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Wonderful Vacation to Southeast Asia!

I am finally back from my international trip where I visited three areas, four hotels, and took a gazillion trains. The background: My daughter and I went to Okinawa Japan where my son is stationed with the Army to celebrate his birthday and decided to also visit the main island of Japan and South Korea. This post won’t be a travelogue but I am happy to say we had tremendous fun. I rarely travel internationally–the last time was when I toured the Soviet Union (now Russia et al)–so didn’t know what to expect as far as languages, customs, foreign money, and everything in between. Words can’t express how nervous the whole thing made me (I’m not a brave person) but with my kids’ support, I did it and am happy I did.

A few highlights:

  • We planned to carry on our luggage and do laundry in the hotels. That often didn’t work as there were strictly-enforced weight limits on flights.
  • We traveled Delta’s Comfort Plus to and from Japan. This cost more money than Main Cabin but much less than Business Class and turned out to be a wonderful balance of cost and comfort. Check it out next time you take a nine-hour flight.
  • I worried about phone charges but that was solved by leaving my phone in Airplane Mode the entire time. Luckily, my son had local phone service so we used his.  
  • We stayed in US Military vacation housing. This is discounted luxury hotels they make available to Active and Retired military. It had everything I needed at a fourth of the price.
  • I bought a Scottevest for the trip with its dozen pockets and RFID protection for carrying my passport, military base passes, wallet, receipts, room keys, phone, headphones, rechargers, medication info, and incidentals. It was a life saver. 
  • The first thing I noticed as I arrived in Narita (the Japanese airport that was our port of entry) was how quiet the terminal was. The people didn’t chatter endlessly as Americans do. That changed when we arrived at Customs and Immigration, thanks to all the foreigners. 
  • Japan and South Korea have few trash cans and still no trash lying around on streets, on trains, on sidewalks. It seems that no one tosses their refuse on the ground. I ended carrying mine around until I came across the rare trash can or a restroom.
  • Japanese trains are clean, well-maintained, safe, dependable, affordable, and packed with riders. 
  • As one who speaks neither Japanese or Korean, I gained an appreciation for symbols and hand motions. Most signs included a visual of what they meant which was all that save me from complete confusion many times. 
  • The Japanese walk everywhere and do it quickly. Many people older than me passed me up and climbed multiple levels of stairs without slowing down (by the thrid flight, I was stopping to rest). I tracked my steps and floors on a health app and I often exceeded 17,000 steps and over 40 floors. Yikes! 
  • There are trains to take you anywhere you need. Most people don’t commute to work in cars and taxis are horrendously expensive. But, once again–these folks don’t mind walking. The train we’d take to our tours were always at least a half mile from our hotel. Lots and lots and lots of walking.
  • Many restaurants didn’t offer napkins with the meal. When we asked at one of the eateries, they gave us a box of Kleenex because that was all she had.
  • I ate 50% more food than normal and lost one pound. Woot!

A few problems–not unexpected on a long international trip:

  • I lost my Surface Pro laptop on my Air Seoul flight. Multiple phone calls did no good, nor did visits to the airline and airport lost and found. My biggest worry was security. I spent 3-4 hours changing passwords, locking down accounts and the device itself, and then daily checked my Find My Laptop account. It never showed up, nor did anyone try to use it. I found out too late that I should have installed a program called BitLocker that would wipe the device as soon as someone tried to use it. I still had my phone so became adept at doing everything (like getting boarding passes) from my phone. Sigh.
  • ‘Send’ stopping working on my phone. ‘Receive’ still worked (thankfully) but I couldn’t Reply or compose new emails. Troubleshooting, I found out that Gmail still worked as did my webmail. My workaround became to go directly to the mail sites (rather than my phone’s aggregation of all mail sites). From there, I could copy-paste any message I needed to and reply. Update: It works again, now that I’m home, so it must have had something to do with Japanese/South Korean internet settings. Hmm…
  • My son broke his Chromebook. By the end of the trip, we had only my daughter’s iPad and our phones.

