Personal Project – Record the Streets of Hanoi. A Report

Since I arrived in Hanoi on 16 March, I’ve been doing a personal project to capture the streets of Hanoi with my camera. There are no real rules to the play and work except for these:

  1. Walk at least 12000 steps each day
  2. Photograph whatever I happen to see with my Fuji X Series camera
  3. Purposefully do not record the locations

The idea of the project is to be a visual undertaking of sets of walks in a variety of directions. The streets of Hanoi are full of change, people, cars, scooters, and activity. Hanoi is a dynamic city of old quarter, French quarter, West Lake, Long Bien. It goes on and on.

I’ll be continuing the project until 14 June when I leave Hanoi. At that point I’ll publish a blogpost with all the photo albums linked here and perhaps people will get a sense of just what a great city, how random it is, the places that can be seen by simply walking. Hanoi is a relatively safe city as long as you do common sense things. People may say that the traffic seems crazy but the reality is that there is a flow to it and you have to be part of it. There is a dynamism of the people and the businesses. Stately old buildings and consular offices. Government buildings. The beautiful parks and monuments around the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. All of it can be walked to from most locations in the city.

I don’t know that will I continue to do the same project in Ho Chi Minh City but I will be walking with the camera each day recording things. I also publish separate photo albums for the cities and tours I do to separate them and more easily share with friends and family, twitter, Facebook, Google Plus. If you do use Google Plus I publish a collection of photos there that I update because its the easiest way I know to share photos.

I’ve taken over 1000 photos of Hanoi itself that I save off to Google Photos. Thank goodness its free! My photographs are done simply with no post processing, no RAW files, etc. I don’t have strong views on post processing of photos using Lightroom or Photoshop. If that’s your boat, float in it. I much prefer to use what Fuji gave me and make mistakes, try correcting them and immediately share the JPEG files. I may not be a photographer and I’m okay with that. What I am is a person that enjoys doing the act of it. The learning of it. But I really like the outcome and being to have a record of things.

The project recording the sights and sounds of Hanoi has been a lot of fun and its meant that my contributing goal of walking over 12k steps a day has been fully realized. I checked the pedometer app history and I have walked over 12k steps for 30 days in a row. That means I have also taken photographs with the FujiFilm X100F those same days.

Some good, some over exposed and under. Its all grist for the mill. I have been to some places numerous times and I still find new things, new views, new endeavors to record.

I would ask you all. What is it you expect to gain doing photography when you travel? Is it a record of the things you have seen or perhaps more of a personal reflection. Maybe you don’t share photographs at all. None is right or wrong except when you get involved at a level that it stops being fun and learning. Then it becomes some plodding duty and you feel that the effort is not worth the outcome.

I’ll be sharing the Hanoi albums in the next three weeks when I leave here.  I will really miss Hanoi. I’ve met people here that either I have typed my name into their Facebook account, met Vietnamese friends at restaurants and coffee shops and helping them practice English. Its all been good.

One final note with some sadness. My friend Mikka Luster has stopped maintaining his blog which was one of the few away from the wordpress.com community I liked to read. For a lot of reasons. His abilities at putting words next to each other, lovely photography, and the mix of introspection along with long hikes and reviews of tech will be missed. Thanks Mikka for the blog. I hope you can find a way to continue writing.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

Today in Hanoi I decided to wander…

I do this every day actually. I have breakfast at one of a few places and then leave from there. This morning it was Joma Bakery Cafe in the old quarter. I really love that place! The coffee and pastries and bagels and the place has it all over Starbucks.

I had also decided to consider whether I should stay at the current account level and make changes to how I share photographs, upgrade to the business account and get unlimited storage or just move to another provider.

The real issue for me is the sharing of photographs and there is no plugin or widget that will show current photographs in Google Photos. I have made an investment in Google Photos with literally thousands of images over the years and having it searchable, filtering for sharing, and being able to share subsets as I want are all things for me. And the number of images are unlimited. But then, I started thinking about the community here as well and why I came here in the first place. I have been doing the blogging thing for awhile and did not want to just start at a place and then decide I needed to move again. There is a loss in the community and sharing part of things when that happens and I value the sharing and community things here a lot.

