful about flaunting your ink – otherwise you may end up in more trouble than previously thought!read more