Exploring the World’s Largest Metropolitan Area: Tokyo

Our flight to Tokyo from Seoul was very early in the morning, landing at 9:30am. After getting through customs and finding an ATM to take out some Japanese yen it was time to find our way into the city. Tokyo, and we would later discover, Japan in general, has a huge number of trains, all across various train systems. This means that most of the country is highly accessible by train (which is great!), but it can be a bit overwhelming at first to figure out which train you want, and extra hard to avoid very expensive trains by accident. We went to an information desk to get help rather than trying to figure it out ourselves, and we were quickly on our way.

Continue reading “Exploring the World’s Largest Metropolitan Area: Tokyo”

Three Days in a Jjimjilbang in Seoul

After we returned the bicycles, we ate dinner at a ramen restaurant around the corner and then set off to find Siloam Bulgama Sauna Spa, one of Seoul’s jjimjilbangs. Now that we were experienced jjimjilbang users with two nights under our belt, we planned to spend the rest of our nights in South Korea at Siloam. A lot of jjimjilbangs discourage people from staying multiple nights in a row, but we had read that Siloam allowed it and was one of the nicer jjimjilbangs in Seoul anyway. 

Continue reading “Three Days in a Jjimjilbang in Seoul”

Getting Scuba Certified in Nha Trang, Vietnam

All the bus company posters for Nha Trang show pictures of people snorkeling and scuba diving, so we knew it was the place in Vietnam to get scuba certified. Someone had recommended we do our Open Water Diver certification in Vietnam because it would be cheaper. Eric did some research and found a reputable company in Nha Trang, Rainbow Divers, so we plowed ahead. Jess was not so sure about scuba diving. She gets a little anxious in enclosed spaces she is not sure she can leave (although you would not know it from the number of mines, tunnels, and caves we have explored this year). Even though the ocean is not exactly an enclosed space, she was a little concerned about the idea of not just being able to ascend if she wanted to, but she agreed to give it a try. 

Continue reading “Getting Scuba Certified in Nha Trang, Vietnam”

Taking the Local Bus to the Củ Chi Tunnels

We had seen a lot of offers for tours to the Củ Chi tunnels – our hostel advertised a half-day tour for đ400,000 ($17.23) not including entrance fee to the tunnels. After a lot of research, we figured out the vast majority of the tours go to Bến Đình, the closer of the two Củ Chi Tunnel sites. This is how they are often able to do both a Củ Chi tunnels tour and a trip to the Mekong Delta in one day despite the two sites being in opposite directions. As a result, the closer site is allegedly more touristy and crowded than the second site, Bến Dược. It is also slightly more expensive – đ110,000 ($4.73) vs. đ90,000 ($3.87). Fortunately, we had discovered it was possible to visit Bến Dược on our own using the public buses, which would cost considerably less than a tour, and we could avoid swarms of people. Also, we love taking the local buses when we can. 

Continue reading “Taking the Local Bus to the Củ Chi Tunnels”

Kicking Off Our Vietnam Tour In Ho Chi Minh City

Our rough plan for Vietnam is to work our way up from the south to the north over the course of twenty six days and cross into China by bus at the Lao Cai border crossing after visiting Sa Pa. Our first stop was Ho Chi Minh City where we planned to stay for five days, mostly so we could apply for a Chinese visa. To get into China, we need to get a visa which takes four days to process once the application has been accepted. Even without Jess’s passport snafu, acquiring the visa in the US ahead of time would have been a bit tricky given our bike trip, and since getting our Bolivian visa in Argentina was relatively straightforward, we figured doing this in Vietnam would be fine. Having a little extra time in Ho Chi Minh City would also give us a better feel for life there.

Continue reading “Kicking Off Our Vietnam Tour In Ho Chi Minh City”