Oct 062017

It has now been two months since we left the desert and all that life there encompassed. The last year or so proved to be the most challenging of times because living outside of the bubble, that most expats survive in to convince themselves that being there is worthwhile, causes your eyes to open and never be shut again.

While we may have read stories in the papers or heard them from third, fourth or more sources, we tend to never believe that bad things – life changing things – can happen to you. The truth is that as long as you stay within the confines of the bubble, these bad things never happen.

Now, there is a lot of personal responsibility that must be taken before this story begins.

On my end, I lived and worked where my salary was never going to be higher as all of my living expenses were basically covered. A more responsible adult would have been more frugal and financially responsible to put money away for those rainy days that inevitably come or the challenging periods that could happen in life.

I did not.

I traveled. I fully enjoyed life and absolutely lived beyond my means despite the extravagance of my income. I admit it. However, I do not regret it. Sure, it would be nice to own a piece of property that would have been an investment. Or, it might be more comforting to my parents and those who are fiscally-minded if I had a sweet cushion to fall back on should something happen to me.

Still, that is not how I have ever thought about money or life. I cannot take it with me. If I get terminally ill, I will not fight it for when the time comes then so be it.

That’s not to say that I do not appreciate the wisdom behind having ‘rainy day’ money. Our recent experience has hit that home for me – it only took about 20 years, but hey….it’s never too late, right?!

So, back to the fact that I take full responsibility for not having the financial freedom one would expect of me after eight years of bubble living.

For my husband’s side, he has to take his own responsibility for his part.

When we met, I also knew that money was going to be a concern for us as neither of us had a proven track record of being overly mindful about it. Still, love is truly blind and when you decide you want to spend the rest of your life with someone nothing else really seems so important.

Still…when your partner is in a business that is commission-based and living in a country where debts and laws are made and enforced on the whim of the person whom you encounter, there is a constant risk being taken. Sometimes you are lucky to escape and others times….

Well, this is where the story continues next time….

~T 😀

May 142017

Ever since we met in 2014 we have taken a yearly trip to Fujairah as a getaway weekend.

I remember our first one fondly as it was when we were just getting our hearts around the idea that love was in the air.

Each year when we return, we re-connect and re-kindle the flames of our love that is always alight, but refreshed with time away as holidays have a knack for doing.

This year, we decided to leave late on Wednesday for the three-hour drive so that we could have two full days to relax. It was totally worth the late night!

For me, my first priority was to catch up on sleep and to really relax with my <3. On the first day, I accomplished this was quite a few little naps in between soaks in the pool. I also was able to do some reading and writing as well, which is somewhat new on our joint holidays. So that was nice!

Here’s a picture recap of our first day:

Since the Fairmont Fujairah is still constructing their beach access (to be opened this month), we were able to use the Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah hotel’s beach. Unfortunately, there had been an oil spill which put a damper on our enthusiasm to swim in the sea. Getting black tar and oil all over us was not ideal. So, we headed back to poolside in the afternoon and watched as storm clouds rolled in. It was a dry thunderstorm that passed over us, but we got to enjoy a lighter humidity evening outside.

Although we had our return drive to make, check out was not until noon, so we made the most of our morning by hitting the pool again before we had to check out. It is nice to be a morning person in these instances! 😛

So, overall, we had a really nice time. M got to finally relax and refresh himself. It may be our last trip to Fujairah since we probably will not be here next year. However, we may still try to get out there one more time before we head out of the country. In any case, there is still time…until then we are basking in the refreshness of a weekend getaway!

~T 😀

Apr 032017

In Japan, the best seasons are the fall and spring. These are the times of the year when you can be outside and enjoy all that the flora can offer around town. Or, many people take special trips around this time. 

The spring offers views of the famous cherry blossoms where you can see people sitting under trees having picnics or drinking parties. This is known as hanami – looking at flowers. While there are many flowers to look at, THE flower is sakura or cherry blossoms

My hope this year was to get the timing right for the sakura, but due to the lingering cooler temperatures, they aren’t quite in full bloom yet. 

As today is my last full day of my visit, I made sure to take some photos where I could. 

Here are some from the weekend as well. 

