Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! :)

It's very early here (almost 4 am), but due to sleeping a bunch in the last 3 days I am wide awake. I have been sick with the flu :( since Monday. Feeling better right now...maybe finally my fever is down (haven't checked yet, but feels down). We're hoping Chris stays well and doesn't catch what I have. Christmas today will likely be spent staying in and resting :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Well, not too long until we head back to the U.S...we even have the date set already.

It's been an interesting, fun, hard, ... [many more adj here] year. What you see on the blog is a mixture of the everyday and the "event" like days where we got to go do, see, or eat something special. It's been interesting because we decided to make the year interesting :) We decided to take advantage of our time here and enjoy it as much as we could. I really enjoyed putting this blog together, both to be able to share with family and friends what we are doing here, and look back and see what we've been able to do during our time here. There is an element of narcissism that comes with writing a want others to enjoy it too and the thought of others enjoying what you put together (and the pictures you took) makes you feel good. Although, I think, if no one were to read this other than close friends and family and know that we are enjoying ourselves and doing well that would be perfect. With that said, I won't be continuing a blog after getting back to the U.S...I do enjoy some level of privacy and anonymity. And for those that are interested in how we are doing, please email us :) We would always be happy to hear from you.

We're both getting more excited about going back to the U.S. (along with some sad-mixed feelings too). But we hope to take some of our excitement for "experiencing life" that we've gained here, back with us to the U.S. and know that life can be anything (literally anything!) you want it to be. I think we have never believed that so strongly as we do after our time here. We could have never "dreamed this scenario" in our wildest dreams...and if you would have told us where we were going to be living and what we were going to be doing a few years previous to now--we would have laughed and thought it would be impossible. Maybe we got lucky this year...but can't hurt to have a strong belief that you really can do almost anything if you really want it.

More blogs still coming up until we leave :) We will be seeing a sumo wrestling match in the middle of January. That should be interesting to watch--very much Japanese.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Kimono and Tea Ceremony

Trip out of Thailand

The trip out of Thailand really wasn't that bad. We got a little less sleep for it, but that was something we were able to quickly make up for once we got back to Japan.

We took vans a little over half of the way down to Kuala Lumpur. We met a few people we were traveling with--one girl was on a two month trip--going on various tours in southeast Asia. She was from the UK and looked about our age. She had visited Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and was headed to Borneo for 10 days. The trip down into Malaysia was actually pre-planned for her (not something unexpected because of the Bangkok airport shutdown). Another couple we met was from the UK and "on holiday" :) They were planning on staying near Kuala Lumpur for a few days before flying back home.

Scenery on the drive down included flooded rice fields, dense forests of palm trees and other tropical trees, small towns, and oxen or cows grazing in people's front yards or in the grassy center divide. From what we saw of Malaysia on the taxi ride over to the airport it was very very dense with palm trees--that was interesting to see. About half of the trip was in the dark--so missed some things.

type of vans we rode in

flooded street in Thailand

waiting in line (video a bit dark)

tried taking video of the guy who kept standing
way too close to Chris--
every time we inched forward (video a bit dark)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Thailand

It really felt like were were in Thailand longer than a week (in the best of ways). We stayed at three different places, but it felt like we enjoyed and stayed at each just the right amount of time--if that makes sense. The first place was only a brief night, so we can't comment too much on the Ao Nang area.

The pics below are in no particular order--just the order I uploaded them to blogger :)

Resort we stayed at on Ko Lanta
pool of water to wash the sand from your feet after walking on the beach

Our trip actually had a rough start for me. I ate something my stomach didn't like on the flight over from Tokyo and found myself really sick up until we landed in Krabi.

Bangkok Airport

Chris and I both got massages at sundown right on the beach.
Both 1 hour massages for only $9 USD each!

Ko Lanta resort "Ocean Pool"
--a dock that extends out to a area of water that is partitioned off to swim in
Ko Lanta resort
Best calamari ever! I have this thing about ordering calamari at most of the
restaurants we go to, and after having ordered calamari at many a place, this tops the list.

It's very hard to find summer things in Japan this time of year,
so Chris bought himself Japanese style sandals at the Ko Lanta resort.
Really comfortable for him too.

