VIDEO: 2 Simple Steps to Creating a Location-Independent Business

Location Independent Business VidDo you dream of being able to live and work from anywhere in the world but just can’t figure out how to do that with your current job?

If so, it may be time for you to create a location-independent business so that you can live life on your own terms.

A “location-independent business” is a business that can be run VIRTUALLY, which is what allows you to manage it from anywhere in the world. Watch the video below for my two simple steps to help you get started.

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How to Take a Vacation (Without Feeling Guilty About It)

Happy African American Woman Dancing on Beach One thing I hear a lot from the hard-working women in our community is how difficult it is to take a vacation. Many of us already work long hours at work or in our business, yet for some reason have trouble taking a break! If it’s been years since you’ve given yourself the gift of a proper vacation, read on for some tips to help you step away from the laptop or plot your much-needed escape from the cubicle.

Schedule Time Off from Work Far in Advance

The best way to ensure you take your vacation time is to sit down at the beginning of the year and map out the times you already know you want off. It might be useful to think in terms of seasons. Plan to take some time off during the spring, summer, winter, etc. For instance, no matter where I worked, I always took off from my job for a few days every spring so that I could attend the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville. And for the last 3 years in my business, I’ve taken off at least one full month for vacation at some point during the year for travel!

Most people want to spend extended time with their families during various holidays, so you can plan around those as well. If you’re taking time off from your business, block off time in your calendar for the dates you want to get your R&R. If you’re taking time off from your job, make sure you submit your leave request as FAR in advance as possible so your supervisor can approve it in a timely manner. That way, you can work together to make arrangements for other staff or an assistant to cover your responsibilities and take care of clients during your time away, if necessary.

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Travel Diary: 4 Ways to Enjoy Honolulu on a Budget

Sunset at Ala Moana Beach Park

Sunset at Ala Moana Beach Park!

I’ve been in Hawaii (on the island of Oahu) for about a month now, and I wanted to share a quick video I made a few weeks ago as I was starting my morning here in Honolulu! This is a little of what my day looks like right now, from where I’m living to where I go to get work done.

While it’s relatively expensive to live here, I’ve learned a lot about how to enjoy this tropical paradise without spending a ton of money all the time. Some of the best ways to enjoy Honolulu on a budget are to secure affordable accommodations, fill up on cheap local eats, use low-cost transportation and enjoy inexpensive entertainment. Here is my short list of options for each!

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10 Things That Happen When You Decide to Get Rid Of All Your Stuff and Move to Hawaii

Car Before and After

On the left is when I bought my car 6 years ago. On the right is me last weekend, on the day I sold it!

In just a few days, I’ll finally be making the big move I’ve been talking about for months. This weekend, I’ll be getting on a plane to Honolulu, Hawaii (on the island of Oahu) with nothing but a backpack, a carry-on suitcase and a whole lot of trust in the universe that now is the right time. In many ways, relocating to Hawaii feels like the final stage of my journey to become location-independent. After two years of downsizing, traveling, building my business and experimenting with different living situations, I’ve achieved the possibility of being able to live and work from anywhere in the world. Something tells me that this move is only the beginning of another year of personal and professional adventure!

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. But I’m feeling the fear and moving anyway. Here are a few other things that have happened ever since I made the choice to move to my ideal location. If you decide to embark on your own big move, you might experience some of them, too.

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The Art of Minimalism: 5 Things Germany Taught Me About Living With Less

Pilar Piece Berlin Wall 2011

Photo courtesy Pilar Harris

This is a guest post by Pilar Harris, a healthy lifestyle blogger in Los Angeles. Please welcome Pilar to the HBW Community!

I come from a very creative, woman-centric tribe of stylish black women who love to thrift shop and collect. Growing up, garage sales and flea markets were frequent happenings. I can recall my grandmother and aunties having several closets filled with clothes, much of it never worn, and knick-knacks, many unused.

