Browsing Category

Travels

June 12, 2015

Going On A Solo Adventure

Japan, Travels

image

As I’m posting this, I’m on a train traveling a few hours out of Tokyo without my family.

Yes, I get a whole weekend all to myself. No kids, no husband. Just me, myself, and I.

I’m behind on writing my posts but it’s okay because I plan to write during my solo time.

I’m headed down to Kyoto by myself this weekend because I am having serious wanderlust and I really need to recharge myself before summer holidays begin.

There are several places I have never been to in Kyoto that I really want to go check out too. And then on Saturday, I’ll get to meet up with some ladies for the first time. They’ve been a big part of my life in Japan these past two years but we have been mainly Facebook friends.

A part of me is so excited but also scared out of my mind because I have never traveled and stayed overnight anywhere on my own. It sounds silly when I write it out but I’ve always traveled with a traveling companion(s). I’ve transited from city to city alone before but staying at a hotel on my own? Nope, never done it before and it’s so scary being out there on my own. But the freedom of being on my own time and schedule is also exciting and definitely something I look forward to.

Well, time to enjoy the scenery outside my window in peace!

March 18, 2015

A Wonderful Whirlwind Weekend

Family, Travels

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activities.

My in-laws arrived at the end of February and the six of us whirled off to a weekend in Kyoto. When we came back, we celebrated my father-in-law’s birthday followed by E’s birthday the day after. After spending a week with them, they left for Hong Kong and we attended (semi-co-hosted) a belated birthday party for E and her best friend, Charlotte. The following few days after were filled with massive decluttering as I tried to gather things to give away at her school’s White Elephant sale. All while battling really bad allergies (hay fever).

Then, last Friday, E’s class held a birthday party for March birthdays which I prepared for the night before. The crazy thing was that we had a flight leaving Tokyo that same day so as soon as the class party was over, the four of us left to finish packing and head for our flight out to Hong Kong.

Yes, we spend a weekend in Hong Kong. 68 hours to be exact.

image

Sometimes I find it weird how I say that we’re spending a weekend overseas like it’s no big deal. It’s like

“So what did you do this weekend?”
“Oh, you know, we went to Hong Kong.”

Sure, it’s only a 4 hour flight but it’s not exactly a hop, skip and a jump from Tokyo and it’s not like the airfare is chump change either.

Still, the people we got to spend time with made the short trip worth the stress of traveling. We were in Hong Kong for the weekend to see my in-laws before they went back to the US, to see my grandmother, to see Jason’s grandparents, and to meet up with our friends who moved to Hong Kong last September.

It was a very busy 68 hours spent there.

image

I’m actually really glad that we were able to go on this trip. My grandmother has been asking me to visit her in Hong Kong for several years but the timing was always off. I was pregnant and then had K. She was taking care of my grandfather who was really ill with Alzheimer’s and was spending her time going back and forth between California and Hong Kong.

My grandfather passed away 2 years ago and with K being a little older, we were able to go this year to visit her. It made her incredibly happy to have us there with her, especially because we stayed at her house. She got to know Jason a bit more and absolutely adored the kids. She and I also chatted a lot, something that doesn’t happen that often since she only gets to see us once or twice a year during Christmas and there’s always a lot of people talking to her at family get togethers.

image

It was also really great seeing Jason’s grandparents. I’ve met them only 3 times ever. E met them once when she was 2, which was 4 years ago. This was the first time they’ve met K.

image

Jason’s grandparents haven’t left Hong Kong in many years, ever since their health started failing them. His grandfather suffers from damages to his nerves caused by untreated shingles and his grandmother has Alzheimer’s. She also fell and hit her head 2 years ago which rendered her incapable of moving or speaking anymore. They’ve only seen pictures of the kids so they were incredibly happy to see their great-grandchildren in person. I sometimes wish that we could visit with them more since I find that young kids have a positive effect on older people.

We were also really happy that we could meet up with our good friends, Sarah Jane, Frank, and their sons, Robin and Finley.

image

Robin and E were classmates while Finley and K were in the same daycare. Our families met through E’s school and became really good friends along with a few other moms and their families. They moved to Hong Kong last September for work reasons and we’ve kept in touch with them.

image

It’s really weird how we haven’t seen each other in 6 months but still carried on as if we’ve seen each other recently. We had a nice lunch with them and then headed out to the park so that the kids could run around a bit. Sarah Jane and I caught up on the latest happenings with our friends back in Tokyo and talked about how things have been in both our lives. I’ve never fully grasped how much I missed her presence here in Tokyo until we saw her and her family.

image

I know that there are several other moms in our little circle who would love to meet up with her again and hopefully, we’ll see her again soon, in Hong Kong or in Tokyo.

