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We just found out that we need visas for Taiwan. We probably should have thought about that before, but every problem is an opportunity. If we can't take care of this while we're in LA then we'll take a side trip to the Philippines or something so that we're not there for more than 30 days.

The power cord on my laptop broke the other day. I searched around Panama trying to find a replacement, but there wasn't one in sight. Right now we have a system where Todd charges batteries with his laptop and swaps them out with my dying ones. It's kind of like buddy breathing.

It seemed like we had so much time here, but all of a sudden we're leaving in two weeks. I can't believe how fast the trip has been going so far. We're just starting to feel like we're settling in. We have our routines that we go through, all of the friendly people we've gotten to know at all the places we frequent, and we even know our way around the city.

The First Time Traveler's Guide to East Asia

On SEBASTIAN MARSHALL

Making your first trip to East or Southeast Asia? Wondering where to go?

Okay, I've spent significant time in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. I can weigh in on those places for you. I haven't been to Macau, Laos, Burma, the Philippines, North Korea, or Indonesia yet - of them, I've heard great things about the Philippines and Indonesia in particular, but I can't comment.

So, some thoughts about every country -

Japan - Still the crown jewel of Asia, Japan has something for everyone. There's ancient and hyper-modern culture mixed all together. There's amazing technology, high levels of development, basically nonexistent crime, ridiculously high standards of quality and hygiene, and the people are friendly and polite. English isn't widely spoken, but the Japanese take being good hosts seriously and you'll be fine in any major city. You can find quite literally anything here - amazing camping and mountains and forests and oceans, or hyper-developed space-age districts in cities.

The downside of Japan - It's fucking expensive. Like, really really expensive. I hate spending money on eating and sleeping - every dollar I put into basic "staying alive" stuff is less money to be invested in commerce or philanthropy, or learning, or having unique experiences that are more interesting than... well, eating and sleeping. Yet, eating and sleeping is brutally expensive here. If you're not a veteran traveler and don't have friends here, you'll be hard pressed to spend less than $100/day in Japan. If you slum it hard, you can maybe get down to $50/day. Everything's ridiculously expensive, ranging from 400% to 2,000% higher than still-developing countries in Asia.

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