Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hitches in the trip...

The amount of travel time in buses, taxis, tuk tuks, and catamarans. Evidently I get sea sick and supposedly its ok to shove 15 grown adults in a tiny bus for 6 hours.

My debt card got eaten by an ATM

The places we stayed weren’t awesome.

Emily got sick several times.

I lost my scuba mask on my last dive (the night dive) and no I hadn’t even paid for it yet.

When I got home I found that my scooter had been stolen. AWESOME!

Though all of these things happened…I wouldn’t trade this trip for the world. I loved it and can’t wait to go back to Thailand and get my “Dive Master Training” which should take about 2 to 3 months. Whose with me???

...then Thailand!

We took a bus from Bangkok to the mainland of Thailand and then catamaran to the island of Koh Tao. I didn’t do so well on the catamaran with seasick meds. Yikes! Koh Tao is the cheapest place in the world to get your scuba license and I’ve wanted to do that since I got a taste at the Great Barrier Reef on Pac Rim. The resort we stayed at was right on the ocean and had an amazing view. The Thai people ran the restaurant but for the most part, the dive shop and instructors were English speakers. Many were from England and Australia. Our instructors name was Sonia who is from England. We were able to start classes the day we arrived and from there set off for the sea. I was so excited! The open water course consists of 4 dives. We did mostly morning dives, which start around 6:30am. It’s not exactly what you think of for vacation but I was loving it.

The most exciting thing that happened during our open water training was our last day out. The nice thing about the open water is that they make a video of you on your last day so we were preparing to be on camera all day. We go down on the first dive site and all of sudden there is a SHARK!!! Now normally I would have been a bit freaked but no fear it was a WHALE SHARK! These sharks don’t have teeth and only eat plankton. So I was resting easy and soaking it in that I was seeing a whale shark swim right past me! It was about 6 meters and I could have reached out and touched it. It was amazing! Needless to say my video is awesome with me swimming with a whale shark!!!!!!

During this dive, Emily was sick so neither her nor Luke was able to finish their open water with me. They finished the next say and I went on to get my advanced license. This would consist of a deep water dive (30m), navigation, computer training, and a NIGHT DIVE!!! Everything was awesome and they saved the night dive for last. I was super excited but pretty nervous. In my dive group I had met another couple from England. Polly and Nick were so much fun. We spent a lot of time together diving and hanging out. Of course I continued to be the 3rd wheel as per usual. (Lots of cute guys at the resort but none worth mentioning) Anyway, the night dive was awesome!! So interesting and beautiful what the ocean is like at night.

We were able to spend Christmas and New Years abroad this year and luckily we had so much fun that we handled it quite nicely. Of course no one likes to be away from their family during the holidays but thankfully we had a great trip.


Ankor Wat?? What is that?? I had no idea and knew nothing about Cambodia. Mito church supports our missionary, Joel, to go and do some mission work with the street kids but that’s all I knew. We set off for Cambodia on December 23rd. After volunteering to get booted from our flight for a $600 voucher, taking the red eye to Bangkok, bus to the Cambodian boarder, trying to get a visa, then a taxi to Siem Reap we finally made it to our final destination after about 30 hours of travel.

Ankor Wat is why we went for the most part. They are ancient ruins of temples delicately sculpted with designs done thousands of years ago. We were able to see it was sunrise, sunset and in the middle of the day. I for one got my share of temples for a loooong time but Luke loved it! The history of it was fascinating to him.

Our mode of transportation was a tuk tuk. It is basically a scooter with a carriage on the back. Our driver’s name was Venna and we were able to get to know him throughout the week. It was a fantastic time. A highlight for me was sticking my feet in a tank of fish would proceeded to eat the dead skin from my feet and legs. Yes it sounds gross but it was awesome after I got over being soooo ticklish. After 5 nights we made the trek back to Bangkok preparing for the relaxing week at the beach!

Simon and Mary's visit

Simon and Mary are my younger brother and younger sister. Simon is a junior at Pepperdine University. Mary is a junior in high school taking college classes and is on the swim team. Out of everyone in my family I wouldn’t have picked them to come over and visit me during this year in Japan. Simon spent all last year in Switzerland doing a study abroad so he is proficient in travel but Mary hasn’t left the good US of A so I was excited when they announced first the desire and the means to make it over here. It’s an expensive and a long trip and I am appreciative that they made if for me.

They came the last week in November over Thanksgiving. This was nice because it was my first major holiday away from home here in Japan and they got a couple days off from school.

They arrived on Saturday night, which was also the same day the Harry Potter 7 Part 1 came out in theatres in Japan. Now this is a big deal because most new movies in the States are released months later in Japan but not Harry Potter. So on their first night I dragged them to a movie, jet lag and all. They might try to claim that they were able to stay awake through the whole thing but don’t believe them. They were out for most of it.

Sunday I got to introduce them to everyone at church and then spend the day with some friends.

Monday, Mary and I faced the rain and went to Disney Land Tokyo. When we were kids we didn’t get to go to any of the Disney’s so this was her first time and my 3rd. (All my times were in Japan, still haven’t been in the States) and Simon discovered the city of Mito on my scooter. (He is lame and claims to not like Disney EVEN THOUGH it’s the happiest place on earth!)

Tuesday was a national holiday here so everyone had the day off. Simon, Mary, my AET friend Emily, my Japanese friend Erisa and I jumped into the car and headed to Daigo. This has a popular waterfall and apple orchards all around so we got to see the waterfall and pick apples. The road trip was good for us to explore Japan a little.

Wednesday my school had a “mini marathon” at the local track so we got to go and watch. My kids were so excited to see Simon and Mary there!

Thursday and Friday, I got to take them to my schools. First my nursery school where I teach 4 and 5 year olds and Friday to my elementary school. We took one of my teachers out to dinner on Friday night because he claims to be a “ramen master” and Simon wanted a challenge. He loved it enough that Yuya took us for ramen on Saturday as well.

The rest of their trip I took them to Tokyo. We wandered around there for a couple of days and then it was time for them to leave again. It was a quick trip but it was amazing to see familiar faces in this new life I’ve made. It was great to show them everything I love about Japan and share some of my experiences with them. Thanks Simon and Mary for taking some time and coming to see me! Love you both!!