Osaka. The Nation’s Kitchen. Bright lights, bustling with tourists, gimme ALL the sushi.
(True to my namesake, here I am at IND with my carry-on… thanks for the airport dropoff, Mom!) The last time I had spoken to Tate before taking off from SFO and properly stowing my electronic devices, he told me he would be waiting for me past baggage claim in Osaka and (I quote) there’s no way I would miss him.
I didn’t think much of it, assuming he just meant it was a small airport and he’d be the only American. Little did I know he meant that he had flown a giant cutout of my head over on this business trip with him and drug it around this whole time just to whip out during my grand arrival. To this day, my biggest regret in life was not having my phone handy at that moment. Anyone who knows Tate knows he is NOT the kind to draw attention to himself, thus he refused to recreate that moment, and immediately folded jumbo-Chelsea-head up and discarded her into the nearest waste bin. What a way to kick off my Friday. Continue reading “Kon’nichiwa, Japan [Volume 1: Osaka]”
Through some miracle, or the universe’s way of ‘saving the best for last’, Tate and I hadn’t crossed paths despite our ever-growing list of mutual acquaintances. It wasn’t that either of us was particularly looking for “THE ONE” but we both quickly realized on that first date that this one person was going to turn out to be just a little more special than any of the other ones.
Most of our first date conversation was consumed by planning hypothetical trips, and playful attempts at one-upping the other while recounting tales of past travels. We even walked out of dinner that night with a pact to make it to Spain together one day (completed August of 2017)
First dates turned into fourth dates, and those segued into eighth dates and after a while I started to realize it wasn’t the number that counted, but the way I always seemed to walk away with a grin after our ‘good nights’ and ‘goodbyes’.
They say you never really know someone until you’ve travelled with them, and it wasn’t long after meeting (3 months, if you’re counting) that we were jetting off to Cabo for a long weekend. When he, albeit hesitantly, offered to trade so I could have the window seat I sidled in with a sigh. Somewhere between take off and cruising altitude I knew I had landed a keeper.
We slowly began building a little life of adventure together, and becoming a regular staple at each other’s family gatherings. At one point, my late grandpa was even convincing everyone that we were going to come back from Fiji (our first New Year’s trip together) as a married couple.
We didn’t exchange any vows that trip, but we did come back with a few good stories of surviving a cyclone in the South Pacific, and a cemented love of wandering this world together.
Since vacation days unfortunately aren’t limitless, somewhere between Vietnam and Vancouver we’ve settled into an 1890’s home in downtown Indianapolis and fill our free time with Netflix binges, bike rides, breweries, Nintendo 64 battles and a steady rotation of our favorite restaurants.
I’m taking a break from combing through the loads of paperwork required to submit my visa application for China and the only logical conclusion I can come to is that China doesn’t want you there.
They go so far as to request you get a special sized photo for your application, because apparently the standard 2×2 portrait that every other embassy and consulate accepts is beneath their standards.
Out of the 5 or 10 visas I’ve applied for in my life, China is also the only one requiring me to either drive to Chicago to personally hand it in (aka a 3 hour traffic helltrap from Indianapolis) or utilize a third-party company to transfer the paperwork for me. What’s even worse is that every company tries to outline the rules in the most daunting way possible to scare you into agreeing to their upcharge “concierge” services, where they offer such groundbreaking favors as ‘Registering you with the US Embassy for only $28 per person!’ (a free thing any traveler can do, for any destination, simply by visiting step.state.gov) — a bit of unsolicited advice, I highly suggest you do this before any trip. We were in Kenya back in January when the terrorist attacks happened in Nairobi and were contacted by the government with a lot of straight forward facts, helpful information and details.
I’m compiling a stack of printouts to pass along to FedEx Overnight including, but not limited to: an entire 8 page application, photocopies of passport pages that will also accompany my actual passport itself, detailed hotel reservations for every day my stay, ticketed airline itineraries, my tax records for the past decade, a packing list including daily breakdowns of sock and undergarment colors, and a promise to hand over my firstborn child (OK, so only half of that is true, but I swear this packet is quickly becoming longer than my last CVS receipt.)
The upside is that the Chinese embassy typically doles out their visas in the “Ten Year, Unlimited Entry” varietal… meaning this will hopefully be a one and done process for me. Tate got his a few years back, and since he does a lot of work with China it is safe to say this hopefully won’t be the only time this elusive, overpriced passport sticker gets put to work.
Viva los visa!