Travel

Seoul, South Korea

East GateLast weekend, Becky and I took a little 4-day holiday to Seoul, South Korea. Like a delicious appetizer, it really wet our appetites for the summer traveling plans. The perfect weekend-getaway before the real-deal.

Seoul is the closest city I’ve every seen to what I would call a “city of the future.” Flat screen TVs can be found around every corner, most of them interactive touch screens. Many of the stations also had interactives designed for the last-minute shoppers. Need a new dress for that date tonight? Just scan your phone and it gets delivered to your house. Forgot to grab water at the store? No worries, it’s sold here too.  Continue reading

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Travel

Let it Snow

white christmasBright and early Saturday morning, I’ll rise to the first day of winter vacation. Actually, the plan is to pull an all-nighter at the airport, but let’s imagine, shall we? Regardless of starting position, I’m stoked. Somehow, I’m more excited about winter vacation that I was about summer vacation. This might be because this Florida girl is gonna have a white Christmas. Of course, I’ve lived in both Vermont and Colorado, but snow is still a magical thing to me.

(Those of you who grew up with snowy winters, I can hear you laughing)  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

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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Travel

A Broken Train and a Lost Taxi

Photo cred: Juliana Mills

Getting to Koyasan takes about 2 hours from Osaka main. First you need to get to Namba station, then you have to transfer to the special Koyasan line that rattles along for about an hour through some very sleepy, remote towns. As if that wasn’t enough, once arriving at the final stop of the train, you get to take a nearly vertical trolley up the side of a mountain. Admittedly, it’s a beautiful trip through the rural mountains of Kansai, but if traveling by night, there isn’t much to see.

After a tiring day exploring Koyasan, we are working our way back to Osaka well past nightfall on one of the last trains down from the mountain. To pass the time, the topic of scary movies has come up and we are sharing the plots of our favorite horror flicks. Mind you, I’m fearless when it comes to extreme sports, but I’ll cry if forced to watch a scary movie of any calibre. Just as everyone is getting all worked up over Paranormal Activity, we realize the train has stopped. That’s when the fun begins.  Continue reading

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