2016 By The Numbers

So 2016 was a year where I mostly lived and worked in a foreign country- South Korea. Then I got to travel and explore the world. I got to see more of the world in a year than many people will experience in a lifetime. Overall I had an amazing year, but it still had bumps and hills in it. It was a terrible year for me and cell phones. I hope that 2017 will be an amazing year with many new experiences. Below are some things I experienced in 2016 by the numbers.

2 Countries lived in– United States and South Korea. Yes, I lived in South Korea and not North Korea. Many people have asked if I lived in North Korea. I never set foot in North Korea and couldn’t have went there from South Korea. I hope to visit North Korea someday  but you cannot go there from South Korea and need to probably go from China or Russia on an organized tour and North Korea will provide people to be with you at all times while you are visiting.

9 New Countries Visited– I visited Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Malaysia, Australia, and Qatar.

1 New State Visited– I met my Mom and brother in Hawaii when I visited the state for the first time.

1 cell phone lost in the Gold Coast of Australia

22 Airports I flew into or from-

4 In Korea- ICN-Incheon, KWJ- Gwangju, PUS-Gimhae Busan, CJU-Jeju

3 In Japan- NRT- Tokyo Narita, OKA- Naha Okinawa, KIX- Kansai Osaka

1 In Taiwan- TPE- Taiwan Taoyuan

4 In Thailand- DMK- Bangkok, CNX- Chiang Mai, HKT- Phuket, KBV- Krabi

1 In China- PVG- Shanghai Pudong

1 In Hong Kong- HKG- Hong Kong

2 In Cambodia- REP-Siem Reap, PNH- Phnom Penh

1 In Malaysia- KUL- Kuala Lumpur

2 In Australia- OOL- Gold Coast, SYD- Sydney Kingsford

1 In Qatar- DOH-Doha Hamad

2 In United States- HNL- Honolulu, PHL-Philadelphia

21 Flights Taken

ICN-Incheon to NRT- Tokyo Narita

NRT- Tokyo Narita  to ICN-Incheon

KWJ- Gwangju to CJU-Jeju

CJU-Jeju  to KWJ- Gwangju

PUS-Gimhae Busan to TPE- Taiwan Taoyuan

TPE- Taiwan Taoyuan to PUS-Gimhae Busan

ICN-Incheon to OKA- Naha Okinawa

OKA- Naha Okinawa to KIX- Kansai Osaka

NRT- Tokyo Narita to HNL- Honolulu

HNL- Honolulu to NRT- Tokyo Narita

NRT- Tokyo Narita to DMK- Bangkok

CNX- Chiang Mai to HKT- Phuket

KBV- Krabi to DMK- Bangkok

DMK- Bangkok to PVG- Shanghai Pudong

PVG- Shanghai Pudong to HKG- Hong Kong

HKG- Hong Kong to REP-Siem Reap

PNH- Phnom Penh to KUL- Kuala Lumpur

KUL- Kuala Lumpur to OOL- Gold Coast

OOL- Gold Coast to SYD- Sydney Kingsford

SYD- Sydney Kingsford to DOH-Doha Hamad

DOH-Doha Hamad to PHL-Philadelphia

4 New Disney Parks visited– Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, Shanghai Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland. The only Disney parks I have yet to visit are in Paris.

1 Overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Countless busses, trains, boats, tuk tuks, long tails, and ferries to transport me on my travels and adventures.

Zero driving done by me in any foreign countries. While I was traveling I only used public transportation and left the driving to someone else.

Many festivals from Mud to Sea parting, to butterflies or cherry blossoms, etc I attended more festivals then I recall.

1 cell phone broken in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

1 job teaching kids English

2017- I hope that 2017 is a great year that brings a new job, many new adventures, and lots of travels and new skills learned. Also hopefully I’ll do a better job of blogging my adventures.

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year! Try something new, eat a new food, learn a new skill, go visit someplace different in your neighborhood, or go push outside of your boundaries and see a new state, country or try something you are scared of.  Adventure is out there.


The death of Thailand’s King

imageimageWent to a Muay Thai Live show tonight. It was really good. It went through the history of Muay Thai and different forms and things. Then they had two fights after.

What I thought was the beginning of the show had all the Muay Thai fighters come to the side of the arena. Then an announcer comes on. On this sad day will everyone please stand and join us for a moment of silence. I thought they were starting the history of Muay Thai honoring someone.

Instead they go on to say in honor of the King of Thailand who passed away today. They had a picture of him and played maybe their national anthem or another song.

I knew he was sick as I saw it on the news. King Bhumibol was the world’s longest-ranging monarch as he was King since he was 18 years old.


