Sold to the highest bidder!

Our house is officially in contract! Wednesday, 5/22, was our deadline for buyers to submit their offers at noon. Susanna was going to review with us all the offers at 6pm. Little did we know that there would be more things going on behind the scenes…

We initially thought we’d have about 5-6 offers, but ended up with have 3 (technically 4, but our agent thought that $1.65m all cash wasn’t strong enough…this market is crazy). The 1st offer was the Google couple with $1.68m (same as their preemptive amount). The 2nd offer was from someone at Meta with $1.71m. The 3rd was from a couple that offered $1.83m. And then, the bidding war started…1st offer revised from $1.68m to $1.828m, and the 2nd offer revised from $1.71m to $1.825m. At this point, I was debating on whether I wanted to give to the Google couple, but our agent pointed out that they are using almost all of their Proof of Funds, and 2nd offer seemed to also be in the same boat. Both 1st and 2nd offers were bidding +$100k over their initial offering amounts.

Then, the 3rd revised their offer from $1.83m to $1.85m! I think what happened was that our agent let them know that all the offers were so close in range that we were probably going to multi-counter offer all buyers. They did not want to have to go thru with that, so they upped their bid $20k. They were already the highest offer and came out strong showing that they wanted the house. Their loan agent said that they will have no problem obtaining the loan, and I was impressed that their proof of funds was just in one clean statement for $1.2m and could definitely afford these insane mortgage prices. Plus, they’re going to give us free rent back for 30 days after the loan closes to give us time to pack and move…so, even though we kinda had an affinity for the Google couple, we eventually accepted the 3rd offer. I think it was the right thing to do since the other 2 offers were probably swept into this and might not be able to afford in the long run (weird saying this about DINK Asian tech workers lol).

We accepted their offer on Wed, and they deposited their 3% earnest money of $55.5k on Thurs. Susanna came on Friday and put the “Sale Pending” sign up. The total cost for expenses/improvements was $15,120 which will be reimbursed to her when the purchase closes. They are doing a 21 day close (which is pretty fast), so will close on 6/12, and then we can stay in the house till 7/11 (though we will probably leave sooner). We need to rent a POD, pack, and get together with a few more peoples to say goodbye. I’ll write another blog about peoples…they deserve their own entry 🙂

House Selling Update!

Where to start? It’s surprising that we signed with Susanna on 4/12…it’s only been a month, and on Wednesday, 5/15, we have officially listed our house on the market. We’re listing it for $1,569,000 and already got a preemptive offer for $1,680,000…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning…

After meetings with the HVAC, painter, and gardener on Wed 4/17, HVAC came back to finish adding freon and installed a new thermostat. The handyman, Quy, was here over the weekend on the 20th and 21st and got rid of our ceiling fans, installed LED lights, 4 recessed lights, installed a new toilet in the masterbath, took away the shower door, removed the patio cover, etc. The gardener came on Sunday and cleared out all the weeds…we can now see the dirt!

Our anniversary weekend was the toughest in that we had to move all our furniture to the middle of the room (note that we’re still both working) so that painters would be there on the weekend to paint the baseboards. They also “fixed” the cracks in our walls, all our problem areas, painted all our doors white, and did almost all the exterior. There was also a guy who refinished the tub, though our tiles in that bathroom don’t look as nice after the shower door came off. Quy came back and installed all the hinges. Anson didn’t want to pay $70 for each installation of door knobs/pocket doors and did it himself over the next couple weeks (I installed 2!)

Honestly, the last two weeks have been more of a blur, but most of it was to just declutter our house. I fixed up Anson’s mats in the gym, started packing everything into boxes, and we started moving them into the garage on Wed 5/8. We moved my desk and end table from our master into the spa room. We didn’t want to list during the week of the Santa Clara city cleanup since trash would be everywhere. It was very helpful to get rid of 2 large patio chairs, some big boxes, various miscellaneous items, and our old sofa (too big of a butt imprint for staging lol). I bought a smaller sofa on Wayfair which arrived on Mon 5/6. Setup wasn’t too hard and I like that there is storage underneath and can pull out to be a sleeper sofa. The landscaper, Benjamin, and his team came and pulled out all the weeds in the planter box, put in wood chips all over our backyard and planted flowers in the front and back and installed drip irrigation. Benjamin planted some tomato plants in the planter box. We’ve had to hand water some plants that aren’t on drip in the very front and some in pots in the back.

