ROM – Done
Buy house – Done
Renovation – Done
House warming – Done
Wedding dinner – Done
Honeymoon – Next
As a natural course, honeymoon usually takes place immediately after the wedding, but for practical couples like Dear1 and Dear2, we choose to ‘honeymoon’ months after the wedding. Is it still considered as honeymoon? Whatever, we just want to be able to enjoy the process, haha…..
Post wedding, Dear1 and Dear2 are currently in the initial stage of planning our ‘honeymoon’ to Japan, specifically Tokyo in Feb 09. Yep, u din miss the word Hokkaido, cos we are NOT going to Hokkaido. Simply cannot understand why EVERYONE is going there. Guess it’s a ‘u go i also want to go’ mentality of typical Singaporeans. We think contrarian…..
Our rough research discovers that there are a few ways of doing this:
1. Follow packaged tour
2. Follow packaged tour, and extend on our own
3. Book Free and Easy from tour agency
4. Book Free and Easy entirely on our own
Engaging in a packaged tour typically is the most expensive. Tour agencies need to earn, so basically there are some costs that goes towards their revenue and overheads. But following tour packages are fuss-free, u just have to pay up, attend the pre-trip briefing, arrive at the airport on time, and EVERYTHING will be taken care of on the tour. But do prepare more cash for tips for driver, tour guide, extra meals NOT included in the package and optional tours (and we have not include cash for your own expenses). And be prepared to spend probably half a day’s coach ride in reaching that ‘must see castle’, and 3 hours in that ‘famous gold refinery factory’ and amazingly long time in that shop that ‘sells all the local souvenirs to buy back home’ and eating Chinese food for almost all meals becos ‘some people may not get used to the local food’ and rushing to arrive on time but having to wait a while for the older folks and families with kids. So, even though u dun have to worry about ANYTHING, just arm yourself with more $$$ and more naiveness, and all can be taken care of (in short, dun believe what the tour brief says, u gotto probe further into what it doesn’t say….)
Fine, having some experience in the above, take it that we are prepared to endure it all, how about taking option 2 so that we can save some of the ‘torment’ by extending the trip on our own. But hey, the extended hotel will have to be the last hotel of the tour (likely to be near airport, means far away from the city!). And gotto add extra $100 – $200 for the air tickets extension cos it’s already discounted rates for tour groups. Hmm……… Doesn’t really seem worthwhile leh……
Fine, tour agency can value add, so how about getting a free and easy deal from them? But the rates for Feb 09 are not out yet, and even if they are, the airlines and accom are a few limited choices of 4 and 5 star hotels and the very good airlines only. Hmm……. Means that we may not be able to get the best deal hor…….
Booking free and easy entirely on our own offers a few advantages.
1. Cheaper – Can save on the air tickets. Northwest Airline seems to be able to give attractive rates to Tokyo. And overall MUCH MUCH cheaper than a packaged tour. Might as well use the money on other things, like shopping.
2. Better timing – Can choose the departure dates and time (subjected to whichever airline we use), vs a 5D4N trip means that u depart on night of Day 1 and having to set off for the return flight on morning of Day 5. Believe me, this is NOT uncommon. And not forgetting that I dun have to wake up at 6am in the morning just to go to that 6 hours away ‘must see famous waterfall’.
3. Visit places of MY choice – Only go to those places which I want to go. Pls, I dun need to visit sooooo many shrines even though Japan is well known for them. And I DON’T want to visit this zoo and that park and this zoo again and that park again. Now I can appreciate why our Singapore Zoological Gardens and Botanic Garden are popular tourist attractions…
4. Real local experience – I want to have sashimi and ramen and bento for every meals, and not Chinese food and Chinese food and Chinese food….. And I want to experience local living in a ryokan or a minshuku, no need to stay in 4 stars and 5 stars all the time one…. And sit in the bullet trains and the subways, no need to travel on a coach all the time one… Seriously, I din pay dollars to spend hours on the coach and end up sleeping throughout the bulk of the journey.
Of course, planning a free and easy trip is by no means easy. There’s plentiful of research to be done – libraries, online official and unofficial sites, personal blogs etc to be researched into. And we have not come to the booking phase where there’s bound to be many coordination, communication and currency conversions involved. Japan has an extensive railway system which even the locals may not be well versed in, let alone foreigners like us. Plus the daunting task of planning out the route and itinerary for the trip, given Japan’s wide geographical layout.
Take heart, enjoy the planning process, and may we have an enjoyable ‘tour cum planning process’.