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.

 

Off to Taipei

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In a few hours, the Judy and I will be hopping on a Vanilla Air flight from Tokyo to Taipei. I’m pretty excited. Exploring new places is one of my favorite things to do.

The best thing about this trip is that we are going from Japan to Taiwan. Living in Japan is already an exciting adventure. Japan is a country that, while modern and a 1st world, is vastly different than Southern California where we came from. So on this trip, we will be contrasting two places foreign to us. Now I know that the differences between Taipei and Tokyo aren’t that vast. Nothing like going from Japan to Malaysia or Cambodia. But I will keep an eye out for the little cultural differences that I find interesting.

One of my favorite things about traveling is that it allows me to absorb images and scenes that I can draw on for my writing. Yes, doing research using the internet and books is valuable. But, nothing matches the first-hand experience of actually seeing wild jungles and ancient temples. taipei101

Alright, I’m off. I’m going to try to post a few pictures when I get there.

 

 

 

Temple Hopping in Kamakura

alexshrine2.jpgJudy took me on a fantastic hike through Kamakura this weekend. The weather was cold and the air crisp. We visited several Temples and Shrines along the way. It was a great day. Check out her fantastic pictures and write up.

Adventurous Abroad

One of the perks of not having a regular 9-5 while being here in Japan is that I have lots of time to scope out new hiking trails, places to eat, and do extensive research for upcoming travel or events.When my husband is off on the weekends, I am able to share my new discoveries with him and play tour guide… kinda.

This weekend I wanted to share the Daibutsu Hiking Course with him, so Saturday morning we hopped on the train and headed to Kamakura. (You can see a map of the trail and get detailed directions from the Kita Kamakura Station to the trail head here.)

There were a few shrines and temples in the area that I had not yet visited, or didn’t get a chance to explore the other day on our hike.

Off of the East exit of the Kita Kamakura Station is Engakuji

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A quick trip to California

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Last week I went to Narita Airport in Tokyo and took a 5,000 mile 10 hour flight to San Diego where I spent the week on Camp Pendleton getting some excellent training  and certification. The best part was that I got to shoot up to Long Beach to catch up with friends and family.

California is a beautiful place. Very different from Japan. Louder, faster, ruder, and a lot dirtier. Yet I still find it charming. Nothing beats driving 100 mph down The 5 freeway with the sun setting over the Pacific at your side.

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You can’t visit California without eating at In N Out!

On the flight back I devoured a slew of short stories and two crime novels. Don Winslow’s The Dawn Patrol and Jo Nesbo’s Nemesis. Once I kick this lingering jet lag I’m going to sit down and write reviews for both. But for now I’m catching up with Japan and working on final edits for my latest short story.