I shared my Hakodate trip previously. I’d wanted to include some of my thoughts about the trip in the post, but it grew way too long! Ergo, I opted to just write a separate thoughts post, and this post is it. I will document my views about the trip here — all from my flight experience to my coffee woes. After all, travelling is more than just going somewhere, and it’s all about the knowledge and insights you gain.
I don’t fly often, so this is still a new territory for me. I asked a few friends the stupidest questions — one of them being about connecting flights. I’d never switched planes since I’d begun travelling as an adult in 2004, so I was totally clueless. Thankfully, when I arrived in Haneda (another first for me, for I’d been flying into Narita all this time), the airline workers were very helpful in guiding me to the right places. ANA turned out to be a great airline, by the way, and I would love to fly with them again in the future! I also learnt that requesting special meals does guarantee being served first, haha!
I rented a pocket wi-fi, and it was a !@#$%!@#$% lifesaver. Sure, I could have lived without constant internet access, but it saved my butt with Google Maps. Oh, man. If it weren’t for that, I would have spent more time wandering around in circles due to my horrible sense of direction. Google Maps + Japan = wonderful. On the other hand, Google Translate didn’t quite work as well. I spent more time laughing at the hilarious food translation. Will never forget seeing something like “powerful bags muzzle” for a soba dish . . .
Social Media Supplements
The pocket wi-fi came in handy in other ways. I had a blast posting my trip on social media! This is the first trip that I posted entirely on Twitter. Before, I posted my trip on Facebook, but usually after the trip. This time, I posted as I went, and I enjoyed sharing my trip with my friends and family. Not to mention, by documenting as I went, it gave me something to look back on later when I wrote up my summary.
Before my trip, I’d been wary about the trams in Hakodate. I was especially worried that there wouldn’t be any English, and reading the instruction on trams instructions had confused me. When the time came for me to ride it, I discovered that it was a lot easier than anticipated and they had English on the trams! Along with the trams, I walked around a lot. In one day alone, I’d walked 7.14 km (4.4 miles), to include quite a few hills!
The streets in Hakodate were spacious in terms of not being crowded with pedestrians and automobiles. It was so empty compared to what I’m used to in Seoul and Tokyo. Even the touristy areas weren’t as crowded as I’d expected. Then again, I was travelling during off-season, and Hakodate isn’t a huge metropolitan city. I did enjoy the lack of crowds and cars, for it made for a very relaxing getaway!
One thing about Japan I noticed this time? I wasn’t a fan of their UCC coffee. Apparently that’s a common brand, for almost every coffee shop I went to had that, and I wasn’t a fan of it. I began to miss all the coffee shops in my neighbourhood and their flavourful coffees. In fact, right after arriving home, I went back out to get my coffee fix. Maybe, I’ll have better luck with Japanese coffee on my next trip . . .
My trip to Hakodate was quite enlightening. I visited a brand new place without knowing much of its language. It was a bit challenging when it came to eating out, but otherwise, the Japanese people I’d encountered there (and everywhere else, really) were super polite and helpful. Now I feel a lot more confident about connecting flights. I was already comfortable and confident about travelling alone, and this trip further proved that and expanded my capabilities. I dedicated my trip to one city, and I explored it to my heart’s content. I do wonder if it’s odd to just focus on one city; I’ve had several people comment about that!
As for solo travelling — I enjoyed doing everything at my pace. I had so much to see and observe that I never felt lonely. It also helped that I requested a tour guide for one of my travel days, and that gave me companionship for a few hours, and I met the loveliest older Japanese couple. But they and other people kept saying to me, “I can’t believe you travel to another country by yourself! I could never do that!” Even one of my aunts in the US messaged me and hoped I wasn’t travelling alone because of “dangers”.
My final message about this trip: Japan and Korea are not dangerous. They are the two countries I’d recommend travelling alone as a female. Anywhere else, I wouldn’t even attempt to travel by myself, but Korea and Japan are very safe. For what it’s worth, I booked another short trip to Kyushu at the end of this month! Yes, I love Japan, and yes, I am travelling there alone, and I cannot bloody wait!