So, I decided the best thing for me is to share the images as a link to albums I can easily create here and not upload the images directly to wordpress. By doing that, I get away from having to move. Upon realizing that I would be around to irritate and antagonize everyone here things were better :-).

But I digress…

Today I wanted to test some custom settings on my Fuji X series camera. The camera is nothing if not flexible and the JPEGs coming out can be altered in a number of ways. I can create more highlights, shadows, more color, and make images sharper. I can also drop the noise reduction to see what that does. Its all an exploration for me and I have been doing this for awhile since now I have no work to mess with my photography.

The settings I can modify are all easily reachable by what is called the “Q” menu. Perhaps that stands for Quick. It gives you immediate access to things you can change on the fly and its easy to rotate around to different settings and find things you like.

Without further ado here are a few photographs of the day today. I’ve changed the noise reduction downward, upped the color and sharpness some, and wiggled a magic wand at the rest :-). As you can see I am already providing a sharing link to Google Photos instead of uploading the images.

So what did I learn today? Well, I never changed the settings but did move from F/11 to F/8 depending on what I saw as the available light sources. The sky was brighter today so F/11 seemed reasonable.

I will be going again tomorrow to play with the same settings going north to the Long Bien bridge. I have an area I want to see up there tomorrow. And the city streets going somewhat north vary to more open and big streets with interesting little side streets to wander down.

Its all good!

 

 

One other note…

I am not satisfied or happy with how the accounts and storage space are computed on wordpress.com. There is no way to upgrade storage only and I have raised a support question. I will not upgrade to a business account to pay for a storage upgrade. Photo’s take a lot of room and yet there is no way to share photos with google photos which is my chosen photo management utility since it has applications and easy sharing to facebook, twitter, and google plus. I don’t like just posting links.

If I do not see a path by December to upgrade the storage, I will be forced to leave for . self-hosted wordpress.org solution on DigitalOcean. I mention this because wordpress.com has no real plan on upgrading storage only while keeping us on the same overall plan. That’s not good if you write a lot, upload lots of images, etc.

I won’t do a business plan for my blog so by December I view the time and space I have to be dwindling to a point where I have to make a choice. I’m calling on you WordPress to make storage available by itself so we can upgrade as we need. Capturing and sharing photographs is a primary thing I like to do. I have no qualms about downloading my backup/export file and moving to DigitalOcean and installing wordpress from scratch. I don’t really want to leave the wonderful community here and I enjoy reading all of your blogs. WordPress is not supporting those of us who are photographers or image editors whatsoever though.

I’ll wait and see and then comment on this post when I hear something. I want to continue sharing my travels here but I won’t just hop and skip through different plans. Storage should be a cheap upgrade without changing the plan itself.

Update:

Hi all. I have a few options on wordpress.com which I don’t believe will work. I can upload my photos to another site like flickr. I take on the average of 100 photos a day and I only share a few out of concern of storage space. Then I would have to consider what my cost would be to upgrade to the business plan. That would be almost twice the cost and I would then have features I would never use.

So, long story short; wordpress.com is not going to work after about December when I reach about 70% of available space. I am going to migrate the domain to a self-hosted installation on a cloud provider by end of the year instead of renewing my account.

When I first started the blog here on wordpress.com, it seemed then it would be a great deal for me to ease back into blogging. What has happened is that now I am traveling with new demands especially for sharing photography. I could see uploading 20 to 50 photographs a day from my camera and sharing. At that rate, 13gb of space will go rather quickly but 80gb of data will last me awhile and then I can simply buy more storage.

I think for the  majority of people that the personal account is good if you share a few things every so often. I’ve faced the same issue before with hosted providers and have stopped at one place and then moved to another. I really like the community here but the travel and the photographs have demands that I don’t mind paying for if there is a path to pay for it.

I can re-point the mikesplaces.blog domain to my own registrar at google domains pretty easily and then bring up wordpress. You may never run into issues but I have plans for this blog in serving up my photography on a daily basis.

Thanks to you all for following me and reading along as I go through Asia slowly. I have some months before moving things but now I know there is not a path forward at wordpreess.com besides buying the business service for which I would only use the storage.

