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Tag Archives: asia13

We started September on vacation in Asia and didn’t get back until the 17th. I was hoping that since we were in Asia in September this year (in the past we would go in August), it would be cooler – but it was actually just as hot (if not hotter) than August! Except for a couple of days in Busan, the temperature was above 30°C every day!

We were in for a shock then, because when we returned to Toronto the temperatures were in the mid-teens! Autumn had arrived indeed.

The two week vacation was a vacation for Apollo as well as he took a break from advancing. Before our trip he had started taking his first steps, but then he regressed since he didn’t get to practice walking much while away. He has since improved and can walk from the living room to the kitchen by himself (without falling).

The big news in Toronto after we got back from vacation (who knows what happened while we were gone) was the talk of the subway extension into Scarborough. Both the federal and provincial governments have committed funds to the project so it might actually see the light of day. For someone who had to ride the LRT and then transfer at Kennedy for many years when I was a teen, this is great news. For the other areas of the city that were hoping for a transit line (light rail even, not a subway), not so much.

We didn’t plan a lot on this trip to Japan since its our third trip in 5 years, but one thing we did plan was to go to a baseball game because we have heard that that experience is unlike what you get at North American parks.

I did some research beforehand and while the Tokyo Giants (Yankees of Japan) would not have a home game during our stay, the Yokohama DeNA Baystars across the Tokyo bay did, and they were playing the Hanshin Tigers (Red Sox of Japan). We couldn’t buy tickets online (cheaply) so we just went up to the gate and bought them – although this was difficult as we had a double handicap where we couldn’t speak or read the language and had a baby with stroller.

In the end, it wasn’t too hard as the random ticket office lady spoke English and we were able to check our stroller at the gate. There were actually a lot of babies at the game!

We sat on the first base (home team) side at the 200 level equivalents. It cost 3500 per ticket but I got a 1500 discount because the promotion that day was that men got a discount. We also arrived early enough for the tailgate party which featured cheerleaders and a power ranger (turns out he was one of 3 mascots for the team).

You’re allowed to bring your own food, drinks and booze into the game so we went to the local corner store to pick up some stuff. They only ask that you pour your beer into a cup. You could also buy a beer from one of the beer girls running around – there were a lot of them each selling a different brand. That would set you back 500 which is about double the price. You could also buy bento boxes, ice cream or ice coffee/tea – no peanuts though.

In the seventh inning, instead of stretching they blow up balloons in the team colors and then collectively let them go/deflate into the air. The visiting team got to do their colors at the top of the inning.

The other weird thing was that relief pitchers would come in on a convertible! They still have a walk of shame to the dugout though.

The seating is a bit different. They put seats in the foul line (where MLB TV cameras are) and there is an overhang so you can sit above the dugouts (and get things that players toss)

For all the hype about the the baseball experience in Japan, it wasn’t that incredible – they just do a lot of things differently than North America. After a while, the game is just as boring or interesting as it would be here because once you get past all the culture watching, it is still baseball. I would say that the experience is like going to see a Toronto FC match at BMO field. You have ardent supporters who bang on drums and cheer their team on. If you are a true fan, then you want to yell and cheer anyways regardless of where you are.

I am a huge fan of traveling as light as possible and one area where I am always optimizing is my toiletries bag. On this recent trip to Asia, I picked up some supplies at Daiso and Muji to further miniaturize my toiletries bag. Here is what my “version 4” toiletries bag now looks like:

I think it’s pretty small and I’m happy with the size now. I picked up the mesh vinyl bag from Daiso and bought the smallest possible bottles for body wash and 2-in-1 shampoo that I could from Muji (they are just for emergencies anyways, because hotels usually supply everything I need).

Also in this pack are:

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
  • Electronic shaver with built-in world charger (no need for extension cord or transformer) and long hair trimmer. This only has a single coil due to the size, which is annoying because it’s slow, but that’s the sacrifice to be compact
  • Extra business cards in small waterproof baggie
  • Bandages, rubber bands, alcohol wipes, backup floss picks, Q-tips, and a foldable nail clipper

The best thing is that it isn’t super “packed”. Everything fits with ease so I could even put in a towel if I needed.

For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs is one of those books that have been on my to-read list forever, and I just got around to reading it over my trip to Asia. It is by Robert Heinlein whose sci-fi stories I had read when I was younger. He is probably most well-known in mainstream for having written Starship Troopers.

For Us, The Living piqued my interest because it was his first novel and not published until after his death. It was written in 1938 and tells the story of a gentlemen who “died” in 1939, only to re-appear in 2086. This premise is really a vehicle for Heinlein to describe his idea of what could be the future of the Unites States. It’s not a description of an utopia, but rather an attainable future, although there would be lots to study within an English class.

He goes into quite a lot of detail describing a new economic system, how its different than the one used in 1939 (which I guess is still similar to what we use now) and how its better. He also discusses a new moral system (which are the customs) which seems like it could work (but I can’t see how we would convince an entire society to suddenly switch to this approach).

There’s also bits of traditional sci-fi elements (i.e., new tech) but what was interesting to me was they discussed going to the moon. This was a far-fetched dream in 1938, but it happened less than 30 years later!

I watched The Internship on my cross-Pacific flight. That’s the one by Vince Vaughan where he and Owen Wilson become interns at Google. Out of all the recent movies availble, that was the one that interested me the most because I wanted to see how accurate the portrayal of an internship would be.

I was kind of disappointed in that rather than being about interns it was more of a coming-of-age type movie first, then a huge product placement movie second. It seemed to show some of what being an intern at Google would be like (extrapolating from my intern experiences), as well as the Google campus, but I guess I was expecting too much for it to be a documentary about internships.

I would rate the movie 3 out of 5 stars. Even though I was not expecting too much, I still didn’t find it that funny or entertaining. I enjoyed the credits the most though as they integrated it into a bunch of Google products.

While we travelled to a variety of places this year, we haven’t gone on an extended vacation. We decided to do one now to Asia before Pauline’s maternity leave ends, and so that Apollo can visit his relatives there (or vice versa).

However, instead of sitting around HK for two weeks, we’re going to do some of our own travels beforehand, going to Tokyo and Busan for a couple of days each. For once we’re not “backpacking” our way there as we have a lot of baby-related things. We bought a suitcase in Japan the first time we were there (to carry bunch of stuff back) and now we are using it again to go to Japan. Seems like that is the only time we use that suitcase!