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I’m so excited to learn that Japan has opened up its borders & eased its COVID-19 guidelines (for those who have been completely vaccinated AND boosted). I haven’t properly been back to Japan in over 6 years, & even during my last trip, I didn’t get a chance to spend time with my relatives. A lot has changed since the last time we all got together, especially since a lot of our next generation have gotten married & are having children (myself included). I would love for my cousins (& all) to meet my little bean & get to know her.

One of my biggest fears is that the connection/communication between my immediate family & my extended family based in Japan will end after my generation. My mother has made it crystal clear that she has absolutely no desire whatsoever to stay connected to her in-laws after my father’s passing. It’s been something she has been asserting even before my father had passed, that she has no interest in maintaining any sort of relationship with that side of the family. It’s so sad because everybody on that side of the family genuinely loves my mom, but she claims the language barrier is something she cannot get past. So, it’s now up to my eldest brother & me to keep the family together, language barrier be damned.

Of course the pandemic has given me severe cabin fever, & seeing the accounts I follow on social media freely traveling with their little ones in tow has given me a major case of FOMO. I have also been thinking long & hard about traveling ever since I got pregnant. I have been dreaming about jet setting (economy class, of course) with Jian & our little bean, & showing her the world…or at least what’s outside of our hometown bubble. Also having traveled multiple times already with my little bean on road trips has shown me that it is possible to go on more elaborate vacations with her. I know she would absolutely enjoy traveling with her parents. I mean, she already loves staying in hotels.

Speaking of hotels, we are leaving tomorrow & heading on another road trip to Los Angeles (*YAWN*). We will be staying at the same Culver City hotel that we previously booked on our last trip down south, The Shay. Oh man, considering we are collectively going through major economic downturns & a recession, the inflation spike has really punched hotel prices smack dab in the gut. Even with our super special friends-&-family-of-employees discounted rate, staying at our favorite hotel chain this time around won’t provide any cost-saving benefits for us, so we’re opting to stay at the hotel close to Jian’s office to use his corporate discount. We are trying to save money wherever we can, so we can save up for our big trip to Japan next year (& possibly splurge a little more while we’re there).

As you can probably tell, the three of us are going to Los Angeles to celebrate Thanksgiving with my extended family who all live down south. Every year we do the same thing, go to the same relative’s house, cook/eat the same food; the older generation play mahjong until all hours of the night, the younger generation get together to play trivia games & get shit-faced drunk.You know, I’m tired of doing the same shite every Thanksgiving holiday. My little 3-person tribe pack up & make the tedious trek down to Los Angeles to spend a few short, whirlwind days eating & watching TV. For my over 75-year old mother, as tiring as it is for her to travel to & from Los Angeles, she actually enjoys it. She loves spending quality time with her younger siblings & being spoiled by them.

If we’re being completely honest, I would rather be spending my Thanksgiving holiday somewhere else; it’s not just me, but Jian feels the same way as well. We really want to do some serious traveling, but Jian hasn’t accumulated much vacation days at the moment, so it’s not really feasible for us to go anywhere more than just a weekend jaunt somewhere close by. We are already feeling the burnout of traveling to & from Los Angeles, & we haven’t even left our house yet. It would be great if we had others driving up to see us every once in a while, but that’s a whole other subject that I will not get into.

Suffice it to say, the three of us (Jian & myself especially) are extremely ready to go on a proper vacation, perhaps somewhere overseas like Japan. We are also aiming to travel to New York City sometime in the near future, but for now, we are projecting our first big travel plans will be to Japan. We are already planning & mapping out all of the details with our best friends (who have an infant baby of their own), with spreadsheets, group chats, & all. I am more excited than you could ever know to be planning such a big trip. I was sort of hoping that Jian & I could take our little bean to London, but logistically, it would be more advantageous if we took our bean to Japan first…you know, because of family & all that jazz. Either way, I am beyond grateful & thankful to be able to travel at all, especially during these harsh economic times. I will forever be grateful for all of the privileges & blessings in my life, no matter what. No matter what or how I feel about Los Angeles & spending yet another Thanksgiving holiday there…

I. AM. THANKFUL.

So on that note, I am going back to ticking off the last little details on my To-Do list, finishing up the last bits of suitcase packing, & making sure all the windows, doors & gates are properly closed & locked. Jian is calling me to dinner for the 10th time, & I’m ready to go to bed. Until the next one, cheers & HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all who celebrate.