The very day I arrived for my year-long stay in Germany, I knew I’d be forced to confront and reconsider my own habits of consumption. I quickly learned that minimalism isn’t just about living with less. It’s about making room for more of what really matters. I’m pleased to share some of the lessons learned from this experience of downsizing. I’ve been able to find more time and space for what matters most – the things I’m passionate about and the experiences that bring me closer to an understanding of my divine purpose.

So, here goes.

Lesson 1: Buy Only What You Can Carry Home

I lived in a 6th floor apartment in a beautiful pre-war building. You know, the kind with lots of windows (for letting in natural light) and no elevator. I developed the habit of only buying what I could comfortably carry home, up five flights of stairs. This meant buying less and making multiple trips to the grocery store in a week. Now that I’m back in the States, I try to maintain this mentality because it prevents impulsive buying. It really comes in handy when I’m at those big-box, super-saver stores that stock everything under one roof!

Lesson 2: Carpool

It’s not uncommon for Europeans to carpool with complete strangers. They even have websites, similar to Craigslist, that allow folks to post their trips and the number of open seats they have available for the ride. Coming from California, where it seems everyone has at least one car, the idea of this totally blew me. But I learned that it makes perfect sense, once you put your pride aside. Why not ride with someone and split the costs, especially for long distance trips? I can’t say how many times my girlfriends and I have gone someplace, the four or five of us arriving in separate vehicles! For safety’s sake, I still wouldn’t carpool with strangers. Yet, I have learned to be a lot less shy about the whole “can I get a ride” thing.

Lesson 3: Modesty is Sexy

This is not only a lesson learned in minimalism. It also relates to cold weather living and mindful dressing. I watched chic German women maintain their sexy through the long winter season while covered from head to toe. I discovered this culture of understated femininity where form-flattering turtlenecks, eye-opening mascara and waist-high trousers reign supreme. No punchy eyeshadow, trendy handbags, or statement accessories needed. It’s all about mixing conservatism with classics and basics for a wonderfully becoming wardrobe, instead of doing an overhaul in favor of the season’s biggest trends.

Lesson 4: More Experiences. Fewer Things.

Each of the friends I made in Europe had a rich past experience of travel that, in the States, is typically reserved for the well-to-do. The secret, I found, is not in having more money. Rather, it’s about leading a simple lifestyle and splurging on the experiences that enrich our understanding of the world. I watched a young couple lock up their humble one bedroom flat, headed for a one month winter holiday retreat in Denmark. My sweet university-aged friend, who lived at home with her parents and did not own a car, returned from spring break refreshed, after having spent a week in the Mediterranean (Mallorca) with her brother and cousins. It’s a tradition they’ve kept since the youngest of them turned sixteen.

Having seen this for myself, I feel I have an important choice to make when the latest gadget, perfume or platform shoe is released: to buy? Or to save for that South American expedition I’ve been dreaming of?

Lesson 5: Live Small

Small is the name of the game in most European urbanscapes. If you’ve ever shopped at Ikea, you probably have an idea of what I’m alluding to. Small are the cars and the kitchen cabinets. Small is every home appliance, shower and stairway. I practiced being more selective of the things I purchased and the junk I hung on to simply because there was no space for excess. It’s kind of like switching to a smaller purse. Inevitably, some of the things you’d normally carry around just have to go.

Now, whenever I find myself feeling “too big” for my surroundings, I immediately look for things I can get rid of. As I work on healing the packrat within, I am really enjoying this clutter-free way of living. It’s a one-way street toward the freedom of having more brain space and energy to dedicate to my work, relationships, and dreams.

***

pilarinmotion lifestyle bloggerPilar Harris is a healthy lifestyle blogger who is passionate about vegetarianism, travel, books and black womanhood. She is a twenty-something healthy lifestyle advocate in the making who loves hip hop music as much as she loves steamed cauliflower and independent bookstores. Stop by her humble web home, Pilar in Motion and say hi on Twitter @pilarinmotion.

 

Are You Making These Excuses for Why You Can’t Travel?

