Category Archives: Travel

Ever Busy, Ever Traveling

It’s been 4 months since I wrote a traditional blog post so let’s get caught up with what I have been doing since December:

I’ve mentioned my desire to visit 10 countries in Asia while I have been in China for work and I really haven’t had a chance to go anywhere internationally – more of a lack of pre-planning due to the nature of my work I usually only get 2 weeks or less notice before I think I can take some time off. So my trips have been short but sweet.

In December, I had my assignment extended from December to May and as a result I had to go through the visa renewal process which marooned me here in Shanghai until the last week of December. Too late to plan a New Year’s trip, but I did manage to get places in January.

First up was Harbin – home to the famous Ice Festival. it was the coldest weather I have ever experienced, but it was a great time with some co-workers and certainly a bucket-list item that I wanted to do while I am in China. The photos I posted were just a small sampling, and I should really be better at posting photo galleries.

Next up: Daniel made a return visit to Japan and we rendezvous at Narita airport and spent a great long weekend together. Japan is truly a place that belongs to us and I can’t separate the two because they will always be linked. We went retro and inexpensive and stayed at our old hotel Kazusaya. She was looking a bit worn but there was something familiar and fun about being there. We visited Tokyo Disney resort of course, but the highlight was a visit to Aokigahara, the Sea of Trees, at the base of Mt. Fuji. It made me miss our road trips and I look forward to the day when I am able to just hop in the car and go somewhere.

The last trip I took was at the end of February to Sanya on Hainan Island in Southern China. It was a quick weekend trip to someplace warm. I had Sanya, Taipei, and Seoul on my short list of quick weekenders to check off some countries and for that weekend it was the warmest. Sanya is a beautiful place and I am sure there is a lot more to see than what I got to see in my two days, but I was glad to see the 4th largest statue in the world.

Besides those trips, my life has been working long hours on my project which can be tough, but thankfully I really love what I do so it is that much easier to get through. I have been extended once more to the end of July, so I hope I can keep going after my country count. Three places that I really want to see are Singapore, Thailand, and Cambodia – and that might be what my end of assignment trip is – unless I can get there sooner.

As for Shanghai life, my good friend Eric has made the trip out the Shanghai to work for a few months, and that has improved the quality of life dramatically. I am happy to have his company along with the others who have made this journey worthwhile.

Now that I truly have a for-sure end date, my thoughts turn to the future and I am excited to think about what lies ahead. New car, new home, and there is a Jarre concert tour coming up in the fall – will he finally come to the US? I doubt it, but I did some serious contemplation about making a trip to see him in concert!

Ballparks Updated

During a random search of my site, I found this post from way back in 2001 that talked about what Baseball Stadiums I had visited at the time. I was thinking man that was almost 15 years ago, I wonder how many I have added to the list.

Because I am sure none of you were actually wondering, I went ahead and updated my list.

Former Stadiums where I’ve watched a game (either demolished or no longer used for baseball)
Candlestick Park, San Francisco
Astrodome, Houston

Former Stadiums driven by
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Milwaukee County Stadium, Milwaukee
Kingdome, Seattle

Current Stadiums where i’ve watched a game
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
AT&T Park, San Francisco Coliseum, Oakland
Chase Field, Phoenix
Coors Field, Denver
Petco Park, San Diego
Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim

Current Stadiums driven by
Globe Life Park, Arlington
Wrigley Field, Chicago
U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago
Turner Field, Atlanta
Citizen’s Bank Park, Philadelphia
Fenway Park, Boston
Safeco Field, Seattle

A Busy Time Indeed

Looks like I have fallen back into my pre-2014 habits in a bad way. It’s been two months since I’ve blogged about anything and there has been a whole lot that’s happened. As you know, I am currently in China working on a project and this has thrown most of my normal life in a loop. Similar to other times in my life where I’ve been mega-focused on work, the blog tends to get a bit thin. Thankfully, my Instagram photos are mirrored here so there is at least some semi-normal content that hints at what I have been up to lately.

In travel news, My mom and Gary visited China for my birthday back in October and we headed off to Xi’An, Beijing, and the Great Wall of China. It was so nice to have them in town and we had a great time seeing some great bucket list tourists sites. Unfortunately I did not take many notes like I did for Daniel’s trip in September, so I doubt a Trip Diary will ever be written. After their week visit, they headed back to the States and I only had to wait a few weeks for my latest visitor – Nathan.

