August 12

First Reactions: Life in Tokyo

I have been here almost 2 weeks and there are things I see / experience here that sometimes delight me and at other times flummoxes me!

  • The very first thing that hits you is the size of apartments. When we entered our company provided accommodation, we were at a loss initially on how small a 2 bedroom apartment can be. A 1 bedroom place is less than 45 m2 (about 485 sq ft) generally and 2 bedroom places are 65 m2 (650 sq ft) perhaps.
  • Ignoring the actual size, the furniture and layout is designed in a way to make the space feel more spacious than it is. You won’t probably feel cramped in an apartment that’s the size of bedrooms in India.

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July 27

Why Tokyo?

Why Tokyo?

This exact line has been the response of me telling people I am leaving Amazon and moving to Tokyo. It has been a very interesting question because no one asked me why Seattle when I left Bangalore. In fact I have been pondering over this quite a bit and I don’t think I have a great answer.

I wonder if part of the question is implicitly asking: Why leave US? And why leave Amazon? If I have to answer the question of why Tokyo, I probably need to answer these questions.
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March 30

Go Gokarna

Gokarna is almost a unknown twin of Goa. It’s a small religious town in Karnataka, located right on the beach and just below the state of Goa. My trip started off from Bangalore. There are quite a few different types of buses to go from Bangalore to Gokarna. I think there are trains from Bangalore as well but those usually take longer. On this trip we took a bus around 8PM in the evening and reached Gokarna around 6AM. The bus was a sleeper bus with A/C which meant I got some shut-eye during the night. However I strongly recommend to check the bus quality before going since buses can be really filthy. We had taken the KSRTC bus and seriously it was dirty, smelly and full of insects. I wouldn’t recommend it but I am hopeful that there are other cleaner buses as well.

Once we got to Gokarna town, we decided to wing it a bit in terms of where to stay. There are very few established places / hotels in the area. There are 3 major beaches with any kind of accommodation: Kudle, Om beach, Half moon beach. There is one more beach called Paradise beach but that doesn’t have any place to stay as such.
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February 26

The Costa Rican adventure: Arenal

If you haven’t already read the first part of us being in Liberia and Del Coco, I highly recommend reading it here.

We were on a week vacation to Costa Rica and spent the first few days basking in the sun and rolling in the beach. Our second leg was to go to Arenal Volcano region.

Initially we had planned to take a bus from Del coco to arenal volcano where we had planned to spend the last half of our trip. But when we did check out the bus situation it would take 6+ hours and need 3 bus changes to get to La Fortuna (which is the main town near Arenal volcano). Our hotel was about 10 KM from La Fortuna town so we would then have to take another taxi. We kind of decided at last-minute to get a rental car. If you book in advance you can get them for like $10-15 a day and ours was $25 a day. In hindsight, this was the best decision of our trip.
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February 26

The Costa Rican adventure: Liberia and Del Coco

Recently I had a chance to visit Costa Rica. For those of you who don’t know where it is (like I did a year ago), it is in South America. I would say it is central america reaching out to meet south america. You can almost miss it in Maps between the Mexico at top and Colombia / Brazil below. My trip lasted almost a week and it was a very interesting one indeed. In some ways it was a trip of firsts. It was my first trip to South America. It was my first trip where I wasn’t on a vacation from work. It was my first trip to a volcano. It was my first trip where I drove a car. It was also my first trip where I felt US was cheaper.

I had been meaning to take a vacation since Gayatri had a week off around this time. The idea was to go somewhere where I can use an old Alaska airline credit but still not in USA. We kind of settled down to 2 main choices: Cuba and Costa Rica. Both had their pros / cons but what did it eventually was that Cuba was super booked. It seemed like every hotel was booked due to President Day weekend and flights were crazy expensive. As usual I tried to avoid crowds and ended up booking the tickets to Costa Rica.
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November 23

Journey to the unknown : Cambodia

To read from the starting : Part1, Part2, Part3, Part4, Part5, Part6, Part7, Part8, Part9

The last week of this vacation was upon me. As difficult had I found it to come, it was now equally difficult to think about leaving. I was at the border town of Aranyaprathet in Thailand and planning to get to Cambodia today. I had long been waiting to see Angkor Wat. With that intention in mind, I started early hoping to reach early. I checked-out and found no one at reception. So I just left the key at the door and got a tuk-tuk for 50 THB to the border.
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September 28

Journey to the unknown: The golden triangle (Mae Sai, Burma, Laos)

To read from the starting : Part1, Part2, Part3, Part4, Part5, Part6, Part7

Another morning in the foreign land. It was my last day in Chiang Mai. I had to wake up early to return the motorcycle. The morning cool enticed me into a leisure bike ride around the square walls of Tapae. I returned the bike and walked back to the hotel. I had a calm, relaxed breakfast alone with my thoughts. I had sort of figured out to go up and see Golden Triangle area perhaps. To get there I needed to get to Mae Sai.
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August 23

Journey to the unknown: Thailand – Chiang Mai

To read from the beginning : Part1, Part2, Part3, Part4, Part5, Part6

I was in Thailand, in Chiang Mai city, and I was traveling alone and I had lasted much longer than I had anticipated. It had been 10 days since I landed and things were getting better and better each day. For some reason getting up early had become the norm since there was so much to do and so many places to go and so little time here. 3 weeks seemed a short period now to experience all that you could.

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July 20

Journey to the unknown : Thailand – Sukhothai

To read from the beginning : Part1, Part2, Part3, Part4, Part5

I could not remember the last time when I woke up so early. I had to, to be on schedule. Even though the trip was supposed to be unplanned, it didn’t mean I didn’t have to be on schedule. I groggily looked at the phone buzzing with the alarm tone. It said 5:15 AM. As usual it took me a few moments to realize that I was in Thailand, in the new city of Sukthothai. On a 3 week unplanned backpacking trip. I packed up and took a hot shower. I had no clue when the next hot shower might be so I made the most of it. I helped myself to the free DIY tea and toasts. The morning still retained some of the chill.
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June 28

Journey to the unknown : Thailand : From one city to another

To read from the beginning checkout : Part1 , Part2 , Part3 , Part4

Day 8 in Thailand and I was back at the starting point Bangkok. I had taken the overnight train from Nakhon si Thammarat and I believe the fare was around 800 THB for the AC Sleeper train. I had debated between where to go next during the night and the choice was difficult to make. Should I go to Ayutthaya or Sukhothai? Both were beautiful relics of the Thai past and both had enough written about them. However finally I decided to go to Sukhothai which was a more recent kingdom but brutally plundered. The city of Ayutthaya reminded me a bit of the Indian city Ayodhya and hence I kind of decided to skip the same. I reached around 8.30AM though the scheduled arrival was 6.30AM. Its not just Indian railways that is late 😉

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