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Photo courtesy Toya Nicole

This is a guest post by Toya Nicole, a travel blogger and marketing consultant. Please welcome Toya to the HBW Community!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

I travel more than the average person. Between business travel, personal vacations and weekend getaways, I should have a reserved parking spot at the Chicago O’Hare Airport. I’m always thinking about what my next destination will be and am often called upon by others to help them plan trips. It goes without saying that I’m passionate about travel.

Perhaps it’s ingrained in my DNA. My mother was a woman who traveled across the world with ease! Whether she was exploring France on a European vacation, hanging with the locals in Guadalajara, Mexico, cruising through the Caribbean or sneaking off to Vegas, she lived it up! I still have the postcard she sent me from her Hawaiian vacation when I was a kid. Even as a divorced, single mother she still set aside time and money to travel. Sometimes she had kids in tow or her girlfriends, but often times she rolled solo. So I guess you can say I get it from my momma!

While it’s second nature for me to bounce across the globe, I’m very aware that most women don’t take advantage of opportunities to travel.

Last fall, I returned from a weeklong Italy vacation with friends. While conversing with an associate, she commented:

“When I’m blessed to be wealthy and I get a husband I want to travel, too!”

Wait.

Say what, now? I don’t have a husband myself and am definitely not cashing Oprah-sized checks at the bank!

This was a working woman in her 30s who still had not been outside her southern state line boundaries. Why she felt she needed to “get a man” or “hit the lotto” to take a well-earned vacation was beyond me.

Sadly, she wasn’t the first woman I’d encountered who felt this way. I think it’s unfortunate to see women who fantasize about dream vacations actually talk themselves out of it because of perceived “roadblocks” in their life:

  • No friends
  • No husband
  • Too busy
  • Not enough money

I’ve heard all the excuses.

But the truth is, we can’t wait on the right time or right person to come into our life before we get about the business of living! Instead of making excuses, you can find an affordable vacation package, the kids can be left with a babysitter and that all-consuming job (which you hate anyway) will still be there when you return.

I started my blog last summer not to brag about my experiences or show off my bargain-finding skills, but because it’s my heart’s desire to inspire and motivate others to travel. I truly believe its part of my life purpose.

The time to explore, dream and discover is NOW. Are you ready?

***

425830_10102450159762074_1586521495_nToya Nicole is a savvy marketing consultant, Six Brown Chicks correspondent, storyteller and jetsetter from Chicago who loves Jesus, chocolate,  music and handbags! Stay in touch with her as she blogs about life lessons and all things travel on her blog, Ms. Travel Chic.

Travel Diary: My Crazy Full Moon Party Experience in Thailand (VIDEO)

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Body paint was the thing to do :)

I first heard about the Full Moon Party from Nomadic Matt’s travel blog when I was planning for my trip to Thailand. I’d already had it on my list of things I wanted to do, so when one of the guys here at Project Getaway suggested we go to the party as a group, I was all in! The Full Moon Party is a huge monthly beach party held on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand that happens on the night of every full moon. From sundown to sunrise, there are 10,000-30,000 people on the beach in the town of Haad Rin enjoying music, dancing, food, fire dancers and cheap alcohol by the bucket.

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What’s a Full Moon Party without a full moon???

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It costs 100 baht to enter the party grounds and you get a wristband to wear for the night

On April 25, 2013, I attended the famous Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, Thailand. We rented a speedboat to get from Koh Tao to the party location in Ko Pha Ngan, about an hour away.

Now I’m not really a big party girl when I’m at home in DC so I’m surprised I survived the experience of being in that environment for 12 hours straight. I had SO much fun on the beach with 10,000 half-naked drunk people from all over the world dancing nonstop to techno, house and reggae.As if the all-night party didn’t provide enough excitement to my life, I got another shot of adrenaline when my group got STRANDED in the middle of the ocean on our way home! I was sleeping when I felt a hard jolt. Our boat stopped suddenly and everything got quiet as the motor died out. Apparently, our speedboat had crashed into a rock and ran aground when we were about halfway back to our villa in Koh Tao. I’m NOT a good swimmer, so I was thisclose to having a panic attack when the boat hit the rock. I thought we were gonna drown! Thankfully we got help from a nearby ship.

