Merry Christmas Pt. 1

   
Authors’s Note ***This is less about Christmas and more about what we’ve been doing.I’ve been bad about posting. It’s not that I don’t like talking about our adventures. It’s just that…there’s no time to talk about your adventure while you’re on it.

So let’s recap a bit as we’ve reached our halfway point. Japan was incredible, albeit fairly pricey. The food in Japan is delicious, fresh, and super convenient. We ate our weight in white rice and baked goods–there are tons of bakeries that offer up delicious savory goods for a buck or two. It was really nice to spend time with my dad and just being part of the Japanese experience. We were able to see so much in so little time…both touristy stuff and random local experiences. Incredible public transportation made everything possible and we were always on time. We got to see/meet family and catch up with old friends. 

Sierra loved Japan and was happy she married me to piggyback on my culture (obviously because Japanese are the best). Overall it was a great start to our adventure.
We flew from Tokyo to Ho Chi Min city with a layover in Taiwan. It was awesome as my friend KT (from B-school) met us at the airport and took us into town for dinner. Our flight got in at 5:00 pm and we were scheduled to leave the next morning at 7:00 am. We decided to not get a hotel…still not sure about that decision. We were able to see Taipei, get a delicious dinner, walk the night market, and grab beers with another of my peers, Melinda. It was so, so nice for them to share in their hospitality.

  
We made it back to the airport around 2:40 am and failed at sleeping on the random services throughout the airport. Like a zombie we checked into our flight to Vietnam and make it into Ho Chi Minh at around 10:30 only to wait in line to get our Visa for about 2.5 hours. That wasn’t pleasant as most guide books said it’s usually about a 30 minute wait. It is a peak travel time so I can understand a bit.

Part 2 to come soon.

Kyoto.

This morning we left Tokyo to meet up with my dad and head to Kyoto. Before we hopped on the bullet train, we picked up a bento box (a convenient to go meal) and got on the bullet train.*side tangent. 

 Japanese public transportation is so easy and efficient. So far we’ve taken busses, trains, taxis, and our little feet to our destinations without even remotely being concerned that we wouldn’t make it somewhere. Compared to all the countries I’ve traveled to, English-speaking and otherwise, this has been the easiest. Also most delicious as you can often enjoy a cheap quality meal in the expansive underground train stations. I’d compare them to malls with super fancy food courts.

Back to the day–hopped on the bullet train for a two and half hour trip to Kyoto with only one stop. The ride was filled with city, city, and more city. Everything is developed. Where do people grow food? Traveling by train is pretty cheap for foreigners (you can buy a highly discounted rate, it’s all you can ride and you will definitely get your money’s worth). We made it to our hotel a bit too early to check in so we dropped our bags and took a taxi to see the biggest, baddest, Buddha temple. 

  
It was crowded with locals and foreigners alike. The streets to the temple are lined with little shops filled with Japanese pottery, baked goods, and kimonos.  After some temple exploration and praying for promotions, love, and other good fortunes (and donating yen of course), we went to a massive electronic store to get some photos printed of our wedding for my dad. We used the instant print machines and went to the third of seven floors to find a photo frame. The store reminded you of a blend between a discoball, ikea, and the kiosks of skincare crap that people are trying to sell you at malls (“miss, do you want to try”). It was visually stimulating and enjoyable for me because it was seven floors of electronics, but I could see how people would get sick/scared of that kinda place.

We headed to a sweet covered market/mall. It was filled with socks, dried fish, and probably many MANY things that I would want to eat. We ended up choosing a cost restaurant that serves Kyoto style cuisine (similar to a country like Mexico, each region in Japan has a certain style, flavor, or type of cuisine for that area). The food consisted of sashimi, fish cake, pickled veggies, fried lotus vegetable, potato salad, and porridge–all served tapa’s style with a few sapporos. 

  
We headed to a convenience store to pick up a drink and dessert. A creamy drink for me and a hot milk tea for my bride capped the dinner. We walked to a video game arcade and played some games to get in the truly Japanese spirit. Tomorrow we take another bullet train to a small resort town 3-4 hours away. 

JKM

Tokyo (shinjuku, rappongi, shibuya, and ebisu)

After a really delicious hotel breakfast of western and Asian treats, we headed to Shinjuku to visit some famous gardens. We quickly found the right train, got off at the right station, walked the wrong direction for 10 minutes, took a taxi to the actual right place, and walked around the massive gardens (which was less than two bucks to enter). 

 
The garden was…garden like–we spent a ton of time just soaking in the vitamin D and laying in the grass. 

We met up with my cousin, her husband and daughter, and headed to shibuya. He bought us a beer to walk around the streets with (booze isn’t illegal to drink publicly). It was cool/odd. We got lunch at a great yakitori place, lunch was served in multiple rounds with small plates one after another. It was so great catching up.

  
Sierra’s college friend Mariko met up with us and we explored some more in Shibuya. We obviously had to stop at a photobooth and take pictures which were awesome. From there we went to rappongi hills, walked around, headed to ebisu, ate some more delicious food, and called it a night. 

