That time I went to ASIA

I’m currently three days into fighting the jet lag battle. (I’m not winning).

Apparently, losing the battle is pretty normal. You know, when you’re coming back from ASIA.

BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE I WAS, Y’ALL.

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If anything proves the above statement, this photo does.

I was there for 25 days and I still kind of can’t at all believe that that happened. Let’s talk through it!!

Okay. So we started in TOKYO

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Prayers from around the world; Japanese bourbon (YUM); baseball in another country; the best sushi in the world.

Japan was a good starter country for our Asian Immersion. Here’s some reasons why:

1. Food is different, but not that different. And there is a very low probability that they will serve you something off-the-wall– like say…. blood (see: Vietnam). 

2. There are SO MANY MORE PEOPLE, but they all automatically put themselves in single file lines. Seriously. It was the most incredible thing to behold. You get off the subway and everyone just shuffles into a single line to walk up the stairs. Everything was SO ORGANIZED.

3. Everything is still pretty clean. And also everything is automated. Oh, you want to order your dinner? DO THAT AT AN ATM. (Kind of. It’s an ATM just for the restaurant… not one you can actually get money out of too). Don’t want to deal with waiters? Don’t worry about it.  Just pick your food off this COMPUTER SCREEN and we’ll send it to you via CONVEYOR BELT. (SO MANY CAPITALS. IT WAS JUST SO COOL).

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We saw Tokyo from Tokyo’s second tallest building.

Anyway, Japan was totally amazing. The Accountant and I visited many different shrines throughout Tokyo, which included prayer trees where people from all around the world offered up their hopes and wishes to the deities by tying them around the tree. So cool. We did a walking tour of the Imperial Palace  grounds (which included stopping by the Japanese Supreme Court, NBD). We went to the Tsukiji Fish Market early in the morning to eat the freshest fatty tuna sashimi for breakfast. We went to a baseball game!!!

And then we went to…

VIETNAM

Vietnam was the biggest question mark for me heading into this trip. I had no idea what to expect, and to be honest, I didn’t expect much. Lemme just say… that was a BIG mistake on my part. Vietnam took my breath away. What a gorgeous country.

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The trusty steed; ELEPHANT WITHIN REACH; the best way to drink coffee

The Accountant had pretty much insisted that we include a motorcycle tour of Vietnam in our Great Asian Adventure. Even though the first two hours on the bikes were an exercise in suppressing a panic attack (I realized as I swung my leg over the bike for the first time that I had never ridden on a motorcycle before (because I thought they were terrifying). Go big or go home, right?), I am SO glad he did. We did seven days and almost 1000km of Vietnam on the back of those bikes and it was worth every single moment of my very, very sore bum.

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Reason number one: BECAUSE WE STOOD IN THIS WATERFALL

Who knew that Vietnam was so pretty?? Is that common knowledge? I certainly had no idea.

We went from Saigon to Hoi An, which included about five days of driving though the highlands. This means the weather was totally lovely and the scenery was just insane. The forests were dense and the colors were bright and saturated and there were roadside waterfalls just everywhere. And we had drivers/tour guides/translators to show us the ropes, pick the best places to eat, and give us glimpses into every day life for Vietnamese people. We made frequent stops during the drive to see things like coffee or rubber plantations and brick or silk factories. The most amazing stops, though, were the ones we made to family homes where the families ran small businesses making bamboo baskets or bungee cords from old tires or rice paper to sell at the markets. Basically, the Vietnamese are locavores and recyclers to the extreme. Totally interesting to see in action.

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Typical view along the Ho Chi Minh trail.

The views in Vietnam were ridiculous. And so was pretty much everything else.

For example: The Accountant and I ate really well for about 50,000 Vietnamese dong (y’all, I can’t even tell you how hard it was to keep a straight face about this) per person each meal. 50,000 VND = 2.5 USD. AKA, everything was just so cheap oh my gosh.

Also: You were lucky if there was an actual toilet in a restaurant or coffee shop you stopped in (instead of just a urinal placed in the ground). Don’t even get your hopes up about encountering soap. But don’t worry, that restaurant or coffee shop most definitely has wifi that you can use for free.

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Just some place we ate lunch (WHAT?!)

