Thursday, December 19, 2013

International Flights

The map tells me we crossed the international date line and equator at the same time not too long ago. A happy summer Friday! We still have just over for hours to go in our Vancouver > Sydney flight. If I could math right now, I would tell you it's been a very long trip already.

There was a bit of a delay in leaving Toronto, but we were just going to get back on the same plane in Vancouver so there was no worry of actually missing the connection. They did make us deplane so they could check to see if we had the correct visas to enter Australia (of course I did!) For those who followed my adventures in trying to stay in Australia a few months longer to wait for Cam so we could move together, you would know I'm not clueless about visas. Apparently the airline gets fined $5000 for everyone they send without a visa.

Despite the wait to get every document checked, we managed to take off in good time. The flight, according to someone who knows such things, is about an hour shorter than normal. That means we have more time to do customs, pick up bags, drop off bags, get the shuttle over to the domestic terminal, coffee up, and make our flight. Double bonus!

Air Canada isn't as good as Qantas when it comes to transporting people in a large metal tube through the air for long distances. Yes, it does transport us through the air for a long distance, but Qantas is better on the inside. Random mango frozen dessert in the middle of the night? Okay! TV shows that don't start several seasons in? I understand the plot! Good beer? If you insist!

4:48 to go!

It's getting lighter outside!

Both of us managed to get some sleep. Most of it was 20 minutes here and there, I did get a solid hour and a half in. There's no one behind us so I put my seat all the way back guilt free. I'm so sore, but I'm not experiencing the same sleep deprived travel madness I had on the flight back from Thailand. The small amount of sleep is keeping me from accepting my fate of having to power through and abandoning attempts to sleep. It also means I don't give a Cam a crazy-eyed smile telling him I've been up too long.

Wombie and I are watching the small air plane on the screen slowly creep towards Australia on the various maps.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Unlucky Unlocking for Universal Usage

Before returning to Canada, I bought a Galaxy Siii outright from a store in Melbourne Central. The phone was unlocked even though it was Optus branded. We attempted to get sim cards from the cheaper phone company in Toronto, but neither of our phones would connect to the network. Our next stop was at one of the big three companies, Bell, where thankfully our phones did work on their network.

About a year ago my phone wouldn't turn on even with a different battery. Bought in Australia, but died in Canada. The sadly meant that Samsung Canada wouldn't do anything to help me fix the problem. The phone was returned to Australia and now has a new home. I bought another phone outright from Bell, my service provider, since I didn't want to give in and go on a three-year contact. You would think buying a phone at full price and not being on a contract would mean the phone would be unlocked, but no. They could unlock it for $56, but that required call them up to do it.

We attempted to unlock it following instructions on the internet - that failed. Downloaded an unlock app - model not supported. Fine, I'll give in and get them to unlock it for a price - ha! The first time I phoned, the call disconnected after 25 minutes on hold. The second time I waited 55 minutes for an unlock code that didn't even work. The third time was a 80 minute wait. Apparently his manager is looking in to it and will get back to me within a few days.

Cam paid to get an unlock code from the internet that thankfully worked. He did spend awhile trying to do it for free, but none of his efforts were successful. I attempted to get an unlock code from the same site, but you can probably guess how that turned out. They sent me the same code that Bell had given me the day before. I'll have to send them a video of our attempts to use the code as proof to get a refund.

Still locked. Should have gotten a nexus.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thailand


We flew into Bangkok with no problems and easily found our hotel. Since we only had a night planned there we went to a travel agency to book flights and hotels on two of the islands. Although we were really tired, we took a cab to Kao San Road. We enjoyed watching tourists from a balcony while we enjoyed a beer. Moved on to another bar for some Sang Som and red bull that we drank from a bucket. People constantly came around to try and sell us roasted scorpions, but turned them down. We ended up talking to a British couple who had also landed that day, but hadn't slept in many hours. Apparently there was a guy in the men's bathroom creeping on all the men who came in.

The next day we got on a plane for Phuket, a long drive across the island and then a ferry to Ko Phi Phi. Cam had forgotten his phone in the cab to the ferry, but luckily he realized before the driver was too far away. Our hotel wasn't too close to the busy part of the island. The island was too tourist focused for my liking, but it was fairly quiet where we were. Getting away from the crowds and having to do anything was a good thing because both of us spent most of our time on the island being really sick.

