Adventure Time

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…

Chaotic & Wonderful Hanoi

By now we’ve traveled as a family to many countries and we can’t help but make comparisons between one country or city to another that we’ve already been to.  It’s a small world after all.  Something we see in one place will remind us of another place around the world. But Hanoi is a city like no other place that I have ever been to.  It is crazy, congested, chaotic.  Crossing the street means taking your life in your hands every time.  If you cross the street 10 times to get where you want to go, that means you are testing fate 10 times.  For anyone who loves a vibrant, lively city, and John and I do, Hanoi is the…

Bai Tu Long Bay

Thurs-Sat, July 13-15. Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay – natural wonder of the world.  We’re in the middle of our cruise through Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay area.  We’ve opted for the 2 night, 3 day cruise and out of 50 guests we are the only ones left on the boat.  Everyone else is leaving after only one night.  We have a private dining area for breakfast and a private daytime cruise aboard a small junk (boat) today.First there’s Tai Chi on the sun deck at 6:15 am for anyone who wants to get up early and have a morning stretch.  John went to check it out, but I stayed in bed.  We had our private breakfast at 7:30. …

Patara Elephant Farm

Tuesday, July 11.  Another early morning wake up call.  We are getting picked up by our transport van at 7:30am so we have to be down for breakfast at 7am.  It’s an hour ride to Patara so we can have another sleep in the van, if I can take the phones away from the kids they can rest, too.  John isn’t feeling well today so he has decided to stay behind and relax at the hotel.  Our van has another couple of girls from Mexico who are traveling around Asia.  After Thailand they’ll go to Cambodia and Singapore and then return to Japan before going home to Mexico. When we arrive at Patara there is an elephant family there to…

Cheers from Chiang Mai

July 9-12, 2017.  Thailand is our first stop.  Arrive in Chiang Mai from Bangkok.  We’re exhausted from our initial overseas travel and the early morning wake up calls that it took to get here.  We flew from Osaka to Bangkok and arrived around 11pm.  Then we got up early to fly to Chiang Mai.  Here we are getting on the plane for the first of our many little hops around Southeast Asia.  Before we moved here I thought using the stairway to get on the plane from the tarmac was so cool.  But taking a hot bus from the airport gate to the plane, and then dragging luggage up the stairs isn’t fun anymore.  We’ve done it too many times…