Seoul, South Korea
It is a fascinating place to visit and there is a mixture of excitement and fear and sadness. There is always the looming chance that the tour could be canceled at any minute, for various reasons, so be aware of that chance. Days before our trip, there was some exchange of gunfire along the DMZ, but no activity while we were there. Seoul is much closer to the border than we thought and the entire experience really put the ongoing tension in perspective. The bus ride was comfortable and the tour guides did their best to advise us of all the precautions.
Unfortunately, Mt. Fuji was cloudy so we didn't see any of it the entire time we were in Tokyo (June 10 - June 17). We caught a glimpse of the summit for a brief moment when we left the hotel. The Prince Hakone Hotel was great and everyone in the area was very nice. We had breakfast in town and wanted to take the included pirate ship trip but we ran out of time. It was confusing using the ticket to take the bus so we had to take another bus. The Prince Hotel took us to the Odawara station, which was about 40 minutes away. The bullet train from Odawara to Tokyo was fast, smooth, and easy. There are plenty of restaurants and shopping on the back side of the Odawara station while you wait for the train. Our tour guide gave us good information, but we thought that she could have used the bus' video screen. We hope to return in the spring to see the cherry blossoms and a clear view of Mt. Fuji. We didn't see it from the Tokyo Government building observation, but still a great view of the city. Lunch was huge! I would recommend 2 to share 1.
Everything went well on our trip. We were picked up on time, taken by boat to the park and saw plenty of wildlife. Our tour guide provided a lot of information and was very helpful. He could have been more environmentally sensitive (not throwing cigarette butts onto beach, for example), but was still very helpful.
The open concept zoo is great. Animals, birds, bats, orang utan, and other monkeys roam around and makes you feel like you are in the wild. The breakfast is a good way to start your day and gets you up close to the orang utan, which is a really unique experience. The transportation to the zoo is efficient and you have the option to stay beyond the tour time, which only means you have to find your own way back -- but there are many options and it's easy to decide. Ms. Chan was really good and we had a fun time with her!
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