Nathan came from the UK and we spent time in Shanghai and Hangzhou before headed off to someplace I never would have imagined I’d travel – Borneo! When Nathan said he would come visit, we scoured the region to come up with a list of places to visit and landed on Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. While there, we visited Brunei as well as Survivor Island (where the first season of Survivor was filmed), and the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. We had three amazing adventures in the 5 days we were there and I am glad that I was able to see him for the second time in less than a year (I think this is the first time since the 1990s Europe trips that this happened!).

We are hoping to be able to meet up sometime next year before I head back to the USA, but there is a lot still up in the air before we can make it happen. I did take some notes for the Borneo trip so perhaps one day I will post a diary.

Now that Nathan has been gone for a week it has really hit me that I have no one planning to visit me until the end of my assignment. Part of that is the uncertainty of when I will actually return to the US, so I am hoping it is just a few weeks before I can plan on being reunited with Daniel in Japan or Nathan somewhere else.

In the meantime, I will try and catch up on my movie reviews (San Andreas, Jurassic World, and Spectre – three movies I loved!) as well as some random thoughts on what’s happening here in Shanghai. It’s starting to get cold here, so I am thinking I might have some more time indoors with nothing to do so I am hoping to write more.

Whirlwind Asian Tour

Trying to recover from Daniel’s first visit to me in China. We had a lot of fun and managed to visit Japan, Hong Kong, and Macau as well as Shanghai – all in 9 days. Along the way I took some notes, so I hope to transcribe them to a formal travel diary on one of my off days. In the meantime here are some highlights:

Beautiful weather on the Bund in Shanghai
Getting to Japan and finding a sim card and a train into Tokyo in the wee hours
Super nice hotel and matching pajamas
Rain from a typhoon in our one full day of Tokyo
Revisiting some of our favorites
Our tree
Tokyo Disney Sea
Getting caught up on all the new attractions
Fastpasses for Tower
The adventure of flying NRT-PVG-HKG with a long layover in Shanghai
Nice hotel in Hong Kong
Visiting Macau
Hong Kong Disneyland
Losing my camera
Fast walking the various street markets in Mong Kok
Two days of relaxation in Shanghai

Such a memorable trip and I hope that Daniel and I will see each other before I get home next year.

Next up: Mom and Gary visit for a trip to Beijing and Xi’An. Gotta start planning now!

Telecom in China

Now that I’ve gotten my resident permit in China, I finally taking care of some administrative business. First up, I am getting a China Mobile Phone account on one of the big networks in China. The good news is that I will finally be able to Periscope and Live Tweet from around town and the rest of China. The bad news is that I had to pay off my US Mobile account. It looks like I will be able to press pause on my US account with no issues for about 6 months and then resume paying my normal account fees. I might just keep the line active for now and see how this China account goes as I do not want to end up not having a working phone anywhere…

Of course there is a massive language barrier at most of the telecom places so this could end up being entertaining. When I tried to get my iPhone 4 to work on China Unicom, I spent an hour and got nowhere as it would not activate on the network. I should have better luck with my 6 and I have a few different options for carriers. I just want the one with the most data possible (especially for Periscope, Instagramming and iMessages).

Other than my rather limited social media interactions, things are going well here in China and the other day, I had a better idea of where we were going than the taxi driver. I am also looking forward to my first trip. Looks like it will either be to Macau or to Kyoto Japan. I’m leaning towards Macau since it’s technically country #32 and it’s much cheaper. Certain flights to Japan from Shanghai are just as expensive as they are from the US. That’s messed up since Japan is only about a 2.5 hour flight.

One Month in Shanghai

As a person who routinely marvels at the passage of time, I still have a hard time accepting the fact that I have been in Shanghai for a month already. I’d like to think that I’ve adjusted to my new life schedule and am really enjoying myself and having a good time.

I finally received my Resident Alien Visa for China which allows me to work in the country. The best part is that I finally have my passport back in my hot little hands and I am itching to leave the country and explore other parts of Asia around me.

Daniel, my Mom, and Nathan are all set to visit me later this year and interspersed will be adventures throughout China and Asia. Oh, and there will be some work done too.

Stay tuned as as soon as I get some plane or train tickets I’ll spread the word.

Relocating to Shanghai, China

Welcome back!

