Day trip to Hakone

HakoneShrine.jpgYesterday the wife and I took a day trip to Hakone, a small town on the shore of Lake Ashi. Our schedule is completely packed for the foreseeable future, filled with baby events, work obligations, celebrations, and of course culminating with the arrival of the baby. So, it was nice to get to go on a little trip on our own.

The day started off with heavy rain and exploring the famous Hakone Shrine was a wet yet interesting experience. Initially, we were bummed that the rain obscured the majestic view of Mt. Fuji, but the gloom and mist had a surreal magical quality that I really enjoyed.

Eventually, the sun came out and we spent a few hours exploring the Hakone Open Air Museum which occupies acres of beautiful landscape, sadly littered with modern art. The museum’s centerpiece is a decent sized Picasso collection whos infantile scribbles left me underwhelmed. I yearn for the day that adult men and women stop pretending that mentally deranged garbage created by alcoholic sexual deviants gets relegated to the trash pile of history where it belongs. I do not believe that any man can gaze upon the garbage output of Picasso and feel any tingling of inspiration, wonder, or anything other than bewilderment at the joke that is so-called 20th-century art.

It was nice spending all day exploring new places, trying out food, and just hanging out. Not to mention that we ended our adventure with a stop at the specialty liquor store where I bought myself some Stouts.

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Back from Hong Kong

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Just got home after a post-arrival Denny’s dinner, I love Japanese Denny’s, unpacked, and now I’m getting ready to do a bit of relaxing. Hong Kong was amazing, and our too short vacation was a blast.

Hong Kong is such an interesting place unlike anywhere else, a unique blend of Western European blended with Chinese culture that makes it a great and accessible place to visit. Not to mention, for a history buff like me, the city is fantastically unique as a Crown Colony birthed during the Opium Wars and governed by something of a unique hands-off minimalist government going on to become one of the richest cities in the world, and avoiding the civil wars and disastrous Communist purges happening next door in China. 20171214_125603380646878.jpg

I explored a good chunk of the city, ate at some fantastic restaurants, drank some great beer, and had a great time. Now I have a few days of vacation that I’m going to dedicate to working on writing and the gym to make up for all the feasting.

Heading to Hong Kong

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Hong Kong has always been at the top of my list of places I want to visit in Asia. It’s a city that was founded on capitalism and free trade, a city that mixes the best and worst of both the East and the West. On top of that Hong Kong is the setting of my favorite novels, James Clavell’s Tai-Pan and Noble House. If you haven’t read those books stop whatever you are doing and start right now.

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Anyways, next week the wife and I are going to temporarily suspend our Gaijin card so we can become Gweilo tourists and visit Hong Kong. That means I will be hard to get a hold of on here and across social media. I plan on taking pictures and sharing, but enjoying my vacation will take precedence. I have much to see.

Hong Kong is the second time this year we are visiting one of the Asian Tigers, Taipei was the first, and we will have to complete the set with Singapore and South Korea after the baby is born.

In other news, the outline for my novella is almost complete, just ironing out some plot points and filling in the blanks. I’m planning to begin actual writing once I get back. The vacation should refresh me and give me some good ideas.

 

 

 

On our way to California.

I’m currently enjoying a nice relaxing bus ride to Narita airport where we will be taking a China Air flight to Los Angeles via Beijing.

We’re going back to SoCal for my brother’s wedding so most of the time will be spent catching up with family and friends.

The last few weeks of work have been brutality busy, and I am desperately behind on my writing, reading, and blogging. I haven’t been able to get any Napoleonics or Combat Commander games in an eternity. I took some extra days off after we get back which I plan on using for writing.

The awesome thing about flights over the Pacific is that I get a good 12+ hours of uninterrupted reading. My Kindle is stocked, charged, and ready to go. First up The Coffee Trader.

Home from Taiwan

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Last night we got back from Taiwan. Reunited with our beast Quinn and passed out. The trip was fantastic. Taipei is an excellent city, filled with so much stuff to see and do. I wish we had more time.

Taipei has to be one of the coolest places I have ever visited. It has this great feel of Japan and China combined, with a dash of Los Angeles. Great public transportation, clean streets, and very friendly people.

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We tried to explore as much as possible in the three full days we had. On our first day, we walked over 20 miles, just wandering through the city, taking in sights, stopping for beers. At night we hit one of the famous night markets where Judy ate the famous stinky tofu.

On day two, we went up to the hills above the city and hiked through tea farms. We ended being escorted around by a stray dog that followed us the whole time, showing us where the trail was.

On day three we went East to the old town of Jiufen. It’s this old village built on the side of the hills overlooking the Ocean. Tea houses, street markets, and food stands, all lining narrow streets. Supposedly it was the inspiration for Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, but he denies it. I see the resemblance. The highlight of this area was drinking tea at a famous teahouse that used to be a hub for artists and writers.

It was a fantastic trip. I ate a bunch, drank booze, smoked cigarettes, listened to some great music, and got to experience a taste of a great country. 20170214_104138

Today I unpacked, ate some Japanese Denny’s, and tidied up the house a bit. Now I’m sitting here catching up on blogs. Tonight I might go out for a few drinks, being that I am still on vacation. 20170214_101757.jpg

Judy used her nice camera and she took a bunch of excellent pictures. Much cooler than my cell phone pics. I’ll share those when she gets them edited.