Last night Chris and I met up with a married couple who also lives in our building and works at the same company Chris works. We met up for dinner at a Hawaiian burger place below our building and dessert at their place afterward. They've been in Japan for 13 years on International Assignment! They have also traveled to more than 70 countries and we were able to hear about some of their adventures--the prehistoric looking komodo dragons on Komodo Island, exotic culture on Bali, food experiences in India, and the beautiful water on the many Maldives' islands in the Indian Ocean. (You can imagine I was just get more and more excited hearing about these places while they were talking about them!)
I've just had this huge desire to travel lately... There was a time before where I just wanted to go everywhere...every country. I would look through travel magazines and pictures of places, plan elaborate 6 month-long excursions that I would never be able to afford, but always dreamed of taking. I am an elaborate planner. Widdling our May'08 2 1/2 week Italy trip down to those 2 1/2 weeks took quite a bit of Chris's rationality and seeing hard numbers for how much the trip would cost if I kept increasing the amount of time we would be there. (Our work vacation limit was a big determining factor too.) Anyway, if I got away with my dreaming, that Italy trip would end up turning into excursions to Africa and other parts of Europe! I'll admit, I go crazy with planning.
That desire to travel has been mostly dormant for some years. The rational part of me knew that travel costs money and we have responsibilities...work, saving for a house, etc, etc.. So I pushed much of the crazy travel desires aside for more "rational" choices. Now that we are in Japan, and I know we can hit a whole unique set of countries nearby, it brings all those dormant travel desires to the surface, and I am excited. But what really excites me is I feel excited that my reasons for wanting to travel aren't to "get away," but to experience and see. Many of my desires to travel before were muddied by my desire to get away from "the mundane" in life. Now being in Japan, surrounded by unique things makes me still want to experience more new unique things for those things in themselves, not to "get away" from where I am now. I feel more excited than I've felt in a long time, to experience more of what is here in Japan and to reach for what seems like just dreams. What is great is Chris wants to travel too, (maybe the specifics of our traveling desires are a little different) yet he remains the rational one who will not let me get carried away, but at the same time will make sure we actually get to do what we dream...at least some form of the dream :)
Onto other things... We started watching the Planet Earth (discovery channel series) and the pictures are really beautiful! It is a nature/wildlife series filmed in all areas of the world that is so much more vivid and interesting than you would normally see on TV. If you can get a hold of this series I really recommend it.
I'm still feeling a bit lost with grocery shopping (not sure if I mentioned it before in the blog). The couple we spent time with last night gave us a few more choices nearby for grocery stores, but I'm feeling lost lately in what to actually cook. I have more time now to cook a full dinner while I am not working, but feeling really lost on what to cook. Pasta is the easy choice (pic below)...It was really good (Gorgonzola sauce / shredded Parmesan), but you can't have pasta all the time. I think I used to cook more before...some reason I can't remember any of it now!
...Being mostly vegetarian with a very different set of food to choose from in the grocery stores trips me up I think. I did eat some fish recently along with a helpful herbal supplement and I felt fine. I had meat yesterday (very little even) and I've had a headache since last night! I can't say for sure if it is from the meat or not, but I think I'll stick to seafood only for now.
One thing both of us really enjoy are really good desserts. Back in San Jose we would go to Santana Row to a cafe that would serve really fancy looking small desserts. Sure enough they have lots of these right near our place! There are also many small cakes and other desserts to choose from. We bought a couple yesterday that were priced really well. You can see one in the pic below.