Last year, we attended the Bay Area Travel and Adventure Expo ready to give away a free Japan Kanto Tour to one lucky winner. While at the show, Mr. Mothi Krishna happened across our booth and decided to enter his name into our drawing… Little did he know, luck was on his side that day and soon after he returned home he was greeted with the news that he had been selected as the winner. After he came back from his tour, Mr Mothi was kind enough to share his thoughts about his travel experience with us.
Did you anticipate that you would win the Japan trip?
No way, I’m not that lucky. I never win like this. We just tried it, you know? I saw the free drawing and I just did it. When I saw the email saying ‘You Won!’ I thought that they were talking to everybody, but I was surprised when I realized it was for me.
An avid traveler, Mr Mothi visits travel industry events like the T&A show looking for ideas and to gather information for future travel planning. This year, Japan was on his mind– one of the few major travel destinations in Asia he had yet to visit.
This was my first time to Japan. I’ve been to Asia many times (every year I go to Singapore), but Japan was still on my list to cover. I’ve been to Thailand and Cambodia but they are not like Japan. If I hadn’t won, I think I still would have planned a Japan trip.
Though he had never visited Japan it had always been a place he had imagined as special, somewhere he aspired to visit and experience firsthand.
One of the reasons I wanted to go to Japan is because I was born in India, and back during my school days teachers would always highlight Japan as an example, saying how great the country is and how great the people are. In our mind, it was a “wow” kind of place. When I was growing up print media was pretty limited, and even in those days television was not that popular so we learned primarily from our teachers and what they said. Starting from elementary school I heard not just one, but many of my teachers highlighting Japan as a great country.
As a frequent traveler, what has your experience with planning independent international travel been like?
When we have vacation time I always travel with my family. I have a 12-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter. For two or three week trips, we plan extensively– always well ahead of time. I just don’t do last-minute planning. When I’m planning a vacation I usually go online, mainly TripAdvisor, but I also check with my friends– I have a lot of friends who like to travel.
How did your travel experience on this tour differ from your experiences traveling on your own?
I was under the impression that with package tours I’d lose my independence. If I wanted to spend extra time, I wouldn’t have the liberty to do so. But this was a very different experience. The kind of attention to detail… I started feeling that it was better than what I expected– as soon as I landed in Tokyo, I started feeling that way.
Last year when we went to Switzerland we couldn’t find a tour package that fully covered all the important places we wanted to visit, so we did it by ourselves. The previous year we went to U.K. and France, and at that time I was looking for a package tour since it was my first time going to Europe with my family. I found a few tour companies but the problem was they were all just giving a quick overview, they did not cover everything. For example, in France they would just show Paris. I could visit and take a few photos but I really won’t have much of an experience and there’s no learning for the kids. I thought with a package tour, I might get an opportunity but I didn’t expect much. In this case it was different– everything was very organized and I learned a lot, it was amazing. The part I especially like is the focus on explaining of things related to the local culture. For example, when we were in Shibuya Crossing we learned a lot about the dog Hachiko. If I had done that by myself I would not have learned so much, I would have just thought it was another monument or something. Our guide explained each and every thing in detail, which I think is really, really valuable. She even gave a lot of advice for the people that were planning to extend their stay after the end of the tour, which usually just doesn’t happen, you know? People finish the tour and keep moving, but in this case she gave a lot of really valuable personalized recommendations.
Was there anything particularly surprising or memorable on your tour?
Many things surprised me. A lot of good experiences… Especially the small things. The way your tour is organized, the kind of support you give– I honestly didn’t expect it. Maybe I just wasn’t up to that level in taking these kinds of guided tours. Until recently, because my kids were younger we didn’t take tours, but then we slowly started expanding, doing beach vacations in Hawaii, then Cancun, then Puerto Vallarta.
Is there anything you would have changed or done differently?
If you ask me, maybe I would have spent a little more time in Japan– maybe I could take extra days off and stay for a few days more. Like me right, when I go to a place, I like to cover all the key things, so usually we create a check-list and build vacation time accordingly. In this case because the timing is fixed it’s different, but I think it could work for many people.
Do you think that this is the sort of travel experience your family would enjoy?
Absolutely– personally I want to give this experience to my family. When we do touring on our own, I always like to mingle with the locals and integrate with the people, while my wife likes to just relax and have someone take care of her. If she had joined, maybe she would have enjoyed the tour even more than me! And for my kids, now that they are growing up and getting more and more mature, I want them to see how Japan works. The kids in Japan, I see them doing things independently, you know? Taking a bus or train and getting to school all on their own. Those kinds of things really amazed me. If I show that to my kids it will make an impression on them, that’s what I feel.
How would you describe our company in three words?
I think that it’s an awesome company, you do a very good job. So I would say…“Awesome Tour Company”. This was a very great experience and I definitely want to give an experience like this to my family. When I was checking for Europe tours, it was like $40,000 for a family of 4! So, compared to that, your tour’s price is quite reasonable, so it is well-balanced actually. Also, I feel that once you come back home, you should feel great and already be thinking about next time. So in that way as well, I like your tour.
And finally, I want to say thank you again to Super Value Tours: I got a really great opportunity to see Japan.