 

The Streets Less Traveled in Hanoi

On my daily walks, I look for a place or places I can go to which I have not seen or perhaps don’t remember seeing. Either is good. I don’t keep records on the places or street names. What I’m after is the going of it. The getting lost and wandering of it. the photographs down streets that are big blocks and sleepy little streets. Both capture the interest in completely different ways. Hanoi is full of both so you can head out for a walk in the morning and get to see French Colonial architecture, embassies, schools, and then little side streets with small markets and food stalls. Coffee shops dot the Hanoi street scene. You can escape the momentary downfall of the wet stuff by ducking in and getting a coffee. I’ve done this a few times and the local places have a certain feeling to them. The coffee beans are roasting and the fresh smells excite. The Army or police folks sometimes come in. There are nods and smiles and hello’s. There is no high pressure sales going here. They are genuinely glad to see you. Don’t worry about not speaking the language. Do you know what coffee looks like? Just point. Same for food stalls when you are pioneering your way through a city.

In the interests of Mike’s tried and true tips to city walking voyages, here are my ideas to make it worthwhile.

  1. Spend a bit of time with google maps and select an area that looks interesting. At the start all areas are probably interesting. In Hanoi its pretty easy to either get lost or get found depending on what you want. I do both but the morning Google Maps session helps me decide on a general direction. Perhaps there is a thing I want to see there.
  2. Set out after coffee and breakfast! Do you have a camera of some kind? Good. It can be whatever. I use a Fuji X series camera because its small and portable and easy to shoot street scenes with. If its a smartphone, consider if you can to get a SIM card. I use Viettel because the government owns and operates it and the 4G/LTE signal has been very good for me from Hanoi to Halong Bay. Give it some thought. If you have a phone that is locked, a basic map can help. The most of this point is to leave the beaten track on your voyage.
  3. Now the most important part. Get lost in the city. Find quiet streets where you don’t see another backpacker or tourist. Little stores, school children rushing to school, older people nodding and smiling. Its all there. You don’t need to do anything special for this because Hanoi is a real city and it has the locations where all the tourists go and down the street and around the corner you will find gems.
  4. At this point, you maybe want to start looking for known landmarks. A map can help but Google Maps is the best! One of my landmarks is the Historic Hanoi Water Tower. Once I find that from whatever direction I’m going or coming from, I know where I am. Lesser things are you may get thirsty. Drink bottled water only. Do not drink tap water! Consider that a health warning. Go to a store or Circle K and buy the big bottle of water for 10k Dong. Done deal.
  5. Perhaps you are getting tired and want a rest. Hanoi is full of parks with these friendly benches in them. I’ve sat in a park for hours reading and outside and away from the touristy areas like Hoan Kiem Lake have never been bothered. No sales, no books, no shoe shines, nothing. Just you and the bench and perhaps your bottle of water.
  6. Now it time to perhaps head back in some route. I often go in a circuitous route because I can. Having the phone with Google Maps meaning never really worrying about the step of getting back. Now you are getting closer to known places. Perhaps time for a beer or ice cream. Go ahead! You deserve it! You have made it to Step 6.

All of this is meant to communicate that the only real way to see a city is to see the city. I met a young lady who had a week in Hanoi and never ventured out of the old quarter. The old quarter is not Hanoi. Perhaps its a part or district or a location. Its not Hanoi. Hanoi is down other streets too. Get away from the comfort medium. Go walk and take the photographs and spend time in the city.

When you leave you want to be an ambassador and let others know that a slower trek through a city will avail more. Two weeks may be the itinerary but its not the city. Give it some thought as you plan your getaway. Its not so much a matter of where you stay. Home stay, guest house, hostel, 5 star hotel. Its where you go. Make the break and become the person blazing new frontiers.

Maybe you will decide to write a blog and record your places. My blog is meant to be written in every day as a mile marker of what I see, feel, wonder about. I purposefully chose Hanoi to stay longer in. I wanted to cool my jets. Find more todays and tomorrows and fill the moments with the walking and seeing.

When I finally leave Hanoi, undoubtedly there is a street I have never seen. It happened every time to me. That tour bus can cover more ground than my feet in a day. But I see things a tour bus can never happen to see. That neighborhood in Shinjuku with the flowers and Sake bottles. That small park in Hiroshima by the river. Busy Osaka not so busy when you walk down small streets with shy school children still smiling. Then there’s Hanoi. Manic and wonderful. Scooters driving all around but quiet park benches for reflection.

