We just found out that we need visas for Taiwan. We probably should have thought about that before, but every problem is an opportunity. If we can't take care of this while we're in LA then we'll take a side trip to the Philippines or something so that we're not there for more than 30 days.
The power cord on my laptop broke the other day. I searched around Panama trying to find a replacement, but there wasn't one in sight. Right now we have a system where Todd charges batteries with his laptop and swaps them out with my dying ones. It's kind of like buddy breathing.
It seemed like we had so much time here, but all of a sudden we're leaving in two weeks. I can't believe how fast the trip has been going so far. We're just starting to feel like we're settling in. We have our routines that we go through, all of the friendly people we've gotten to know at all the places we frequent, and we even know our way around the city.
Well... Todd does. You know my sense of direction... I'm still working on it.
Japan is going to be a total shock. We're scrambling now to try to find a good place to stay (so if you have any leads... let us know). Everything there is the exact opposite of Panama. It's meticulously maintained, super expensive, and incredibly advanced. Panama has its rough edges, is dirt cheap, and in a lot of ways feels like it's from 1980.
The food is so good here. I was really worried we'd have trouble finding good vegan food, but that hasn't been the case at all. We had dinner at La Novena tonight, which is just amazing. The chef is an engineer who became a chef, and you can tell when he cooks. He takes it VERY seriously.
I AM looking forward to restocking on supplies a little bit in LA. I'm going to get some more wool shirts, a universal power adapter, and a lot more of the toothpaste I like (Tom's of Maine). I'm running dangerously low and may have to start using "regular" toothpaste.
My RV is officially sold and gone. It was bought by a really nice guy who rescued some dogs in San Antonio and brought them back up North with him. He even sent me some pictures of the trip. Sad to see it go, of course, but I'm really happy it went to a good guy.
With the RV gone, my possessions are now limited to what fits in my backpack. Pretty incredible, especially considering how much STUFF I had just a year ago (or even worse, two years ago).
Somehow I still manage to cover every flat surface in the apartment with my stuff, though. I'm not sure how that works.
That's about it for now... we miss you guys!
T&T are dynamite.
Thanks for the coollest freakin blog ever, guys.
It's inspired me to see the world too.
If you're ever in Kuala Lumpur...
Check out Metropolis Magazine (http://metropolis.co.jp/). Good info for gaijin living here in Japan, including classifieds and ads for apartments.
A few links from their website follow:
Imagining Real Estate:http://www.imagining.jp/guesthouseE/apartments2.html
Mimosa Guest House (http://www.geocities.jp/mimosa_eg/)
Boute Japan (http://www.boutejp.co.jp/english/index.html)
Sakura House (http://www.sakura-house.com/) [site was down as of this afternoon - hopefully temporary]
Not sure how those places handle short term rents. When we rented our house, it was quite expensive. LOTS of cash up front. My wife had to go open a bank account, deposit a bunch of $$, convert to Yen, then go pay the landlord. Be prepared for a lot of up front costs (payment to company, payment to landlord for allowing you to live in his place, security deposit, etc). We are here with the military, so we got all that back (eventually).
Good luck. We're here till mid-April, outside of Tokyo about an hour. Will be pretty busy the first few weeks that you're around getting ready to leave, but things might slow down around the first of April. Contact me at the email if you have more questions.
Really enjoying the blog...keep it up.
Man... really happy to hear the good news! I'm pretty psyched to get back to my African roots in 2009.
We'll definitely take pictures of the pedicabs if we make it out there. Still trying to figure out our visa situation
Hey Ty if you hit up the Philippines you got to get me some pictures of the pedicabs and their drivers, as a Western pedicab operator I am more than willing to admit that we ain't got nothin on the Eastern drivers.
They work harder for less money and got better decorations.
Oh yeah and I settled with the insurance of the drunk girl that totaled my car and jacked up my shoulder, so I am a good bit closer to payin off the debt barrier and joinin up with life nomadic.
Your Favorite Pedicab,
Hey there, so with regard to living in Japan I actually lived there for 6 months before in a study abroad program when I was still in university. And I went back and visited a few months ago and went all over the country in 2 weeks.
If you're going to be there for 2 months or less, I would recommend staying in a good hostel. I know, I know, they have a bad reputation but all the ones I've stayed at were fine. Some of them will even have long-term living arrangements where you can get rent for really cheap.
I went on Hostelworld and used it to book a stay at the Khaosan in Tokyo (there are 3 different ones; I stayed at the Asakusa one). They speak English (unlike just about everyone else in Japan), owners are friendly and overall it's a great environment and only costs around $20 or less a night which is amazing for Japan. You can get a twin private shared room as well.
They also have long-term arrangements where you can live in larger rooms for months at a time and pay something absurdly cheap (I think it was around $300-400 a month) for rent. And they have a deal where you can do chores for them for 1-2 hours a day and stay there for free which is also pretty nice if you're on a low budget.
I wouldn't even try to find a real apartment or anything in Japan unless you're renting from another foreigner, it's a huge pain and you're going to face all sorts of problems from language barrier to generic foreigner discrimination to paying $2000 a month for about 10 square feet of space.
Feel free to email me for more details - I left my email address in this comment.
yeah apparently Taiwan has a long feud with China or something, so they need visas for security reasons etc
Hey don't worry too much about the Taiwan Visa Situation. It is primarily a rubber stamp process. If you are only staying for 30 days, you don't need a visa. Actually they call it a landing visa (When you land at the airport, they stamp your passport) and you need to leave the country for a day or so every 28-30 days and re-enter. The most common Visa Jump destinations are Hong Kong, Bangkok Thailand, Seoul Korea. Mostly Hong Kong ($200-$300US).
If you are adamant about getting a 60-180 day visitor Visa just for peace of mind, It is easy to get one for the purpose of studying Chinese. By the way, Taipei Taiwan is one of the best places in the world to study Mandarin Chinese. They use traditional Chinese characters and have an easy to replicate, neutral accent. My favorite School is ???????? (Shi-Da for short, National Taiwan Normal University in English) Not to mention the Taiwanese are extremely hospitable.
If you are staying less than 60 days, you may just need to apply for a 60 day tourist visa. I'm sure you'll figure it out.
If you need more advice, Forumosa.com is a huge Blog of Expats living in Taiwan and they have an entire forum on Visa and residency issues.
My wife and I will be moving there in June, we should meet up and talk about travels, eat interesting Taiwanese food etc...
OBY: Thanks... I know where to find you if we need some advice!
Eric: Thanks for the tip. I'll find some when I'm in LA and give it a shot. I've been really happy with Tom's, but I'm interested in trying something new.
I have two weeks left in Austin and ten days in Boston. When we first decided to go on the trip six months ago it seemed like it would take forever. Now every day seems to fly by before I can make any progress on my list of stuff-I-must-do-before-I-go.
Of course, the one thing I've had no problem doing is buying the gear necessary to leave. I'll post a complete list of every single thing I'm bringing with me... some of which will probably surprise people.
We still haven't found anywhere to live in Panama yet. I send e-mails to people on Craigslist in Panama, but nothing good has surfaced yet.
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