We did walk into town during a heavy rainstorm just to do something. The path was very muddy and slippery. Many hours were spent watching movies and learning English from an Australian program. It was a bit concerning that a snake had obviously been in our shower at some point. Wombie made friends with the small lizard that hung around our bathroom for a bit. I was glad to leave even if we had to go by ferry again.






We didn't do much in Phuket. There was an Australian bar that Cam wanted to check
 out, but after walking up and down the street we couldn't find it. Made the mistake of going to, and use the term loosely, an Italian resturant. You know you're in a classy joint when you watch the waiter pour a glass of red wine from a large jug they keep in the fridge. The food was just terrible. We ordered room service later that was cheaper and better. The guy who brought it up even complimented Cam on his beard.

The view of the bathroom from the bedroom
The highlight of the trip was the hotel in Bangkok. We decided that we would go all out and get a $300/ per night hotel room which gets you a lot in that city. They gave us an upgrade, but informed us it wasn't ready yet. There's a whole floor dedicated to people who spend a certain amount of money for a room. So we sat up there and had afternoon tea. I did feel out of place wearing shorts and sandals and my legs covered in bug bites. Staff constantly came by to apologize for the delay. After an hour wait, our room was finally ready. It is easy to see why! There was a dining room, living room, two bathrooms, a room for luggage, and two balconies - one even had a spa! It was ridiculous! We went to get complimentary drinks and snacks that evening. We never got around to eating dinner. It was great lounging in the spa while overlooking Bangkok at night.

I really wish I could say our trip to Bangkok ended on a high note, but alas. Didn't fully enjoy the hotel room because I was suddenly very tired early in the night. The next day I was really sick. The whole ride out to the airport (and it was a long trip!) I was trying not to throw up in the cab. Made it without any issues and spent the rest of the day in bed. Still a bit sick in the morning before our flight, but I was good when I got on the plane. Very glad to be home.






Monday, November 11, 2013

Tokyo Wrapup

Oh Hey! It's Me Cam again! How's goin'?

I haven't posted in a while. OOPS.

Let's pretend I haven't been home a week already (making it three weeks or so since my last post) and wrap up Tokyo!

Alright, so I don't have too much to say about the rest of Tokyo. We basically spent our days subwaying somewhere, wandering around, finding somewhere for food and repeating! We liked it, but found the place very exhausting. The people were a bit odd... Everyone was very polite but not many people seemed very nice?

The shopping was great. I fell in love with Uniqlo, a fashion brand over there (and a bunch of other places). Their stuff just seemed to fit me right. We also stopped and shopped at Don Quijote, the most amazing place I have ever seen. Slight regrets I didn't pick up these badass underpants.

Much too cool for me.






Anyway, here's some photos with captions!
Love!
There are too many people in Tokyo!
So many people!

Tokyo by JJ Abrams
Wombie looking wise beyond his years in his kimono thing at the fancy hotel 

Thanks for stopping by!

Motoring and Moving Water

If you had seen me freaking out at the end of the small street, with a death grip on the handlebars of a scooter, and being very short with Cam,  you will not see the rest of this update coming.

Every city I've willingly moved to has been because of very good public transport. I'm fully licenced by the Ontario government to operate a motor vehicle with the same limitations as someone who has been licenced for decades. Not once was I asked to produce proof of road savvy-ness before I took control of that scooter.

My school friend and her fellow travellers had planned to venture out to the nearby waterfalls, but bad weather had delayed their excursion. Cam was overly delighted to be able to travel with someone, especially by our own independent means. The very friendly hostel/scooter rental guy had us go up and down the narrow street to get use to the scooter before venturing out onto the main roads. It was just Cam and I left after everyone else left to fuel up. I was not feeling confident about driving all the way there and back on my own. I knew Cam would let me ride on the back of his, but he really would not of been happy about it. We attempted to return my scooter, but we had already be charged for two and we either had to pay or I would have to stick it out. I sucked it up.

I think it was just the narrow streets that got to me because I was feeling much more confident by the time we got to the gas station. It was great fun motoring up to the waterfalls. I wish I focused more on the scenery than trying to avoid all the potholes since the surrounding area was lovely. We passed school kids who were happily waving at the passing tourists and I managed to avoid the potholes while waving back. There were a very cows on the road, but not one returned my greeting. The soldiers practising their use of assault rifles in the field next to a school was a bit concerning.