I put together all my iPhone video snippets to share what the vibe was like at the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. At the end, you’ll also see some footage from how we made it home after our little boating accident. What a crazy, crazy night! Definitely an experience to remember…

(If you’re reading this post via email or in a reader, click here to see the video.)

For a comprehensive guide to attending Thailand’s famous Full Moon Party, check out Nomadic Matt’s post here: The Ultimate Guide to the Full Moon Party

Read My Previous Travel Diaries from Thailand:

Travel Diary: One Week in Koh Tao, Thailand

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Excited to be in Koh Tao, Thailand for Project Getaway!

I’ve been in Koh Tao, Thailand for about a week now, having a great time with a group of about 20 entrepreneurs through Project Getaway. There’s been a lot going on as we explore the island and get settled into our own individual projects we came here to work on.

Here’s some photos of where I’m staying and a bit of we’ve been doing here so far.

Photo Gallery: Welcome to Koh Tao

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View from the boat coming into Koh Tao

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Our beautiful villa in the Mae Haad neighborhood of Koh Tao

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We have an amazing view from our porch!

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The main living area in our villa! I live in this one with two other women with cool businesses, one from Germany and one from the UK

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Our bathroom – water is scarce here and sometimes cuts off, so we conserve by taking short showers!

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Our kitchen – I’ve been able to cook a few meals here when I need a break from Thai food

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My bedroom is shared with one of the women, we sleep in a bunk but beds are pretty comfy

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We love sitting out on our porch!

This is the best “office” ever :)

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We have a local restaurant called Yang’s Kitchen that caters our meals daily. This was lunch one day: mango salad, rice, pad thai with shrimp and a pork stir fry.

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The pool at our villa!

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Happy hour at Sunset View Restaurant! I had a Cuba Libre :)

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Watching the day fade out at Sunset View Restaurant – we had a nice group BBQ dinner here

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On Sairee Beach at night, music and fire dancers are out in full effect!

I’ve also been sharing more photos on Instagram and Facebook, so I hope you’ll follow along with my travel experience there as well. And…if you want to know more about the group I’m in Thailand with, check out the Project Getaway Facebook page, which has a TON of beautiful, professional photos from our media team! Let me know if you spot me or my afro in any of them :)

Read My Previous Travel Diaries from Thailand:

Travel Diary: One Day in Bangkok – Jet Lag, Street Food and a $4 Foot Massage

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I had grand plans for a day and a half in Bangkok, but what I got was jet-lagged sleep, incredible Thai food and an amazing foot massage for just $4. When I got in, I checked in with my family to let them know I was OK, wrote a bit on the blog, snacked a little and tried to wind down. Ended up going to bed at about 7:00am Thailand time, which was about 8:00pm eastern time. I was already up, so I ate breakfast near the pool in the hotel, which was included with my room at the Adelphi Grande.

Photo Gallery: Breakfast at Adelphi Grande

When I woke up around 2:00pm Thailand time, I checked out of my room and asked the staff to help me book my transfer from Bangkok. I needed to either fly or bus to Chumporn, then ferry to the island of Koh Tao to meet my Project Getaway group. The staff were very friendly and accommodating – they called the travel agency for me, drove me to the nearest ATM machine and secured a taxi to take me across town to the tourist/backpacker area of Khao San Road so I could buy the ticket. (For some reason, I was not able to book online or over the phone using my credit card.) Although I know I paid too much for the taxi (200 baht, about $7) because it would have been cheaper with the meter, I was OK with paying a bit more just for convenience and to avoid the haggling – we were only talking a few bucks here, so no big deal.

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Riding around and getting it…in a tuk tuk! They use golf carts in Thailand to get around short distances, called tuk tuks.