The cleaner came on Thurs 5/9 and Fri 5/10. Susanna used some of her staging material (pictures, fake plants, cushions, pillows, etc) and got her husband to hang up pictures on Sun 5/12 & Mon 5/13. Termite inspection and home inspection happened that Monday too. The photographer took pictures on Tues, 5/14, and the listing went up on Wed 5/15. Meanwhile, Anson fixed a “leak” in the secondary bathroom by tightening the handles (yay! Glad it wasn’t serious). The wiring for the sprinklers up front were corroded (that’s why our lawn wasn’t looking as green), so Anson got guy who came at 6:30 am to fix it. I used almost a whole bottle of liquid fertilizer on it. Since weed blocker wasn’t installed, have been weeding a little everyday o.O We had an open house on Thurs, 5/16, and there seems to be good interest in our property. We’re staying at Granada Inn from Friday 5/17 thru Thursday 5/23 so that we don’t have to keep packing/unpacking. On Friday, there were 3 appointments (at 2pm, 4pm, and 5pm). The couple who gave us the preemptive offer work at Google and have been renting in our neighborhood for many years. They knew our house was going up for sale cuz of all the work that has been going on. Truthfully, I think $1.68m isn’t a bad offer since we first though $1.7m was on the high end, but this is how the Bay Area market is. I’ll update once our place is sold!

We’re Moving Back

I’ve been in the Bay Area since May 2012, and now, we’re going to be moving back to Southern California. Wow, it still hasn’t set in. Last year in 2023, I went down to LA 6 times. Yes, we’re still in the same state, but it does get exhausting at times to travel there. We’re approaching 12 years here…my parents are getting older and it is a little hard to help them when we’re so far away. We’ve actually been thinking about moving back since last Thanksgiving, but we couldn’t really get started until after we came back from Japan. Well…we’re back, caught up with work, installed the blinds in the spa and gym rooms, and just finished our appointment with our agent.

We signed a contract with our selling agent, Susanna Wong today. She really knows her stuff. She was our buyer’s agent 11 years ago when we first bought this house, so we thought it fitting that she would help us sell it. She always gave us See’s Candies certificates during Christmas time and would answer Anson’s random questions about real estate throughout the years. She doesn’t work as much now as she wants to enjoy her family time, but she wants to make an exception for us, and she even wanted to lower her commission for us! There were some things that we thought we were going to do, but she has made some good suggestions.

Our plan was to pack everything up and put in storage and just use an air bed to squat in the house. We wanted to paint the house inside and out, replace lightbulbs, and the toilet. She is thinking that we probably don’t have to paint the whole house, just touch ups here and there on trims/cracks/baseboards/front of house, replace our old fashioned fans with regular lighting. We’ll need to do landscaping in the back, but should probably also do a little in front to make it more colorful. An HVAC guy will come to check our A/C and heating system.

We’ll bring down some personal stuff at the end of April and store it with Anson’s parents. We’ll need to buy a new couch for the family room, and can probably bring that down in our move. Our job in the next couple weeks is to de clutter the house and store things in the garage to make our place more presentable for the open house… projected timeline will be listing in mid-May and might have been sooner if not for the annual city clean up.

I think it’s sort of a shock how fast things are going. We just had our meeting with Susanna yesterday and we’re already thinking that our house will be sold be the end of next month. We have to pack, say goodbye to those we know, and not to mention that we haven’t told work that we are hoping to be remote…if it doesn’t happen, I think we are also content in taking some time off since we’ll also have to buy a place in Camarillo (did I say that was where we are hoping to move to?) We don’t want to live in the Valley because of the heat, but I’ll be able to drive to SFV to visit parents more often. So many things to still do before thinking about that though 🙂

Japan 2024!

Day 1 – SJC to Narita

And here we go again! We loved Japan so much last year, that we decided to go again this year, but this time in March instead of February which I think was a good call since it is a few degrees warmer and is less prone to rainy weather…but I’m getting ahead of myself (3 days behind in blogging ahh!).

We woke up at 7am and ubered to SJC around 8:45am ($20) and checked in at the counter where they weighed our bags. Like last time, we are only bringing backpacks so that we don’t have to pay for luggage, and it’s actually very doable. We met up with Brandon and Josephine at the lounge and tried to fill up with eggs and potatoes before the flight. I also brought with us shredded cheese, cut up Kara Kara oranges, bell peppers, and cucumbers to have something healthy for the ride.

