Travel, it’s something that consumes about 40% of my idle thoughts. Where will I go? What will I visit? Who will I meet?
It’s tiring to be infected with Wanderlust.
I have some travel news, I’m heading to Thailand this month! A country that is forever in my heart after spending 3.5 months there in 2013. It’s a country where I experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
It’s a country where I feel at home.
Now you would think I’d be happy to go back to a country I love, but there’s a slight feeling of apprehension that I can’t shake off. I think living in Japan has broke me!
The safety of living in Japan
Japan is an extremely safe country. I sometimes think that living in Japan has softenedme. I now feel like I’m wrapped in cotton wool, I feel safe. Japan is a country where you leave your iPhone on the table when you go to the toilet in a restaurant and a country where men leave wallets hanging out of their back pockets in bustling and metropolitan Tokyo.
Now compare this to South East Asia, yes it’s fairly safe but you do have to keep an eye onyour belongings, especially your bag. Will I remember how to stay safe and avoid theft or will my guard be down after living in Japan for 4 months?
The street lighting where I live is atrocious but I think nothing of walking home alone in the pitch black at night. I feel perfectly safe here and I’ll often walk along using my iphone, something that I would never do back home in the UK!
The quality of the food in Japan
Every dish in Japan is made with delicacy and care. Food hygiene levels are through the roof in every restaurant and cases of food poisoning are extremely rare. Compare that to South East Asia and you can see what I’m worrying about!
After months of eating food so clean it could be certified sterile i’ll be eating food in places with a considerably lower level of food hygiene. Now I’ve always had a very strong stomach but I feel like after months of Japans extremely high hygiene levels, any bacteria in my gut has been killed off and I’ll fall victim to dreaded food poisoning. I hope not!
Clean streets in Japan
Nearly every blog post you read about Japan mentions the clean streets. It’s true, the streets here are extremely clean and it’s very rare to see rubbish on the pavement. There’s very few public bins but people just keep hold of the rubbish until they get home (and then recycle and even clean the rubbish but that’s a whole different blog post….).
What I love about Banglok is the vibrancy, the life. I actually like the fact that it’s a bit dirty. I’m just scared that I’ll suffer from a bit of culture shock at the thought of smelling pudrid garbage and seeing rats meander across the street…
Japan’s super toilets
Not every toilet in Japan is a super-duper robotic bidet machine but every toilet is usually clean and tidy, even the hated old style squat toilets. I don’t think I’ve ever faced the sight of an empty toilet roll holder in a toilet here or had to deal with a pile of discarded, used toilet roll at the side of the toilet. There’s public toilets everywhere here too which is great! In Izakayas you will usually find sanitary towels, cotton buds and even floss in the toilet, completely complimentary to use.
The toilets in Thailand are ok, well comapred to some of the sights that I’ve seen in Vietnam and Laos… Once again I’m just worried that I’ll accidentally flush the toilet paper or suffer from shock when I see the levels of cleanliness!
Japanese customer service
I was so shocked the first time I walked in 7-11, went to the counter to buy some gyoza and when the store assistant handed me the money she gave me a deep bow. I had read that bowing was common in Japan but not to the extent that store assistants would bow!
Japanese customer service is second to none. It’s attentive but not annoying like many waiters can be in the UK, asking if the ‘food is good’ as soon as you stuff the first bite of food into your mouth. At first Japanese service is overwhelming but after a while its quite comforting, it’s such a nice feeling to be respected when you are just going about your daily life.
I’m afraid that I will be bowing when I recieve money in Thailand and just stand there waiting for the assistant to bow. I’m scared I may throw the odd ‘sumimasen’ or ‘arigatou gozaimasu’ in too instead of Thai.
The reality is, I just can’t wait!
Despite all these minor worries i’m soooo excited for Thailand! I love nearly everything about Thailand and it will be good to take a break from the sometimes constricting and always confusing Japanese society! I’ll just have to keep my wits about me and remember the skills that I built up when I was taking my sabbatical in 2013.
The next time you see me I’ll have no bones left in my body after hours of painful yet amazing Thai massage. I’ll also be a pecuilar shade of orange after eating far too much mango sticky rice!
Thailand, I’m coming home!