Here today, Saigon tomorrow

A family from California moves to Ho Chi Minh City. Hilarity ensues.

Big Red Dot, or A Week En Route

Our journey home to the States included a week stopover in Japan. We of course came with a checklist.

Order dinner in a sit down restaurant from a computer screen/vending machine at the front? Check. Enjoy raw fish breakfast. Check! “Sleep” on unfolded “mattresses” on the tatami mat-covered hotel room floor? Check. Drag, push, and shove eleven pieces of luggage through trains, subways, and sidewalks across the country? Check, unfortunately.

Our first stop was a temple or twelve in Kyoto…

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…followed by conveyor belt sushi! The kids were adventurous in their choices, although the Little Lady has confirmed that she is not a fan of wasabi.

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A visit to some beautiful gardens in Arashiyama was on the docket for day two.

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The Bamboo Forest was magical, despite the crowds.

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After a beautiful day exploring the great outdoors, we headed back into Kyoto to complete another task on Sarah’s checklist – buying a fancy Japanese knife at the Nishiki Market.

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Mr. Worker Man hammering our name in Japanese onto our newly-hand-sharpened knife.

And just down the street we shared a bowl of ramen with Masahiro, a friend of Sarah’s from high school.  They hadn’t seen each other in 22 years!

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The rain at the Fushimi Inari Shrine added to its mystery (and subtracted from its crowds!).

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That afternoon, we took the Shinkansen train to Tokyo, and the following morning we met up with Joe, a friend from HCMC who has just moved home to Tokyo.

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There was something fishy about the Tsukiji market.

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Sushi straight from the source. 

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One of the great things about working abroad is the opportunity to gather friends from all corners of the world.  Joe was The Big O’s soccer coach, my soccer teammate for our weekly game, and the father of The Little Lady’s good friend.  He’s also a great tour guide to Edo.

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Saying goodbye to an old friend.

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After window shopping through Harajuku, we found ourselves clowning around Yoyogi Park.

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Sipping ramen.

 

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The Japanese have a history of lounging around in hot springs, called onsen. While Tokyo isn’t really known for its onsen, they do have one on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay which pipes bonafide hot spring water up from 1,400 meters under the bay. (Sorry, we’ve been abroad for quite awhile, that’s 1,531 yards.) It’s a bit of an onsen amusement park, and while it has the standard sex-segregated nude jacuzziing (we apologize for the lack of pictures from those rooms; that section of the website is password protected), it also has an outdoor hot spring foot bath, various carnival games, and quite a variety of eateries and desserteries.

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As is my habit, I wandered around town solo while Sarah and the offspring went to sleep.

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Guess where we went for our last day in Tokyo!

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Yep, that’s the happiest (and one of the most expensive) public transportation options on Earth.

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Rather than go to Tokyo’s Disneyland, which would be fairly similar to the one we know and love back home, we checked out Disney Sea, the “themed lands” of which included Yucatanese, American, Arabian, Mediterranean, Mermaid, and “Mysterious” (AKA Steampunk Disney). What it did not have was anything Japanese. Sarah had a reuben on rye the night before we flew to the U.S.

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As a final goodbye to the Far East I set out on one last wander after a long day (week? year?) of walking.

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The view from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

 

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We’re acclimating well here in Sacramento so far, though The Big O’s first experience in a California restaurant restroom left him disappointed that he had to do something for the faucet to work.  (“I got used to automatic in Japan!”)  Stay tuned for one or two more posts before this blog, which is no longer aptly named, is retired.

 

– Warren

 

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3 comments on “Big Red Dot, or A Week En Route

  1. Kara
    July 5, 2015

    Welcome home! I’ve really enjoyed reading about your adventures. You must have somewhat mixed feelings about your return.

  2. Lynda Murphy
    July 6, 2015

    Great photo? Looks like you had a wonderful time. Welcome home soon,

  3. Rebecca Swanson
    July 7, 2015

    Miss you guys already!!!

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