And finally, of course, we were happy to see my in-laws again before we went our ways back home. Their trip out to visit us this year has been a really good one. We got to travel with them outside of Tokyo twice this time and they got to spend a lot of time with the kids. The girls absolutely adore their grandparents and loved playing with them and seeing them so often. I’m sure my in-laws also enjoyed the time they spent with the kids too. E and K are very lucky to have grandparents who love them and would travel long distances at their age to come spend time with them.

image

It was fun visiting Hong Kong, even for just a weekend. I always have a soft spot for the city since I spent my childhood summers there visiting my grandparents when I was young. The city changed a lot but at the same time still feels familiar. I don’t think I can ever move and live there especially after living in Tokyo for so many years but I’m always open to the idea of visiting!

image

July 9, 2013

Summer So Far…

Family, Life, Travels, Updates

I had been wanting to post something about E’s last day of the school year and about Jason and my 7th wedding anniversary but then life happened and I got distracted by all the emotions and activities that happen.

So a quick rundown of the past two weeks or so…

  • E finished up her first year of preschool and started summer break.
  • My paternal grandfather passed away after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s and many other physical decline. He passed away in Hong Kong but is buried in the US. He was 91 years old.
  • Jason and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary.
  • We flew back to California for a week and a half.
  • Many people got to meet K for the first time.
  • K makes my sister want to have more kids but her kids made her realize she will go crazy if she had more.
  • We stayed with my in-laws and they held a big party for K at their home.
  • E got to spend a lot of time with my in-laws and had a lot of fun playing with her grandparents and bossing them around.
  • We went to my nephew’s bowling birthday party where E got to bowl for the first time.
  • I got to visit my brother-in-law (my sister’s husband) since he can’t move around as easily because of ALS. He got to meet K for the first time too.
  • We played with fireworks at my maternal grandmother’s house on the 4th of July. It was E, K and Jason’s first time playing with fireworks since it’s against the law to play with fireworks in Jason’s parent’s area so he’s never played with them before.
  • K also met my paternal grandmother who flew back to California the day before we left to prepare for my grandfather’s funeral.
  • We attended my grandfather’s funeral the afternoon before our flight back to Tokyo. I’m glad the timing allowed for me to say goodbye to him before he was buried.
  • We also got to hang out with my brother-in-law (Jason’s brother) before we left.
  • K really hates car seats.
  • E really loves being home with her grandparents and cousins.
  • We went to Target for a record of 6 times during this trip.
  • Thank goodness for midnight flights because we would go mad if the kids were awake the entire 11 hours each way.

And if you want pictures of our trip, here’s a few from the two thousand or so I took.

grid2

grid1

And now we are back in Tokyo where it’s all hot and humid. It’s hard to believe so many things happened in the span of 2 weeks. I just hope we survive this summer heat.

Thanks for a great trip home, everyone!

November 21, 2012

It’s Been A Long November

Family, Life, Travels

Ah, finally a moment to catch my breath. Traveling overseas is never as fun as it sounds, especially if you are flying 11 hours with a 3 1/2 year old and while 6 months pregnant. It’s really not that comfortable for anyone involved in the traveling.

But yes, on top of dealing with jetlag after coming back to Tokyo, E also caught a cold and had to stay home from school for a few days. This weekend I’ve also had to deal with some stress inducing personal issues which took up a lot of my time and energy. I’m just looking forward to the end of November so I can have a fresh start with December.

Anyway, here’s a rundown of our trip home to California this year. The trip was just too short for my taste but we got to see family and friends at least once this year which is better than not seeing them at all.

1. We saw my sister and her kids a lot this trip. She’s a big reason for me wanting to fly 5000 miles while pregnant so it was totally worth it in my opinion.

My sister and her 2 kids came to visit us the day after we arrived.

We also went to Disneyland with them even though it rained towards the end of the day. Plus it was interesting dealing with 3 kids (and 1 pregnant me) at Disneyland.

Seeing how she was doing and just hanging out with her meant a lot to me since she’s the one I worry about the most when we’re in Japan. It’s been a rough few years for her so being able to be there for her and just chat about the kids and about everything and anything made it almost feel like we’ve never left.

2. I got to see how my grandma was doing and spent some time with her. My grandmother has been having problems with her legs for a while and earlier this year, she took a bad fall that essentially made it really hard for her to be mobile. I’m just glad that she is doing much better now than earlier this year.

3. We visited my brother-in-law and had a small family get together at my sister’s in-law’s home.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my brother-in-law’s battle with ALS. To be honest, things are not good.

Last December when I saw him, he was still talking normally, though a little slow, and was still able to walk very slowly using a walker. However, this year when we saw him, he can’t move without assistance and it has become very difficult to be able to have conversations with him since his speech is very slurred. It’s very heartbreaking to see a family member slowly succumb to an illness which is why we want to be able to spend as much time with my sister as much as possible.

4. We were actually home for elections this year. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the US during elections and it was quite interesting watching who became president on tv as the votes came in. That’s all I’ve got to say about this, though, since I don’t like talking politics on my blog.

