Natural Talent

Is there something that you just seem to have a knack for? Something you don’t have to concentrate on very hard to do well? Or is it more than one thing?

Ever since I was young, I’ve always been very good with maps. Geography was something I enjoyed a lot, and would capture my attention all the time. Any map was fine. Got a map of Delaware? I’d go over it and study it. In fact, I have a map of Delaware in my mind right now.  I know have a map of the United States in my mind with the location of Delaware, which is next to Maryland. It’s pretty small. You might miss it.

It’s not just country maps, but also local maps. If I drive or walk somewhere, my mind creates a map. If I’ve already seen a map of the area, it’s much easier. But when I combine looking at a map and exploring the area on foot, I completely memorise the area. I only need to do it once. Any time I go to that area, the map pops up in my mind, and I have an bird’s eye view of the area. I know exactly where I am and where to go.

I have no idea why I can do this. I seem to know where everything is. If I want to think about which direction something is, my mind calls up a map of the area, and I immediately know which way it is. It’s kind of strange, isn’t it?

But that’s not all.  I’m also very good at spelling.  But you may have noticed that I tend to use the British spelling, which is more common in Canada.

What about you? What’s your natural talent?

Life in Japan: Japan on a Budget

Japan has a reputation for being expensive. But in recent years, it’s not really that expensive. It’s about as expensive as Canada, USA, Australia, or any place in Europe.  This week’s question comes from Trisha Ann.

I’m planning to visit Japan in October. My trip takes 6 days and I’m on a tight budget (but I won’t leave Jp without ever going to Harry Potter world and Kyoto!!). Any tips?

I’ve already written about visiting Kyoto, so I’ll talk about visiting Japan on a budget.

It may seem daunting to some people, considering all the touristy areas tend to be expensive.  But there are many ways to save money, especially related to food and transportation.

Going to big restaurants in the busy, tourist areas is not recommended.  Those restaurants tend to be geared toward tourists, anyway, so they raise the prices.  If you want cheap, go on some of the back streets where tourists usually don’t go. You can find a large number of small restaurants that are actually quite cheap. Just be aware that they may not speak any English or have an English menu. If they have a display case of plastic food, that’s great to point out what you want.  If you really want to save money, you can always go to a supermarket and get food there.  It depends on if you’re able to cook or not (probably not). But they have already prepared meals in supermarkets and convenience stores which are much cheaper than restaurants. Convenience stores and supermarkets both often have microwaves and tables for you to eat at.

Transportation is fairly simple. Avoid taxis. They’re expensive. If possible, try taking the train as much as you can, or even just walking.  If available, you could get a weekly pass for the train. Kyoto is fairly walkable, so you could easily walk from one place to another. One of the good things about walking is that you get to see the real Japan, going through residential neighbourhoods. The central part of the city is based on a grid, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get around. Be careful about rickshaw rides. They could get pricey, but I don’t know what they’re like in Kyoto. As for Osaka, it’s a bit more difficult to get around because of the street layout. But the trains, like Kyoto, should be very useful, especially if you have a pass.

I hope that helps. Enjoy your trip to Japan.

If you have any questions about living in Japan, please see the original post and leave your questions in the comments.