Our flight was supposed to be at 11:10am, but don’t think we started boarding till then and also didn’t fly out till 11:30am. We remembered to refill our water bottles before the flight this time. I was getting a little hungry so I got a mini ramen bowl for 300 yen. The flight was pretty smooth most of the time…little did I know that the next day will probably be our hardest this trip.

Cost: $1026 plane tickets + $20.01 Uber (old credits) + Udon on plane 300 yen (travel charge erased w/pts)

Day 2 – Narita to Odaiba

The flight was pretty smooth sailing until about 30 mins to landing. That was when we hit turbulence. I think most planes going to Narita also had this trouble and we circled the airport for a little longer. The plane would make sudden drops every now and then and Anson’s stomach wasn’t having it. The person on my right and people in front of us used the barf bags.

We landed (and everyone clapped!). I was secretly praying that we wouldn’t die. There were a good many people compared to last year (didn’t get a whole row to ourselves this year) so customs took a little longer. We said goodbye to Brandon and Josephine at the airport, got data working on my phone, ate our customary premium salmon onigiris, sandwiches with the crust taken off, and chicken salad from Lawson (1470 yen), then went to the train station.

I can never sleep on planes, so I was pretty sleep deprived and couldn’t make many sound decisions after this. We probably shouldn’t have stayed in line for 1/2 hr to buy the PASMO passport to save 500 yen each and just bought individual tickets for the Keisei Narita Skyaccess, but what’s done is done. We took the 5:25pm Skyaccess to Shimbashi station which arrived at 6:45pm (1414 yen) and transferred to the Yurikamome at 6:57pm getting off at Tokyo Big Site (388 yen each) after 28 mins, and walked to our hotel, Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington hotel.

I booked this with my Capital One travel credit for $237.74 (guess I’ll just keep this in since had to pay CO annual fee) Check in was at a kiosk where you have to enter where you’ve been previously and where you’re going next (so big brother :). The hotel room is…cozy and has a nice view of the city but it is all we kinda need. We went out to Lawson for more food (1069 yen)…then we crashed 🙂 Travel days aren’t my favorite…

Cost: Skyaccess 2828 yen + Yurikamome 776 yen + Lawson 1470 yen + Lawson 1069 yen + 3 nights hotel $237.74, Pocari Sweat drink from hotel vending machine 180 yen = 6134 yen + $237.74 = ~$270

Day 3 – Georgetown, Joypolis, and Daiba Park

So jetlagged 🙂 woke up at 1:30am, stayed up for a couple hours, and woke up again at 6am. Bought tickets for our hotel’s in-restaurant breakfast place called Georgetown at the hotel (2200 yen/pp). It’s kinda expensive, but I think it’s worth it since breakfasts in Asia are AMAZING, it is convenient and a good source of our veggies for the day, and since it is considered a hotel charge, I’ll be able to get it credited from my Capital One travel points.

Speaking of breakfast, some examples of the food was sashimi, ikura fish eggs, shabu shabu fish, salad bar, tandoori chicken, various meats, natto, rice (that comes from a machine!), miso soup, various desserts, fruits, etc. Looking forward to this for the next two days too!

We left the hotel around 9:30 and proceeded to walk 1/2 hr to Joypolis, an indoor SEGA theme park. I bought the tickets for $20/pp on klook (charges erased with CO points). I don’t like the cold, so I have bundled up with 2 pairs of pants, 2 jackets, gloves, scarf, and fuzzy hat…this will probably be what I wear every day lol.

It’s a Tuesday and Joypolis opened at 10am…and it was packed! Why are people not in school??? They had some cool rides like a Sonic rollercoaster ride and Transformers 360 ride (Anson opted out since he can’t take spinny rides) and did this treadmill competition one instead). They also had these three “rides”: Wild Jungle, Wild River, and Wild Wing which had basically the same concept but you watch a screen and your vehicle shakes with the action on screen. Some activities were all in Japanese and not as fun since we couldn’t understand the context. I think that they could have streamlined getting on the rides and acknowledgement of rules better, but hey…this ain’t Disneyland 🙂

We then proceeded to explore Daiba Park. We saw the Gundam statue and then walked some familiar paths that we did last year. We saw their Statue of Liberty, grabbed a Peach tea from a vending machine (170 yen), walked the beach and a segregated park of the island, weren’t really hungry still even though we didn’t eat lunch, bought tomatoes and cucumbers from OK Store Odaiba (536 yen) and salad and premium onigiris from Lawson (782 yen), ate dinner while listening to Ask Pastor John, then crashed at 8:30pm (and I’m typing this at 4am…been up since 1:30…don’t feel bad…I feel totally fine lol)

