My Adventure Abroad

Toilets in Japan

I’m finally writing my toilet post.  We’ve been here a year now so I’ve been thinking about it that long. Gomen nasai (sorry), but I’ve got a year’s worth of thoughts to write about.  There’s just too much to say about toilets/sinks/bathrooms in Japan.  There are two kinds of toilets in the ladies room here:  Japanese toilets and Western toilets.  Maybe Asian toilets are not a surprise to some people.  But they were a surprise to me when we vacationed in Japan in 2013. A lot of people told me beforehand that I should always carry a pack of tissues with me just in case I needed them in the public bathrooms.  That advice was drilled into me as a…

Return to Shirahama

We rented a car on Saturday, September 9 and made the 2.5 hour drive south to Shirahama Beach to meet up with our friends.  We were able to make our reservation in advance by phone in English.  But we’ve never rented a car before so we had to ask the rental agent a lot of questions.  He set up the GPS for us.  When we went to pick up the car, check out what was stuck on the back trunk by the license plate!  Hilarious.  It’s a big magnet so it peels right off.  This is the same beach that we went to last year, the one with the beautiful soft white sand that was brought over from Australia.  This…

Our 2nd Year House

Oh wow.  This microscopic kitchen looks like something out of House Hunters International on HGTV.  We have ARRIVED.  We even have a dishwasher, something that every international house hunter was predominately preoccupied with.  It seems that most people (who are featured on TV anyway) do not like to wash their dishes by hand anymore.  In my opinion, it’s much more important to have a reliable clothes dryer. Now we live in an area called Onoharahigashi (Oh-no-ha-ra-he-ga-she).  It’s actually Onohara and higashi means east.  We are just down the street aways from the kids’ school, which is in Onoharanishi (Oh-no-ha-ra-knee-she).  Nishi means west, so the school is in Onohara west.  Nearby there is also Onoharaminami (Oh-no-ha-ra-me-nah-me) and minami means south.  Kita…

Going home

Our tickets back to Orange County, California are booked for August 13, 2017.  This will be a year to the day that we flew out on our big move across the Pacific Ocean.  It’s unbelievable how fast the year flew by.  We decided to stay another year in Japan (an agonizing decision that I might post about later) so before we fly out we have to pack up our belongings, move to another house, clean our old house thoroughly before the owners come home, and host more guests from the US.  We have about 12 days to do all of this. It is not as stressful as when we moved from California to Japan, but it feels overwhelming at times. …

Summer Guests Part 2

Now we’re back from our 2-week adventure through Southeast Asia and immediately we must get ready for our next round of US guests. First is meeting up with the son (Sean) of another of John’s cousins (Peggy).  John often likes to talk about how as a kid he would spend his entire summers at Peggy and her sisters’ house in a Chicago suburb.  So we’re looking forward to meeting Peggy’s son Sean since it’s been about 15 years since we last saw him.  He’s here on an internship with Mizuno, a famous Japanese sports apparel company.  We’re going to show him some local sights since he said he’s mostly done only touristy things so far. Last night, Saturday, July 29,…

Summer Guests Part 1

We’re in the full swing of summer guests now.  It’s Tuesday, June 27 and our Newport Beach friends are on their way home today.  Good-bye Luke, Tom and Sheridan.  We will see you again soon.  Thanks for letting us go temple hopping with you in Kyoto, coming to dinner at our house and going to USJ and the arcade with us!Our Long Beach friends arrive tonight.  Later on in July, two more sets of friends from Costa Mesa will arrive in Osaka at the same time.  I’m getting off work early today so I’m planning to go straight to Itami Airport to hook up with John and Avalon.  I want to be on time to see our friends when they…

Snorkel Among Stars

Thursday, July 20, we are leaving Cambodia today.  It was a quick stop in this country but the short time we spent here was educational and interesting.  Now we are going back to Thailand to come full circle and close out our trip.  We are finishing up in Phuket (Poo-khet) and Phi Phi (Pee Pee) Island, locally known as Ko Phi Phi.  I scheduled our flight so that we could spend a little extra time in Siem Reap and now we won’t arrive in Phuket until after 8pm.  By the time we get off the plane, find a driver and check in to our hotel it’s probably going to be well past 10.  Update:  Our plane was super delayed and…

Phare, the Cambodian Circus

It’s still Wednesday, July 19.  The second half of our one full day in Cambodia began after lunch.  We said good-bye to our friendly and funny guide.  He told us so much about Cambodian history and his country’s struggles.  He told us how his parents had been killed by Vietnamese and his aunts and uncles killed by the Khmer Rouge.  We got the feeling they might have been scholars who were the first to be executed in the same type of sweep that Mao led to kill off the cultured and educated in China during the Cultural Revolution. When he left us I felt so sad that the Cambodian people have suffered so much at the hands of corrupt governments,…

Our story at Angkor Wat

Tuesday-Thursday, July 18-20  Siem Reap, Cambodia. We are leaving Vietnam and moving on to Siem Reap, Cambodia today.  A visa to Vietnam costs $25 USD person, cash only, if obtained on arrival at the airport.  A visa to Cambodia costs $36 USD per person and I somehow figured out how to do this one by e-visa online.  That’s quite a lot of money, but it’s only the first sign of how much more expensive Cambodia is going to be versus Thailand (no visa required!) and Vietnam.  A one day temple pass, required for anyone going to visit the temples in Siem Reap, costs $37 USD per adult, cash only.  Avalon was exempt by showing her passport to prove her age. …

Charming Hoi An

Sunday-Tuesday, July 16-18 is a time to rest and sightsee in Hoi An, Vietnam. It’s another traveling day, this time from Hanoi to Hoi An, Vietnam.  We must fly to the Da Nang Airport and then a car will pick us up to take us to Hoi An.  John heard that Da Nang is a relatively new seaside town meant to cater to booming Vietnamese growth and wealth.  There is a large, fancy housing complex going up on our way outside of Da Nang and our driver tells us that the most famous soccer star, Ronaldo, has bought a place there.  John tells the driver he’s never heard of Ronaldo.  Our driver cannot believe this and he must have thought John…