|one seat for Greg and one seat for my backpack|
The trip is going well. We have not had any major problems although it has been difficult sometimes, particularly in China, to overcome the language barrier. We had to modify our itinerary slightly when the flight we had planned to fly standby on from Seoul to Tokyo sold out. But a confirmed ticket from Seoul to Hiroshima only cost $150 more than flying standby so it was not financially devastating. We also ended up flying from Beijing to Shanghai instead of taking the overnight train because everything was fully booked for several days. Again, we had to spend about $100 more per person than the train would have cost, but ended up recouping some of that money when our flight was delayed for 6 hours due to a mechanical problem and we each received instant 400CNY (about $60) cash refunds when we finally boarded the plane.
Both of us have been relatively healthy but my shoulders/neck ache constantly from the strain of carrying the backpack (which still weighs in at around 13.5kg plus another 7kg for my daybag) and also from the hard beds. My left knee, on which I had arthroscopic surgery many years ago, also aches whenever I have to carry the pack for long durations or when we are hiking on uneven terrain or climbing lots of stairs. We have both had some days when our allergies are more active and thus are sneezing or have runny noses but do not actually feel bad. We have also had head colds (2 for me, 1 for Greg) but have recovered from the worst parts within about 3 days. Greg has developed athlete’s foot which we were trying to treat with hydrocortisone cream that I was already carrying before it became worse. Unfortunately that did not stop the fungus from spreading so we went to a pharmacy in Suzhou and, after showing one of the staff his foot, were “prescribed” an etinazole spray.
We try to eat a balanced diet and to seek out the local specialties but at the same time are very careful that the food is fresh & thoroughly cooked. So often that means we don’t eat a lot of meat, vegetables or fruit. We have developed a habit in Asia of eating instant noodle bowls for breakfast as we always have access to boiled water, whether from an electric kettle in our room or from a larger system somewhere in the hotel/hostel where we are staying. As the sodium content of the flavor packets is extremely high, I usually only put half of a packet into the soup. We still drink a fair amount of beer as it is very inexpensive here (about $0.50 for approx 500ml bottle if we drink one of the major Chinese brands). We have also been using our Katadyn water purification systems since we arrived in Asia, although it really wasn’t necessary in Japan.
|a somewhat unidentifiable meal|
|Greg ponders our trip in Kyoto (he was sick with a head cold when this was taken)|
I referenced trip costs earlier and generally we are staying on target with our budget. As always, we could certainly travel cheaper and cut costs in any number of ways, but for our own sanity & ability to endure the more challenging aspects of the trip, we are spending a few more dollars per day/night versus the absolute budget traveler. We have yet to stay in a Western hotel, have only eaten at “American” restaurants a handful of times, and have only taken a taxi when other options were either not available or truly not feasible and the cost was minimal anyway. We try to “do as the locals” whenever possible for a more authentic experience.
|appreciating other religions is one way to "go local"|