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Oct 7th, 2011, 02:35 AM
  #1
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Question on korea/japan

Hi all

My wife and I will be doing a 12 day trip to Korea and Japan. We will be visitng Seoul , Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. This is the first trip abroad where we will not be speaking the local language. We speak mandarin and English. We generally dislike tours but I was thinking about hiring a private guide for perhaps a few of the days. Just wondering based on others experiences if language will be an issue with transportation, going to the local food joints, ordering etc. Thank you!
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Oct 8th, 2011, 01:04 AM
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Hi from Seoul,

If you take gray-colored taxis - less expensive than the black ones - there is a good chance that you will meet with difficulties in communicating with the drivers. However, there is now a new fleet of orange-colored taxis and these drivers speak English/Japanese/Mandarin; however, be selective before you climb in to ensure you can converse with your driver.

At the higher end restaurants, you will not likely have any problem conversing in English, and definitely won't have a problem should you go to Itaewon on Insadong, which largely cater to foreign tourists. In fact, I would recommend that you visit Itaewon for its diversity in foreign cuisine.

For night life, make sure you head off to the Hongdae-Shinchon neighborhoods where you will find plenty of expats, and in the wee hours, mostly in a state of inebriation.

Enjoy your stay.

Seoulbro
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Oct 8th, 2011, 01:26 AM
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For a small selection of photos taken in Seoul, you can check out http://thenarrativelens.photoshelter...00wXw7VPc7O6g/
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Oct 8th, 2011, 06:38 AM
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If one of you can read Chinese characters, then you should be able to make do in Japan, by following the signage.
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Oct 8th, 2011, 11:37 AM
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Because you can read English you should be able to make do in Japan by following the signage.

Ordering food in Japan can be done with fingers. You point at the pictures or plastic models of the food that you want and then raise the number of fingers to tell how many. Or ask for an English menu and point at that. And then you say "please".
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Oct 8th, 2011, 12:48 PM
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I only speak English (and some French) and I managed fine in Japan and Korea. Make sure you have a hotel card to show to a taxi driver if you need one to get "home", and make sure you have good guide books with maps.
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Oct 9th, 2011, 12:29 AM
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Thanks everyone, probably won't be hitting up too many high end restaurants - the night markets should keep us occupied!
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Oct 9th, 2011, 11:23 AM
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jason..have you booked lodgings in Tokyo, Kyoto? On a moderate budget, I would reocmmend The Three Sisters Annex in Kyoto. Excellent, quasi-ryokan setting, lovely host (Kay Yamada). Easy walk to the Philospher's Walk and the Heian Shrine and giant Torii, and great frequent bus service to most other sights and temples, the JR station, and downtown (Gion, etc).

http://travel.yahoo.com/p-hotel-4067..._sisters_inn-i

stu tower
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Oct 9th, 2011, 11:28 AM
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Also suggest a visit to MIHO Museum..about a forty minute train/bus ride from Kyoto. Execeptionally unique rural setting. I.M. Pei design..here are some pics.

http://picasaweb.google.com/stuartto...hoMuseumIMPei#
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Oct 10th, 2011, 09:03 AM
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You should have no problems in Japan without speaking Japanese. Most hotels and ryokans (Japanese inns) have meishi or business cards that you should take with you before you leave for sightseeing. If you get lost just show the taxi driver the meishi and they will take you home. Most restaurants have plastic food or photos menus so all you will need to do is point to order. Have Fun in Japan.
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