The falls were great fun. Standing under the large waterfall was almost a bit too refreshing even on such a hot day. It wasn't an easy trek up the almost vertical hill to get to the top of the waterfall. Of course Wombie wasn't pulling his weight, but instead enjoyed a comfy ride to the top in his carrier. The other way down was only a bit easier. It did have some stone steps that were a bit slippery from being partly under the falls.

Some water and really good street food before we headed back to town before it got dark. A relaxed dinner by the river as we all started to fall asleep. Cam and I were going to take the long way to return the scooters, but in the dark we realised that his lights weren't working. It wasn't the most pleasant ride back with Cam following close behind while I attempted to make it through the city alive.

Another walk through the night market to get booties for Wombie, a drink on the other side, and purchasing aloe before heading back to the hotel.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Luang Prabang

What do you know about Laos? It's a question rarely asked and if your answer is, 'what's that?' don't feel bad. Like many of the countries in the region, Laos hasn't been open to foreigners for much longer than I've been alive.
We didn't know we had to fill out visa on arrival forms for entry into the country. It was a good thing we had extra photos and American cash leftover from our Vietnam visas since both were needed. Cam, being Australian, only had to pay $30 USD while I had to pay $42 USD since I was Canadian. The prices for each country were listed by the visa counter and Canadians were paying the most to get in. Wonder why that is.
It was such a noticeable difference landing into Laos. The air was fresher, the airport silent, and there wasn't a swarm of scooters about. I felt more relaxed in this relatively unknown country within the first hour.
One of my high school friends has been teaching in South Korea for the last year and planned a trip around the region unbeknownst us. The only dates our itinerary had us in the same city or country was Luang Prabang, Laos. We agreed that we hadn't seen each other in 5.5 years so you can be forgiving if I didn't shout out to someone who I was pretty sure was her. We had plans to catch up later that day, but it seems hard not to run into someone in that to town. My friend looked right at me as she walked by and her friend gave us a suspicious smile when she noticed me trying to sus out if it was indeed an old friend. Luckily my intense stares and creepy whispers weren't directed towards an innocent passer by. It was a fantastic time catching up with her and meeting her fellow teachers. We had dinner and then ventured to a place they had been earlier that day for drinks. Luckily the rain had cleared so we could enjoy talking about our high school antics while lounging by the river.
Although the start wasn't promising, Laos was looking better and better.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Definitely not Tokyo

Ho Chi Minh City makes Tokyo seem even more creepily quiet. The roads were packed with scooters and motorcycles. Everyone was honking at everyone to telling everyone else they were there and they were about to be where four other people were. You had to constantly dodge traffic at every intersection even when there was a stop light.

We went to the market the first day in search of shorts for Cam. I'm not a fan of crowds so you can imagine how much I liked being in a crowd of people, walking down narrow aisles while avoiding the insistent calls of "Miss! Miss! What are you looking for miss?" I didn't want to stop anywhere in fear I would be descended upon by every sales person within 5 metres. At least Cam found shorts amongst the madness. Not wanting to go far, I stayed and was talked at by a woman who asked the usual questions of where we were from. After finding out that we were married she inquired if I was a mother and/or pregnant. Nope. In her defence she thought we had been married for longer than two months. Her current plans are for my reproductive uses to be utilised within two years and then busy with baby! No. Just no.

After escaping the market we took advantage of the fact you can buy beer on the streets and enjoyed our walk. We came across a woman selling Vietnamese hats in various sizes and much to Wombie's excitement she had his size. It has since been agreed that he looks very darling in his hat.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wombie, Woms, Wombie Woms, Wombles

Wombie (rhymes with zombie) is a well travelled wombat who has seen more of the world in a year and a half than some people will ever see in their life. Since he's a fairly uncommon animal, he often gets mistaken for a beaver or bear. He doesn't have the best attitude and he's a bit racist, but that's easy to ignore when few people can understand him.

Wombie has been travelling with us everywhere ever since we picked him up from a tourist shop in Melbourne the day before we left for Toronto. He's a great little traveller to bring along. Just the right size and shape to carry in a bag and soft enough to be a pillow.

People everywhere in the world love Wombie. Our niece, originally the intended owner, has been his fan for most of her life and would happily say 'Wom Wom!' every time she saw him. I'm not sure if Wombie picked that greeting up from her or if it was the other way around. If Wombie waves at you, his 'Wom Woms' will get more insistent and he won't stop waving until you wave back.

