Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cold weather, among other things...'s cold! Okay,'s like, Georgia in the winter cold. But compared to this summer we're all freezing. It's in the 50s in the day and probably low 40s at night. Al and I actually just now turned on our heater because it stays pretty warm in our apartment (so far). The sun is still really hot and it streams into the house in the mornings and kept things nice and toasty. But now the heater definitely stays on. Winter. Bah. I guess it's nothing compared to the giant snowstorm WV just got...neener. It's actually funny because Al and I were talking and we're like "it's kind of early for a snowstorm isn't it?" and then we realized that it's 3 weeks until Christmas. The trees still being half green and the not-too-wintry temperatures have me feeling like it's October or something.

So my mom came to visit about a month ago. She had a pretty good time, I think. She got on all the right buses and trains and everything. I think she liked some of the food. She didn't care for udon but I think she liked ramen and yakiniku pretty well. We did all the touristy things...temples, shotongai, Ritsurin and even went to Hiroshima. Now that's an interesting place to visit. It was seriously haunting to see that one building that was left standing after the atomic bomb blast. The museum was only 50 cents to go through and we were in there for over 2 hours. It was relatively unbiased, which I found surprising. Even though I maintain they started it first with Pearl Harbor it was still horrifying to see the damage that bomb caused. So many people died and all the effects from radiation is just nuts. You kind of need time to decompress after you get through the museum. 

So the one thing we're looking forward to is Thailand! We booked our trip a few months ago and are headed there December 23 until January 5. Al, Christa and I are flying into Bangkok on the 23rd, staying the night (we don't arrive there until 1:10 in the morning) and catching a 7:30am flight to Udon Thani, Thailand right on the border of Laos. Us three are meeting two friends, Jared and Rachel in Udon Thani then we're all crossing the Mekong River into Laos together. We're taking a bus to Vang Vieng, Laos and staying there until December 27. Vang Vieng is a very small river town but it's famous for  backpackers. You rent tubes (like the giant tractor tire innertubes) and there is a start point on the river and about it's about a 2km floating trek to the end point. Along the river are restaurants and bars and music and all kinds of mad fun. I'm not talking about something's a bunch of shacks full of foreigners dancing to loud Western music. They locals throw out ropes in the river and if you feel like stopping, grab one and they'll pull you in. This is how I will be spending Christmas Day 2010. Here is a picture I found online of Vang Vieng and the river:

A little nicer than what we're expecting, I think, but it's a pretty picture all the same =D  After Laos, Al and I are catching a plane from Udon Thani to Phuket, Thailand and Christa, Jared and Rachel are going their own ways. Christa is trying to get to Cambodia I think. Once in Phuket, we'll spend the night there then catch the ferry the next day to Phi Phi, a very small island off the coast of Phuket. We're staying in a beach hut there until January 3. It's going to be complete Heaven and we all send daily texts to one another counting down the days. Our job gets pretty monotonous and boring and we definitely need a long vacation. It's now 2 weeks until we leave. Picture below is the view from our hut. The island in the background is Phi Phi Ley, an uninhabited, unspoiled, (claimed as one of the world's most beautiful places) island where we can go everyday if we want and also where they filmed the Leo DiCaprio movie "The Beach".

Needless to say, we're pretty excited. Thailand, Phi Phi specifically, has always been on my "Top 10" places to visit and to be able to cross one of those off is exhilarating.

Nothing too new on the job front. Al and I are most likely going to be coming home to the USA in April for a few months. Our tentative plan is to move to Okayama (the next big big train stop from us now, but across the bridge onto the mainland). We're going to stay in Japan for 1 more year (about 95% on that) because the money is so good here. We both really like Okayama and it's so much bigger and way more people and we have access to the Shinkansen (the bullet train), which is great. So once our contract is finished here in April, we'll head home for a few months and then head back to Japan in late June or early July. Preferably early July as I would like to spend a July 4th in America for once. So we'll see. Any changes to be made will be put on here!


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