OK, Debby (over at D.G. Kaye Writer)–you wrote the book on traveling. What did I do wrong that I should fix on my next trip?

–A note on the picture: That was taken at the DMZ. Clever those South Koreans.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, The Quest for Home, Fall 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

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114 thoughts on “Wonderful Vacation to Southeast Asia!

  1. Sounds like you had a memorable trip, Jacqui! (So sorry for the loss of your laptop though.) A friend of mine moved to Okinawa and I’m looking forward to visit one day – from what you’ve written I guess I’m in for a treat! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad you had a great time! Sorry about the laptop and chromebook, though. :/ I left my kindle on an airplane. Didn’t realize it was gone until several days later. By then, the airline couldn’t find it. It was probably long gone. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like a great trip despite losing your laptop. Ugh! That would be awful! Great tip on the Bitlocker. I always back up my whole computer before I leave on a trip. With all the walking–reminds me of the one trip I took to Europe and the incredible amount of walking we did (even though we were on a tour). Then again, it worked out considering so many of our meals were heavy on butter and starch 😀 Thanks for the Scottevest tip!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always loved the idea of going to Japan, it’s been on my bucket list since I was a teen. I’m so glad you had a wonderful time and it sounds like you managed, with your kids’ support, to figure it all out as you went along. I would have been pretty nervous too!
    Happy (very belated I’m sure) birthday to your son! How’s he doing over there?
    Interesting about the quiet airport terminal. Cultural differences can be quite striking I imagine when it’s a place like that, so large that’s usually incredibly loud and overbearing in the US and UK, too. Not sure I could kept kept up with the locals walking so quickly! If you had the chance, would you go back? Even though you had a great time I’m sure it’s good to get back to home comforts and routine (and a language you can speak)! 🙂
    Caz xx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What an amazing opportunity to take in such a different culture from the good ole USA. I hope you had good weather for the trip. Very special to spend time exploring the world with your kids. I know how worried you would be losing that laptop and security. But again, maybe not having an internet connection was a good thing so you could enjoy the region without the distraction of notifications, etc. I like days when I don’t use the Internet. My 14-year-old grandson was chosen to visit Japan with 9 other students. They are visiting our sister city, Yahaba. Going to school there, giving presentations about the US, and living in the families’ homes. What an experience. He leaves in a couple of weeks. I’m sending him the link to your interesting post.
    JQ Rose

    Liked by 1 person

    • How exciting for your grandson! He will be so impressed. There were many times we were walking (of course) down the street and would run into dozens of uniformed school kids, going to or coming from school. What a curious, happy bunch!

      Like

  6. I’m so sorry you lost your laptop. Chances are it was stolen and sold quickly. Although I think I’d take my laptop on a journey, I think I’d keep it in a suitcase and use it just in the hotel room.

    Do you think you might be able to create a novel from your adventure?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds like a fun trip 🙂 (Aside from the lost and broken technology 😦 I wouldn’t dare take my laptop on holiday because I’m bound to lose it!)