Will keep these handy as I return to the beige desert sands – though the warmth will be nice. 😉

~T 😀

Mar 312017

Our last half-day in Kyoto was a cold and wet one. We put on our Oregonian minds and endured the rain drops enough to do the short walk along the Philosophers’ Path (哲学の道哲学の道) where we reminisced about the old days when J and I created our own pronunciation of philosophize to philoSOPHisize because we had trouble saying it correctly. Now, it will never be said properly…. 🤣😂

The Path leads to the Silver Pavilion (銀閣寺) which is J’s favorite place. I think I had a new appreciation for it this time around, perhaps because the rain enhanced the “silver-ness” of the place.

Normally, it is meant to be a place of calm and zen. When I visited the first time as an exchange student I remember being told it was a place for contemplation and to be respectful to other visitors by keeping  as quiet as possible. Well…the tourists of today no longer have received this message or perhaps do not care. We had a few moments with some of the other Asian country tourists, but worked hard not to let it ruin our mood and enjoyment of what the historical space offers. 😍

Overall, it was a lovely way to end our visit, though it was not quite a long enough trip. Next time, we will try to make it a longer one especially since I also did not have the chance to catch up with friends there….😪😓

~T 😀





Mar 302017

Nearly another 20,000 steps saw us with a “lighter” touristy day…. We decided to head out to Arashiyama since J had never been out there and it had been quite a while since I went out that way. It is not far outside of the downtown area and E was super excited about the train as it is some kind of special one – afraid it was lost on me. 😉

Arashiyama is more popular during the fall season for the changing colors of the leaves, but it was still rather popular and busy. The highlight definitely had to be the gardens of Tenryu-ji Zen Temple. We also hit a couple of the coffee shops that were listed in our guidebook at the hotel and were definitely not disappointed.

The first was % Arabica Coffee, which has a Hawaiian blend, but was started in Kyoto. We were surprised to find that it has become a chain in countries around the world. The simple branding of it makes sense why it was so popular that lines were consistently formed outside of it throughout the time we were there and probably the whole open hours. We were satisfied with our wait for it too.

The second coffee stop was at Togetsu Cafe on the other side of the bridge. It was less crowded and had a nice modern feel to it. The coffee was also nice, though probably average in taste. Still, coffee breaks are always wonderful.

Our other main pastime aside from cafes and walking to enjoy the scenery is eating. For two nights in a row we have managed to wait in line for dinner. Last night’s was a bit over the top with a nearly two-hour wait at a ramen shop – run by a cute older couple who are making a killing thanks to TripAdvisor. Tonight was just under an hour. Of the two, tonight’s was definitely more worth the wait – though both delicious.

So, aside from putting on about 5kilos this mini trip alone, we have definitely been enjoying our time! 😀

~T 😀


Mar 292017

It’s been many years since I made a visit to Kyoto again after living there for three years in 2001-2004. 

Sometime ago I made a short visit as my first time back since my divorce. I wanted to remember my love for the city outside of the time being unhappily married during those years. 

Now, I am back again wishing my new hubby was with us, but loving the trip down memory lane with my BFF and godson – who is experiencing it for the first time at 11 years old. 

Our first day was pretty full on especially since we were all up at 4:30am to get ready to leave and catch our 6:50am bullet train from Tokyo station. 

Twenty-three thousand plus steps later, we had toured my favorite part of the city:  Chionin Temple to Yasaka Shrine Park to Kodaiji along the Sannenzaka path which leads up to Kiyomizu Temple. Sadly, Kiyomizu was under construction so we did not go in, but we thoroughly enjoyed our walk stopping in the shops, eating and remarking on the new “kimono experience” craze by so many tourists. 

Overall, despite being exhausted we had a great first day in the old capital city of  Japan 🇯🇵! 

~T 😀

Mar 252017

Missed posting yesterday because J and I took a girls’ trip out to higher elevations, colder temps and warm hot springs in Gunma’s Ikaho Onsen area. 

It was a short trip out of Tokyo (about 1.5hrs from Ueno Station to Shibukawa). We did the famous 365 steps up and down from the shrine to the bottom and back. It is a popular tourist location in the fall, but it was still a lovely trip – even more so because it was a free stay due to J’s hubby’s family. (ありがとうございました。) 

Pictures probably say more than I can, so will let the pictures speak for themselves! 

