Monthly Archives: September 2013

Beijing: Recovering from travel fatigue, birthdays, and delicious things to eat.

Have we only been gone for such a short amount of time? Steve and I find it incredible to believe that we  only left Chicago on September 7, which was barely three weeks ago. It however, feels like months and months ago that we were last around English-speakers and other flip-flop wearers. (One of the many signs that we are such foreigners.)

Welcome to Kyoto, foreigners!

Continue reading Beijing: Recovering from travel fatigue, birthdays, and delicious things to eat.

Coming home to Beijing.

If you’re reading this post, congratulations, because you went here to look for an update on our situation rather than Facebook or Twitter. At approximately 4:30 pm this afternoon, we touched down in Beijing, China, and virtually disappeared behind the Great Firewall of China. Goodbye, social media, for at least a few weeks, or until Steve figures out his VPN. I for one will not miss it that much; a forced exile from whatever new list of 26 GIFs of Ryan Gosling’s face or ’90s pop culture that BuzzFeed has to offer would be welcome. What I really mean is that If you’re trying to get in touch with us via Facebook or Twitter, just email or comment on this post instead!

My aunt made dinner for us on our first night back. In the lower right hand corner, you can spot some homemade fries she made for Steve.

Steve is already fast asleep, after an epic bout of traveling that began nearly 24 hours ago. Last night, we boarded an overnight bus from Kyoto to Tokyo (7 hours square), took an airport express train (a little over an hour), and at Tokyo Narita, boarded two planes to Shanghai and then Beijing (three and two hour flights, respectively). In retrospect, not our finest decision making process, to squeeze all this travel together, but I cheered Steve up by telling him that train travel in India was almost certain to be worse. Right?

Continue reading Coming home to Beijing.

Visiting the Japanese baths.

I smell faintly of sulfur, which makes me intensely happy. It is because I’ve fulfilled one of my World Tour bucket list goals already: visit a Japanese onsen. Well, it was technically a sento, which is a public bathhouse. Onsen are baths that are fed by hot springs. Both are intensely awesome, and I’m so glad that I got to visit one in Japan.

Best corner in Kyoto: the baths are on the left and the noodle shop on the right.

Continue reading Visiting the Japanese baths.

Kyoto Express

I thought typhoons were like a cooler version of hurricanes. Of course they’re actually just as annoying and miserable. Today we got caught in Typhoon #18, which means a lot of rain, some wind, supposed train delays (but not really), and more rain. We said goodbye to Tokyo Ken this morning and left on the Shinkansen (bullet train), arriving in Kyoto about two and a half hours later. It was fast.

The countryside between Tokyo and Kyoto, blurred as we passed.
Inside the shinkansen.

Continue reading Kyoto Express

Barely functioning.

We’ve been in Tokyo for about 28 hours, give or take a few, and have had a number of exciting adventures and trials already. However, I’m really barely functioning given the amount of sleep I’ve had and the amount of jetlag that I’m dealing with.

Let’s try to detail some of what has happened so far. Lessons learned: Do fly Malaysian Airlines. They offer free wine and beer, which makes any flight, especially trans-pacific ones, go faster. Customs is much more casual here, as compared to China. Or even compared to our border crossing in Vancouver, Canada. Nevertheless, it took us an unexpectedly long time to reach our Couchsurfing host, Ken, by JR Railroad and Tokyo Metro, which are two of the rail networks here. We crashed last night, and this morning, got up with the sun, feeling remarkably fresh after 5 and 1/2 hours of sleep. We set off to Shibuya this morning, where we enjoyed breakfast at McDonald’s and internet at Starbucks, took some pictures of the famous Shibuya Scramble, and then set off on the road to investigate Tokyo.

Good morning in Shibuya. This is one of the busiest intersections in the world.

Continue reading Barely functioning.

Train Delays and the People of America.

Steve and I woke up this morning to the flat, red Arizona desert, lit up by the sunrise. It’s a different land out here. I know I’ve already talked about how much I love this trip, but the decision to go by train really gave us a little time to transition away from our lives in Chicago. I’ve had time to mentally put away thoughts about friends, jobs, career interests, etc. over these two thousand miles, and at the same time, start doing things I’ve been hoping to do for a long time, i.e. start rereading the new translation of The Second Sex, learning about economics from a bootleg copy of Mankiw’s Essentials of Economics (thanks, Heta!), and begin doing some photography and writing. It’s given us more time to say goodbye and to begin figuring out our new chapter.

Sunrise over the red desert of Arizona.

Continue reading Train Delays and the People of America.

On the train!

Hello world!

We are posting from a smartphone , so excuse the brevity.  First, I must say that I have always adored train travel from a young age.  Hearing trains go by in the night always gave me a feeling of wanderlust (which is a great word, by the way). It only seemed natural that we would begin our long journey with a train trip. It has been barely for hours since our train, the Southwest Chief, rolled sedately out of Chicago this afternoon. Already, I feel like I’m in a different world. We have been gazing at western Illinois and Iowa, many green and undulating fields flashing by. We also just enjoyed a quiet dinner opposite a Suzuki piano teacher from Lawrence, Kansas, and sipped tea while talking about WWOOFing.

We took the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Continue reading On the train!