I’ve wanted to go to Japan for ages, but the prospect of navigating such an extensive and complex train system was daunting — especially since I’m the type who gets lost even going to places I’ve been to a million times before. After I spent hours upon hours familiarizing myself with frequently recommended Japan navigation apps and websites like Hyperdia, I felt more than ready to take on some of the busiest train stations on the planet. When I got there, though, I didn’t touch any of them — all I used was Google Maps.
I’ve been conditioned to ignore Google Maps, since it’s not always helpful (or accurate) where I live, in the Philippines. Admittedly, it has become a lot more detailed in my country over the years. I now see establishments in places that used to show only unmarked land. Granted, some of them don’t actually exist, but that’s what you get when anyone can add a business listing. It now shows shops inside malls, and a few years ago it finally got Street View.
I now also see public transit options when searching for directions around Manila. However, it’s still not always reliable, due to the types of public utility vehicles we have available. It can’t track every bus when they don’t follow regular schedules, and it definitely can’t tell you when the next jeepney or tricycle will pass by. For instance, it suggests I walk a few kilometers to get to my local market instead of riding a jeepney. It also wants me to travel to the next city to ride a bus for a faraway province when I live near a terminal with direct buses going there. The transit options it presents do include trains, but since they break down quite often, don’t expect those departure times to be correct.