Its all there for you. How about starting one of these blog type things an letting us know what you see.

Three Weeks on the Road – An Introspection

If you are not into personal introspection type blog posts, stop now and go elsewhere. i think I’ve mentioned that oftentimes blogging feels like a 5 pound chicken trying to lay a 10 pound egg to me. This is one of them. If you have followed along for the last month give or take you know I left end of February for Japan. I spent two weeks in Japan and the goal was to get back to photography, burn some of the work carbon out of the engine, get very long walks in every day , and eat and drink and repeat and rinse as necessary. I knew it would be difficult going from working 12 to 16 hours per day, with back to back webex calls, project review meetings, get to green meetings to simply stop. You don’t just turn the switch to the off position. Then there was family stuff. My daughter wanted to exit to be with her boyfriend in Florida. She designed and defined a strategy which try as I can I simply cannot agree with. Its dawned on me though leaving it just don’t matter whether I agree or not. Why? Because I am fucking gone. That’s why.

So it came back to the retirement thing. The feelings of goods and bads doing it. Truth be told many days I get up and want a set of things to get done. I catch myself making up lists of todo items. Perhaps I do some of them or just change the date on them to the next day or sit with an Egg Coffee and wonder about them. Its hard though to simply turn off those project management things.

I’ve spent three weeks at it and i think its gonna take longer. Its like a spring was wound up somewhere really tight and when i back off on it, there is a bit of slack in it. Each day there is less as I sit at the Lake and read more or sleep in later and do email or read things about the camera in the mornings.

Does one ever get done though I wonder with the work things? At first, as I flew to Japan there was some guilt. I had simply not finished what I set out to do even though I finished the project and did what they wanted. I knew it was my “swan song” and that I would exit no matter what. There was simply no gas left in the tank after the project. It was fully loaded, completely focused, loss of holidays time getting it done. People doubted it would get done so I felt I had to prove a thing. They doubted our vendors so I enabled them to be successful.

Then I left.

All of that remained behind and its been touch and go some days reminding myself its okay to have left. People were thankful for what they had of me at the company. I only did two projects in two years for heaven’s sake. Both were risky, stressful, done over holidays.

Then I left.

Now I’m gone and I introspect the things still after a beer or three or some Pho. And I have come to realize there is a tiny irritating piece you never lose. Its a little piece of a thing in some dark corner which reminds you then and again. Meanwhile, I am outdoors walking over 12k steps each day and feel good. I sit drinking a few beers each day after and I feel better. I know that retirement is meant  to soothe that ego and produce a new state. I have come closer to the state.

Perhaps when I turn a corner in the old quarter one day it will truly sink away. I will be like new with no guilt or introspection bubbling up. I doubt it though. But lets do this. Lets make a deal. I’ll do the walking wherever I go, take the photographs, eat and drink. You read. You never have to “LIKE” a thing or comment. Not expected or desired. As I have mentioned I don’t write this for you.

The egg has landed.

Blog News and Sunday in Hanoi

So I started looking at themes both free and premium here on wordpress. I decided for the cost to upgrade to premium and here’s the rub. None of the so-called premium themes suit me as much as the free theme I am using now. Is it just me or is there really nothing in either the free or premium category that is useful? I don’t think I have a high level of requirement or design need. What I want:

  • a suitable theme to publish photographs on accompanied by text. Primarily I use the google media importer and build a collage of images or I create single images at a time.
  • a theme that lets me have a sidebar on the right and not the bottom. Only a few do this but claim its for presentation of the material.
  • the ability to rotate the header image and add more images to rotate. Many of the so-called premium themes do not do this at all but the free themes do.
  • not using the “read more” attribute. I prefer to have my content shown in all their glory without more clicking.
  • menu items for pages I create that makes sense. Why do some themes insist on having the menu items for -> HOME and -> ABOUT listed twice? I can see no way of getting rid of the second listing.
  • the ability to not have my widgets show up on my -> ABOUT page at all. I don’t like widgets on the sub pages.

So, this gets me to what I don’t like about the wordpress.com experience. I don’t particularly care for having no alternatives to just add storage instead of paying for the premium themes that I cannot really use. There is no real choice with either the free or premium themes I can see. I can go with either but when I end up just going back to the free theme i use now; its worth is debatable. I can see why Mikka also asks on his blog about a theme to use. I’m sorry wordpress.com team. None of the premium themes add value besides obtuse menu items that I doubt the value of.