This is a standard way of getting around (like a taxi).
We took this taxi from our first hotel in Ao Nang to the boat dock.

Chris's b-day! :)
The Ko Lanta staff actually brought a cake to our room
on the night of Chris's b-day (great surprise).

Ko Lanta
After riding the elephant to a certain point a guide took us on a hike
that lead to a waterfall.

Ko Lanta
Our elephant ride! :)
Really cool, but when the elephant starts making loud noises
the way elephants do, a little scary too wondering if it's angry
and you are about to get thrown off ;)
Would definitely do it again.

Ko Lanta
Great views from our room and really beautiful resort--very highly recommended

Ko Phi Phi - Monkey Beach
Yes, the water was this blue, it's not a camera trick
The water was absolutely amazing here,
the sand is like sand I have never felt before--so fine and white.

The fruit drinks!!
We tried so many of these during our trip--cheap and so good.
Mango, watermelon, lemon, lime, guava, coconut, I'm probably missing some
Ko Phi Phi
My black and white kitty--bound to see one of these on our trip
(saw a similar cat in Tuscany, Rome, Kyoto, and now Ko Phi Phi--
pictures of the cats are in the blog if you look around)

The famous Maya Bay! This is the official beach in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "The Beach." And it was very very beautiful. Water, sand, everything. You can see video and more pictures of it in the youtube video I uploaded.

There are two islands that make up Ko Phi Phi--Ko Phi Phi Le and Ko Phi Phi Don. Ko Phi Phi Le is where Maya Bay is, Ko Phi Phi Don is the larger of the two and is where tourists and locals stay.

Maya Bay -- on land
Most of Ko Phi Phi is very rugged looking--
cliffs, dense trees, and beautiful water at the base.
The tourist areas are such a small part they
don't take away from the real beauty of the island.

Maya Bay

Maya Bay

We took a private long boat 2 days while we were on Ko Phi Phi.
It was wonderful having the boat to ourselves (+ our driver)
for snorkeling and seeing different parts of the islands.

Our boat driver during our Phi Phi stay was "Bo" (pronounced "Bow")--
really nice guy, we came to feel attached to him as our guide.
He kept us away from the jellyfish infested water-areas ;)
(yes, some areas had swarms of jellyfish! wasn't able to get a photo though)

Surprising as it may be to some, Thailand is a cheap place to vacation if you live within a reasonable flying distance. The food is cheaper, the drinks are cheap, massages are cheap, accommodations can be a little pricier or very cheap depending on your style. The water and snorkeling are great.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thailand pictures

We spent one night in Ao Nang, two nights on Ko Lanta, and four nights on Ko Phi Phi. It was an unforgettable trip--it really was amazing. We also got to celebrate Chris's b-day while we were on Ko Lanta.

Since there were too many photos to upload to blogger, I added them in a video-slide format uploaded to youtube. You can see them here:

I wanted to comment on some photos, so I'll be adding some to the blog in the coming week and also include the photos from our 2 day trip back to Japan also (those aren't included in the youtube video).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back in Japan

Well, we just got back home from the airport about an hour ago after 48 hours of travel from Thailand!

So quick entry, and then some sleep!

We decided against being bused up north to the military base thinking there would just be way too many tourists trying to get out of there. So we were very lucky to find an open flight on expedia out of Kuala Lumpur to Singapore and then to Tokyo. We did have to pay for the flight, and if we had been bused to the military base it would have been free, but who knows how long it would have taken to get back to Japan with no confirmed flight and what the conditions would be like there. Seeing an article or two about what tourists are dealing with at the military base (with waits, confusion, etc) makes us very glad we decided to go south instead.

How are 48 hours of travel spent?

2 hours by boat
4 hours by van #1
1 hour waiting for van #2
4 hours by van #2
2 hours at the Malaysian border crossing
2 hours waiting at a bus station for our midnight bus
7 hours by bus #1
1 hour by taxi
3 hours waiting in the airport
1 hour flight
12 hours waiting in the airport
7 hour flight
2 hour by bus #2

Time for some more sleep!