Today was seriously so delightful. We got to connect with friends and family, explore an incredible city, eat some delicious food, and just enjoy our lives. More to come but I can’t keep my eyes open. 

  

And it begins.

  
It’s 6:47am and it begins. A last minute late night downloading movies, packing unnecessary things, and getting the house/dog sorted for our departure. It seems surreal–one month of no work and no school. Holler-lujah. Today the day entails an hour flight to LA and a much longer one to Tokyo. A few nyquils, a neck pillow, and a ginger ale, will make this day a breeze. 

It seems weird that we keep telling people it’s our honeymoon since we got married a few months ago, but I’m excited to spend the next month testing our marriage through airports, my snoring, forcing her to eat things that look like things she shouldn’t eat, and my constant wit/annoyance. Pray for us.

Also. 

Jensen’s bag = 18lbs

Sierra’s bag = 28lbs

Peace, love, and ramen.

Stay tuned to Instagram : thinkjensen 

Jensen (with Sierra watching me type)
Ps. I’m typing this from my iPhone. Grammer and spelling graces would be appreciated, though I wouldn’t lend them to you. 

Planning a trip for Southeast Asia…a guide (Part 1)

PART 1.

My lovely wife and I have postponed our honeymoon from our wedding in August, to a now-approaching December. While being posted up at an all-inclusive resort sipping on blended, fruity, rum-induced drinks served by man named Juanito sounds absolutely delightful, we opted do make more of an adventure out of it. With a relatives in Japan and affordable travel in Asia, we looked to do a four week trip through Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. Now that the trip is less than two weeks away, we are starting to gear up for at trip to prove we are still in our 20’s (albeit later in that decade than I’d like to admit).

So with Jensen being in graduate school, the dates were basically laid out for us. Leaving after finals and returning before the next quarter starts. For us that meant booking a trip for four weeks leaving December 10th and coming home January 8th. With the help of our honeymoon fund and working our butts off (and our credit cards) we booked a round trip flight from LA to Tokyo (just under 2000 bucks total). I feel like we got a decent rate, but we had to book it later than we’d like as we wanted to renew our passports before we left (for the sake of collecting stamps–elitism at its finest). So after getting our marriage license in the mail, updating social security, and sending out for a passport renewal, we booked our initial flights in early November.

Things we considered:

Do we use a travel agent (initially yes, but Jensen is too hands on)?

Where do we book our flights from (Phoenix/LA/Tokyo/Osaka/Bangkok)?

Do we use _____ (insert small Asian airline) or pay more for _____(large international airline)?

Are we getting ripped off? (yes/no/yes,but whatever/no, really no/I don’t know)

Are the costs flying into airport X, worth taking an additional flight/bus to location Z?

What did ____(crowdsourced person) do?

 

After all these considerations and MANY MANY MANY more, we booked our flight from LA (LAX) to Tokyo (NRT) via united, with a separate initial flight from Phoenix to LA (via southwest on rewards points, aka FREEEE). We are not ballers on a budget, we’re just on a budget, so any opportunity to save money at our own convenience, we investigated.

 

Part 2.

Where are we going now?

 

Hello-Moto.

Do you remember those Motorola commercials? Neither do I. 

It’s been awhile, a long while, since I updated this blog. This reason I didn’t update this was because everything else seemed more important, now this has rotated back to the top of my “importance” list. 

So when I had originally started this blog, I wanted people to see that it was ok to meander life in a way that was both organic (natural) and productive. It could be argued that the truly vagabond traveling type still live productive important lives, but for me, I wanted to have enough structure that I could still work towards my goals of family and future. I have since redefined what life meandering in my own life entails, for instance, I’m starting graduate school in the fall to pursue my MBA at a reputable program. Some might argue that going to grad school is the OPPOSITE of meandering, at which I would say, “absolutely”. 

I’m putting the meandering part of my life on hold for two years, so that I can start even greater meandering feats post school and decide on where we’ll put in roots (my lovely partner and I). It is exciting to know where and how i’ll be living the next two years (Arizona and poorly), but there will always be the urge to find something new when the novelty of the cultivated life ceases.

Other blog posts are brewing in my head.

J

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The Consumer Challenge

I haven’t, in a very long time, posted anything on this blog. I’ve got many excuses as to why I haven’t–the main reasons revolving around lack of time, nothing to write about, blah blah blah. But i’m back with some passion.

I actually been really excited about this post. SO EXCITED that I logged into my computer to blog about it.

For so many reasons, I like to buy things. I like purchasing new (used) clothes, I love my apple products, I like finding deals on woot.com, mindlessly searching craigslist, buying new shiny things, steepandcheap.com, gambling, and so many other things that I use (often in excess).

Shopping To Happiness

 

 

Why should I stop? Not including my relationships, I honestly feel like I often relate my happiness to the “awesome” things that I own/ or can buy. I’d like to see how dependent I am on these things. Secondly, I anticipate some big life events happening that I should save up money for. I would be able to save a bit more money with this goal/experience.