I’ve been mostly absent as I get adjusted to my temporary new life and I am just know to the point where I can sit down and write about what has happened. Earlier this year, I was selected to help work on a project for my employer that involved me being relocated for up to a year in China of all places. As you have noticed, this has completely turned my life upside down..

The last two months have really been a whirlwind. Starting with going to see my family in Arizona the first weekend of May, it was non-stop packing and stress as I put all my worldly possessions save three bags into storage. This process lasted right until the very minute – 3am the night before I was to get on a plane. I really wanted to be done before then, and I should know better by now that I needed to take the last week of work off to fully get stuff done on time.

There are regrets I have about the whole process (such as not procrastinating, but I really should know myself by now and accept it), but I am glad that I was able to see all of my friends either at a party, going to the movies, or having a family dinner. Even so, it did not make it any easier to get on the plane for the long trip to China. Even now, I look back and it seems weird that I have no car and no apartment to return home. It seems like my home is in a storage facility. Thankfully, this opportunity will allow me to see a whole new portion of the world that I would otherwise not have. Also a plus is that I know many people working on the same project so it is nice to have a bit of familiarity.

The first three weeks have been spent acclimating and getting adjusted to my new surroundings. My apartment is great and I have been actively looking for things to personalize and bring some of home to it. I am glad work is full of challenges and keeps me busy and the weeks have gone by fast. I’m currently waiting for my passport to be returned from the government as they process my resident permit. Once I get it back, let the weekend getaways commence!! In another post, I will try and do a quick summary of the fun activities I have done over the first three weeks. I’m also thinking maybe a monthly summary at the minimum, but hopefully more frequent. Ideally, I’d be able to do daily posts again. Just something I need to get back into the habit of doing.

So here is to my China adventure, and the year ahead. I hope to get through my backlog of posts – I have a notepad with a list of topics to work through when it get slow (like during laundry time).

Back from Shanghai

My two week business trip has come to an end and I am getting back into the swing of things here at home. Business trips are a weird thing as its not a real vacation even though you might be somewhere fun. I was so busy that I did not have much time for sightseeing, just two days. I did manage to take some Gorn photos and write a few notes up, but I don’t think I have enough for a full trip Diary. I might just post something along the lines of “My first weekend in Shanghai”.

Mainland China (or Real China as I liked to refer to it while I was there) is so different from Hong Kong yet does have a lot of similarities. Granted, it was 10 years ago that I visited Hong Kong for the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland. The first few days were a bit rough as I was admittedly not prepared for all that Shanghai had to offer and was a bit overwealmed. After a few days and a fun weekend sightseeing and some fun days at work, I came around and learned to love where I was.

But Josh, why were you in Shanghai anyway? I know I know that’s a great questions and a separate blog post I plan on writing very shortly. Some of you already know, but I am not ready for the big announcement despite the fact it will have a huge impact on this web site and my life!

Already there are signs of its impact – My blog a day has been foiled around March 13 or so – really I have 5 drafts that I still need to retro post, but overall the gap during the trip will probably not be filled since my limited access to the Internet while in China prevented me from accessing good stuff and sadly I don’t have the time to go back and post.

Travel Crazy: March 2015 edition

Tomorrow I begin my three week travel adventure – part vacation and part work. The first trip is a planned vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida. I haven’t been since 2011 and it’s about time I see all the latest offerings. This will be my first time using FASTPASS + as well as seeing the new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, the revised Test Track, and many other small Entertainment changes. It will be nice for Daniel and I to get away from it all (although really I’ll be surrounded by work, I will just do my best to ignore and have fun as a Guest).

After that, it will be my first business trip since 1996! The last time I went on a paid business trip was to Denver, CO when I was working at UC Davis. I had a great time at that weekend convention. I guess working for my Mom’s work in Puerto Rico and Argentina sort of count as work as well, but this is the first one for my primary employer since Denver.

Where am I going? Well to my 31st country – China. Shanghai to be exact. I’ll be there for two weeks and it should be fun to say the least. Now, I am not sure of what the online access ability as well as my leisure vs work schedule, but I will try and do a Trip Diary for Shanghai. Now I need to stock up on my Emergen-C and make sure I do some laps up and down the aisles as it looks like it will be 5+ hours each way to Florida and 14 hours to and 11 hours back from China.

On to Florida!