Sunday, January 22, 2006


Well, we're at the airport waiting to get home. Tokyo has been a bit of a surprise. We arrived to a blinding snowstorm, they had their heaviest snowfall in 10 years the day we arrived. About half a foot! Coming from where we left Bali which was 85 degrees at 11pm, this was a shock to our system...

We took the subway (clean, a little confusing to figure out) to the Dingka-gai (Electric Town) area to check out all of the electronics. It was a blast... especially when we adventured into a Pachinko Machine Gambling place. I had totally forgot about pachinko machines, we had one as a kid - kind of like a pinball machine but many more and smaller balls, and very colourful. Unlike with a pinball machine, though, you turn knobs to get the balls into certain holes (whereas in pinball you move bumpers to keep a single ball from the single hole). People were gambling with the number of balls they were gathering, then they turn them in. Fasinating.

We also then walked into many electronic shops and realised we don't need anything (!!!), so we went to these anime toy stores. Totally cool - Andrew bought a doll for around 5,000 Yen ($50) that is a sexy girl wearing a band uniform. Artful, different. Awesome.

At night we went on a tour of the Park Hyatt Tokyo and then the hotel took us to drinks and also took care of our dinner at the New York Grill - where Scarlett Joahnnsen and Bill Murray had dinner in Lost in Translation. Quite a treat, and the blizzard finally cleared to show a spectacular view of Tokyo - all snow covered under the city lights.

Today we went to a famous shrine (forgot the name) - we wished for a friend of ours to get well and got a fortune. Then went to Ginza where we went down a side street and bought lunch at a place that spoke no English and thankfully had pictures on the menu of the food - tempura vegetables on rice plus noodle soup. Safe and easy. Finally went home, packed and here we are!

Final note - the airport must be further away from any major city than any other airport/city combo in the world. It takes over an hour to get to the airport from the city edge!

Look for a note for photos, will post them when we get home. Actually looking forward to it! Time to go see Andy, he's bored watching TV in Japanese...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia

This place is awesome. We already have two full suitcases full of stuff to bring back from Bali and we still want more! Extremely inexpensive and truly wonderful. Today is our fifth day here, so here are some of the highlights:

- Five hour spa day at the Bali Hyatt, in Sanur, just north of where we are now (the Grand Hyatt). Massages, milk bath, even lunch. Truly relaxing and amazing.

- Ubud is art, art and more art. Never seen so much art lining the streets for miles even getting there. Very touristy but well done.

- People here very poor and life is difficult. At the Grand Hyatt there literally must only be 20 guests in a 750 room hotel. Every local we talk to says work is "bad", you're the "first customer in a week" or a month even. The Balinese don't consider themselves Indonesian and are unhappy about the terrorism - only that. Very happy people despite such difficult working environment.

- Went to Monkey forest, with a temple, etc. Monkeys everywhere, at first amazing, now just irritating, but it is interesting to see them wherever there are temples. Aggressive, grab at your sarong/backpacks for anything.

- Temples everywhere, so beautiful but there is one every 500 feet. Get a bit desensitised, but they are truly amazing.

- Took a drive and got lost (worst driving conditions I have seen anywhere, period). But we got lost at the most amazing place, in the middle of nowhere and found out later we were in the center of the island - rice fields, small villages, poor, spectacular scenery. Can't wait to get the pictures published.

- Went white water rafting in a gorge in a rain forest, jungle with waterfalls and hanging bridges all over. Never seen anything like it, every once in a while a hotel will be perched 1,000 feet up the cliff from where we were. Truly spectacular, out of Jurassic Park.

- Massive rain storm last night, about the loudest thunder we've ever heard. All night! But rain is only part of the day, then gets clear or partly cloudy rest of day.

That is it for the time. Can't believe trip is almost over, leave for Tokyo late Friday and then there all day Saturday, come home on Sunday. See you all soon...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Kuala Lumpur

What a great trip so far.... we've had nothing but splendid weather, lots of fun and rest. Hard to believe we aren't even half way through the trip. Our last day in Thailand we went on an elephant ride, it was awesome. Andy fed a baby elephant and hugged it, it was so cute - it even danced and played the harmonica for us!

Kuala Lumpur has been as hot and humid as I remember, just miserable - although not quite as bad as last time. We toured the mosques and went to the Petronas towers where we also had lunch. Amazing to see an area filled with culture, then take the train and 10 minutes later be in a mega-mall. This city is filled with such yin and yang. I'm in the executive club lounge at the Hilton (ha ha - got an upgrade thanks to American Airlines, they have no idea I work for Hyatt) and we're about to go off to Petaling Street, which is a huge section of streets in Chinatown that are covered over the top of the buildings and have a street fair at night.

Tomorrow, off to 8 days in Bali!

Ciao for now...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Hua Hin, Thailand

We are doing well here in Thailand. After a grueling 30 hour trip to Bangkok (thank God for the Cathay Pacific business lounge in Hong Kong, at least a little luxury on the trip), we had an amazing river tour of the Bangkok canals and visited the Grand Palace just as the sun broke out and it hit 90 degrees. Boy was it hot! But when we get the pictures up when we get back, you'll have to see it - just amazing. We also went to a transsexual cabaret show which was... interesting.

Now in Hua Hin, a tiny town on the coast. Beautiful hotel and a cute town, did the night market last night. We've already got tons of stuff and we're only at day 4 of our vacation!Today we are going to hike to the little hill at the end of the beach and visit the temple. Then I am taking a Thai kickboxing class after spending time by the pool... tomorrow we are taking elephant rides and more pool time before heading to Kuala Lumpur.

Already feel a world away and we only started the vacation! Weather cooler than normal, except for the one hot day, it has been mid 80s and sunny all the time.
Biggest surprise: how clean Bangkok is and how friendly everyone is. A very, very happy people.

Until next time... got a beach to visit...