Rainy Day in Tokyo

The cheapest flights back to U.S. from Bangkok were with Japan Airlines, which has layovers in its Tokyo hub.  We chose the flight that left Bangkok at 10 p.m., arrived in Tokyo at 6 a.m. and departed at midnight.  Perfect!  We didn’t think we’d make it to Japan this year, but this flight would give us a bonus day in Tokyo and we wouldn’t even have to get a hotel room.

Tokyo subway car

Subway seat

We spent a lot of time in the subway.  Hours.  The system isn’t impossible, but definitely a steep learning curve with multiple lines owned by different companies.

Sensoji Temple in the rain

And it rained all day.  We went from 100F and merciless sun in Bangkok to a (comparatively) freezing 60F and wet.  Alicia had achy bones and a fever since the day before we got on the plane and the temperature change didn’t help.

It was just past the height of sakura (cherry blossom) season and we were about to see some of the famous trees.


Sensoji Temple



After a few hours of sleep on the plane, a morning of staring at Japanese subway maps and wandering around in the rain with a fever, Alicia was visibly shivering and exhausted.  It was time to find some hot food.  Tony bought her a steamy chocolate filled pancake.

Tony buying a pancake

Mmmmm… pancake.

Alicia isn't looking so good

Looking good! Ok, clearly it was time to get indoors for a while.  We found a little second floor cafe that seemed unchanged since the 70′s and ordered some coffee and tea.

Stairs up to the cafe

Brazil Coffee


More rain.

Shopping district

Salty nori snack

Sushi was definitely happening for lunch, and we picked a spot that was full of students.  You order your sushi by touchscreen and it is delivered from the kitchen on a little maglev trolley.  There is even a little hot water spout at each seat-station for making tea.  It was fun and delicious.

Sushi touch screen

Order arriving

(Weeks later, we found out that this is actually a chain restaurant with locations in the U.S.  Oops!  But our goal of eating delicious sushi in Tokyo was still met.)

Yoyogi Park

More parks, more rain, more walking.

Crazy eyes

Meiji shrine

Meiji shrine

Store in Harajuku

By dark, Alicia was still feeling weak, feverish and generally terrible.  Due to problems finding an ATM that would accept our card (which had never happened ever this whole year, even in developing countries), we were totally out of yen.  And it was still raining.  We headed back to the airport early and a couple of huge bowls of salty ramen.  

Airport ramen

Luckily, the plane wasn’t full and Alicia got two whole seats and double pillows and blankets.  She slept almost the entire time.

Earlier we wrote that we were headed home.  And we were, in a headed-back-to-our-own-country sense of the word.  But we weren’t flying in to Cedar Rapids or even Minneapolis or Chicago…

Almost to SFO

Jun 2013



Berlin to Bangkok… via Amman

Back when we were Prague, we were trying to figure out flights. Depending on how you interpret the Schengen Zone border control regulations for tourists, we either had to get out by October 29 or by November 30, but we were getting cold were feeling anxious to leave Europe for warmer (and much less expensive) lands.

Mecca on the seatback map

Our favorite airfare search engines, Skyscanner and ITA Matrix, were all pointing to Bangkok as the destination, with the cheapest flights leaving from either Prague or Berlin. Almost everyone we had met over the several months prior said that Berlin was their favorite city ever so that cemented our plans to head to Germany.

A thunderstorm over Turkey altered our flight path

And of all the flights from Berlin to Bangkok, Royal Jordanian had the best prices.  Their flights had layovers in their hub, Amman.

Hey, we have friends in Amman.

One Skype call later to confirm that it was ok to invite ourselves over, and we had our Berlin to Bangkok tickets booked… with a 13 day layover in Jordan.

Almost to Amman

After spending two months of our summer in Turkey, which is a predominantly Muslim country, we thought Jordan would be pretty similar. In some ways it was. In other ways, it was a whole new world.

Amman McDonald's

Nov 2012