Cost: Breakfast 4400 yen + Joypolis $40 + Peach tea 170 yen + groceries 536 yen + Lawson 782 yen = 5888 yen + $40 = ~$78.80 (breakfast and Joypolis credited = actual total ~$10)

Day 4 – Teamlab Borderless

After having breakfast again at the hotel (2200 yen/pp), we decided to walk to Teamlab Borderless. The husband wanted to walk over the Rainbow Bridge like we did last year. We left the hotel around 9:30am and got to Borderless at 11:25am. I bought these tickets on klook at the same time as Joypolis and it cost $19/pp which will be erased with Capital One points.

This was the only thing I planned for the day, and I’m glad it was as see spent about 3.5-4 hrs here. The place is a digital art museum, and it was magnificent to look at. It was pretty dark and there are no signs to where everything is which keeps the ambiance mysterious. It is up to you to just explore all the rooms. The lights and art work would frequently change in the different rooms. One room had stringed up lights from the ceiling, another had balls moving around, another had lily pads. We also were able to color in a certain aquatic animal and they would scan in our drawing and it would display in their large sea aquarium area. We aren’t very good at drawing, but we wrote the words “A+P 2024” on our turtle.

Another highlight was going to their En Tea House (had to pay 600 yen per drink, but it was worth the experience!) We were seated and shortly, a woman would bring out our tea putting it in a circular bowl. I’m guessing a projector would sense it and then a flower would start growing until there were multiple flowers where your tea is in your bowl. Once you started drinking from your bowl, the petals would scatter across your table and it would repeat over again until your tea was finished.

Overall, I’m pretty happy that we were able to experience this place. We then walked over to Tokyo Tower to take some pictures, and then took the Yurikamome (388 yen) back to the hotel. We bought food from Lawson: Anson’s premium onigiris, salad, pasta carbonara, and a lemon drink (1403 yen). Still not over jetlag, so after dinner and shower, I think I feel asleep at 5:30pm and probably could have slept longer except needed to brush teeth 🙂 At least I didn’t wake up till 3am! Yay!

Cost: Georgetown breakfast 4400 yen + Teamlab Borderless $38 + En Tea House 1200 yen + Yurikamome 776 yen + Lawson 1403 yen = $38 + 7779 yen = ~$90 (breakfast and Teamlab Borderless credited = actual total ~$23)

Day 5 – Travel day – Odaiba to Hakone

We opted to not do breakfast buffet today, and I was up pretty early, so I explored the different convenience stores in our area: Lawson, Daily Yamazaki, Family Mart, and 7-11. I got us 2 salmon onigiris, bean thread, 3 eggs, beef onigiri, sushi roll up, sandwich, yogurt, 2 salads, and 2 drinks for 1019 yen + 1556 yen. Checked out of the hotel around 10:30am.

We decided to take it easy today and are taking our time traveling down to Hakone. Took the Yurikamome from Tokyo Big Site to Shimbashi station for 28 mins (388 yen each) The trains are still a little confusing for us and we ended up accidently exiting the station and paying 150 yen each 🙁 We took the Tokaido subway for 1.5 hrs to reach Odawara station (1514 yen/pp).

We purchased groceries (tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and oranges for 1540 yen) since Hakone has NO supermarkets, and bought the 3 day Hakone Freepass at the Odakyu Sightingseeing Service Center for 5,400 yen each…I’m a little conflicted on whether we wanted to start it today or tomorrow since Saturday is projected to rain all day 🙁 We bought lunch at Lawson (1007 yen) and ate the food while waiting for the shuttle bus to our hotel.

I used most of Anson and my points to book 3 nights at Hotel Indigo Gora. This place is a 5 star hotel…and we feel a little out of place lol. Each room has it’s own onsen! They had a mini bar (not that we would get anything from it), but we are able to use it to store some leftovers/groceries. We took a stroll outside near the waterfall lake, got onigiris and butter chicken from Lawson (840 yen), and ended the day soaking in our onsen (this’ll be a daily thing to get our points worth)!

