Ramblings, Travel

Jess, the Mountaineer

From the top, 360 view

From the top, 360 view

Having grown up in Florida, I’ve never in my life climbed as frequently as I do here. For obvious reasons. I’ve come to realize how much I really love it! Since coming here, I go hiking at least once a month, if not more. Who knew Japan would make a mountaineer out of this beach bum.  Continue reading

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Ramblings

Shooting Shashes

The milky way at the Tanabata festival near Nijojo Castle in Kyoto

The milky way at the Tanabata festival near Nijojo Castle in Kyoto

Let me preface this with an explanation for the title. The Japanese word for picture is shashin. As respectable English speakers living in Japan, we’ve developed slang for some of our favorite Japanglish. Naturally shashin becomes shash. Daijoubu (“it’s OK”) becomes daijoubs. And so on. It always amuses our fellow English-speaking Japanese friends.

I digress.

I like to do this thing where I take pictures on my adventures. And, by “take pictures” I mean that I bring this not-so-cheap piece of equipment and actually put some thought into it. As it is now, photography is mostly a hobby for me, but I’d like to think I’m OK at it. If you’re interested in seeing the rest of my stuff, check out the photography section in my portfolio! I swear, this isn’t a shameless ploy (well, not completely), I just finally got around to creating a place to view the pictures I’ve taken on my travels.

But yea, please stop by if you can!

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Travel

Lone Explorer

In an effort for a change of pace and lone exploring, I decided to hop in my car on Sunday and head up to Gunma prefecture to see what’s up. My original goal was to explore Oze National Park, which spans 4 prefectures and is famous for sporting some fantastic fall colors. Earlier in the week, I checked to see what was going on in Oze and there were already reports of snowfall. But, never deterred, I decided to go anyways. Needless to say, both roads up into the mountains were already closed for the season. Not to mention, it seemed a winter storm was on the horizon, bringing in little snow flurries.  Continue reading

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Around Koga

Ichigo-ichie (一期一会): Once in a Lifetime

Becky and I!

From friend and reader Mr. Nakatani, I first heard the Japanese saying ichigo-ichie. He explained the word in a comment on my Momma Hakuba post. At that time, it was the first I’d heard of it. Since then, it has appeared more and more in my life, both literally and figuratively. The closest translation I know of this is “a once in a lifetime meeting.”

In a bit of history, the word is often associated with chado, traditional tea ceremony. It’s believed that the time the host and the guests spend with each other during the ceremony is a once in a lifetime opportunity that time should be cherished. For hundreds of years, this idea has been at the core of Japanese traditions and practices. It’s no wonder the Japanese are among the most gracious of hosts.  Continue reading

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Around Koga, Around the Tokyo area

How Japan Does Halloween

In anticipation of Halloween tomorrow, I thought the western hemisphere might like to know how this eastern country does Halloween! As you may have guessed, they DO celebrate it here. In fact, they celebrate it nearly to the same extent that we do in America, with pumpkin flavored foods, candy, and costumes. The biggest difference, of course, is they don’t do trick-or-treating at all. In fact, they don’t really wear costumes. I mean, a lot a kids will wear costumes at Disney, or with friends, and they are available in stores, but it’s a lot more rare.  Continue reading

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Travel

My Time in ‘Nam

So far you’ve heard about my ride on a train, our trip to the hospital, and a snake-eating experience. These are great stories and all, but I thought you might like some insight into my thoughts about Vietnam. If I’m wrong, then stop while you’re ahead!

When Becky and I were looking for somewhere to travel over the summer, many destinations came up. We talked about Malaysia, South Korea, China, and many more. South Korea is actually near the top of my list for countries to visit in Asia, so needless to say, I was pushing hard for that one. In the end, Vietnam won out because the flights were the cheapest and we knew that while in ‘Nam, things would be even cheaper. When Becky said you can get beer for 80yen ($1) I was instantly sold. Grab your aviators, we’re going to Vietnam, baby.  Continue reading

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Around the Tokyo area

3 Mistakes and 3 Successes Climbing Fuji

While we waited- one our successes

Of all the traveling I’ve done in Japan, Mt. Fuji probably had the most room for error. It’s a long climb, where resources and time are limited, and it can be quite dangerous in the wrong conditions. Having said that, from my previous entry, it’s safe to conclude that I was ultimately successful. That doesn’t mean, though, that I (we) didn’t make a few whoopsies along the way…  Continue reading

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Travel

Eating Snake Hearts and Drinking Blood in Hanoi, Vietnam

Upon our arrival in Hanoi, we’re immediately encouraged to sign up for the big event of the night hosted by our hostel: the Snake Village Tour. The sign-up sheet was complete with an ominous looking red on black logo of an undoubtedly poisonous snake.

“What’s this?” Dana asks.

“Oh! It’s our snake village tour. You get to eat snake heart and drink snake blood! It’s really fun!” replies the broad gentleman in the cut-off shirt.

Eating snake hearts. Sounds fun.  Continue reading

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Travel

The Post-Apocalyptic Saigon Hospital

Becky, braving the infection

Ok, so “post-apopalyptic” might be a bit of an over exaggeration, but not by a whole lot! While rock-climbing in Ha Long (I’ll write about that soon, I swear!) Becky managed to get a small scratch no larger than a piece of long-grain rice. Of course, it’s not that simple in developing countries, where the word “sanitary” has yet to enter the vocabulary. Within two days, it became a swollen, purple mass of scary. And by”scary” I mean that people would glance at it, make a startled noise and say “Oh my god! What happened to your leg?!” We were starting to frighten passerby’s. I supposed this is the time to visit a doctor. Of course, in Vietnam, you don’t go to doctors, you just go to the hospital.  Continue reading

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Travel

In the Corridor of a Vietnamese Train

Photo cred: Becky Sibson

I love sharing my odd travel stories, so I’ve got another one for you. It takes place in the span of 20 seconds. I hope I can make this longer than three sentences. You’re already laughing because if you’re here, you know just how verbose I can get. With that, I’ll begin.

Preface: before this stroll down the corridor, I had been sitting comfortably in an empty cabin with my travel mates Becky, Sam, Dana, and Paul as our train rocks merrily along. We were probably playing poker and betting with the bag of lychees we’d earlier randomly received. The train had come to a halt at it’s next station and new passengers were boarding. We were about 4 hours from our destination.  Continue reading

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