I have paid for the premium account when all I want is more storage yet there is no way to do that only and I must add premium features which end up not being used at all.

Bah humbug.

Hanoi Things

Today I wandered around for a few hours taking shots of the lake and the city. I really like taking the Fuji with me here. Street and urban photo opportunities kinda line up waiting for me.

I did notice that while I am on 4g I cannot bring up wordpress.com or my blog but yet on wireless in my room I can. That’s kinda weird. Not sure why the mobile providers have a problem with wordpress.com sites.

Here’s some stuff I saw in-between trying out many and sundry themes in my hotel room.

There you have a day spent in the service of wandering. I will be going out walking each day because my body demands it. I have to put in around 9000 to 15000 steps or I feel very uncomfortable. I cannot see it being an issue here.

Visa Run in June

Yes friends, a Visa run is required in June. I must exit Vietnam and then re-enter. I could just duck out to Bangkok but instead I will go to Hong Kong for a few days and spend the time there. I’ll be booking that travel and hotel soon so I don’t have to pay more for the airfare than i want.

As I pointed out previously, you may want to check if you have a Visa on arrival here. Most require that I am told.

Bye for now from your slightly frustrated and getting hungry blogospondent.

Another day in beautiful Hiroshima and a Few Notes on Blogging

Its Saturday in Hiroshima and I’m spending the morning on the bed with the laptop writing in Ulysses since WiFi seems to be a problem this morning. I could get up an share the network with my iPhone but laziness prohibits me. Today the weather is clear and I’ve had breakfast and a few cups of coffee in the room. Yesterday was a good day but I ended up walking more than I have on this trip yet so after a few beers in the room and a cheap dinner in the noodle place down the street, I collapsed in bed for about 7 hours.

This morning I was reading a few things and noticed that Mikka Luster flipped the switch on a new blog. He and I go back to working at the same company but not at the same time. We were both at Technorati when it created some kind of authority thing on blogs and you could go there and see which blog was in the hundred most popular. I often would see Doc Searls there at the company since I think he was an advisor or something. This was back in the pixie dust days of the tech and the dot.com days. I left there and maintained a blog at a few places until ending up here at wordpress.com. One way back when was Advogato which is now gone and others included a self-hosted WordPress thing or three, some Drupal things, back to a WordPress thing. I stopped altogether for awhile having felt that the pump had run dry and the blog before had become run down with more personal pursuits since it kind of chronicled my divorce and slow resurgence. Now I have this blog and its been my home for over a year. I figure I have been writing these things since before 2000 or so and I still have doubts about them ;-). Suffice to say I have wandered my way from doing these out of some global desire to have followers, popularity, lots of comments, links, annual blog awards, blogrolls or whatever to a more personal reason. Mainly, I have to do these things. If you never comment or like or follow, I’m good. I’ll just continue here silently doing what I have to do. I’ve tried not doing it and that does not work for me. Maybe I never did them to be in the top 100. Maybe the top 105 and I wanted to be like Mikka or Doc or the other bloggers which have pretty much disappeared when I grew up. Hahaha.

But lets get on with it. I’m gonna painfully transition you to the real thing and not some carefully edited sidetrip down the highways and byways of blogging.

Today in Hiroshima

Lets dwell on today though. I’m going to head to a few more places later today and find yet more stuff to capture on my Fuji X series camera. Peace Park will be visited later today but I’ll take a meandering route to get there so I can see yet a different part of the city.

It was truly a beautiful day today in the city. The weather improved to beautiful blue skies and wonderful weather for walking through the city to the Peace Park area. I took my time in the park because there is so much to see. Its sad but hopeful at the same time when you consider all the rhetoric these days about nuclear weapons. People should have to visit Hiroshima before they talk about how big their buttons are.

Just to reaffirm the positive, look at those blue skies.

The transition to a more frenzied and manic pace can be found by walking a short distance to the shopping malls.

I ended up back at the same Starbucks I have been going to lately after walking with my usual iced caramel macchiato. It seems every city from San Diego and Vancouver to Tokyo and Hiroshima I find a Starbucks to crash down at and relax. Sometimes I go in the mornings for.a tall drip coffee and read.

