Auckland: First Impressions

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Auckland Town Hall by Night

A Positive Crisis

Auckland seems like a city going through a mid-life crisis, but in a good way.  It is ditching its old industrial spouse and is seeking to attract the young and hip.  It has a rich history and has long been a critical part of NZ infrastructure with it’s twin ports, but years of suburban sprawl had left the downtown area depleted and soul-less. Read more

A New Beginning

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Nothing like daybreak over the clouds to give you some perspective.

Goodbye for Now: A Dear John Letter to Japan

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Dear Japan,

By the time you read this, I will be gone.  I’m sorry that I have to leave like this, but the time has come for me to move on.  I know that this transition will be tough, but I know we will both get through it and continue to see happy days in the future.

I leave not out of hate or malice, but because I feel that we have grown apart over these past years and I need to see what else the world has to offer.  Like so many other couples in long term relationships, I think we have gotten ourselves in a rut, and in order to grow as a person, I need to break these bonds of comfort and venture out in search of new things.  Like most things foreign, I know you might not understand this, but I hope that you will put on a polite face, as you always do, and accept that this is just my way. Read more

Negotiating Japanese Customs

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As going through customs and immigration in various countries becomes an unwanted yet unescapable hobby for us, I wanted to start by writing about the system I am most familiar with – Japan.  I hope this will help you know what to expect and how to get through quickly and easily (and without a trip to the special questions room)

Getting into Japan

In all things, Japan is a very orderly country.  This creates an absolutely monstrous beauracracy which makes government extremely slow and means you have to fill out a ridiculous amount of paperwork for anything short of buying a toothpick.  However, it works.  If you follow the process, it will turn out exactly as explained, so just follow the insructions and don’t worry.

Visa:  On the easy side, for US citizens going to Japan on a holiday, no visa is necessary for a period of stay of up to 90 days (at the time of this writing).  .For other countries, please check with your embassy in Tokyo.

Immigration:  If flying into Narita, you will leave your plane and take a long walk down pristinely Read more

Choosing to Say Sayonara

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When I first came to Japan, I had promised all of my friends from the US that I would only be spending a year in the land of the rising sun. Little did I know how thoroughly I would be won over by the beauty of the mountains, the serenity of the rice fields, or, more than anything, the warmth and friendliness of the Japanese. So why choose to go away from this place that has become my adopted home?

Stone lanterns line the path at a Japanese temple

I am a strong believer in seeking new experiences. I’ve found that I go through about a 3 year cycle in which the yearning for something new takes over. If I don’t feed that need, it starts to be all encompassing. Recently I found myself facing this phenomenon and all those hours spent at work thinking about what else is out there convinced me I needed to take action. The straw that broke the camel’s back was an article I read about steve jobs, who mentioned that every day he looks I’m the mirror and asks himself whether, if today was the last day of his life, he would be happy with what he’s going to be doing that day. Of course we all have not so great days, but if the answer was no too often in a row, he decided it was time to change.
For me, it’s time to change. I was also lucky enough to find a partner who shared my passion for travel and when I shared my vision for a year off, said “Let’s do it!”.
So the die is cast and here is saying sayonara to my second home and konnichiwa to the future.

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