Konichiwa, Japan!

The first time I called Delta to work out the details of my trip, I asked if there was a possibility of staying in Japan for a few days. I was informed that any layover longer than 24 hours would cost more Skymiles than I had. The second time I called, I asked again and heard, “Sure, how long would you like to say?”

What started off as a layover, has turned into a love affair!

You may recall, I spent my first 2 nights in a Tokyo capsule hotel in the Shinjuku area.

On my very first morning, I met an American and invited her to breakfast … later we find out that she is friends with my little sister! Jana flew into Tokyo to meet up with her husband who has taken a JET position teaching English in a rural Japanese village. Even better, Jana has a friend, Brent, who is a guide on Mt. Fuji and he’s taken the day off to show her around… would I like to come? YES!

We visited a local temple and Brent taught us how to use the fountains to purify ourselves before going into the temple. (Use the ladel to rinse your left hand, then right hand, then mouth.)

Gates to the Senso-Ji Temple and market.
For $1 you could get your fortune (Omikuji) at the temple by shaking a stick out of a wooden box, then matching the symbol to the drawer full of paper fortunes. My fortunes: The lost article will be found later. The person you wait for comes late. Building a house and removal are both good, but a half fortune. To start a trip is all right. Marriage of any kind and new employment are both half fortune and gets better later.

We stop at the everything store: Don Quijote to buy a snack and check out the strange food, like Matcha KitKats or seaweed flavored potato chips.

Next, we take a Tokyo Canal tour, ending up at a tea house in Hamarikyu gardens.

It was a very hot and humid day, but the rain arrived while we were enjoying out matcha and cooled things off.

Matcha is made by grinding up tea leaves and stirring it into hot water… I’m more of an Earl Grey fan.

We rode the train out to Kagurazaka for dinner & a Shinto Shrine. The shine was much smaller than expected but dinner made up for it. The waiters wore paper hats and aprons like a 50’s diner but you ordered your meal from a vending machine! Yummy dinner for $3!

Joey orders for me and appreciates my tempura/noodle bowl.

On the way back to the capsule hotel we wandered through the entertainment district to pass by the Robot Restaurant. It cost $60 for dinner and a show- which involved scantily clad women operating these robots and other such nonsense- all accompanied by super loud music and a million flashing lights. Yikes.

Back to the hotel. I was beat and tomorrow I’d take my first ride on the bullet train!

I’ll leave you with a lovely painting from the ceiling of this morning’s temple. Her skirt reminds me of something Gustaf Klimt would paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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22 x 16 x 9: Tales of a disgruntled over-packer.

Hello, I'm Adrienne and I'm a chronic over-packer. I carry snacks, gum, water and Aleve on a daily basis. I usually have my camera and an extra layer to ward off the evening chill. I like to have all my things with me. I don't travel light, I travel prepared.

Now, here I am, deciding that I that SE Asia will be easier to navigate if I succumb to the airline's tiny 22x16x9 carry-on size. Le sigh.

I have been trolling the interwebs, looking for inspirational packing posts like this one- (theartofsimpletravel) where Tsh will be traveling for a whole year with less clothes than I've planned on taking for 3 months. A whole YEAR! Impressive. Maybe I can do this… maaybe.

So far, this is what fits in my carry on. I'll also have a shoulder bag.

 

Clothes

1 rainjacket & my tiny Patagonia windbreaker that I wore all over Europe last fall.

1 jog bra/ 2 other bras

2 pairs of socks / 7 undies

1 pair of pants

1 pair of capris

1 pair of shorts

1 skort

1 over-the-knee length skirt (for visiting temples)

2 tank tops / 2 T-shirts

1 long sleeve shirt (for cool mt. towns)

Chaco sandals (newly resoled in Rockford, Mi!)

Lightweight running shoes

1 hat / 3 headbands

I am planning on buying a scarf (or 4) on my travels

Toiletries

Deodorant, sunscreen, tooth brush & paste, razor, soap, hotel-size shampoo & conditioner, Tweezers & small mirror (gotta keep these eyebrows in check!) Q-tips!

First aid kit

Bandaids: assorted.

Moleskin for blisters

Hydrocortisone cream (for itching)

Triple antibiotic ointment

Digital themometer

1 pair of disposable gloves

Tiny scissors

Duct tape

Electrolyte packets

 

Documents

Traveler insurance info: I'm using World Nomads.

Proof of Vaccinations

Contact Card: Family at home, people in country and places I've reserved to stay in each country

Passport (valid for at least 6 months!), Color copies of my passport, copies of my credit cards

Printed travel itinerary with confirmation #s for flights, etc.

 

Electronics and Randomness

Travel journal & colored pencils

Gum, granola bars & fruit leather

Little gifts like stickers & Michigan-edition quarters

IPad, charger and a ton of really helpful travel apps (listed in this blog post.)

A book to read and trade at a hostel when I'm done.

My tiny new camera the Panasonic Lumix Lx7! It has a Leica lens & full manual controls. Since I'm a Canon girl, this has taken some getting used to- but the photos are coming out lovely! It's SO much smaller!

70 GB of SD cards, Apple card reader (to load photos onto my iPad), extra camera battery and charger

Adapters! (Since all my electronics have voltage ranges from 120-240 I don't need a converter!)

 

I am certain to amend this list, there are a few things that I've neglected to put in the photos because I'm not sure if they'll fit now that I've decided to go carry-on!

10 days til wheels-up!

 

The Traveler’s Catch-22 (or 3 reasons why I should not go on this trip.)

I’ve have a lot of time to think lately.

Much of this time has been spent thinking about vaccines, visas and voltage (say that 3 times fast!)  As I repeatedly recount the story of my next adventure I find myself feeling the need to justifying this trip.

These are the three questions that keep popping into my head when I start overthinking.

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(This photo is of Halong Bay, Vietnam. Taken by Nic (Luckypenguin)

#1: I don’t have any money.

I understand that it is not fiscally responsible for an unemployed person to traipse across the world for three months.  BUT…. Time IS money, people!  And I’m RICH with TIME!  Welcome to what I’ve dubbed the Traveler’s Catch 22: If I wait until I accumulate a stack of cash,  it will be when I have a job again!  If I have a job, then I won’t have 3 months off to travel!  I’ll put as much as I can on a 0% credit card and pay off this trip next year.

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(Photo of Bagan, Myanmar by Raul Cruz Photography)

#2: It is not SAFE for me to travel the world ‘alone’!

Well, safe is a relative word… because LIFE is a risky endeavor!   For my own sanity, I have always tried to stay in that sweet spot between being overly cautious and being blissfully ignorant.  Like Kenny Rogers says, ‘Trust in God, but lock your door!’  (I bought some great travel insurance too.)  ‘Alone’ is also relative, I’m meeting a few old friends along the way and I’m sure to make many new friends too!

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(This photo of a monk in Angkor Wat, Cambodia was taken by Timothy Allen/BBC)

#3: I should be looking for a full-time job or working on adrienneleephoto.com, not going on vacation.

Sure!  That sounds like a good use of my time!   But I consider this a ‘life experience’ trip, not a vacation and I’ve decided that when I’m old, I want to have a collection of stories instead of a collection of fine china to pass down.  I may be broke, but my aim is to be interesting!

Now that you know WHY I’m going, read my next post to find out WHERE I’m going and WHO is coming with me!