1. WARM WELCOME
So far having travelled to Japan, China, South Korea and Thailand- I can testify that Black women and men are welcomed with open arms! In Shanghai my boyfriend and I were easily able to strike up conversation and pose for pictures with some of the locals who may have never come across a different race to their own. We never felt like puppets or animals in the zoo to be gawked at. In Japan, my friend and I were often ‘thanked’ by passers-by for taking the time to visit which was very warming and something that I had never experienced before. The food is amazing- especially theKorean food– whether it is noodles or bulgolgi beef! They have every thing from seafood to salad- and its healthy.Japanese food is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G too- with the array of fish dishes and local cuisine. My boyfreind was seen as a honorary Korean as he like the Kimchi which is fermented cabbage, that is offered with almost every meal in South Korea- it is definitely an acquired taste that I don’t think I will be acquiring any time soon! Least you know it wont be a trip that will add weight to your hips! The scenery is amazing- you may want to visit the old towns of in to see traditional houses and cobbled streets or you can be right in the midst of concrete masterpiece in Tokyo. The same can be said for many of the Eastern Countries- there is something for everyone and every type of holiday
If you are into Technology- well, you dont have to go far if you are in the East. The land of the Orients are the manufacturers of Televisions, Computer Games, Mobile phones- so many things that you have in your house- just look on Google! Look how many cars are made in Japan- Honda,Suzuki, Subaru, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubushi, Isuzu- I just can’t list everything as I would be here all day. There are many local shops and areas that sell re-conditioned second-hand models which are a bargain too! Either way, all new products are often cheaper if compared to buying in the UK.
In Japan and Korea in particular, the travel network is easy to use and there are maps available in English and attendants often have a decent level of English to direct you to wherever you want to go! I would advise locating the tourist centres as they are used to seeing tourists. The Shinkansen a.k.a ‘ the Bullet Train’ is a nice smooth ride connecting you to all of the main cities of Japan where you feel like you are on an aeroplane! I would recommend taking advantage of turning the seats round to face whichever direction you desire! The Metro’s are easy and extensive in Korea and Japan. I used coach t travel and charter planes in Thailand to travel around which equally was cheap, easy and part of the fun
This is probably one of the best things out of the top 10! Apart from your plane ticket and accommodation, everything is very cheap. If you travel off-season, you could save a huge amount of money and use the rest you saved to see more and do more whilst you are there! Travelling to Japan during the Cherry Blossom season around May is spectacular with the flowers adding so much colour and beauty to the surroundings. Travelling to China in February is cold, but you have the benefit of being in the country to celebrate the Chinese New Year which is definitely an experience to behold. The accommodation you get for your money is almost unbelievable and often to a good standard! Food is cheap, travel is cheap- look for tourist tickets and rail benefits as there are often discounts for visitors, such as the Japan Rail Card. Certain things like the Japan Rail Card, you would have to purchase on-line or from a travel agent BEFORE you travel in your own country before you get there. Make sure you do or the cost of travelling will be considerably more.
I must admit, the East was a culture shock for me coming from London where there is every race, colour, creed and language on your doorstep and it is fairly well mixed. You don’t get the same feeling in places like China where their population is massive
and you are definitely a minority- but this made the experiences much more interesting as you felt you had the opportunity to really try to navigate and engage in the culture as well as practice some common phrases. I visited Shanghai during the Chinese New Year and still can’t get over how much fun I had experiencing the general joviality and culture that was booming during the days leading up to it. Experience the Soju and Rice Wine drinking culture in the evening as well as the Karaoke that is so much enjoyed in China, Japan and Korea. My friend and I stayed in a Ryokan– a traditional Japanese Hotel in Kyoto, Japan which was absolutely cheap, but perfect. Japanese culture is greatly steeped in food as well as the family excursions the outdoor hot springs. The Beaches of Thailand are to die for! I went to Koh Tao and Koh Phangan which are must-sees. Definitely visit museums, temples and local areas to really feel like you have experienced the East as I did.
6. FASHION & SHOPPING
I have a boyfriend and I am definitely not into girls! But the women in Japan are absolutely stunning and Japanese fashion definitely rocks! It’s as if many of the women are models- dressed up, but not over dressed with heels and flowy skirts! They are definitely fashion-forward. The men are very dapper too! Korean women can leave you with your mouth open. Their skin is often BB-creamed up, but they certainly know how to dress. On top of that, they have time to shop until late as many of the shopping areas are open until the early hours of the morning- even as early/late as 4am when I was in Seoul! Can you imagine, a shop like Topshop opening so late! There are several markets in Seoul’s Namdaemun market where you can get fake brands but also tailor-made one-offs. How can I forget the Harijuku girl-fashion in Japan, you certainly have to check that out!
I definitely fascinated with words and language, but I fell in love with Japanese. It is certainly quite easy to pick up, but I was more intrigued by the fact that many of the words sounded very much like my own family’s language (which I can’t fully speak it) of Yoruba! It was uncanny! Japanese names also are very similar to many Nigerian names- I definitely need to look into this similarity as it seems quite uncanny. I would recommend a language book to take with you to try to practice a few words as the locals love it when you try! You can get second-hand ones from Ebay or Amazon for like £2.00. I also visited YouTube to practice some basic words and pronunciation which helped massively.
8. SAFE COUNTRIES TO VISIT
Although I travelled to Thailand, South Korea, China and Japan with boyfriend and friends on different occassions, it felt very
safe. It is something even as a female you coudl do alone. I would certainly say I felt the most comfortable in Tokyo and Shanghai and did not percieve navigating independently at all. Always remember to be safety conscious- you dont have to lose your mind or whereabouts on holiday. If you are street smart and do not go drinking alone down some dark alley, then Im sure you will be fine. Ask advice, do your research about good places to travel. There are scams that go on that target tourists. My advice is, if something seems too good to be true, then it ususally isn’t!
There are so many festivals that go on during the year. Its like having Christmas all over again. Often it is a Public holiday for teh locals, so you really feel everyone is in the festive spirit and extra happy. I was able to go to Kyoto in Japan to experience the Aoi Matsuri- but there are so many more in Japan to see and there are many in the other countries and cities too.
10. BUSINESS LINKS
China in particular is a great place to network and start business ventures with. Their goods are manufactured cheaply and you can import them to sell abroad. I mean virtually everything is made or can be made in China. Better quality goods (but at a dearer price) are made in Korea. You can buy beautiful materials, jewellery and much more in Thailand and many of the countries abroad. Have a look into it- check it out! If you don’t look and ask questions, then you will never know.