Top Tips for Tokyo

Tokyo has got to be one of my favourite cities in the world. It has everything you want in a destination; it’s ultra modern but peppered with pockets of old Edo, the food is amazing, it’s easy to get around and the city is one of the safest in the world.

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Star of the show, Ueno Park, Tokyo

If you’re heading to Japan and not really sure what to expect, here’s a couple of tips to get the ball rolling!

Public Transport

Tokyo has an excellent rail system and should definitely be your first choice in getting around, so make sure your accommodation has a station within walking distance.
One thing that is a bit confusing when you first arrive in the city is the trains and this confusion is mainly caused by the fact that there are separate rail companies, each with their own network. If you intend to travel around Japan and have a JR Pass, you can use this for JR’s local stations but you can’t use it on the other networks.

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Tokyo train coming into a station

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The Day Machu Picchu Was Mine

In a mountain jungle high above the clouds, I can look down upon a sprawling puzzle of stone, combined  like an ancient God’s lego stash. Most pieces resemble the walls of houses or terraces with loose stones lying in the emerald green grass waiting to find their place in the rocky mosaic. The only sound floating in the breeze is the fossicking of llamas keeping the lawns trim, the scurry of furry chinchillas enjoying an evening dust bath and my mate yelling from a ledge above, “This is fucking awesome! I can’t believe we have the whole place to ourselves!”

Machu Picchu…for most young, modern explorers, it is the epitome of any South American backpacking trip, but the majority will have to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with about 500 other tourists. This can remove some of the majestic vibe of the ancient Incan ruins, which only had its first set of foreign eyes look upon it just over 100 years ago. But imagine having the whole place to yourself! Not even a park employee looking over your shoulder! See, while most people train in and out on the same day, thus ensuring they have to leave the mountain in the late afternoon to get the last train back to Cusco, not many people stay overnight.
This is how we came to have one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World…all..to..ourselves. Continue reading

How to Reduce your Crime Target Rating

So I had this pre-misconception about South America. Before leaving I told my mother not to worry when she gets the phone call or email saying that I had been mugged… it was inevitable, it would happen, she had to expect it… I was!

Well, it never happened and from my own personal experience after travelling for 2 months through Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Chile I realised it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
Of course people are mugged and pickpocketed all the time in South America, tourists are targeted, and there is the odd occasion of taxi drivers colluding with others to kidnap you, take you to an ATM and demand all your money.
Now the fact I had no problem doesn’t mean you won’t, but perhaps the simple precautions I took made a big difference to being targeted by thieves. Most criminals will do a quick risk calculation to see if they’re likely to get away with their crime before committing, so make it hard for them! Continue reading