Thursday, 6 February 2014

Julio Moreno of California U.S.A.

34.  Featured Traveller 
 Julio Moreno
English Teacher : Traveller

California USA



"Seeing the world, one world heritage site at a time"

It is with great pleasure to introduce a Mexican-American friend from Los Angeles, California who teaches English in South Korea. Julio was born in Mexico. He moved to the United States with his family at a young age of 3.

Flag of the USA
Aside from Mexico, South Korea and the United States which are destinations he has lived in, he explored other countries and has travelled to Canada, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Italy, Vatican City, the Netherlands, Japan, Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong, Peru and Indonesia and hopes to one day visit his top five of his dream destinations, namely, the Maldives, Palau, North Korea, India and Antarctica.

Julio admits he is a penny pinching accountant when it comes to travel, and according to him, it is not about getting the cheapest thing, it is about the best value. He continues by saying that he knows few people who are as thorough with planning and budgeting as he is. "Let's start with planning. I plan everything, including bus schedules, special activities, quickest routes, best things to see, things to eat, etc. Then, once everything is planned, I keep the plan in my back pocket. It is like my own personal guide book, but I am by no means tied to it. If I find something better, I am definitely willing to change plans", he adds.

As of this writing, Julio is due to be back from his third trip to Japan. It is a week of discovering Tokyo and its neighbouring cities. On his return, I am pretty sure he has many more stories to tell about this country. Meanwhile, let's join him in reminiscing his experiences with the friendly people of Osaka and its neighbouring cities.

Connect with Julio and read more about his Travel World Heritage by following him on Facebook.

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My favourite place that I have visited is Japan, so I would like to run you guys through why I think it is such an awesome country.

First and foremost, my idea of a perfect destination is kind of an illusion. I want to find a place that is unique by developing independently of the outside world, but at the same time welcoming of outsiders. Imagine being a traveller in those old medieval movies (minus the bubonic plague and all) where you arrive in a new town and someone offers to show you around, despite being a complete stranger. Japan is the closest to that in my opinion. It is built with its own agenda of weird and unusual trends by our standards, yet it is very much welcoming to visitors.

Downtown Osaka JAPAN
In September of 2012, I took a trip to Osaka with the intent of visiting the World Heritage Sites of Kyoto, Nara, and the Horyu-Ji temple. By my third day, all of the locals I had met had been overly polite and helpful. Maybe it was because I had just come from Italy (yeah I said it), but I was impressed. When I arrived at Nara, a 70-year old woman named Keiko approached me and asked if she could show me around. She insisted that she didn't require any money and just wanted to kill some time. It turned out, her husband was a biologist studying the area, and she had to tag along.

Keiko feeding the deer in Nara JAPAN
She turned out to be an awesome guide, explaining things I would not have otherwise known. For example, apparently, you should have the deer bow to you before you feed them. The Nara deer are taught to have manners just like a typical Japanese person! We continued to talk for a while and it turns out, she has been to over 40 countries and wants to hit 50 before her time here is done.

The whole experience was just fantastic, and besides Korea, I can't think of any other country where people just show you around out of the kindness of their hearts (but if you do, PLEASE tell me).

Horyuji Temple in Nara Prefecture JAPAN
I finished Nara in a few hours and waited for my train to Horyuji Temple. While on the platform, a Japanese man looked right at me and asked if I was American. My luck had run out I thought. This guy surely wants to yell at me for something my ancestors did. He refuses when I offer my seat, and just strikes up a conversation. He is 80 years old, and in many ways, is the complete opposite of Keiko. While he wants to travel, he is scared his English skill will not be sufficient to do it on his own, thus has never left Japan. He is fascinated with the US though, and wants to visit soon.

Apparently, he lives in the same town as Horyuji Temple, and as luck would have it, also insists on showing me around. When we exit the JR train, he helps out a group of six middle school students who are also new in the area, and soon enough we have an entourage.  I can only imagine how we looked to the other locals as we went through the "shortcuts" to the temple through alleys and smaller streets: Three middle school girls, three middle school boys, an 80 year old man, and a Mexican-American guy.

Two Middle School Japanese Girls - Nara JAPAN
Again, I learned a lot more about this place than I would have otherwise, and it was interesting to talk to the younger kids, too. They seemed to know a lot about Korea and were very curious about my job and even asked if I had a girlfriend!

I made it back to Osaka in time to check out the night scene. Yet again, I met some awesome Japanese people who tried their best to be as friendly as possible.

Okonomiyaki - A popular pan fried food in Osaka JAPAN

I know the guide parts were probably dumb luck and special circumstance, but time and again, the people went above and beyond. While there have been friendly people I have met in the past, this is one of the few places where I really didn't have to fear being scammed, being asked for a tip at the end, or have to question the sincerity of a person's helping hand. And to make things better, the food is awesome and Japan isn't even as expensive as you have heard!

For more stories, travel tips, thorough destination reviews and a ton of pictures, check out my blog, Travel World Heritage.


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From the desk of: 
Freddie Miranda
A blogger and a Canada-based freelance writer. He shares the value of his travel experiences and discoveries with his friends and fellow travellers. Share your passion, join and visit him. Send him a message if you will @ fromatravellersdesk(at)gmail.(dot)com.

Are you a traveller who would like to share your travel story with our blog and our readers?  Then, I'd love to hear from you! 
Please email me at fromatravellersdesk@gmail.com

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