The Overnight Train

imageimageimageimageimageimageAt around 7:20 pm, I head to the train platform. I’m glad I went when I did as the train was already sitting there and people had boarded even though it didn’t leave until 7:35 pm.

I find my car 11 and then head to my seat. I find someone sitting in it and they have spread their stuff out all over the top and bottom bunk. He tells me I should just take the other half. So I sit there once everyone has boarded and we leave the station.

A little while later they come around and check tickets. Then a guy comes around to change your seat into a bed. They put a mattress on the seat and put a sheet on it, give you a pillow and pillow case and then you get a blanket in a bag.

The employee tries to figure out what is going on with the seat situation. The guy tries to explain but the employee doesn’t speak much English. I show my ticket for my seat. The guy is still trying to claim the other bottom bunk even though he paid for the one above me. It costs slightly more for the bottom then the top.

It turns out people who were getting on the train later had bought the other side top and bottom. This guy still process to lay down on the other side until the other people get on the train. Then he moves to his correct bunk.

They offered dinner and breakfast on the train. If you wanted breakfast you have to order it at night.

Overall I enjoyed the overnight train. I did sleep some. It was very cold on the train. It also rained overnight so the bathroom area got wet as I guess the roof leaks.

I knew that sometimes the train runs late due to other traffic on the tracks. The 500 mile trip was supposed to arrive in about 13 hours at around 8:40 am but it was about 10 am when we arrived.

I got off the train and tried to find a place to exchange money for smaller bills as I had 20 baht and 1000 baht bills. Luckily the ticket window was able to exchange 1000 baht for a smaller amount. Then I went in search of a taxi to take to my guest house. I found a red truck taxi. These are shared so the driver went in search of other passengers but never found any so I had a direct ride and the whole thing to myself.

I was planning on dropping my bags off and going out to explore but as soon as I said I was there to check in they took me to a room and said they would check me in later after I rested. I thought that was very nice of them.

I took a shower and laid down to relax.

A day in Bangkok

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageI didn’t sleep well and was awake early probably due to still being on Hawaiian time. I did some research on what to do as I didn’t really have plans for my day in Bangkok. I knew I needed to go buy a train ticket for the overnight train but otherwise wasn’t sure what I was doing.

I headed to the MTR to go to Hua Lamphong which is the Bangkok Railway Station. I went and bought my ticket for the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I planned to use a credit card to pay for the ticket but the machine was broken. I had the cash on me 881 baht or about $25 USD. This is for a train ride that lasts about 13 hours and is set up as a sleeper car.

After I had my train ticket I took my bag to the left luggage location as I was going to go explore Bangkok. First I took a taxi to the Grand Palace. It was still early about 9:30 am but it was very crowded already. The Palace is very beautiful, lots of gold, gorgeous tiles and many Buddha statues.

It was also very hot this day so I kept trying to hide in buildings. From here I walked to the National Museum. As I was trying to find something to do that was inside as it was very sunny and hot. The Museum ended up being in a variety of buildings. Some indoors, some outdoors, some with just fans, and a few with air conditioning. The Royal chariots were massive and gorgeous. There were several areas that were closed and under construction.

By this point I was starving and ready for lunch. As I was leaving the museum I noticed the sky looked very dark and areas had an orange color. A storm was on it’s way.

I started walking towards Wat Pho which was my next destination figuring I would find food along the way. I go into a place and ordered crispy pork and rice. It starts pouring and thunderstorming.

Of course it did as I neglected to bring an umbrella or rain gear with me today. I finish my food and head out into the rain. Of course it decided to rain heavier so I stop and stand under an awning of a store that’s under construction. Eventually someone from inside let several of us inside as it’s raining sideways and very heavily and rain gear isn’t much help.

It slows down some so I head out but then gets heavier again. I step inside what I think is a market. It ends up being a small port for ferry and other boats. I decided to take a boat over to Wat Po. I could have walked but the one stop on the boat kept me out of the rain.

It’s still raining but not as much so I buy an umbrella and head to Wat Pho. It has a reclining Buddha. It was pretty empty I’m guessing because of the rain. The weather also cooled off a lot which was good.

After this I get a tuk tuk to China Town. I have a few hours yet before my train leaves. So I wander around through the market and area. I find another temple that’s grounds are still open but is closed for the day. I then walk to the train station. I grab some food and snacks and drinks. I also get my bag that I left at the station sit and wait for my train to arrive.

The way to Bangkok

After I left the capsule hotel at the airport I headed upstairs to check in for my flight. I saw where I was supposed to go but didn’t see a counter.

You had to go through a door that basically appeared like you were going outside. I checked in and then went back to the main area where people check in for flights.