The taxi took me to Lomprayah, the travel agency recommended by the folks at Project Getaway. They had great prices and I bought a combo bus and ferry ticket for 1200 baht, about $40. The bus would take five-six hours, then a two hour boat ride to Koh Tao. I was to meet the bus at Lomprayah at 5:30am the next morning, which drastically shortened my time to explore Bangkok, but at least the mission at hand was accomplished. Then it was time for lunch! I wanted to experience the famous street food of Thailand, so I went straight for a plate of pad thai, prepared by one of the vendors lined up along Khao San Road. People literally just set up their cooking stations on the street and make all kinds of yummy Thai food to order – popular dishes include pad thai, grilled fish, spring rolls, chicken satay and ahem, fried insects. Kind of like the hot dog carts and food trucks we have in DC!

Photo Gallery: Street Food for Lunch on Khao San Road

After lunch, I wandered around the streets for a bit, taking in the sights.

Starbucks is everywhere, even in Bangkok

Starbucks is everywhere, even in Bangkok

Taxis in Bangkok

Taxis in Bangkok

The streets around Khao San Road

The streets around Khao San Road

Clothing vendors are everywhere - you can get cute dresses for $6

Clothing vendors are everywhere – you can get cute dresses for $6

I stopped at one of the many shops advertising foot massages for 120 baht for half an hour, about $4.

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The woman who did my foot massage took me upstairs to an air-conditioned room to give me a much-needed break from the heat! The massage felt so good, I fell asleep toward the end. “Full hour?” she asked. Nah, I was ready for a nap! I wish I had gone for an hour full-body massage, but I knew I would get a chance for that once I got to Koh Tao. I was so sleepy but it was about 5:30pm at this point and I still had to find a room close to Lomprayah so I wouldn’t miss my bus in the morning. I decided on a room at the Viengtai Hotel right on Khao San Road for $40, about 10 doors down from the travel agency. I took a nap for a few hours after I checked in, then went out to find some dinner.

I had read so many great reviews of May Kaidee’s Vegetarian Restaurant, so I decided to go there since it was also right around the corner from my hotel.

I ate panang curry at May Kaidee's Vegetarian RestI got to meet May herself! This is not a gang sign, y'all - it means "yummy" according to May :)

I got to meet May Kaidee herself! No, this is not a gang sign, y’all – it means “yummy” according to May :)

Photo Gallery: Dinner at May Kaidee’s Vegetarian Restaurant in Bangkok

My entire dinner only cost 200 baht or about $7. I’d NEVER get a delicious Thai dinner this cheap in the U.S.! I got a tuk tuk to take me there, but it was a short walk back to Khao San Road. It felt safe to walk around there at night, with everything lit up, music playing outside the restaurants and tourists everywhere.

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Khao San Road is lively at night – next time I’m partying with all the tourists!

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The shops and street food vendors stay open late

I had a rough time getting to sleep when I got back as my room faced the street, with the noise of people partying late into the night. I SO wanted to join them – but my body was NOT havin’ it! And anyway, I had to get up around 4:00am to get ready to go to Koh Tao to meet my Project Getaway Group!

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I took this ferry and was in Koh Tao by 3:00pm the next day…and I received such a warm welcome. Will share more in my next post with some lovely pictures of our villa and the view of the island!

Read My Previous Travel Diaries from Thailand:

Travel Diary: My 24-Hour Trip to Bangkok and Sushi in Japan

Photo: Headed to Thailand today! Gonna be a 24-hour trip to Bangkok with a 3-hour layover in Tokyo.

Note: This post continues my series to document my travels and inspire other women to plan their own adventures. Travel is a huge part of my ideal life and I know it’s a value that many HBW readers hold as well. Stay tuned for more diaries from my trip to Thailand!

I made it to Bangkok, Thailand! After a 24-hour trip plus a few flight delays, I’m finally getting settled into my room. I decided to spend a few days in Thailand’s capital city by myself before I meet up with my Project Getaway group in Koh Tao. First impressions on the way to the hotel: Thailand is HOT, y’all. It was about 1:30am when the hotel’s driver picked me up from the airport and it was 85 degrees outside. Even at that time of night, I felt the immediate whoosh of heat and humidity engulf me as soon as I stepped outside of the air-conditioned airport. I’m reminded now that it’s summer in Thailand during April, the hottest month of the year here. Tomorrow, it’s supposed to be 100 degrees!