Key Learnings

Atomic bombs are bad things for all living creatures folks. We should not engage in making them giving them away, finding uses for them. With all the destruction though, I found Hiroshima to be a very vibrant and up beat place. Its like the somber nature is kept at those places and the people enjoy getting out, eating, and seeing what their city has to offer. There are young millennial backpackers here and older folks like me seeing the sights that the city has.

Walking here has been a joy. The city is really made for walking and seeing things. Sidewalks, bridges over busy roads, quiet foot paths by the river. It all creates a highly positive foot tourism equation. I was thinking today its a place I will come back to but I really don’t know. There are so many other places to yet see. I feel in many regards like I was let loose and can now wander the world with no restrictions.

Tomorrow will be an exploration of the many shopping centers and malls. I’d like to wander those, see how busy they get when the people come out for the weather since its most likely going to be as nice as today is.

Rainy Day in Hiroshima

One thing about the weather here in Japan in March. Its unsettled. In Tokyo earlier this week we had a few days of on and off rain and then my last day there it was simply beautiful but cold all day. Today here in Hiroshima, the weather was mostly rainy. Its a gentle rain for the most part so I tend to get out and poke around and then come back to the room and read and relax and then go again. I spent today looking at the areas around my hotel. I think Hiroshima is a fantastic city to wander in. The side streets are gems of little restaurants, pubs, and evening clubs. There is an enclosed mall area which is fun to walk through as well. I’m going to wait to go out again until this evening so may add a bit more to the blog post then.

I love the downtown and river areas with the small bridges and little communities down side streets. I also started playing around with zone of focus and manual mode on my X100F which I had not done in awhile. That’s a good sign by the way. I had kind of stopped learning about my camera and now I feel energized about experimenting more. One thing I do know is I will never be more than a novice at this stuff. I don’t do post processing, shoot in raw, use Lightroom. I just shoot the jpegs and grab them from the camera and enjoy them and share on google photos. Maybe at some point I will start doing that but for now I want to learn manual photography more.

Here’s some frames from today’s adventures.

I think the rain is starting to clear a bit so I may add more to this post this evening. I’d like to do a few night shots of Hiroshima if things get a bit dryer out.

Retirement Thoughts

I’ve been retired only a week now from a rather busy 20 years doing IT. I catch myself wondering whether a thing is done and then I realize its not mine any longer and I’ve left it behind. Others are doing the work and my work finally is taking some time for myself, reading and learning the camera, living elsewhere. A person asked me if I felt guilty leaving all of what I had behind. I guess the operative words are “all” and “behind” in the remark. No, I don’t feel guilty about leaving. This was a thing that started for me last year but I knew in 2011 a time would come when I’d go.

Asia just happens to be the place I ended up but I could have gone other places that were cheaper as well. There still are cheaper places just not in the United States overall. The real thing about Southeast Asia is that I am comfortable here. There is a goodness of fit in the places. I think about my grown children a few times a day. I do know you never outgrow them but you do have to make a life for yourself and not just live through them.

I realized on the train that I had to do that. That my happiness means something. That I must find a new thing which is not the same as the old thing. I don’t want to meet the new boss that’s the same as the old boss.

The blog here was created not just for travel and vagabonding but for introspection, technology, anthropology. All the categories. I just feel now I can make the most use of the time I have left. If I stayed at home in California, nothing of note would have happened and I would have ended up continuing to work because the cost of living in the Silicon Valley is ridiculous. As my friend Robert remarked over coffee one day,

the whole place here is like Hong Kong. A special economic zone.

Yes and it places retirement and joy of life easily out of reach unless I am the CEO of something or the founder of something else.

What I want is a cheaper existence which will let me do things, eat and drink well, and adventure forth.

Sorry to bore you with the introspective stuff. Sometimes its grist for the mill and the blog is an easy reach away.

In Shinjuku – Coffee and Breakfast and a first blog post

Its Saturday here in Shinjuku Japan. I got in last night. Messed around a bit not understanding how the Shinjuku station Is laid out besides it being huge! I remember that part but what I forgot was that the Subway Lines are in a separate station that one walks to in about 5 minutes. Nice thing, the Shinjuku-Sanchome subway station is one stop down from where my hotel is. I can walk to the subway in 5 minutes and spend about ¥180. Since the stations stops are all announced in English, I have to work harder at getting lost today :-).