I think most people are surprised to see two adults with a stuffed animal (especially when Woms breaks out into song and dance.) Once they realise he's not a real animal he usually gets smiles from the staff when we bring him out at restaurants. Every flight attendant has commented on how cute he is sitting buckled in to the spare seat between Cam and I (he was a bit miffed that he didn't get a snack.)

We usually keep Wombie in Cam's bag, The Wombie Carrier, with his head poking out one side. This has caused many good reactions when various people open the bag to inspect it. A TSA agent claimed he was bitten when we were going through security. Pretty sure he was telling slanderous lies since Wombie is more of a hitter than a biter.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tokyo > Seoul > Ho Chi Minh City

The direct airport train is much faster than the one we took in to Tokyo. We did have some time before it left to use up money on our transit cards to buy random things from the various vending machines on the platform. It was startling to grab a hot can of milk tea when I was expecting a cold one.

The check-in agents were very confused by our lack of physical Vietnam visas in our passports so it took awhile for them to accept the paperwork to obtain an e-visa on arrival. The best part of Narita Airport is that they have couches to sprawl out on while you use their wifi. Some good food and beer later, we were on to Seoul for our layover.

Seoul International Airport is huge and it's filled with expensive international brands. The have about 6 different stores that just appear again and again every couple of meters. I had no interest in going into any of them.

I couldn't leave Korea without having a bit of food. Pork and Kimchi stew seemed Korean enough to satisfy me. So I sat eating my stew, drinking weird rice wine beer, watching K-Pop music videos, and wondering if I had just done everything I needed to in Korea. By the time the flight to Ho Chi Minh City left I felt the 2 hour layover was all I needed in South Korea for now.

I don't usual sleep on planes, but I'm sure I was asleep for part of the five hour flight. It was a pretty easy flight. North American flights don't serve free food on flights less than 3.5 hours in length, but in Asia even short flights will serve a proper meal for free (beer is free too!)

A visa was easily obtained on arrival. We had to give in our papers and wait for them to print it. I think they were mostly interested in the stamping fee. The taxi to the hotel was part of a scam. 400 000 dong (~$20 CAD) for a short trip. We were too tired to care much.

There was a drunk, angry Australian arguing with one of the hotel staff about room rates. I was happy to see the staff turn him down with a curt remark and flicking his passport back at him. Australians, am I right? The hotel room was alright. Our window overlooked the hallway, but that didn't really concern us since we were more focused on sleeps.

Tokyo: the tokyoning (part 2 of the thrilling Tokyo series)

Culture shock can be pretty full on. Tokyo was easily the hardest. I just felt uncomfortable from the moment I stepped off the subway platform and waited for Keir to save us.

We woke up the next morning, strewn around Keir's floor, parts of us on the bit of padding on his floor, others in most corners of his one room (note - one room... Not one bedroom) apartment. If I weren't so exhausted from the long flight I doubt I'd have slept much at all. Never the less, I was awake around 7am Tokyo time and waited around and Facebooked and reddited until Keir woke up and went to work.

I promptly got Erica moving and we spent some time deciding what to do with our day. It was our 2 month wedding anniversary, Erica's birthday and kinda sorta our honeymoon. We should probably make it special, right?!

Really, I was just uncomfortable, both physically and socially at Keir's place... But the above reasons really helped justify getting a hotel room. We figure around $300 per night for two nights was justified, Japan is notoriously expensive and it WAS a very special occasion. We booked a room at the okura hotel, somewhat within walking distance of Keir's place. We were just staying there two nights so we left the bulk of our stuff at Keir's.

We packed up and head out, roughly towards the hotel. We stopped for mediocre coffee and a decent lunch. We stopped in to a supermarket, which in hindsight probably shouldn't have surprised me when it was *just* like an Asian supermarket back home. We picked up some weird sushi shaped candy for a friend and an awful coffee-in-a-can and headed back out to check in to our hotel. "roughly walking distance" would have been a better description if it weren't directly uphill, and if a typhoon didn't show up half way through. The rain didn't seem so bad at first, we didn't bother stopping for umbrellas. 20 or so minutes later and we we were lugging our weight in water along with everything else. We stopped and picked up umbrellas despite the relative futility.