 

 

 

 

So here is my challenge:
From August 1st, 2013 to December 31st, 2013. I will no longer purchase anything that is excessive to my existence. What that includes are physical things that don’t completely contribute to the success of my life.

– clothes, electronics, gambling, consumer goods, books, and many other things that I can’t think of off the cusp.

Things that aren’t included:

-things necessary for my well being (work related items), food, internet, electricity, and experiences (paying for a national park or going to a movie with my girlfriend). I haven’t decided if buying gifts for loved ones should count.

I’m certain that I haven’t thought of nearly enough things and this post is subject to be more fluid as things come up. I’m not entirely certain If I can accomplish this…but I asked my girlfriend, friends, and family to help me through this process. Stay tuned for some updates.

 

Jensen

 

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Did hell just freeze over?

It’s been a bit chilly round here. It’s been freezing and not just based on Arizona standards, but the pipes in a few buildings on our property busted. I think it’s a really interesting experience to have an inch of sitting water on the ground and not being able to shower for 6 days (and counting). The water, thanks to some wonderful handymen, has been restored and there is a good chance I’ll finally get to shower.

Work has been super interesting and a bit hectic. Next week I head to Phoenix for about a week for work. Then I come back to Patagonia for a few days, go skiing, and go to Cancun for work. I’m super pumped. I also found out I’ll be heading to either Ecuador or Nicaragua for work in a March. The best part is that I can go visit Sierra before then! WINNING.

I also need to laundry, clean my room, and file my taxes.

In other news, I was told I’m going to get internet in my house (hooray), it increases the likelihood that i’ll continue to blog even more. No promises. I also stopped eating carbs, if only temporarily. We’ll see how long that last (aka until I go to fourpeaks.com).

I don’t have any interesting picture to upload. But i’ll dig a random one just so that I can appeal to more learning styles.

Jamoan.339344_10151389564784750_1358923469_o

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The Best 2013 Ever.

So I typed this post about a week ago and so many wonderful things happened. I got a ton of new and challenging responsibilities at work, I was surprised on my birthday by my girlfriend (who plotted with my parents, sister, and coworkers), and I turned 26. Everything else still applies about this post

 

The Best 2013 Ever.

When people say things are the best, does that mean it’s the best of everything?

Exhibit A:

“this album is the best” – best of all albums? or best of this artist’s albums? or the best of anything, ever?

Well THIS 2013 is the BEST of the BEST. I’m excited about life. Some more room to grow in my job, a wonderful partner (I’ve come to the realization that partner no longer applies to same-sex), and many cool new opportunities.

This Christmas season has been a wonderful whirlwind. I spent time with my sister who is only going to be in the states a few more months before she is bound to Sweden with her husband. I got to spend some time meeting my girlfriend’s family and additional family friends. I took some time off of work to spend it with people I truly love. I ate tons of delicious food (too much perhaps).

Things that I’m excited about:

  1. Growing my relationship with GOD.               
  2. Growing my relationship with Sierra.
  3. Growing my hair.
  4. Running (or learning how).
  5. Traveling.
  6. Becoming MORE competent at my job.
  7. Learning about life.
  8. Enjoying the outdoors.
  9. Learning Spanish.
  10. Being more thankful for my family (especially my parents).

 

 

 

Jolly.

It’s a beautiful time of the year and I have never been so thankful for this glorious holiday season. I can hear my brother-in-law Mats casually chatting with my parents as my sister sits interested on the couch. My dog lays snuggled in a warm canine burrito with layers of blankets. I just got off the phone with a Liverpool friend, drunkenly talking some fun times we shared. I chatted briefly with my caring companion as she took a break for lunch.

Life is great.

 

How do you judge the quality of your life?

The people, the moments, the memories?

In this instance, I am unbelievably grateful for the community in which I have been gracefully blessed. I work with some truly amazing people doing work I believe in. I’m dating a girl who I don’t deserve because of her unmatched kindness. My sister and her husband are here for the holidays, which hasn’t happened in many, many years. My parents are always ever supportive and have created a haven for my family and I to be surrounded with love.

Generally speaking, Christmas rarely is filled with gifts. The last few years present shopping consisted of a work holiday party, a white elephant exchange, and some Christmas angels at the local mall. This year, I stumbled upon actually shopping for people.

I like shopping–I like giving. I did it by myself. I think if I was getting drug around by my collar it would be far less enjoyable. But no, it is quite therapeutic for me. Tomorrow i’m going to stumble into my favorite book store to stare at the oodles of books on the wall. Can one be addicted to reading? I’ll let you know.

It’s also friend time around the neighborhood. With many of my close friends moving around the US/World, Christmas becomes the annual meet up and drink a beer time of year. It’s great to see and hear about the lives of my friends.

I’m pumped to spend some more time with my little family.

I’m pumped about Christmas Eve service.

I’m pumped to fly to California to hang out with the “in-laws”

I’m pumped to be living the good life.

 

 

I should add more picture. Someday.