Today I’m going to explore Shinjuku including the National Gardens and also around the station. I have to stop at the Yodobashi Camera shop which is actually an electronics store in Shinjuku because somehow I did not pack a microUSB cable for my kindle and camera so will go fix that.

Its still early here and I have a bit of jet lag to get over so will be looking to get some coffee pretty soon here. There is a 7/11 down the street which I can make it to and I think the hotel serves coffee free in the mornings.

After some breakfast and a few free cups of coffee at the hotel, gonna get out of here by 9am. I have a day’s activities kinda planned. I have a few places I want to see here in Tokyo that I have not been to like National Gardens. I charged the camera up last night and I’m ready! Its a beautiful day out today here in Tokyo. Sun is shining and the Saturday morning is waiting.

I am not sure how I will post the reflections on my travels since before the trips were shorter in nature. I’m going to play a bit with how I can do this on WordPress to make the blog flow a bit smoother given I am on the road for the long haul and this is really my first real day. Lets see how the blog can adapt and what I need to do to create something different perhaps in menu and category items or something else.

Stay tuned. This adventure has just begun!

Steps to Take

When its time to go. The room empties and the thoughts are full of the leaving. My daughter looks at me with both a questioning and happy look. I’ve thought about the moment to leave for years actually. Back in 2011, I routinely thought I would be at a point when I would leave the states for some period of time and get something back which had been lost in translation. By 2014, I saw the path but there were things needed. I got those things done by 2016 with the last job. It meant getting the money and transferring to full-time and enjoying the work being asked to be done.

Then in 2017 I paid of the last credit card debt. About a year ago I saw the debt from 4 years before get paid off completely and I had the feeling that pounds had been shed and I could start looking at what remained. I wanted a few things out of 2017:

  1. Money and savings. I wanted an amount of money as a safety net that would let me travel but not really be used unless necessary.
  2. Pay off the car and any recurring debt. There were no credit cards and if I could impart one piece of advice is to not give in and get them. I met the goals to pay off one debt and then I paid the car off in 2018.
  3. File for social security retirement after my birthday and be satisfied with the monthly pay out. While I feel that the actual amount would never work here; in the places I will go, I will have sufficient funds to last me.
  4. Plan the trip. Planning the trip was the most fun guys! I was able to decide I did not want 90 countries in 3 months. I wanted a slower pace that would let me sit in a coffee shop for a day or by the lake in Hanoi and read or try creating new content. I wanted countries and to travel using rail and bus service where possible.
  5. Execute the requirements and watch the final date arrive. The final voila of all violas. The date arrives and the room I have lived in for almost 2 years empties. By tomorrow the remaining physical stuff is donated and recycled in a good way. I’ll be down to two bags. This is where the sweet spot is for me.

So all the tick marks have been checked almost and today I sit in the room writing the post with tomorrow being the last day of work. No more meetings until I leave tomorrow. No more work. I am so thankful for a few of the points above to be able to leave work behind on my terms.

Perhaps I over-planned things but when I make a change like this I want both planning and random events. I want to turn left on the street in Tokyo when the subway station is to the right. I want to get lost with my camera in Osaka and see the thing which was withheld. As you can see, I only mentioned Japan. The two weeks in Japan is meant to get through some of the work stuff and be out walking the way I like each day. Seeing cities and getting back to a place I have missed since the last time in 2011.

The blog will change and my stories will take hold. I already have outlines for a few of them. I always meant this blog to be different than my previous outings where my self-hosted domain held over a decade of detritus. This was meant to be the take-off spot for a new thing. Old detritus need not apply.

My journey of one starts on Thursday. This Thursday. It’s time to reclaim the miles and the sights and the walking and seeing. It’s been since 2011 since I revived my acquaintance with Japan. It’s still there silently waiting to greet my steps with all the places I have not been and a few that I have like Lion Beer Hall in the Ginza.

But a 1000th step requires the first one and the 500th one. You cannot skip ahead to a thing and not pay the fees. I’ve paid a number of fees. Now its time to take the steps.