Hakodate Hindsights

Hakodate Hindsights

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.

Flying Feats

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!

Technology Thankfulness

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.

Transportation Thoughts

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!

Spacious Streets

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!

Coffee Cravings

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 . . .

Enlightening Experiences

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!

Comments

  1. Even though you’ve been traveling for years, there’s always something new to learn XD. It’s great that you enjoyed your experience with ANA! With everything happening with airlines in the news these days, things can be pretty unpredictable. I’ve used a pocket wifi on client sites and they work like magic! Glad that spending some extra money helped you out with providing directions :).

    I had fun seeing you posting your trip adventures through social media! Hope you still had fun sightseeing! I know I always enjoy taking as many pictures as I can so I can relive some memories when I’m looking back at my pictures XD.

    I’m always worried that I will go travel into some foreign country where English is not the main language. Glad that there are English translations in the tram! I would’ve been so lost if I had to figure things out myself @___@.

    Hope you’ll have a better experience with Japanese coffee…… in the next few weeks XD!!

    It’s good that you’re comfortable with traveling alone! There’s nothing wrong with it as long as you planned everything out and you’re not going somewhere sketchy. Research goes a long way! You know what you’re doing so it’s all good ;)!

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  2. I love the responses I get from people when I tell them I’ve traveled alone to various places. My friend’s parents were freaking out when she told them I hopped on a plane to LA just for a concert, and I attended the whole thing alone. They were more worried than my own parents! But I’ve done so much solo travel and I’ve been in more than enough airports that it didn’t really phase me, and it isn’t until someone is shocked I traveled by myself that I realize it was an independent experience not many people can do.

    As for focusing on a single city — I highly recommend it. There is so much Japan has to offer, and every single area is full of something worth seeing. When you literally stop and smell the roses, you get to experience so much you wouldn’t experience if you were just trying to cross a ton of things off of a multi-city checklist. You’re so close to Japan as it is so you’re a lot better off visiting different cities and exploring as you go!

    I hope you’ll come up to Osaka or somewhere nearby (Kobe, Kyoto, etc) when I’m in Japan. :) I’d love to have a fun exploratory day! Also, the language barrier will not be such a worry since I will be able to help. :D

    Good call on the pocket wi-fi. I’ve heard from a ton of people that for a technologically advanced country, Japan’s wi-fi kind of sucks haha. But it happens! Can’t have it all, y’know?

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  3. I don’t remember much about the coffee in Japan, but I do enjoy the UCC coffee cans that I buy here at the Japanese stores. I’m not sure if that’s much different if you roast them with the beans directly, but I sure love the UCC coffee cans. ^^;;

    As having travelled Japan and Korea solo myself, I can second your statement. It was so safe, and there are always plenty of people around. I love how there were lots of friendly neighborhood policemen throughout Tokyo and at train stations. Usually when I see a cop here, they’re much more intimidating.

    And yes! Pocket Wifi + Google Maps! That’s a pretty solid combination. I was surprised by how easily I navigated Tokyo with just that. I’m glad that it’s also reliable in Hakodate.

    I also think it’s nice that you stayed in one place to really get to know it. And since you’re relatively close to Japan (as compared to the U.S.), then I feel like there’s not as much pressure to try to go everywhere in Japan.

    Well, Tara, congrats on your first connecting flight! Those can be pretty tricky, especially if the airport is poorly set up and you’re in a time crunch.

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  4. I could vouch for the idea that Japan and Korea are safe for traveling. Solo, non-solo, for females. I was in Busan/Daegu for 10 days all by myself, with no untoward incidents. I was also in Japan with my sister, and we only encountered the nicest people. Everyone in both countries that I turned to did their best to assist me, despite the language barrier. :)

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  5. I’ve never been on a plane, so travelling alone won’t be an option for me for a long time. I’m sure I’d freak out the first couple of times, so it’d definitely be beneficial to have someone there with me. I wouldn’t mind exploring my destination alone though, because I enjoy my own company. It’s great that you booked a tour guide for one of the days, that’s a nice idea!

    I’m always surprised when I visit somewhere quieter than where I live. I live near a major city, so I always just expected everywhere to be just as big and populated. When I was looking at different places for university, I was so shocked when some of them had only one street of shops in the whole town.

    Google maps always save me on trips too. I’m so bad at directing myself anywhere! Google Translate sounds hilarious. Can’t believe it said that!

    It’s weird that transport is so different wherever you go. Every time I visit London I’m always baffled by the transport system. You’d think it’d be similar in the same country, but each area seems to have its own rules.

    Glad you enjoyed your time in Hakodate!

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  6. I really enjoyed reading this post as a sort of summary of your trip and what you learnt from it! :D I’m planning to write one similar at the end of the year (once I’ve done my trip to NYC and Canary Island this summer) Reflecting on what you learnt travelling (and in general) is always so much fun for me – haha, it’s the little things in life eh? xD

    I asked a lot of questions when I went to fly, I didn’t know what to expect – my parents had always been there to lead and guide me so travelling and being the lead in terms of where to go for travelling was an insightful experience. I’m glad ANA turned out to be a good airline :)

    OMG I was planning my Asia trip with Hamdah a week ago and I was telling her about your pocket WiFi. I had something similar when I bought my 4G data for my travels, it was always great to be connected and to document and share as I travelled. Hamdah and I actually created an awesome video stream thing on Snapchat that I will be uploading soon. Its not edited, which I sorta like because I documented it as it happened :D

    Hamdah has been to Japan and Korea before too and she said that she felt the safest there compared to anywhere else she’s been to! :) I am so excited for my trip there, it looks amazing. Plus I get to meet you. SOON.

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  7. When I travel, I try to absorb the moment, rather than focus on trying to capture through social media. On my recent trip to Australia, I SnapChatted a bit of it, but felt like it became too much, because I wasn’t enjoying it, as I had my head down at my phone. You’re going to pay all that money for a trip, but not enjoy it? Bad habit, I know. I loved taking photos, as it captures the memories, but after going through hundreds, I thought “So many photos, but I could have been enjoying these moments rather than snapping them”.

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  8. Travel is a great experience and a great way to learn new things! :) I’m so glad that you were able to travel solo and discover lots of new things about yourself, and in Japan, no less! <3

    The language barrier is one of my main concerns too, but I'm glad that everything was so much easier for you and it's awesome that the people you encountered were very helpful. The people you meet during your travels can really enrich your experience :D

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  9. Thanks for sharing this, T! This post is actually a good ideas because I always found when I was writing travel posts there was too much to include all in one, so I’d always wrap it up quickly in a conclusion that doesn’t give the trip justice!

    I’m so glad you opted for the pocket wi-fi. They’re definitely useful, and something I’ll be looking into if I’m in a country which my mobile plan doesn’t extend to.

    Sorry to hear about the coffe, though!

    I love doing things by myself and going at my own pace, so I completely get where you’re coming from. Also, I love sticking to an itinerary – it gives me much joy, haha. I remember travelling to Seattle and LA alone for the first time last year, and it was terrifying but I came out so much better for it. It’s definitely an eye-opener, and of course you have to be careful, but I feel everyone should try solo travelling at least once.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your trip!

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  10. Pocket Wi-Fi is definitely a lifesaver! I loved having it in Seoul when I visited. It worked well after I finally figured out I wasn’t supposed to keep turning it off and on. I just had to let it run. I guess the power runs out more if you switch it off. XP Although, I do think it might be easier for me next time to just rent a smartphone for a similar price.

    Travelling really does teach us many things, doesn’t it? I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Hakodate. Thank you again for the postcard!

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