About Me:
I am a native of Singapore and a professional expat. Since leaving Singapore in 1994, my life journey has taken me first to Bangkok, then to Manchester UK, and then to the United States - starting with Los Angeles, then Honolulu, then Silver Spring, MD, and then back to Honolulu. I took some time off from work between July 2017 and March 2018 to travel and reflect (check out my Midlife Crisis Flashpacking series). I'm now back in the corporate world with a renewed attitude towards life and work. I plan to take another extended trip in the not too distant future.

I started this blog in mid-2012. Some trips are solo, the rest are with my spouse Jeff. I have also written a few blogs about some of my pre-2012 travels. My blog entries tend to be photo-heavy but I do my best to label them and put those photos that are not embedded in the essay in chronological and/or thematic order so that you get a good sense of what I saw and experienced.

Instagram: Siewch808.

Asia » Japan » Tokyo November 25th 2018

If you followed my Midlife Crisis Flashpacking Trip series, you may recall that that trip had a couple of false endings while I sorted out terms of employment with a potential (and now my current) employer. I’ve been at my new job for over six months now. Because I had a number of use-it-or-lose-it days off, I decided to visit family and friends in Singapore during Thanksgiving week. When I booked my flights, I chose an option with a 16 hour layover in Tokyo, one of my favorite cities. As this was my eighth time in Tokyo (three visits + five long (12+ hours) layovers), I didn’t have a specific list of sights I wanted to see other than a vague plan to eat breakfast at Tsukiji after landing, and then look for fall foliage. Tsukiji: ... read more
Meiji Shrine

Asia » Japan » Tokyo March 25th 2018

After departing Koyasan, we made our way to Nagoya by a combination of bus, rapid train, subway and then shinkansen. We got in to Nagoya in the late afternoon. Jeff was scheduled to fly home from Nagoya the next evening, and I was scheduled to fly home from Tokyo Haneda a few hours before him. My plan was to fly from Nagoya to Haneda, spend a few hours in Tokyo, and then depart from Haneda. Jeff and I didn't do much in Nagoya that day. We walked to the International Design Center, enjoyed the cool architecture there, had dinner, walked around the Sakae area a little, and then called it a night. On his own the next day, Jeff explored Nagoya Castle, the aquarium, and the Museum of the Antarctic. I chose to fly from Nagoya ... read more
Hibiya Park
Hibiya Park

Asia » Japan » Wakayama » Koyasan March 24th 2018

Before embarking on this trip, I suspected (correctly, as it turned out), that Kyoto would be overrun with tourists. I knew I wanted to experience a culturally significant site without too many tourists, and I also wanted to experience shokubo (temple lodging). Scanning through the blogs on this site, I found that pretty much everyone who had blogged about Mt. Koya (commonly called Koyasan) had a positive experience there. I decided to investigate further. From my initial research, I learned that Koyasan is the spiritual center for Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, and that it has over 120 temples, with a significant number of them offering lodging. The cheaper lodgings seemed to already be fully booked. After some research, I settled on Jokiin, which appeared to be centrally located and had very good reviews. The price was a ... read more
Danjo Garan

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto March 23rd 2018

My random observation the day I arrived in Kyoto was that "Tokyo" and "Kyoto" are anagrams in roman script, but their kanji characters ("東京" and "京都", respectively) are not. I knew from my limited Mandarin that Tokyo meant "Eastern Capital". I researched Kyoto and learned it meant "Imperial Capital". I also learned that Tokyo is traditionally called Tokyoto (東京都), meaning "Eastern Imperial Capital"). So, connection drawn. Rather fittingly for an imperial capital, Kyoto turned out to be a sizeable city with lots of cultural sites. Before arriving in Kyoto, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer number of sites listed on the Lonely Planet, as well as the effort it would take to cover the distance between them. Fortunately, our ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in Kyoto provided resources to help us whittle down our list and ... read more