5. E got to bust out the English she’s learning in school and was able to communicate a bit with her grandparents.

Our main reason for sending E to a private international school was so she could learn English because we wanted her to be able to communicate with her grandparents and build a relationship with them. When we were home, she spent a lot of time speaking with them in her broken English and was able to have a lot of fun with them. Seeing that made me glad that we decided to send her to an international school even though it is quite expensive. It’s totally worth it though since E loves her grandparents and had such a great time with them.

6. We invited several of our close friends to a gender revealing party and found out we were having another girl!

One of the things that we always have trouble organizing when we go home is getting together with our friends and actually seeing them. The timing is always off and with everyone having work and family obligations, it’s hard for us to see our friends every year when we go home. This year, my sister decided to throw us a gender revealing party and invited a lot of our close friends. It was really great seeing people we haven’t seen in a year (some more than that). It was also amazing to see how much their kids have grown since the last time we saw them. We had a lot of fun catching up with them and I just wish we were home longer so we could’ve seen the friends who couldn’t make it.

Of course, you can’t have a gender revealing party without revealing the gender, right? I promised my sister that if my doctor finds out the gender of my baby, to have him keep it a secret from us and write it down and seal it in an envelope so that she can have a baker bake the answer inside a cake. It took a lot of willpower but it remained a secret until the party. We were just lucky that the doctor found out the gender at the checkup I had 2 days before we left for California. So many of our friends were rooting for us to have a boy but Jason and I were all about having another girl. Imagine the joy when we cut into the cake and saw pink frosting :)

So yes, it’s another girl for us…that is as long as the doctor didn’t make a mistake during the ultrasound.

There you have it! A fairly summarized account of our trip. I just really wished there was a faster, cheaper and more comfortable way to fly back. I’d totally go home more often if something like that existed. But until that form of transportation exists, I’ll just have to treasure the time we have when we go home once a year.

November 12, 2012

California Dreaming

Family, Travels

Did you know that we’re currently in California? No? We’ve been back for a little over a week now. Bet you also didn’t know that we’re scheduled to fly back to Tokyo tonight either, right?

Yea, our annual trip back to see family is much shorter and earlier this year because of the pregnancy. Plus there’s also school and work we need to get back to since Japan doesn’t quite celebrate Thanksgiving and therefore there are no holidays for us.

It’s been a good trip home though. Still too short compared to previous visits but definitely not the shortest. This week has gone by so quickly that it just feels like a dream.

Will be back later this week with more details about our trip to California :)

August 28, 2012

Last Official Weekend of Summer

Family, Travels

This past weekend was the last official weekend of this summer for us especially since E officially starts preschool next week. Since we didn’t go anywhere this summer because of the heat and humidity, we decided it’s time we took a trip to the beach.

Beaches in and near Tokyo aren’t very clean looking (or clean in general) so we traveled farther south to the beaches of Shimoda, located on the Izu Peninsula and as far south as you can go by train on this peninsula.

We also opted for a family friendly hotel with a pool over one of the many nicer hot spring resorts that can be found in the area. The nice thing about our hotel was that it also had a private entrance straight to the beach. Only downside was that there was nothing else around the hotel other than the beach so we pretty much had to eat there which can get a bit expensive.

20120828-141124.jpg

The beach view from our hotel.

So here’s our weekend in a nutshell…

Hours to get to Shimoda from Tokyo by train: 2 hours, 40 mins (same for return trip)

Number of times E mentioned about wanting to go to the beach during the train ride: too many to count

Amount of time spent at the beach during the entire weekend: about 45 minutes

Reason we didn’t stay long at the beach: E touched sand and complained about how it made her feet dirty so she refused to stay standing on the beach.

Reason we even stayed there for 45 minutes: our friends Dee and Tracey came out to take photographs of us at the beach with the hope that they could see an excited E at the beach like last year…except that didn’t happen as we had hoped

Hotel we stayed at: Shimoda Prince Hotel

Length of stay: from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning

Where we ended up spending most of our weekend: the hotel pool

First thing E said to us when she woke up in the morning: “I want to go to the pool!”

What we ate at the hotel: 2 buffets, 1 cafe meal, 1 ramen shop and vending machine food

Favorite food from the dinner buffet: steak

Number of plates of steak total between Jason and me: about 10

What E ate at the buffet: sushi (and only sushi)

Type of room we slept in: a Japanese style room that used futons instead of beds

Number of times I woke up in the morning to find E no longer sleeping on her futon: 2 (both mornings)

Unfortunate incident that occurred in our hotel room: E ran around the room naked and accidentally peed a little on the floor.

Downside to staying in a hotel in the “boonies”: no Internet which meant no YouTube to entertain E in the evenings.

How glad Jason and I are to be back home in our own comfortable beds: very glad. Very, very glad.