Do you like spicy food? What about onions and strong, salty flavors? Or maybe you’re swearing off all carbs to try that new paleo or whole 30 diet. Well if you can check off any of the above, Korea is the place for you. The champions of fermentation (seriously, kimchi will be your primary source of vitamins during any trip to Korea), mysterious red chili sauce, and two inch thick pork belly BBQ, Seoul is a meat lover’s dream.
Written October 30, 2018 in the middle of the night.
Background on the blog series “Lessons on the Road”. I used to have this overly analytical way of calculating whether a year was net positive or negative, kind of like a personal yearly report. So come every December, I’d be stressfully trying to tally up all my experiences: “Did I give enough? Did I learn […]
Before coming to Seoul, everything I knew about Korea was based on my lil Sis’s love of BTS and the Tofu House in Palo Alto. To me, Seoul was squarely in lil Sis’s domain; it was her place, and I would feel a weird sense of betrayal for coming here before her. For that reason, Seoul wasn’t originally on our travel itinerary. But since Seoul is a major Asian technology hub with a consumer base obsessed with blockchain, AR/VR and mobile technologies, and since it’s only a 2 hour flight from Tokyo, we decided that lil Sis would have to stew in her envy for just a little longer until she can make the trip out. In the meantime, I am trying to memorize the faces of the Korean boy bands so I can immediately alert her of any sightings.
I write this as I’m sitting at the Sakura Lounge in Haneda Airport, waiting for our flight to Korea, our next destination. I feel depressed, and I’ve been trying to find ways to spend more extended time in Tokyo in the future. For years, Japan was on the top of my list of places to visit, and after finally making it over, I can confidently say it exceeded all of my expectations.
I can’t believe it, but it has been a little over four weeks since we last arrived in Tokyo, tired and weary from a long flight, and I’m not nearly close to sharing all of my stories yet. I still have to write up our outdoor adventures – including a typhoon filled weekend in Hakone, cultural learnings and the nightlife subculture (e.g., the weird, the fantastic, the colorful, the dark). Due to popular photo requests, however, and even though I haven’t knocked off everything on my list yet, this piece will be dedicated to my favorite part of Japan: food.
A few months ago before our trip began, I had said to my Company, “Well, get ready for us to feel like we’ve got no home for a year.”
He had replied, “Home is where the husband is.”
One of my favorite ways to explore is finding a place to start and just walking. Anywhere. For me, this beats all other types of tourism. It’s like trying to find hidden gems when you’re in sensory overload with new sounds, smells and sights. Here, I’ll share some of my favorite walks in Tokyo so far through photo stories and brief descriptions*.
*To be sensitive of privacy, I’ve either cropped or only used photos of people without their faces turned to me.
I found myself trying to plan out the next few months this Monday and realized that it has been a little over 3 months (!) since we started our year of traveling. In some ways, it’s felt so much longer than that; in other ways, I’m slightly panicked that our year is already a quarter of the way done. Since being on the road, there have been some things that have gone as expected — we miss our friends, family and community; our reliance on one another has intensified, and our relationship has strengthened (it’s like doing a trust fall with your partner every day); we miss not having to think about whether we’re fitting in culturally or not; and I would go slightly crazy without work.
In an effort to document my own learnings on this trip, I wanted to share a list of things that surprised me about our travel along with what we expect the next 3 months to bring. I hope I can read back on this when I am far wiser and more experienced, shake my head and say, “Oh, look at how naive I was,” or, “Wow, I was pretty perceptive about that one!” Continue reading “Quarterly Review: A Travel Postmortem”
We landed in a rainy Tokyo in a daze at noon after a sleepless night on the flight from London*. I had known we’d be in good hands the minute AirFrance had pulled out edible food – a Japanese curry – and after we had watched the translated version of Inuyashiki, a story about a middle-aged Japanese salaryman who is turned into a cyborg and saves humanity.
Anyone who has done that flight from Europe or North America to Asia knows that the first 48 hours is filled with a wondrous daze of “WTF and where am I.” Part of it is the jet lag, and if you don’t sleep on the flight, you’re hit with double confusion – the smells, sights, language, and customs with the compounded effects of no sleep make you feel as if you’ve stepped in Alice’s Wonderland of Weird, Tasty and Awesome. I was born in China and yet every trip back still fills me that same initial shock for at least the first 48 hours. This would be my first time in Tokyo proper. The initial landing felt no different in that sense, and yet it was very different compared to any trip I’ve ever made to Asia before.