Photo: Operation "Pack a Month's Worth of Stuff in One Backpack" is in full effect for my trip to Thailand! It can be done LOL

Operation “Pack a Month’s Worth of Stuff in One Backpack” in process a few days ago. I did it!

It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago, I was still trying to figure out how to fit a month’s worth of clothes and toiletries, plus my big laptop into one backpack. I bought The North Face Overhaul 40 Daypack at REI and it had an extra compartment just for my HP with a 15 inch screen. Worked like a charm! Of course, it helps that I packed actual summer outfits, unlike my clothing snafu last year in Europe when I brought jeans and light sweaters to wear in the summertime. This time, I rolled up t-shirts, shorts, light pants and capris into my bag along with my underthings, bathing suit and a few pair of sandals. (I’ll do a separate post on everything I packed for my trip – I’ve got enough for at least 16 different outfits!) Anything else I need I can buy here. I’ve heard that clothing is super cheap in Thailand and there are a ton of shopping centers that cater to tourists.

Vegetarian struggles

On the 13-hour flight from DC to Tokyo, I forgot to specify that I needed a vegetarian option for my meals. I don’t think “pescatarian” was an option, which I would have chosen had I remembered, because I do eat fish. I was painfully reminded of this when the flight attendant came by asking, “beef or chicken?” Ugh. Lesson learned. I had eaten before boarding the plane and brought a few snacks from home, but nothing that would last me 13 hours. I ate the salad and bread, then went to sleep to avoid the hunger pangs. I was tired as hell, anyway. I wasn’t able to sleep the previous two nights out of excitement and worry – but mostly excitement!

A few hours later, I wake up and the flight attendant brings me a vegetable wrap from first class. She feels bad for this starving vegetarian back in coach. It’s such a nice gesture that I don’t want to tell her I really don’t like vegetable sandwiches. (Clearly, I’m way too picky to be relying on airplane food!) Maybe she sees it on my face though, because she also offers to bring me some fruit. Then, the woman sitting next to me pulls out a little gold box and presses it into my hand, saying it’s the best pineapple cake from her country, Taiwan. I take it gratefully and eat the cake (which is yummy, by the way) along with the fruit salad for as proper a meal as I’m gonna get.

On that long flight to Tokyo, I remembered that no matter where you go, there is always someone who will be willing to help you out!

Eating sushi in Japan

My vegetarian struggles have a silver lining though – next up is a fantastic sushi lunch during my layover in Tokyo. Eating sushi in Japan has long been on my bucket list, but little did I know I’d find some at Sushi Kyotatsu in the Narita Airport on my way to Bangkok!

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Sushi Kyotatsu – best sushi I’ve ever had was found in the Narita Airport in Tokyo!

I order a selection of nigiri at the counter and watch as the sushi chefs prepare each piece with care and precision. They look so serious about their sushi. Clearly, this is not a game! As I taste the first bite of unagi (eel), I think, so THIS is what real sushi tastes like! I also eat tuna, tomago (sweet egg omelet) and shrimp, finishing almost everything on the plate. I don’t get up quite enough nerve to try the salmon roe. Just thinking about little fish eggs popping in my mouth makes me gag, even though I’ve been eating sushi since I was a teenager living in Hawaii.

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The second leg of the trip is seven hours from Tokyo to Bangkok. I feel like I’ve gotten at least 12 hours of sleep on the plane already, so I plan to catch up on my movie-watching instead. I watched three films in a row: Sliding Doors, Broken and Life of Pi. I love a good drama and all of these were excellent!

Now I’m getting settled in my room at the Adelphi Grande, which is pretty nice for what amounts to about $80 a night including free breakfast, wi-fi and late checkout. It’s really more like a little studio apartment, with a full kitchen and washer-dryer combo in here.

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Time for me to take a bath and try to get some rest, even though it’s a 13 hour time difference. It’s so wild that it’s 4:30am here in Bangkok and 5:30pm on the east coast right now. My body is so confused LOL.

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Good night!

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