I then head for security to discover that it doesn’t open until 7:30. So I go in search of breakfast and end up at McDonald’s as it’s basically like only place that is open.

Around 7:30 I head to security and then customs. I then seek out food and drink to take with me on my 6 and a half hour flight because Air Asia provides no food or drink. Not even water for free. They also don’t have any sort of in flight entertainment basically you get a seat on the plane. I had paid something to check my bag as well.

The flight was alright and not full so I moved to an open row and had the whole thing to myself.

We arrived in Bangkok and headed to customs. It took awhile to get through customs as the lines were pretty long. I grabbed my bag and headed to get a bus which would take me to the BTS station for the sky train. From the sky train I headed to my hostel. Checked in dropped my bags off and headed out for food and to do some exploring.

9 hours Narita capsule hotel

So last night I slept at the Tokyo Narita airport. In a capsule hotel so everyone has a capsule which is kind of like a bunk bed but the whole thing is enclosed but at the bottom it closes was roll down shade.

It’s basically a twin bed with a tube around it you can sit up but can’t stand up.

There was a place to plug things in to charge and also this had a noise cancelling machine built in so you don’t hear the others around you.

When you check in you are given a key and a bag within a towel and a long night gown. You go inside into a locker room. You put your shoes and bags in the locker and then put slippers on.

This connects to the bathroom and showers. There is a door to the capsule room. Men have one set of lockers, showers, bathrooms, etc and women enter on a different side to their area.

I slept alright. Although it could have been a bit cooler for my liking. It was nice to just get up and not need to get on transportation to go to the airport for my morning flight.

I wish Hong Kong airport had the same as my flight is at 6 am and the hotels by the airport are very expensive to only be there for a short time.

I’ve done bunk beds and other type things as I’d rather be able to travel longer instead of spending lots of money on a place to stay.imageimageimageimageimage

Mt Fuji, Hakone, Lake Ashi

So I went from staying at Aulani with my family back to bunk beds in guest houses or tonight I stay in a capsule at Tokyo Narita airport. They are alright and give you a chance to meet other people.

Today I took a tour from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji and Hakone. I was going to try and figure it out myself but I didn’t so I just did the tour.

Although with my flight from Honolulu to Tokyo and then flight to Bangkok tomorrow it’s too much sitting in seats. As the tour today is about 11 hours many of them sitting on a bus.

I also should have brought my jacket as up at the 5th station it was about 55 degrees and windy. It was also chilly on the boat on Lake Ashi. I checked the weather before but didn’t take the altitude difference into account.

It was about 2 hours from Tokyo to the 5th station of Mt. Fuji. As we are approaching it is very cloudy. As we start to rise on the mountain the fog is rolling in. I was thinking I won’t be seeing Mt. Fuji today.

Mt. Fuji is only visible about 3 days a week so the odds aren’t necessarily in your favor and January/February are better times to see it. I saw it two days from Tokyo when I visited in February and also from the flight returning to Korea.

However the further we rose we started to see the sun and then the clouds cleared. Or we just moved above them as they were still below us from the 5 th station but you could clearly see the top of Mt. Fuji.

From here we went to lunch which was inside of Fujikyu Highlands which is an amusement park. Sadly we had no time for rides. On a clear sunny day you can see Fujisan from here.

We had hottoe which was flat udon noodles with fish. We also had some tempura vegetables.

They have a roller coaster called Fujiyama where you sit by lying on your back although you don’t stay that way as not only does the track spin you upside down and around but your seat spins you around or upside down as well.

From here we headed to Hakone it was about an hour and 15 minute drive. We were headed to Lake Ashi for a boat ride.

It was pretty chilly on the boat but I stayed outside to enjoy the view and the cool breeze. We took the boat one stop where we got on the Hakone-en rope way or cable car to the top of the second highest mountain in Japan. Fujisan is the highest.

The ropeway car was very crowded as we took it the 7 minutes to top. The view was clear at the bottom but the further we rose it became totally fogged over. It was kind of eerie looking. At the top you could only see a few feet in front of you.

From here we boarded the bus to head back to Tokyo it took about two hours to get back to Shinjuku. The bus had wifi and I checked the bus times schedule to head to the airport and noticed the bus I wanted to take had already ended service for the day.

When I got to Shinjuku station I asked about getting to the airport and they said a different bus was still running so I head to the ticket counter but when I get there they say the last bus was at 6pm and it’s about 6:20.

So I head back to the train station as the guy says the JR Narita express should still be running. I buy a regular JR ticket and head to the express train platform and get on the train and it’s making an announcement that all seats are assigned tickets. So I get off the train to find a way to get a ticket. I get my ticket and get back on the train.

