Although the travel party usually heads abroad for Christmas, this year Ray took a spring sabbatical off from university teaching at the start of 2023, freeing us from voyaging over the high tourist season at the end of December. Nonetheless, flights were prohibitively expensive to Australia, New Zealand, or Buenos Aires, although oddly reasonable to Japan, so this year we set out just after the new year started to lodge 13 days in Asia split between 4 in Tokyo, 6 in Bali, and 3 in Singapore.
Tokyo proved cold before the equatorial tropics, yet inscrutable and magical. Just riding the subway or ordering ramen from a cryptic food automat proved enough adventure and amusement. With just four nights in Japan, we did not leave Tokyo city; Ruben’s high speed train will have to wait until our return. We explored the city shrine of Asakusa, bar hopped the tiny warren of Golden Guy in Shibuya, and checked out the somewhat dated electronics district of Akihabara. Our wonderful Mustard Hotel provided both seafoam green pajamas and a record player in every room.
While we could walk merrily through Tokyo’s mostly car-free Shimokitazawa district, oddly Bali’s streets were choked with cars and scooters. In Indonesia, we stayed three nights each at two different villas with private pools, one near the beach in trendy Changgu and the other upland in Ubud somewhat close to terraced rice paddies. Indonesia’s food and cocktail scenes are lavish with flat whites and speakeasies for the Australians. Although bad indigestion knocked me out of commission, we did attend a gamelan performance at the old palace.
We finished the trip in the Islamic quarter of Singapore, venturing out to eat everything from pork noodles to Singaporean chicken and rice. The art museum is marvelous along with a city full of stunning architecture. I got my phone fixed. Ray caught up with an old friend that showed us speakeasy 28 Hongkong Street. On our last night, we toured the Night Safari zoo where we fed carrots to a rhino and said hello to some giant flying fox bats.