In reality, I did not hug any of those. My sister did come nose to nose with a terrifyingly large and venomous arachnid during a post-typhoon hike in Tokyo, but we survived.
How could this kid possibly be turning 40? I refuse to admit my adultness. Like... as a rule for life. So the prospect of reaching this milestone meant only one thing: Epic Adventure.
It started with a trip to Tokyo, Japan to visit my little sister, an Air Force flight nurse who was on temporary assignment at Yokota while she and her family were stationed in Okinawa. I flew in as a typhoon approached and we spent the first day hunkered down with 7-11 snacks and endless Netflix. El Camino and several John Mulaney standup specials got us through the storm.
The next day, the blue skies gave no indication of any meteorological disturbances, but the crazy wildlife dangling from the trees and the waters well up over the breakwater told a different story.
Maria planned the most amazing adventures for my brief visit, including plenty of good eats, immersive art, suffocating train rides, history, culture, and endless laughs. We spent a day at a cat cafe, underestimated the raging inferno ramen, stacked the plates at sushi-go-round. We rolled our pant legs up to wade through a video-projected koi pond, laid on the floor to gaze up at the horticultural planetarium, and got lost in a maze of giant rubber balls and neon mirrors.
Sadly, we never have enough time together. But we sure did make it count.
After a long train ride crammed in like sardines and teary hugs, I left exceptionally clean and organized Tokyo, with perfectly delightly sunshine and cool breezes to the hustle, bustle, chaos, and oppressive heat of Bangkok, Thailand.
Holy hell, was it hot. I went from 70s to 105 in 3 hours. I learned quickly that the best time to have fun in Bangkok is 10p-2a. The food was amazing, yet sketchy. Spent a couple days exploring the astounding green spaces, meeting up with a fellow runner from Tacoma (not by happenstance) to take a perilous boat ride to the Green Lung nature preserve where we biked around for a few hours, nearly had a run in with gigantic monitor lizards, and barely survived the oppressive humidity thanks to the random mango lassi stand we found in the jungle. We soon met up with more crazy runners (also not by happenstance) and took another boat ride to the floating market where we had the most unforgettable, richly spicy, indescribably delicious soup made by a 200 year old lady in a rowboat.
But wait, there's MORE! Bangkok was really just the staging area for the true epic adventure birthday celebration.