~T 😀


Aug 222016

Ten months ago when I decided to embark on my yoga teacher training journey – on a day when I had taken a day off work because I needed a ‘mental health day’ to escape the dread of going to work each day – I had no idea how I was going to make a retreat to Bali work as part of the course. However, I knew that something would work out and went for it.

Nine months later, having quit my job thus freeing me from any other obstacles to heading to our yoga retreat, I was on a plane to a place that goes beyond expectations.

In 2011, (almost five years ago to he day) I spent about 20 days in Bali’s southern area, Kuta, which is tailored towards tourists. The time then was different in terms of why I was there, who I was with and my stage of life. This time, I was in Ubud, which is well-known as being more traditional and a yoga-center.

Although I did not have that much time to be ‘touristy’ on this trip, I have to say it was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences I have had. Getting to know my yogi compatriots more was a major highlight along with finding my gem of accommodations at the Manada Guesthouse.

The yoga itself was a common thread for us, but not necessarily the central aspect of the retreat. How can this be, you ask, wasn’t it a yoga retreat after all?

Yes, it was. We did do a lot of yoga, teaching and learning of anatomy. However, each individual person there grew whether it was physically, mentally or emotionally. This growth occurred within the person, but because of the unity of the group. We discovered things we liked about each other, things we didn’t like about each other and overall how to accept each person just as they were despite likes or dislikes.

So, it was indeed a beautiful and excellent time away. It was also a good break away from the summer stresses and a chance to take a bit of a breath from reality. 😛

~T 😀

Sep 062015

Back to my updates on summer travels – it is fun to look back at all that I did in such a short time!

So, our last stop in Norway was Bergen. We took another ferry from Belastrand to Bergen. It was a fairly chilly ride, so we stayed inside for most of this one. Plus, the joy of seeing the fjords was lessened after taking it all in the day before.

Bergen was by far the coldest place we visited despite going through snowy mountains. Since it is a harbor town, the sea winds blew in during the late afternoon to drop temperatures, so we were not as keen to be out in it for too long. Therefore, most of my souvenir shopping happened here. 😀

Bergen’s street shops are quite famous in photos – maybe you’ve seen them before and are just as picturesque in person.

24-Jun-2015 15:32, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 9.0, 50.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 100

J and I walked around the town exploring. It’s not a big city, but a good size town that took us about two hours to walk around. Then, we took the funicular up to the top of the hill, which many people like to walk (crazy!), for a view of the area. It is quite beautiful to see.

24-Jun-2015 15:25, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 32

We had a pretty good time and ate a really nice meal here, but we were definitely happy to skip out on the cold!

Here are all the pics from Belastrand to Bergen:

More to come,

-T 😀

Aug 232015

One of the main reasons to head to the west coast of Norway is to see the fjords. It was beautiful just to wake up to the view of the lake and we got to watch a bit more of the parasailing competition before we hopped on the three-car local train from Voss to make our way to Myrdal, which is higher up in the mountain.

23-Jun-2015 13:53, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 11.0, 10.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 100

Then, we crossed the platform and got onto a small old-fashioned (tourist) gauge train to Flam. Along the way, we made a brief stop to see a pretty cool waterfall

23-Jun-2015 12:27, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 2.65mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32

and then ended in Flam, which happens to be a stop for cruise ships touring the fjords. Thus, there really is nothing to do there. We had a couple of hours to kill, so we stopped into a little supermarket for a drink and snacks to enjoy in the park.

23-Jun-2015 13:47, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 2.65mm, ISO 32
From Flam, we took a ferry to Belastrand about 1.5 hours through the fjords. There were a number of picturesque moments along the way. We braved the wind the whole time to take as many photos from the back and then fought our way forward from time to time to get some different shots. Although it was beautiful overall and I definitely enjoyed it – I wasn’t overly impressed….I know, I’m spoiled!!! 😛
23-Jun-2015 16:46, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 40
23-Jun-2015 17:38, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 9.0, 10.0mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
23-Jun-2015 16:06, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
The town of Belastrand isn’t that big and seems to be just a stopover for those touring the fjords.The main attraction in town seems to be Saint Olaf’s church.
23-Jun-2015 19:46, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 10.0, 35.0mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
Since there weren’t  a lot of food and drink options in the town, we paid the hotel prices for a nice dinner with a view of the water, which was worth it!
So, that was a lovely visit of the fjords! Here are the pics:
More to come,
-T 😀