Asia » Japan » Shiga » Omi-Hachiman March 20th 2018

While looking at a map researching places to visit between Tokyo and Kyoto, my eyes honed in on Lake Biwa. Much to my surprise, I learned that one of Japan’s famed cat islands was on that lake. I was wary about such places; I knew that the most famous cat island in Japan was swarming with cats while their human population was in decline, and I suspected that visiting such a place may be somewhat depressing. Nevertheless, I researched further, and found that Okishima Island still has quite a few human residents - about 350, apparently descended from a band of banished samurai - and that the place wasn’t overrun with cats. I knew we had to make a pit stop there. On the afternoon of March 19th, Jeff and I set off from Tokyo station ... read more
My First Shinkansen
The Ferry
The Village

Asia » Japan » Tokyo March 19th 2018

Answer: Robot Restaurant. I am in Japan once again. Jeff had been selected to judge a diving meet in Fuji, southwest of Tokyo. Because this meet ended just before his spring break, we decided that he would stay there through spring break and that I would meet him in Tokyo. I flew to Tokyo the day after Jeff’s meet ended, took the Narita Express to the city, and met him at our hotel in Shinjuku. Soon after my arrival, we made our way to Robot Restaurant nearby. As you may already be aware, I went to Robot Restaurant in September last year. Jeff was bitter that I had gone without him, so, to keep the peace, I atoned for this transgression by taking him there. Our evening started in the lounge area, which we entered just ... read more
Robot Restaurant

North America » United States » Washington » Seattle February 25th 2018

Getting to Seattle My spouse Jeff was selected to judge a springboard and platform diving competition in Federal Way, located south of Seattle, last weekend. I decided to join him for the weekend. I had been prewarned that Seattle was unseasonably cold and that there had been snow, so I was prepared accordingly. I arrived in Seattle on Thursday, February 22. The scenery on approach to Seatac Airport was amazing, with the ground blanketed in white and spectacular snow capped peaks on both sides of the approach path. After arrival, I took a shuttle to the hotel, collected my key from reception (Jeff has already checked in a day earlier) and walked to the nearby strip mall to enjoy a bowl of hot pho. After that, I napped until Jeff got back from judging. That evening, ... read more
Weyerhauser Campus
Pacific Bonsai Museum
Pacific Bonsai Museum

North America » United States » Hawaii » Maui February 11th 2018

First, Let's Get Caught Up... So, what has happened since I returned home in December? As you may recall from my Intermezzo entry, I initially traveled for three months. When I first returned home in October, I met with an executive from a local company who told me about some jobs he would need to hire for in early 2018 as part of a major company initiative. This executive has hired me before, and there is a good amount of trust between us, so I took a leap of faith and extended my travels. I have met with a number of leaders from this company since my second return home in December; through those meetings, it became clear to me that the team leaders for this initiative were recently appointed and that t... read more
Whale Watching
Twin Falls
Kula Aliʻi Lavender Farm

North America » United States » Hawaii » Oahu » Honolulu December 10th 2017

For the most part, this wrap up blog entry covers my extended travels in November and December. For a summary of my travels between July and October, refer to my Intermezzo entry. Homeward Bound To get home, I took the Intercity bus from National Park Village to Manukau (an Auckland suburb near the airport) and then I took the public bus to the airport. I was four hours early but not by choice. I had to wait 30 minutes for checkin to open. After checking in, I made my way to the Strata Lounge and wolfed down dinner and drank a lot of liquids. I was hungry and dehydrated after the long bus journey as I try not to eat and drink when I am at the mercy of bus drivers' schedules. I flew on Hawaiian ... read more
Thank You, Aotearoa
One Million Miles
Where It All Began...

New Zealand wasn’t on my radar as a place I would visit in the near future because I had already been there as a teenager, and, because I didn’t know anyone I could stay with there, an extended sojourn there wouldn’t fit my budget as a funemployed person. However, when I extended my Midlife Crisis Flashpacking Trip, the only mileage award flight home I could find was from Auckland. So, I decided to make a short trip to NZ to check one more item off my list - the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It also helped that Air New Zealand offered attractive fares on their B787 Dreamliner flight from Adelaide to Auckland. It was also a neat bit of serendipity that I end my travels in the country where my wanderlust was first stoked; I’ll explain that ... read more
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Tongariro Alpine Crossing

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