Today’s song of the day:

Ummm… I forgot to take photos of our campsite when we got to the Autocamp grounds. Well, I will repost the photos from my last blog post to give you an idea of what our Airstream camper looked like. The layout from the photos were exactly the same as our accommodations.

Let me first get this topic out of the way, regarding my compulsive behavior. I wouldn’t say that I am a total germaphobe, but I am mostly there. I get 75 percent uncomfortable when I have to share a public bathroom with others, even if it has a locker room style. If I absolutely have to share a public bathroom, I will, but I will take every measure imaginable to touch as few shared surfaces as possible. Even afterward, I will still feel uneasy & not 100 percent clean. So, you can imagine how elated (& relieved) I felt, knowing that I would be “camping” but with a private bathroom all to myself (plus Jian & the bean as well). Knowing that I’d have a private bathroom truly calmed my compulsive anxiety.

When we first decided as a family to go on a glamping trip, I was kind of hesitant. For as long as I could remember, I’ve always gone camping the old fashioned way with a tent & sleeping bags, etc. I have even gotten a lot of flack from some of my other friends that my version of camping still isn’t even considered ‘real’ camping because we are renting a private lot in a national park reserve with running water & access to public bathrooms. (Their idea of camping is parking your vehicle at the ranger station, & hiking into the woods to find a clearing for your tent. Then digging a hole in the ground for peeing, & jumping into the lake to wash yourself.) So, I was hesitant to try glamping. All of my friends who frequently go camping laughed at the idea. They said we might as well rent a luxury hotel room instead. Jian was determined to try it at least once, & with our little bean getting old enough to explore the outdoors more, it made sense for us to try glamping before thrusting the actual rugged camping experience on her.

The closer we got to our travel date, the more excited I got. I was doing a lot of research about the Autocamp experience, & I was so amazed by how they were able to seamlessly incorporate all the fun parts of rugged camping, but with the comforts of a modern AirBnB cabin. It truly felt like we were staying at an outdoor hotel, but with all of the basic elements of camping that made the whole experience both one-of-a-kind & fun as hell. We were excited to see so many other young families staying at the Autocamp site as well.

Our little bean had no problems adapting to the camping life. We were super excited to see her have fun & explore the great outdoors, but without all of the mosquito bites. Staying in an Airstream was really quite luxurious & an absolute treat. It has been a dream of mine to one day try out tiny house living, & staying in the Airstream camper was really a great way to experience that. The Airstream camper we stayed it really had all of the creature comforts of a hotel room but with all of the fun parts of camping sprinkled in.

Like I had previously mentioned above, having a private shower was an absolute luxury bonus. The shower was spacious & could easily fit 2 adults. The shower head was placed high enough so that tall folks wouldn’t have to crouch to wash, at least in my opinion. Having a traditional flushing toilet at our campsite was also an added bonus. There wasn’t a ton of counter/shelving/storage space in the bathroom to store your toiletries, but the bathroom still felt highly adequate. Other added bonus features in our Airstream camper are as follows:

  • Plenty of outlets & USB ports to charge-up & plug-in all of your electronic devices.
  • Plenty of overhead can lighting & Edison bulb pendant lighting throughout the camper. The Edison bulb lighting definitely gave the camper a rustic hipster vibe, but also gave the camper a warm glow & soft lighting.
  • All of the windows in the camper had full open-close capabilities.
  • TWO Dometic air vents (one in the bathroom, one in common area) for comfortable airflow.
  • Small yet powerful wall-mounted heater fan in bedroom to keep warm at night or in the mornings.
  • Powerful (& loud) air conditioner in common area.
  • Small wall-mounted TV with full network cable service.
  • The queen size bed was quite comfortable, with adequate bedding & decently firm pillows. It wasn’t the most luxurious, plush hotel-esque bed (it was a basic bed frame with a pillow-top mattress, no box spring), but it sure as hell didn’t feel like a fold-out sofa-bed or air mattress either.
  • Built-in bluetooth speakers inside camper (but we never used it ’cause we brought our own portable speaker).
  • The large 3-4 svelte person sofa was very comfortably cushioned. While in its upright position, it didn’t feel like a fold-out sofa bed at all. In its sleeping position, it turned into a full size bed that did’t seem too small for even the tall folks.
  • Our specific booking came with a private outdoor hot tub built for two. We opted not to use it because our little bean wouldn’t be able to use it with us, & I don’t like bathing outside where everyone walking by could leer at us.
  • I don’t know if the people who designed Autocamp purposely planted insect-repellant plants throughout the campgrounds, but we almost never encountered any mosquitoes, flies, or other creepy crawly bugs. We did, however, see more than a couple of bees living their best lives.