Cost – Breakfast: 1019 yen + 1556 yen, Transport to Odawara: 776 yen + 300 yen + 3028 yen, Hakone Freepass: 10,800 yen, Groceries: 1540 yen, Lunch: 1007 yen, Dinner: 840 yen = 20,866 yen = ~$140

Day 6 – Hakone Freepass

I got us breakfast at 7-11 again (got other kinds of onigiri since they don’t have Anson’s favorite which is sold at Lawson, eggs, gyoza, milk on sale, and cheese wedges for 2097 yen). We left the hotel around 8:30am and proceeded to hike uphill to Gora Station. Since we have the 3 day Hakone Freepass, it covers our transportation for the next 3 days (though we probably won’t be able to make it worth the cost since tomorrow is gonna be pouring, but it was nice to have the convenience instead of buying individual tickets especially with so many people around).

We took the Hakone Tozan Cable Car up to the the Hakone Ropeway that had a clear view of Mt. Fuji and stopped at a destination that sold black eggs (didn’t get) and black ice cream (400 yen) that just tasted like vanilla. Took the ropeway down to Hakone Sightseeing Cruise on a pirate ship on Lake Ashi at 11:25am. We ate pasta carbonara, salad, milk tea, and onigiris for lunch (1658 yen) before heading on the cobblestone hiking path where we met an Australian woman who walked and talked with us down to the Amasake Tea House where we shared an Amasake Tea and sesame mochi (1,100 yen). It was a nice ambiance with rustic dirt floor, heater, and the trunk of a tree used for the table. It was nice to talk to fellow travelers and see where life was taking them…each person has their own unique story to tell.

We parted ways and hike a little more down the “path” back to Yumoto, but it was a little scary since part of the hiking path was sorta in traffic with very little walkway. The cobblestones also didn’t end and made it not as conducive to walk quickly as we didn’t want to roll or sprain our ankles (though I’m glad the path was all downhill…I wouldn’t survive if it were uphill). We decided to take the Hakone Tozan Bus to Yumoto around 4:50pm and then the Hakone Tozan Railway back to Gora Station. Dinner (and food for tomorrow since it’ll rain) was at 7-11 where we got onigiris and a pork and rice dish (2136 yen) and ended the night soaking in the onsen again (hey, there’s an onsen tax and this hotel is fancy schmancy, so might as well use it!)

Cost: Breakfast: 2097 yen, Black ice cream: 400 yen, Lunch 1658 yen, Amasake Tea House: 1100 yen, Dinner: 2136 yen = 7391 yen = ~$49

Day 7 – Rainy day at Hotel Indigo

Pros for traveling during low season (coulda fooled me) is that flights and accommodations are cheaper. I had hoped to be here for the cherry blossoms, but because it’s much colder, looks like they won’t be blooming earlier this year…which brings up the cons: the unpredictable weather patterns. I had planned for us to hike from Hakone Yumoto to Mt Sengen and then to the Chisuji Falls before ending the day at Hakone Gora Park, but the rain had different plans (glad we didn’t though since it would have been grueling uphilll!)

Hence, we changed course and I splurged on the fancy breakfast at our 5 star hotel (3729 yen/pp which will be credited with Capital One points). There were eggs Benedict, omelette station, various Japanese small eats, drinks, desserts, pasta, salmon, etc. I don’t know if it was mind blowing, but I appreciated the ambiance.

I dressed in their traditional yakuta robes and checked out the public onsen and drank some roasted tea at the hotel lobby. After some blogging, in the late afternoon, the rain died down, so we took a stroll along the waterfall river before eating our onigiris/sandwiches we got from 7-11 the previous day. We ended our last night using our private onsen.

Cost: Breakfast at hotel 7458 yen = $49.72 (but $0 after Capital One credits)

Day 8 – Hakone Gora Park, Foot bath, and Odawara

Woke up early again and got breakfast from 7-11 for 1426 yen (got shrimp gratin and my little treat today was a strawberry banana smoothie for under $2! The store attendant helped me with the machine since I looked like a helpless foreigner lol).

Since it was forecasted not to rain in the morning, we took the hotel shuttle up to Gora Station (glad we didn’t walk uphill!) and checked out the Hakone Gora Park. It is relatively small but had a variety of sections: a place for a traditional tea ceremony (sad we didn’t bring cash), cafe, crafthouse to make pottery, glassblowing, etc, greenhouse, rose garden, and hanging wisteria tree. We also saw some cherry blossoms.