    I’ve always wanted to visit Japan. I think I’d enjoy the walking, the trains, and the food, but I know very little Japanese. Good to hear the signs include visuals!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lol, I chuckled at the end of the post when you asked ME what you did wrong, as I was shaking my head thinking, OMG, am I travelling on a full moon or mercury retrograde when anything that can go wrong will go wrong? These phases of the moon exaggerate whatever is happening.Some things are preventable, like, how on earth could you lose sight of your laptop. I learned my lesson on laptops ( I have the same on as you) on one flight where I left my husband in charge of my computer bag in the overhead bin. Thankfully, mine was a happier ending. But we’re allowed to carry 2 personal items so I have my overstuffed carryon and a huge tote purse where I place a small purse inside the tote, along with my laptop bag. Brilliant huh? Lol, my laptop never leaves my sight. But I must say you’re quite the warrior woman on all that traveling. Sounds like a great bucket list trip. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Wow! Jacqui, this would be an amazing trip without the addition of being there with your son and daughter! How truly special to all be together and for them to show you around! You walked a lot and must now be super-fit! I’m smiling at your end comment to Debby – definitely the go-to travel expert/writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sometimes I think we make the most personal growth when we get out of our comfort zone, Jacqui. I find it empowers us to take on future challenges. Congratulations on your trip and for being brave.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It sounds like you had an amazing experience, despite the glitches. I love the glimpses we get from your bullet-points – they highlight the things we take for granted in our own lives. I wish our culture was better at dealing with litter.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sounds like a great trip, Jacqui, despite your technology losses. I have been to South Korea and found it an interesting place. My blonde hair attracted a lot of attention and touching though, which I didn’t like. I would love to see some photographs if you fancy sharing a few.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It sounds like you had an amazing trip, Jacqui despite the loss of your Surface Pro (that must have been awful). The only times I’ve been out of the country have been to go to Mexico or the Caribbean. I bet after you were there for a while, you adapted to all that walking. What a healthy lifestyle.

    I was amazed by the restaurants had no napkins. How odd!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s interesting. Same thing here. I’m not overweight but not young. There were many people much older than me who regularly passed me by. I wouldn’t mind being that healthy.

      Like

  14. What an adventure! I would love to go to Japan, particularly for the next Olympics, but its going to be out of my price range next year.
    I can’t imagine how anxious I would be if I lost my laptop – poor you! I travel with mine all the time, and dread damage (I had to have a replacement screen once, but that’s all so far), and I got excited when you mentioned BitLocker – what a great idea! Unfortunately it isn’t available for my operating system – drat!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I really enjoyed this post. I love to travel but have never been to Japan, so your insights were really interesting to me. I’m sorry to hear about your surface book and the email app problems. Your creative workarounds were great. You could write a great guest post on a travel blog with your great tips!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sounds like an amazing adventure, Jacquie:) Sorry about your laptop, but the rest must have been quite a exploration for you and your family that was full of wonderful memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Jacqui – well at least your daughter was with you, and at times your son – you obviously had some perks re the Army … but what an amazing sounding trip. Apart from the loss of the laptop – hope it now doesn’t cause you any hassle … but so much fun … lovely – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  18. OMG – I wouldn’t know where to begin with the passwords and all. That’s why I have a notebook that is not connected with my main computer’s important personal information. I’m basically computer illiterate and be lost in your situation!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Interesting post thanks Jacqui for sharing your travels with us. Could you not track your lost pro laptop? There is a way I believe? But sorry about that – but it shows how adaptable you are! Welcome home!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t but I think it’s because no one turned it on. That’s why I was so sure it was in the Lost and Found–but they wouldn’t fess up to it. The other answer is someone simply sold off the parts. I miss my digital pen.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Jacqui,

    We’re Apple people so all of our devices are linked to the cloud ‘Find My iPhone’ feature which gives us the option to erase all content at any time we feel our device is unretrievable. I hate that your laptop wasn’t located but I guess there is always hope that some honest purrson will turn it in. In spite of your trouble, I’m sure your visit to Asia was a wonderful adventure spent with the birthday boy and your daughter. You’d never catch me traveling across the ocean. 🙂 So, glad to have you back in Blogosphere!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a wipe feature–as I have on my Apple phone. Quite disappointed. I am going to install that on my laptop’s replacement! My kids made everything work. Sean was so comfortable in the area (he’s been there two years now) and Meaghan travels a lot. I turned many problems over to them!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Wow! Sounds like a great trip except for losing your laptop. A trip wouldn’t be a trip without something going wrong. I would love to visit that part of the world. So would Amanda!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Fantastic summary Jacqui. Looks like it turned out to be different from your normal life in America. That is great, I think. And perhaps the whole point and fun of travelling. And, if you can handle different, try India next 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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