Page 2 of Siewch Travel Blog Posts

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 had 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

Oceania » Australia » South Australia » Adelaide December 3rd 2017

I am on the road again after a quick break in Singapore. This time, I am back in Australia, my second-to-last stop on this extension of the Midlife Crisis Flashpacking Trip. When I decided to extend my travels, I contacted my friend Trixie, thinking she might want to make a trip we had discussed in the past - driving from Darwin to Adelaide. She nixed it because it would be too hot and expensive. She counterproposed meeting me in Melbourne and driving the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide. I agreed readily. Getting to Melbourne I had just about 30,000 miles left in my United Airlines account (I accumulate miles on AAmerican nowadays), so I locked in a one-way Singapore-Bangkok-Melbourne business class redemption on Thai Airways days before United upped partner redemptions between Asia and Australia. This ... read more
Thai Airways

Asia » Laos » West » Vientiane November 21st 2017

Getting to Vientiane I had a lazy morning in Phonsavan. After eating the hotel breakfast, I wandered around the nearby market. Phonsavan’s market is huge - way out of proportion to the size of the town. My guess is that this market serves a large hinterland. There were Hmong in traditional attire too. After packing, I checked out at 11am. My flight to Vientiane wasn‘t until 1.20pm. I considered forcing some lunch down before heading to the airport because I wouldn’t get to eat before 3pm otherwise, but I decided against it as I wasn't hungry. I reasoned that there might be a snack bar at the airport, but I bought a stuffed bread roll just in case. I woke up a snoozing sawngthaew driver and hired him to take me to the airport. En route, ... read more
Cessna Grand Caravan Heading To Luang Prabang
Wat Si Saket
Wat Si Muang

Asia » Laos » East » Phonsavan November 19th 2017

Getting to Phonsavan A songthaew came to get me at my hotel at the appointed time to take me to the bus station where our minibus was waiting. The inside of the minibus was already full of stuff; there were sacks of grain on the aisle and cans of cooking oil underneath the seats. Because of this, I was stoked when we set out with four empty seats. The minibus headed north halfway to Luang Prabang, then turned east. Just after turning east, the driver stopped for two women with six children. They put a lot of stuff atop the minibus, including two chickens in a cardboard box. It got crowded. The road was winding and bumpy. The driver didn’t stop much, so I was glad I kept to my regimen of forced dehydration on long ... read more
Plain of Jars Site 3
Plain of Jars Site 3
Plain of Jars Information Center

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