As per usual, another month has flown by and I haven’t a clue where it went. A large chunk of it was spent playing catch up on work, including the blog. If you follow us on Instagram though, you probably think we we’ve been doing anything but! Seriously though, me hunched over a laptop at 2AM seven days a week just isn’t ‘gram worthy, ya know?!

Anyway, besides all that, here’s what we’ve been up to!

Our Whereabouts

  • 3 days Hong Kong
  • 6 days Jeju Island, Korea
  • 10 days Seoul, Korea
  • 12 days Okinawa Island, Japan
Korea

South Korea

Okinawa

Okinawa, Japan

Highlights

  • Our first interview! Blogo, a super handy blogging app I use for our site (especially when offline), did a feature interview on Thrifty Nomads. Cool! If ya want a bit more backstory on us, you can read all about it here.
  • Having a social life again. When you long-term travel, aspects of your regular social life disappear. Regular friends, text messages to meet up, and casual hangouts don’t happen. Yet more than half of this month was spent doing group travel and regularly meeting up with friends. YAY! Much Jori-bong (Korean karaoke), soju, and delicious Korean food was had – sloppy photo evidence for reference.
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Hiking, grocery shopping, karaoke… everything’s more fun with friends!

  • A foodie’s paradise. I’m convinced that Korea is one of THE most underrated food destinations on earth. Seriously. It helps that one of our best friends now lives there with his adorable Korean girlfriend, because we got the full-on Korean culinary experience. We even took our first cooking class together in Seoul. Not sure if I’m just in some sort of foodie honeymoon phase, but I’m still all googly eyed over this extremely underrated country!
  • Stepping into North Korea. Ah!! No shame in admitting that I feel pretty cool saying that, even if it was only a few steps. I wrote all about our experience here, but we did a DMZ tour from Seoul which takes you to the North/South Korean border. On that tour we were able to meet and interview a North Korean refugee. I documented the inspiring and chilling conversations we had here. Overall, this was one of the highlights of Korea, and if you want to do step into North Korea yourself, I’ve written a how-to guide.
  • Falling in love again…. with Japan! You’ve heard us preach and preach over how much we love this country. Now two years since we left, we’re back and currently exploring Okinawa (Japan’s southern tropical islands). Guys, this place is seriously underrated so if you’re ever in Japan, consider adding it to your see list!
  • Australian permanent residency application: submitted! Ahh! I’m beaming as I type this. It took us over half a year of back and forth document sending, then further requests, more document sending just to finally click “submit” (and pay $5,000, OUCH). Now we wait and see if the land down under is willing to take on a couple of Canadians as permanent residents!
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North Korea

Lowlights & Lessons Learnt

  • Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching. $5,000 visa application. Blaghhhhhhh…….. enough said.
  • Hmmm…? I guess it’s been a good month since I can’t even think of any other lowlights. Cool!

Awkward Moments & Laughs

  • Tales of centenarians. Okinawa, Japan is home to the largest number of centenarians (people aged 100+ years). It is nothing short of odd and amazing for there to be old (like, seriously old), frail, wrinkled people smiling and zipping a tropical island! An eccentric 70-year old cab driver explained to us the ages of his own family: “Me mama? 110.”. This was followed by a clap, with his clasped hands then shooting upward to imply her death. “Me papa? 108.” Another clap and hands to the sky. “Me oldest brother 85, I have 10 brothers and sisters”. Holy crap! And this guy was still cabbing people about, sharp as a nail in his 70s. Maybe this is the place to retire!?
  • Creepy confrontations. Given our tropical location, we had several run-ins of the creepy kind. Last night I first spotted an enormous cockroach on our guesthouse wall around 1AM. Ted and I conspired back and forth in frantic whispers for a solid 15 minutes on how to terminate it, not wanting it to fly around our teeny room (they are indeed psychotic, in case you didn’t know). We ended up gassing the poor thing as it squirmed about in the plastic container Ted had trapped it with on the wall (he too squirmed as he felt it frantically crawling to its death in the container! GROSS!). We disposed of its body out the window – as though to say to all the other ‘roaches, “that’s a warning to all of you. Stay the **** out!!!”. (Note: they listened).
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Downtown Seoul, Korea

Health & Fitness

  • Steps walked: 174,157 total… only ~5,617 per day (you should aim for 10,000).Whoopsies. So that was pitifully low, due to the many days indoors for work (lame excuse). We’ve begun daily jogs so that should get the numbers back up for this month!
  • Hikes & bikes: we did a few in Jeju and Seoul, evidently not enough though!!

Spending

  • Food & accommodation: since we travelled slower this month, we were able to do a lot of our own cooking, a definite plus. Accommodation was reasonable, between Korea & Japan we’ve been spending $28-$35 CAD per night (total for two people). Pretty good, as some days we’re sticking to Nomadic Matt’s $50/day budget for the both of us!
  • Transit: in Jeju our group rented a car, which was much more economic than transit. Yay! Seoul proved to be very affordable for transit (about $1 CAD per ride, including transfers!). Okinawa, Japan on the other hand has more “island” pricing. That plus the ferry we’re taking tomorrow – well, let’s just say moving around is costing us a bit more as of late!
  • Cell phone/Internet: Between Korea & Japan, we paid $16 CAD and then $25 CAD to stay connected (the latter of which will last us for next month too).
  • Miscellaneous. Well, there’s that glaring $5,000 AUD charge for our Australian permanent residency application… And some happier spendings, like sending two packages home of goodies from Korea & Japan to the fam!
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Naha Fish Market, Okinawa

Up Next

We’ll be island hopping Okinawa for one more week, then returning to mainland Japan for at least the next month. Our plans are a bit loose at the moment, but we’ll hit up Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto and make our way to Hokkaido. check back next month to see what we got up to!

Ooooh and for any of our eager beaver readers (how’s that triple rhyme?), we have some very exciting things to come to Thrifty Nomads…. stay tuned for videos and a serious site makeover!

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Naha, Japan


 Thanks for following along, check back next month to see what we get up to! To explore our prior adventures, see our old months in review here!