As we were buying our tickets to come home, it hit us that we were buying one way tickets. This was the end of the spend-every-leftover-cent-on-travel era of our lives. The end of our emotional wrestle with the question, "Do we love living in Asia, or do we hate it?" The end of experiencing a completely new culture almost every month. The end of celebrating holidays we'd just heard of.
We were sad. And we were happy. Mostly happy, because moving right now, to Madison, feels so right. And we were even happier when Fabio realized it would be cheaper to have a three-day layover in Tokyo than to fly straight through. The man is a super-travel-shopper, people.
So we booked the longer flight and managed to somehow squeeze ANOTHER TRIP into our life in Asia. Because we are maniacs. And we love Asia... but we also hate it... but we focus on the times we love it.
It was a quick trip. Just long enough to get lost on the busiest train system in the world...
... only to be rescued by a really nice woman who saw the fear and confusion in our faces and missed her train to buy our tickets for us. Be nice to people in America who don't speak English. Trust me, they wish they could way more than you wish they could!
We took in the giant lanterns, markets, and temple at Asakusa.
Fabio paid homage to yet another of the great tall buildings of the world--he has a fascination with the "world's largest" things...
the Tokyo Sky Tree at 2nd tallest building in the world, tallest self-supporting
The burning incense in the temple covered the smell of dried fish in the market, and I once again felt something special as a watched another new culture worship.
We walked through a random large garden by our hotel, in the midst of a sea of skyscrapers,
And made more friends without a word spoken between us...
It was such a happy way to break up the sometimes-daunting (and, if you have a 1.5 year old, sometimes terrifying) intercontinental pilgrimage. We were happy to trade a 30 hour door-to-door exercise in exhaustion and olympic effort in toddler entertainment for the 9 hour flight, fun three day break, then 12 hour flight, then three hour flight! Both ways are possible, and we have gotten pretty good at the first way, but the break was much more relaxing for everyone.
In short, it was perfect. The last stop in our little family's crazy marathon was just the way we love trips. We went in not knowing what to expect. We shopped a little, ate a lot (Japanese pastries are amazing), found a delicious hole-in-the-wall pizza joint, and just wandered around a new place, following each other's whims as they came. Even Jonathan had a few suggestions, saying, "How 'bout--there?" (pointing at some place bright and shiny). And because there wasn't anything we had to see, we went where he pointed and found another great pastry!
And so we say, "Goodbye, Japan. Goodbye, Asia."