Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Photo-Based Travel Blog!

Photos for the notes!

I've started a photo-based travel blog to get my travel stories out ASAP. I'm having fun making it, and I'm sure you'll agree that it's much more fun and casual to read than my official travel blog. You can see the photos (and brief notes) associated with these notes here:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Travel Notes!

I have a lot of travel notes from the past few years, and decided I wanted to post them up somewhere I can always access them. In addition, it's a place for my friends and family to take a quick read of them if they are bored and wanted to read some of my raw travel notes. Note that there are many misspellings and grammar issues in the notes - this is because the notes are kept as original as possible, including hastily-jotted-down and nearly illegible scribbles and additions in the margins of my original paper notes. I'm hoping to get my photo journal up at some point, but that may take year since I'm pretty busy these days...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 117 / Epilogue

Day 117 / Epilogue: (7 September 2011):
- Crashed at Aaron’s for a few days (2?), leg get better by itself, didn’t end up going to doctors, even though plan was ASAP.
- Oakland housing. Still have when finish writing on Dec. 10. (Eventually moved to Nob Hill in Feb).
- Spent a few days bumming around, Join MW2 in crunch. 0 to 100 hrs work weak shock.
- Mixups, etc., eventually got all my stuff, but had to pay nearly $1000 more. Much more than expected. Should have just couriered it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 116

Day 116: (6 September 2011):
- After the usual uneasy sleep & movies & etc, breakfast.
- Was a bit worried with time to make connection.
- Should have walked farther down line, ended up as one of the last to customs when was one of the first to be in area.
- Transferred to an agent. Surprisingly easy, didn’t even look at my transcript & diploma. “Will trust me on it.”
- I express my surprise, he says “we need more people like you” in the US. Want us in country.
- Flew out of LA, see the smog that’s ever present. Was so comfortable no longer in sweltering heat!

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 115

Day 115: (5 September 2011):
- Fully awake as enter Tokyo & off highway.
- Listen carefully to announcements. (Music for near stations).
- Surprised i can understand some. “sugi wa shinjuku eki higashi (ko?).”
- Happy to see my bag unloaded.
- Arrive early morning. Not many people around yet. Familiar blds.
- Grab stuff & enter station. Find JR to Yokohama.
- Train not crowded but full. Pretty fast.
- Get off station, after exiting once by accident & looking around, found some lockers I can use by subway entrance.
- Walk towards Landmark Tower. Nissan HQ. Walkways.
- Try to cool off at mall at base of tower, but not really cool.
- Tower not open until 10.
- Sit around a bit, look around tower grounds. Leg not fully feeling too terrible so decide break plan & keep going.
- Walk by amusement park: game sheds & roller coasters & ferris wheel w / giant clock.
- Circular road-crossing bridges. Large stores, etc.
- Wask to the old brick storehouses, but closed! look around outside & continue. Now all stores & trendy restaurants. New yet-to-open cup (?) ramen museum.
- Continue walking towards Chinatown.
- Rain. Quite nice by harbourside walkway & cruise terminal.
- Raised walkway between buildings.
- City streets pretty. Trees.
- Enter Chinatown. Many gates. Lanterns, narrow alleys, but colourful & neat.
- Lots of similar food as in Kobe, but less street food & more restaurants. Some plastic food (buns) look tasty.
- Found the multistory complex mentioned in LP. Pretty cool atrium with lanterns. Walked around a bit, ended up in some yet-to-be opened places due to back stairs.
- Didn’t visit a nearby tower I saw.
- Follow signs back.
- Walk around old storehouses, go in one. Trendy stores, nice lobby area.
- Nice Japanese city centre w / blds & stuff.
- Walked back to tower via the causeway. Nice park. Rest a bit. Fish in water. Old tram railway?
- Should’ve taken a long escalator / moving sidewalk from beginning.
- Tower open, so go up, even though weather is questionable.
- Bowing. Very fast elevators, mostly accelerating & decelerating.
- Great view at top. Harbour. Tokyo in distance (Shinjuku, new tower). On clear day, can see Fuji, but not today.
- Box-like blds below, in typical Jap. style. Rain patches.
- Ice cream cone tower.
- Sit & enjoy Yokohama beer & watch view for a while.
- Walk back to station, ask about Yokohama ramen & train to Narita.
- One place (which ben rec’ed) is closed on Monday, try other recommendation. Have ~1.5 hrs before I need catch train.
- Glad there is a cheap local train, not just express. Not that much slower, either. Didn’t have to take bus.
- Got to Yokohama, but there was no obvious ramen posted outside that was Yokohama style. Nice walk. Also intimidated by lack of Jap.
- In the end, ate at Ippudo across the street.
- Nice walk back, busy stores, lights, person holding sign with siren light on head, etc.
- Glad to get inside the department store connecting to station, as they have A/C.
- A bit sad but also exciting, since is last time outside on this trip.
- Get bag & ticket. Ask person at platform: “sumimasin” “hai.” Ask in English, he look not sure either, but sign says Narita.
- Long ride through Tokyo. Watch as approach & depart from close to new tower. Train quite fast, as usual.
- long passage through the countryside, where I had my first glimpse of Japan a couple of years ago.
- Uniformed school kids.
- Some English speakers got off @ Narita, not ariport, was considering making sure with them, but decided not to.
- Things pretty smooth at airport. Use phone card to call parents.
- Use leftover amount to call Ben. Out of money, insert more coins. A meter showing how much time left. When down to Y10 coins, rate of insert barely kept up with time!
- Turns out is A380 Singapore Air.
- Took Japanese meal option. Soba.
- Too lazy / tired to explore upper floor, especially with leg pain. Sit not in aisle or window.
- Looked up a few doctors, tried to make appt, but decided to delay due to $150 reg fee.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 114