And third: There are lanes on the roads only when it’s convenient. There are sides of the road… almost? And horns are used to say many different things like: 1. Hi. 2. Get out of my way. 3. Don’t you dare come over here. 4. Just FYI, I’m passing you. 5. You’re an idiot.  Also, motorcycle drivers commonly texted and smoked cigarettes (at the same time) while driving. But, we never saw anything resembling road rage and only saw 1 (ONE!!) accident the entire time we were in Vietnam. And even that accident was just a fender bender.

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Did I mention we went during rainy season?

Oh, Vietnam. Your beds were hard as rocks and you tried to serve me blood (like, literal blood, y’all) in my soup, but your coffee is life-changing and you maybe showed me the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen in my life. You’re alright.

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#roadsidewaterfall

Vietnam sent us to THAILAND

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Broken Buddhist shrines; Bangkok bike tour; Thai street food

Thailand was probably my favorite place we visited this trip. Most of that revolves around the fact that we didn’t have a bad meal the whole ten days we were there (does food being my priority surprise you?). Also the fact that everything was bright and colorful and loud and just awesome.

We started in Bangkok. Bangkok was beautiful and delicious. And quick. We only had three days there.

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Opulence is Bangkok’s middle name. (At the Temple of the Emerald Buddha).

We went on a bike tour to get introduced to Bangkok off the beaten path (and because we missed having sore butts). We ate so much delicious street food. We took the river subway (it’s a thing). We visited so many different buddhas enshrined in so many different, beautiful Wats. We sweated through our clothes because MAN do they do humidity over there (which is why I will choose not to share any pictures of US from Bangkok because no one wants to see sweaty faces up close). We went to muay thai (and I kind of got into it which was unexpected and weird because you’re watching two humans hit each other and rooting for one of them to literally lose consciousness (but it was a cultural experience furreal. There was crazy cheering and betting and I’m glad that I saw it in person at least once in my life)).

Wat Arun. Someone built this with their hands!

Wat Arun. Someone built this with their hands!

From Bangkok, we flew to paradise. Slash to Koh Samui, an island off Thailand that is perfect.

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And also magic. The shelf there was insane. You could WALK 150 feet out into the ocean and it would only reach your chest maybe. Which meant the water was warm and calm and clear and wonderful.

There’s not much else to say about this portion of the trip because all I did was wake up, move to the beach, lay on said beach until 5ish (or until it started raining (rainy season…)), shower off the sunscreen and sand, walk down the road to find dinner, go to bed. Rinse and repeat for six days. As a certified lazybones, it was heaven.

Also, maybe actually magic. There was a rainbow that circled the sun one day!

Also, maybe actually magic. There was a rainbow that circled the sun one day!

Leaving Koh Samui was pretty tough. I could have stayed there forever. But instead…

We went to HONG KONG

For two days.

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Hong Kong by night

So, like, everything I said about Tokyo being organized and clean and stuff? Hong Kong is the exact OPPOSITE of all those things. Like, Hong Kong public toilets won’t play you music or give you the option of warming the seat (seriously, every public toilet in Tokyo had this option) and their subway entry/exit method of choice is more Mob and Push than Single File Line. But, man, Hong Kong is still pretty amazing.

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It was bright and crazy. And so hot. And SO HILLY.

We only had two days, so we only hit up a few of the sights, like Hong Kong Park and what I refer to in my mind as The Biggest Buddha (see above). And we spent our last night in Asia on Victoria Peak watching the lights of the city come on as the sunset. THAT was a sight to see.

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It was a lovely send off. And the best way to prepare for the 26 hour travel-fest we had coming the next day (from which I am still recovering). Oh, Asia. You were so weird and so good to us.

To end, I would just like to send a shout out to The Accountant for planning basically the best 25 days of my life while I was studying for the worst test of my life. And also for putting up with my mug and occasional whining about missing frosting for 25 days. He’s just the best, right?!

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So excited to be back in the States, reunited with my KitchenAid and with YOU. (And also with the new GOURMET DONUT SHOP one block from my apartment that opened while I was gone (there are currently six donuts sitting in my kitchen waiting to be sampled until Hannah stops saving lives for the day(!!!))).

Bake with love!!

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2 comments

  1. What a great blog post! I’ll be off to Japan and Hong Kong later this month so seeing your pictures made me extra excited for my upcoming trip. I’ve eaten blood at a Vietnamese person’s house before. It was in the form of jello…..I pretty much swallowed it whole!

    1. Thank you! And I’m so jealous of your upcoming trip. I already miss it terribly. Hope you have so much fun!!
      -k

      PS- you are a braver soul than I. I totally pawned my blood off on someone else! 🙂

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