On the road again
World Travel Blog› entry 9 of 10 › view all entries
Leaving Sado island Japan on September 27th, I knew I had quite the journey ahead of me into the unknown. I had lived in Asia off and on for the past 7 years and consistently for the last 3. Re-migrating back to the US is now ahead.
My first destination was Niigata city. After a 2 1/2 hour boat ride, I arrive. A night in a shoe box sized hotel would be my last taste of Japan.....so I thought. On September 28th, I headed to Tokyo's Narita airport to catch my flight to Bangkok. Unfortunately, I would not make my flight. The always reliable Japan rail system failed me. My shinkansen (bullet train) was stopped multiple times because of signal delays down line. I was delayed 2 hours and by the time I got to the airport, my flight was long gone and put on the same flight 23 hours later. Down in the dumps, I was fortunate enough to receive a hotel voucher from someone who's flight to Taiwan was cancelled due to a typhoon which they weren't using. I stayed another night in a hotel in Narita.
September 29th, I head to the airport at noon. I had 7 hours to kill before my flight, most of which I spent working on my computer online. Thankfully, no problems with my flight and I made it to Bangkok around 11:15pm. Grabbed my luggage, avoided the lurking rip-off taxis and got a 'normal' taxi to take me to my friends place to stay for the night.
September 30th, back in the old neighborhood where I used to live for 2 1/2 years. Good to be back. That evening, Mike and I went to Khao San road for dinner, a beer, and an 8 hour bus ride down to Chumporn, Thailand over night. We arrived at the pier in Chumporn around 5:30 am on October 1st.
As we left th pier on the boat to Koh Tao, it appeared as if we were heading in the wrong direction. My friend Mike was sure the captain was taking us to an island to slaughter all of us and leave our bodies for the sharks. Luckily, we were headin in the right direction and arrived on BEAUTIFUL Koh Tao island 2 hours later. We managed to get a beachfront bungalow for three nights on Sairee beach. Ahhhhh, paradise. The beach was just incredible. The softest white sand, and turquoise blue waters lay before us. Koh Tao was an absolute paradise. Incredible scenery, crystal clear waters, AMAZING marine life and coral. Some of the best snorkeling I've ever done.
Since Koh Tao is very under developed (only 1 paved road), we rented ATVs to get around and discover the isolated beaches over the mountains. The roads presented alot of challenges for us, especially for Michael. His ATV didn't cooperate very well both days we had them and it resulted in a near death experience as a result. On day 2, we left Ao Leuk bay and head to traverse up a steep slope to return. I made it up, but Mike's ATV sputtered out right before the peak. He was able to restart the bike and gave it all the gas he could to get up and over slope. Unforunately, he lost control and went straight towards a rock at the top and sent himself and the ATV 10 feet straight up in the air! I've never seen anything like it!!! Luckily, as Mike landed on his back, the ATV landed right next to him instead of on him. WHEW!!!! That was a close one! The bike had a small scratch on the plastic fender, but started right up and was ok. The next day, the owners of the ATV shop tried to over charge us for damages, and held our passports ransom. It resulted in a police station visit, which didn't really do anything, but I was able to get my passport back, but Mikes was never given back. (He did get a new one from the US Embassy). ***BEWARE of OWEN TRAVEL on KOH TAO if you rent ATVs!!!*** So, we missed our boat and got on back to Bangkok around 1am on October 5th.
On October 7th, at 6am, I boarded a flight back to Tokyo. There I had a 6 hour layover, then a second flight, which would depart at 8:30pm and fly to Honolulu, Hawaii. 7 hours later, we arrived in Honolulu at 8:30am on October 7th. So, I actually had 2 days that were the same. I guess a 2 or 1 special! I sat next to a man who lived in Honolulu, but was orginally from England and has a Japanese wife, whom he was visiting her parents in Japan for a week. He was gracious enough to give me a lift to my Hostel via his black Jaguar. He jokingly dropped me off a few meters shy of the entrance and said "They may charge you more if they see you get out of this car. Ha ha ha!" I was just two blocks from Waikiki and spent the whole day there. At 6pm, they had a hula perfromance by the beach, which was great. At night, lots of street performers along the road filled with shops. October 8th, I took a half-day nature tour with Oahu Tours (thanks Mina!) and had a great time with a dear old German couple and an Australian woman.
At 10:50pm on October 8th, I boarded my fourth flight of the trip on Northwest to Portland, Oregon. I arrived at 7am on October 9th. I walked out of the airport in my shorts and t-shirt and was greeted by 6 degrees Celcius, gray, and rainy. I drove around for hours in my rent-a-car and got some warm clothes. At night, I had dinner with a career counseling lady who used to be the head of HR for a maor tech firm.
October 10th, I checked out of the Econo Lodge (very nice place and location by the way!) and took the bus in to downtown Portland. The people on the bus all were very interested in me with all of my luggage. In fact, when I got on, the bus driver said "I'll take the bags and go on the trip, you can have the bus and work for two weeks. Ha ha ha." I told him of my journey and before long, everyone on the bus was talking with me. I was quite the attraction. The people there were incredibly friendly. Very nice. I arrived at Union Station and took the Amtrak train 3 1/2 hours north to Seattle. I had a very nice woman beside me who was fascinated with my travel stories. She told me I need to write a book. We'll see about that. I arrived at the Green Tortoise Hostel, right on the corner of Pike and 1st Street. GREAT LOCATION! The hostel was really nice and the beds were extremely comfortable. That evening, I met my old buddy Matt, who used to live in Tokyo when I was there years ago. We had a great time catching up.
October 11th, I did my thing around the Pike Place Market. I immediately saw the infamous fish tossing. Later in the afternoon, I went up in the Space Needle and enjoyed outstanding views of Seattle and Mt. Ranier on sunny, blue-skied day. In the evening, I walked along the waterfront, and picked up a little treat from a local bakery and ended the day with a Pike Place Brew coffee from the original Starbucks (1912).
October 12th, I once again boarded an Amtrak at 7:30am and headed north to Vancouver. Beautiful ride up the Puget Sound coast. After arriving, I checked into the Downtown Vancouver Hostelling International Hostel. I then met Doug and Maryanne at Waterfront station. Doug is originally from Ohio as well, and we met in Bangkok years ago and worked for the same company. We spent the afternoon walking around Gastown, which was very nice. That evening, I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner at Maryanne's aunt's place. That was a great treat! The next morning, October 13th was rainy, but we went out and walked all over the city. We enjoyed the Aquarium in Stanley park and a late lunch at the Spaghetti Factory in Gastown. We ended the day playing some pool, then had dinner and drinks at a local place on the corner of Main St. and E. 7th. It was a very chilled out place and perfect ending.
October 14th, the last day of my trip. I take a flight from Vancouver to Minneapolis and am lucky enough to get seat 1A in first-class for free because of my Silver Elite status for flying Northwest so much. Loved that! I got to Minneapolis and was waiting for my flight to Atlanta, when all of the sudden, they asked for volunteers to go on a flight the next morning since the plane was overbooked. So, of course, I jumped right up and gave up my seat in exchange for a travel voucher and free hotel. ;) Now, here I am sitting in the hotel, with one more day added onto my trip and a plane voucher ready for my next adventure!