Day 114: (4 September 2011):
- Sleep in a lot & pack. Take photo of possible housing location maps & map of Yokohama.
- Take subway with my stuff to Osaka station & store there.
- Walk to Fukushima: remember the alleys we stayed at on our last trip here.
- Go to a tskemen place from magazine. Passed another place with ume tskemen Ben also been meaning to try.
- Apparently, he got a free oyako don last time ordering the set.
- I got the set: this is my shot at a classic tsekemen.
- Very solid, delicious.
- When done, pour in the hot soup to remaining sauce.
- Ben told me how, but due to awkward Asian thing, I was still not confident in asking for rock.
- Rock was a dense piece of metal shaped like an eggplant, presented on a spoon in a bowl. Under directions from Ben, pushed bowl away & dropped rock in. Sizzling & sputtering. Delicious hot soup. As usual, cartoon & instruction of entire process.
- Yuzu sprinkle also quite good.
- Leg seems to be a bit better today, but not sure if I’m just getting used to it. A bit worried as i read if a cyst abcesses, surgury is the only way it will get better.
- Walk to Umeda Sky bld for Octoberfest. Meet up with some Apple house people. Sky starting to darken. Can hear music as enter grounds.
- A few beer tents, with diff. beer. Pay deposit for glass, get back when return glass.
- Had a dark beer (forget which) & 1L Bitburger.
- Amusing to see Jap. ppl in german costumes playing german music on stage. Bow at end of songs.
- See Jap. businessmen doing funky chicken.
- ppl. sing, dance.
- When rain starts, everyone seems to pull out their umbrellas, seemingly in unison. Forms a solid canopy (mostly clear) where everyone is sitting.
- After the event, walk to Osaka station together, there was time for dinner, at an izakaya - again, a good (real) last dinner before I leave.
- One of the cheap places in an “izakaya tower.”
- Basashi: chunks of horse meat & fat.
- Go to Osaka station, get my stuff, & Ben see me on the bus.
- Tell luggage handler I will get off at Shinjuku instead of Tokyo stn. as on ticket.
- Settle in upstairs, lucky no one sit beside me, so have some room.
- Peek out closed blinds to lights zooming past.
- Soon, on less populated highway.
- Stopped a couple of times, once at some highway-stop like place. Some people get on/off.
- Eventually, drift in / out of uneasy sleep.
- Wet towel drying beside me.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 113

Day 113: (3 September 2011):
- Leg is really doing horrible. Very difficult to walk. Huge limping. Tired. Black pockets in central purple raised area. Very sentative.
- For lunch / brunch, go to Coco Ichi. I got Motsu curry with katsu. 1-10 spicy level. Ben get 10 (?, something high), I get 3 (happens to be on sale?). Very tasty & filling.
- Take subway to Umeda (“expert” train maps) & over to the games meetup. Pick up drinks & Tamade.
- Juso looks like a nice place. Pretty crowded covered walkway.
- Nice quiet street in rain. A few neighbourhood gardens w / vegetables. Bad limp. Difficult.
- Get to apt. of host: localizer, did english “objection” voice of Phoenix Wright.
- Huge apt. (Not too expensive, apparently). Ping pong table. IRobot, pool on roof, man-cave. See the ridiculous Mortal Kombat anims for first time.
- Some food (didn’t really eat). Hang out, talk (mostly to Ben, as I prob. will never see the others again). Ppl. drink, play video games. I try to sit a lot to rest leg.
- Ppl confuse hei matau for magatama.
- Ben’s umbrella gone from pile, swap. Nice in rain. Some take taxi. Say bye at Osaka / Umeda. UB exchange.
 -Back to osaka station, walk around the familiar under-station maze-like area where we had our first okonomiyaki 2 yrs ago.
- Had okonomiyaki & negiyaki at a LP listed place. Good, but not as good as the other okonomiyaki & negiyaki we had.
- Change my tickets to leave Sunday night. Stuck in Osaka, reminds me of “stuck in Olso.” Should have just flown out from Osaka.