My flight to Bangkok is in the morning but I’m staying by the airport so I don’t have more than an hour of travel in the morning.imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

Back in Tokyo

So I’m sitting on a plane from Narita airport to Tokyo. I’ve spent about 9 days with my Mom and brother in Waikiki and at Aulani. So far I think my flight to Tokyo has been the only one on time. Although I would have loved to spend more time in Hawaii.

It was great to see them as it was over a year since I last saw them.

Once again the Speedi shuttle driver did not have my name on the list. So they had to call and confirm I had a reservation.

I got to the airport and go to the Air China line. The guy at the counter asks if I live in Japan. I say no then asks if I have another flight leaving the country which I do but he wants a paper copy of a confirmation for a flight. I have a list of all my flight info but didn’t print all of the confirmation emails.

He ends up taking me to their office and lets me use a computer so I can print my confirmation email to show I have a flight leaving Japan. Otherwise he may have denied me boarding the plane as they are afraid customs might not let me into Japan as I have a one way return flight to Japan.

The guy at customs in Japan asks me no questions and sends me on my way. I guess better safe than sorry.

Yes, I’ve been to Tokyo before but a round trip ticket to/from Tokyo was cheaper than a one way ticket to Honolulu and then another destination in Asia.

I have a little more than a day back in Japan before I head to Thailand. I can’t believe it’s almost been a month since I left Korea.

So far I’ve been to Okinawa, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, Japan. Then I flew to Hawaii.

I’ve went snorkeling, saw sea turtles, been to many temples, taken boats, trains, and planes and have done many other things.

I’m going to try and write more but I just forget and fail to do so.

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial

So despite getting to bed around 3 am, I was awake around 8 am. I decided I better get moving instead of falling back to sleep for a few more hours. I checked out but left my bag as I was going to Sun Moon Lake for one night and would be back the next day.

I stopped at Ren Ten Tea as I wanted to get a drink before I started my day but it was too early and no tea was finished brewing yet. So I headed to the MRT and got on a train to the Chiang Kai-Shek stop. You could buy a card or a one way token. I just did one way tokens, which meant I had to buy one each time so the card could have been more convenient.

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Chiang Kai-Shek was a soldier and statesman, head of the Nationalist government in China from 1928 to 1949, and subsequently head of the Chinese Nationalist government in exile on Taiwan. In 1975 after his death they decided to build a memorial in his honor.

Since I was unable to get a tea I bought a sasaparilla from a machine at the memorial. It tasted a bit like bubble gum to me.

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This is one of the gates that surrounds the memorial and gardens.

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There was a pond with fish, turtles, and birds. Part of the pond was under construction.

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Flying Away

So I just got back from a short trip to Taiwan. We had a short summer break from class so I headed off to explore Taiwan. As soon as my last class was finished I hopped on a bus to head to the Gwangju bus terminal. I had bought my ticket ahead of time as I was afraid they might sell out, I was also concerned I might not make the bus. I actually had about 20 minutes before my bus arrived so I grabbed an early dinner at Lotteria, which is a fast food chain.

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But it ended up that my bus did not even arrive until after the time it normally would have left. Buses and trains are normally very prompt and if it says it’s leaving at 9:35 you better be on it before then as it’s probably leaving at 9:35. It’s only the second time since I’ve been here where a bus has arrived after the time it was supposed to have left.

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About three and a half hours later I arrived at the Busan Sassang bus terminal. From here I had a short walk and then needed to get onto the Busan Metro to the Gimhae airport. The cicadas were so loud in this area, I wish I had ear plugs. The metro stops right at the airport and then I headed inside to the airport. I got in line for Jeju Air. Several minutes later an employee asked me where I was going. When I said Taiwan he then directed me to a different line on the other side of this terminal building. Other people also followed me as they were at the wrong place. They needed better signs. Even at this end there was a line for Taiwan and a different line for Guam both on Jeju Air.

I was glad I had chosen the earlier bus as this line was pretty long and I still had to go through customs and security but luckily both of those lines were pretty short. I had a short wait and it should have been time to board my plane but well they didn’t start boarding until after the flight was supposed to leave.

It was very confusing as there were three flights leaving from the same game within 20 minutes of each other. Well you would think this isn’t possible but they have you get on a bus from the gate which takes you to your plane. But eventually we were all loaded up and on our way to Taiwan. I enjoyed the leg room on this flight.

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We get to Taiwan and there is no gate available so we have to wait. We finally get to a gate and I head through customs. I didn’t check a bag so I get some cash from an ATM, then get a SIM card for my phone, and then get a ticket for a bus to head to Taipei as the airport is about an hour away. Get to the bus terminal, I hop in a cab and head to Space Inn. It’s after 2 am and I’m tired. So I quickly head to bed.

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