Although this trip was very short, just barely a three-day/two-night stay, it was still very memorable. We got to stay in a private Airstream camper for the first time & experience a small slice of tiny house living. Our little bean got to dip her toe in the camping pond a little bit before we thrust her in to the real camping pool full of pop-up tents, bugs & sleeping bags.

We have been talking about this trip ever since we came back home. We’ve also been talking up this experience with all of our friends. We’d definitely like to go back to an Autocamp campsite again in the future, but next time with all of our friends (& their kids too). Jian would like to try the Yosemite, CA location next. I think it’ll be super fun, especially if we go with other friends.

We don’t really have other big plans lined up for the rest of the year, except for the first public rock concert Jian & I will be going to in just a couple of days. Also, Jian is planning on doing another work-stay trip to Los Angeles again in September. Other than that, we haven’t decided what’s next. I hope I can post a review of my first major concert event since the pandemic here, but if I don’t…you can always follow me on my Instagram page, which is the main source of my up-to-date info & photos. Until the next one, cheers Runaways!

Today’s song of the day:

The digital ink has barely dried on my last travel blog post, & I am already writing about my next travel plans. It does seem like our little family unit travels a ton, but to be honest, we don’t travel as often as we used to…& by used to I mean in the pre-pandemic days. Leading up to 2019, we traveled a ton, just Jian & I. Sometimes we’d travel overseas twice in one year. Nowadays, we really want to go to a cuss ton of places, especially with our little bean who loves to travel, but we’re so reluctant to travel outside of our California bubble (especially because of all the headlines we see/read in the national news). Even though all three of us are fully immunized, we are still highly cautious about traveling & plan our travels very carefully & thoughtfully.

This year for Jian’s birthday, we have decided to go camping. It was Jian’s idea to travel for his birthday, & we have been itching to go camping again. We were supposed to go camping back in 2020, but our statewide COVID-19 lockdown pretty much cancelled that plan. Plus, I miraculously got pregnant that year, so camping has been out of the picture since then.

Jian has been wanting to go ‘glamping‘ for a long time. He found this great glamping campground semi-near us, & this year we decided would be the perfect time for us to try this glamping experience. Both of us have been talking about when we would introduce our little bean to the whole camping experience, & we thought that glamping would be a good way to test the waters (so to speak), & introduce our little bean to the general idea of camping & also see if she is okay with sleeping outdoors.

In case you’re wondering, ‘glamping‘ is just like the word describes. It’s glamorous camping, where instead of pitching your own tent, cooking food on a self-made fire pit, & peeing behind a tree, you get to sleep in a bespoke camper or a luxury canvas tent kitted out with full-size furniture & take a shower in a locker-room style private bathroom. The campsite is an all-luxury-amenities-included area, that kind of feels like a grown-up, luxurious hotel-esque version of a kids sleep away summer camp.

Jian found an awesome glamping company called Autocamp, with several U.S locations that was just perfect for a first-time glamping experience, especially with a wee little bean in tow. We both have been tinkering with the idea of one day introducing our little bean to actual camping, but right now she’s too young, in our opinion to be roughing it in the woods (or in our case, a state run camping reserve). Glamping at a moderately sized campground with modern amenities will be a good “toe dip” into the waters, so to speak, for our wee little one.

On this glamping trip, we will be celebrating Jian’s birthday in style. Yes, staying in a fully framed-out canvas tent with a comfy bed & sofa lounge area would be fun, but Jian wanted a few more creature comforts, so we initially tried to book a modular tiny cabin, but they were all booked. We ended up booking our next favorite option which was a deluxe Airstream camper, which comes complete with a private bathroom, private bedroom area, & kitchenette/seating area. See photos below for reference.

What makes this experience feel more like camping: cooking your own food over a campfire

We are super excited to try out this Airstream glam-camping experience for Jian’s birthday. We are planning on celebrating in style in the great outdoors. We would love to introduce our wee little bean to full-on camping complete with sleeping bags, a tent & mosquito bites, but for now this will be a good beginner’s introduction to camping to test out if she likes it at all. I don’t know if I will upload any photos here on this blog (I probably will forget to take photos anyway), but I will at least report back here & give my full review of this glamping experience. Until the next adventure cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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