In three days, I went through four airports, crossed the international date line and went through four time zones, and got to eat some great meals in all the cities I went through. And now I'm in Arizona, trying to get into the Christmas spirit in the 60 degree weather!
I started in Kuala Lumpur, hanging out in the airport for many hours, waiting for my late evening departure.
The flight to Los Angeles went through Narita/ Tokyo, so that leg was about 7 hours, and I was able to get in a little bit of sleep and a movie. We arrived at dawn as the sun was rising.
I had a nine hour layover and had arranged to meet a friend of mine's mother. I hung out at the airport to wait for her, and we found each other despite never having met each other. It was such a sweet meeting– my friend's mom speaks only Japanese and a few phrases of English, and I only speak English with a few words of Japanese, but we managed to communicate with a lot of sign language and body language. She took me to Narita, the small town where the airport is located. There was a long street of cute shops and restaurants leading to a temple, so we took a nice stroll down that street. It was a chilly day, especially coming off of hot and humid tropical weather. But I had prepared myself for the cold, and with the help of a scarf that she lent me, I was fine. It was a beautiful, crisp winter day.
The highlight of that few hours was the sushi! We went to this little sushi bar right as it opened. Edokko Sushi. It was a tiny little place, but the sushi chef seemed to know everyone and was super friendly. The fish was so fresh and buttery smooth. So simple and so delicious. I was happy. And it was only a short train ride from the airport. Good tip– if you ever have a layover in Narita, go here! It opens at 11:30am and they have great lunch specials which seemed pretty reasonably priced.
I got back to the airport with a heavier bag (my friend's mom bought me some goodies to bring back to the U.S.– Japanese pickles. Yum!), and I finally got on the plane for my next destination, Los Angeles. This was the long leg of my flight– a 10 hour flight. It was a bit of a bumpy flight but we got into LA Monday morning with no mishaps.
I spent a day plus a little extra in Los Angeles, bookending my travels with great food (see my earlier LA post for what I had three months ago as my farewell from the U.S.). As always, my stay in LA with my cousins was a gastronomic affair. We had Korean BBQ for dinner at Kalbi King.
I was stuffed beyond comfort. We had all kinds of beef and pork, and it was delicious. Plus I had a bowl of naeng-myon, a cold soup noodle dish that is great with Korean BBQ.
The next day a few of us went to get lunch at Pizzeria Mozza, Mario Batali's restaurant in town. Thin crust pizzas with amazing toppings and great appetizers and even better desserts. We each got a different pizza and shared. Mine had bacon, leeks, roasted garlic, and goat cheese. Soooo good. And the crust was amazing.
The desserts were incredible, and since my cousins never do things in moderation, we each got a dessert and shared.
The lemon ice cream pie (upper right) was delicious. And the caramel ice cream with peanuts was great, too. But the best dessert was the Butterscotch Budino (bottom middle)– it's what this restaurant is known for, and it was amazing. A kind of butterscotch creamy pudding with a caramelly top…not too sweet and just so good.
Then it was off to the airport again for the last leg of this travel odyssey. And it was a short flight– just about an hour from Los Angeles to Phoenix.
That was the last flight for 2012. The next flight will be back to the East Coast at some point, but for now, I'm sitting tight in Phoenix with family. And then maybe a few road trips.
Thanks for following me on my journeys! This closes the travel portion of the blog for now. I'll be reflecting on the journey and share some thoughts when those crystallize. But from here I'm working on my next steps of “real” life. Where I'll be living. What I'll be doing. It's still blurry, and I'll be releasing some ideas on the blog to get feedback, but until then…