Rocking up at the Akura, we were greeted by bellboys and directed to reception. We dripped through the fancy lobby and a very helpful and enthusiastic lady showed us to our room, carefully pointing out the hair dryer.

This place was fancy. Much fancier then I anticipated. The mirror was heated so it wouldn't fog up. All the lights, the curtains, everything was controlled by a panel next to the bed. The mini bar had the most ludicrous prices I have ever seen in a hotel ever. In short, good times. 

We went out and hunted for dinner. We figured, Japan being such a culinary Nirvana that we'd have no problem. I don't know where we ended up but the first place we tried sent us away (or I think they did? They made weird hand gestures while looking angry and speaking japanese). The second place just said 'no English menu' over and over again so we just said 'beer' until they brought us some. 

We looked at a few other places but none looked English-friendly. The end result was hitting up a 7-eleven and eating the best damn microwaved meal of my life along with some fancy Japanese beers at our fancy hotel. The rain had gotten much stronger while we walked, glad at this point that we had those umbrellas. 

We watched the rain and enjoyed the space of our indulgent room away from all of the people we were growing accustomed to surround us. 

And that was day 1. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Suffocatingly Small Spaces for Smoking

It's been almost a decade since someone in a restaurant has asked me if I wanted to be in the smoking or non- smoking section.

Smoking indoors is still a thing in Tokyo. Which is unfortunate with all the small spaces they have.

I can deal with two twin mattresses pushed together to pass as a double, or the duvet made of two smaller ones velcroed together, or the tiny window, or the slightly claustrophobic room. But it harder to deal with all that when it's a smoking room. When everything reeks of stale cigarettes it makes the room seem so much smaller and it doesn't get much smaller than Tokyo. We attempted to mask the smell with air freshener, but without proper ventilation the added chemicals made it even harder to breathe.

Being smothered by smoke can really take away from the experience of eating in a tiny little restaurant down a small alleyway. It was almost dizzying sitting on the top floor of a narrow, but tall bar down a different small alleyway.

Smoking indoors is still a thing in Vietnam, but at least they have more space.

Friday, October 18, 2013

So, Tokyo, huh? Part 1

So much stuff! So many emotion!

We arrived Monday afternoon, around 4, after a lovely flight with air Canada. Me and Wombie had taken full advantage of the free booze and in - flight entertainment.



We asked around how to find our way to ashujuban (or something) station where our friend and accommodations were waiting. We were exhausted but excited. We found our way to a train and boarded, without even seeing the sky outside. By the the time the train departed and got us outside, it was dark out (around 5ish?). Was really kind of bizzare seeing it dark out. Not much to see out the window at all.

The train just kept going and going. After getting quite worried because we couldn't find any of the stations we were stopping at on our map, we arrived at where we were supposed to change. About half an hour late for our rendezvous with Keir already. If only we could find a way to let him know? Free wifi perhaps? We *are* in the technology capital of the world...  NOPE. NO FREE WIFI. AT ALL. Hell, everyone uses flip phones here like it's the90s.

Turns out we got a slow train rather than an express. The lady that directed us seems to have assumed we wanted dirt cheap rather than reasonable speeds. Whatever. We got there and eventually got a message to Keir to let him know we had finally arrived. Good times. We stopped for some draft beer and for the first time felt like we were in a whole new, exciting, colourful, brilliant place.  Then we crashed on Keir's floor. Crashed hard.

... Stay tuned for part 2

Flying Metal Tube and One Year Older

A 12.5 hour flight doesn't seem like a long time until you're only a few hours in and you're staring at a map wondering how you could only be that far. I was exhausted before the plane even took off so you could imagine how I felt after being awake for more than 24 hours. At least going through customs was relatively easy. We some how took the slow way into the city without getting on a wrong train.

We have a theory that Wombie can control the weather, but he never uses that power for good. For me birthday he got my a typhoon off the Japanese Coast. Typical Wombie.

It was my birthday on 15th so we decided to go crazy and spend money on a nice hotel room for two nights. The price was ridiculously expensive, but we definitely enjoyed our stay. It provided us a good view of the heavy rain and wind that came through that night and the next morning. We attempted to brave the downpour get dinner that night, but the first place was either closed or wouldn't serve us. The second place told us they didn't speak English or have an English menu. We didn't care. We just wanted beer. Tired and soaking wet, we settled on pre-made meals and beer from the seven eleven. There was something going on in the hotel that night because we walked down a hall with professional looking people quietly lining the halls. I don't know what they thought of two drenched, under dressed foreigners walking through, but it might have been a bit judgemental. It didn't help that my waterlogged shoes were loudly squishing and the take out containers were squeaky. It was a long walk.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pearson International

I've always liked Pearson International airport and today I discovered it has gotten even better. A few years ago it started free airport-wide wifi that is good in the more isolated areas. The new terminal is spacey and now includes fast walkways and super fast walkways to help you get across all this space. There are now restaurants with an ipad at every seat you can order food and drink with. The best part is that they are not single purpose. Flight details and internet are available to use while you wait.

I was finishing packing at 11am and Cam was jumping up and down telling that we were late. We weren't. No traffic, just had to drop off bags, no line at security, and boarding isn't until an hour and a half (thanks for the info ipad) Preflight beers and a walk around the terminal before boarding. It's been too easy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Canadian travel and choo choo trains

There's something about travelling (at least in Ontario) that requires a stop at Canada's favourite mediocre coffee chain for cheap coffee and dounuts. Regretting the sugar soon after is not a requirement, but it adds to the experience. Unfortunately Cam can be extra chipper in the morning while I'm left grumbling until the coffee starts working.

Toronto's union station can be a mess to get through even if half the building isn't under construction. Three different train services converge in the middle of the city with the main stadium on top. There are so many people arriving from within the city and province that it's difficult to get up some staircases. At least the Toronto Maple Leafs' mascot,  Carlton , was a source of amusement as he wondered through the rush hour crowd.

If you ever take a train from union station to Montreal, you'll be stuck watching the boring southern Ontario landscape go by. There's free wifi, but it's easier and faster to use my phone as a hotspot. I'm pretty sure the British tourists behind me keep on referring to Toronto as the capital. It's not, but if this train doesn't hit a bus that ignores the crossing signals we'll be in the capital briefly. At least Wombie is entertained by the train.

My posts will be less negative soon.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Montreal tomorrow.

Before our trip to Asia (just over a week) we're spending the weekend in Montreal! I've never been.

This trip was an extremely thoughtful wedding present from a group of friends and family. There's a nifty to-do list attached! It looks fascinating. I'm rather excited to see a French speaking city in the middle of North America. I kind of expect it to remind me of Melbourne in a few ways... Just more European feeling than Toronto? Who knows!

My #1 to do at the moment is obviously the Dieu du Ciel Brewpub. Their beer is world class. The plan is to head straight there after checking in to our B&B. Still pretty open to suggestions on what to do while we're there though!


Note: Keen observers may have noticed the blog name and URL change from wombieinasia to wombietravels. Makes more sense, why have a whole blog for just one trip?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pre-Flight Check

After decades of international travel you think I'd would have my pre-departure routine figured out. Or at least be relaxed enough about it to start looking forward to the holiday. As much as Cam is focusing on the destination, I'm focusing on actually getting to the destination. Which as we all know can be stressful. I'm not trying to be a downer, but there are things that need to be done before we leave. There's excitement under the stress.


If you ask me what I am thinking about, more than half the time it will be food. I love food. I love eating it, love learning about it, and (luckily for Cam) love making it. I think the main reason I want to go to Asia is for the food. The phrases I'll be using the most will be 'feed me!' and 'more, please!'. I'm just sitting here thinking about all the delicious food I will be consuming in two weeks. The food alone will make the stress of getting ready to go worth it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Someone is ready to go!

Because it's Cam, and Erica! Going on adventures!

That's right! I've quit my job, I finish up in a few days, then a quick trip in Montreal and then a week later, on to Asia! Here's our current itinerary:

Oct 14 - Oct 19: Tokyo, Japan
Oct 19 - Oct 21: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam
Oct 21 - Oct 23: Hanoi, Vietnam
Oct 23 - Oct 26: Luang Prabang, Laos
Oct 26 - Nov 03: Bangkok, Thailand

It was all pretty spontaneous. Erica suggested she'd like to see Japan some day. I suggested we leave right away!

The decision to leave my job was probably a bit silly. It means job hunting pretty soon, which won't be easy with Christmas around the corner. I do have to say though, I don't regret it a bit. I knew I wasn't particularly happy at my job, but I'm astounded just how much my mood in general has improved since I gave notice. It was almost instantaneous, after a bit of shock a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I hadn't realised how heavy that weight was getting!