Bought lunch again at 7-11 for 1563 yen (this time, kimchi fried rice, chicken gizzards, and salad). I checked out the foot bath that is outside the lobby (the water was nice and hot!), we had late check-out at 2pm and I did the foot bath again before taking the free 2:30pm hotel shuttle back to Odawara station, bought groceries for 810 yen and checked in to our Toyoko Inn hotel (the 3rd smallest hotel we’ve been in). We finally ate out at Yoshinoya where we could get an English menu on our phone. We both got set plates and found out we could also get free refills on rice. I feel like the Yoshinoyas in Japan are much better than the ones in the states. They even have set menus that come with individual hot plates for about $5. Odawara seems more like a transit town, and since it was raining and we had already seen the Odawara Castle on the way to Hakone, we decided to take the rest of the night easy before we go on our way to Yokohama tomorrow.

Cost: Breakfast 1426 yen + Lunch 1563 yen + Groceries 810 yen + Yoshinoya 1453 yen + Toyoko Inn $83.36 = 5252 yen + $83.36 = ~$35 (Toyoko Inn $83.36 was credited)

Day 9 – Cup Noodle Museum, Yokohama Chinatown

Toyoko Inn came with free breakfast (wasn’t the best, but Anson liked the hard boiled eggs and I guess I liked the milk pudding and getting enough veggies). We had to check out at 10am, so proceeded to take the Ueno line from Odawara to Yokohama (990 yen/pp). Walked 15 mins in the rain to The Square Yokohama for our 2 night stay.

We first thought we’d have to put our luggage in storage, but our room was ready at noon, so we rested for a little bit before heading out to the Cup Noodle museum (500 yen/pp. It was inspring to hear that the maker of Cup Noodle was 48 when he invented the product. He saw a need before anyone else and was able to gain from his work.

We later headed to Chinatown after the rain died down. Most of the stalls were selling the same things. We got a Peking duck roll, and pork belly bao, and frozen glazed strawberries on a stick (1330 yen total). We saw the coolest orange juice vending machine where they squeezed 4 oranges to make juice for 350 yen. We then walked back to the hotel and stopped at Lawson for some onigiris and sandwiches (1126 yen).

Cost – Transport 1980 yen + Cup noodle museum 1000 yen + Chinatown 780 + 550 yen + OJ 350 yen + Lawson dinner 1126 yen + The Square Yokohama $180.51 = 4786 yen + $180.51 = ~$32 (The Square Yokohama $180.51 was credited)

Day 10 – Anitouch, Cosmo World Ferris Wheel, Conveyor Belt Sushi

Rain, rain, go away…yeah, fares are cheaper in March, but that means that you have to contend with weather. It rained all day today, and we, being cheap, decided to walk to World Porter’s. Yes, only a 15 min walk, but my shoes/socks weren’t too happy.

We went to Animal Touch Minatomirai (4600 yen) where we were able to feed and pet some pretty cool animals! There were baby chicks, guinea pigs, meerkats, and chinchillas, and my favs were the lemurs, capybaras, and tamarins. We then went on the Cosmo World Ferris Wheel ($8.52) which ran rain or shine. We bought groceries (1095 yen) where I got these nice quality pieces of salmon for less than $4. If we bought at the end of the night, it would have only been $3!

We rested in the hotel before going out for conveyor belt sushi called Hama Sushi (introvert’s dream sushi place) where we ordered from a pad and the food would come out from the conveyor belt in record time. We ate a little before hand, but even if we didn’t, this place was pretty inexpensive (1804 yen). We then got more groceries (818 yen) and had even more sushi in our hotel room lol! I wish we did this more often during our trip!

Cost: Anitouch 4600 yen + Cosmo World Ferris Wheel $8.52 + Groceries 1095 yen + Conveyor belt sushi 1804 yen + Groceries 818 yen = 8317 yen + $8.52 = ~$55 ($8.52 credited)

Day 11 – All good things…

Should I really consider this as one of our vacation days when it is just getting to the airport lol?

We ate breakfast at the hotel. Items I liked were the bamboo shoot curry and pomegranate vinegar drink. We packed up and left the hotel at 11am, walked 17 mins to Yokohama station, got on the Ueno purple line to Shimbashi station (483 yen) and transferred to the Asakusa red limited express line at 12:10pm since it makes fewer stops to Narita (1414 yen).

It took us a while to check in since I think there was a miscommunication about why we had to be in the bag drop line. Even the attendant felt bad for us and didn’t even weigh my bag. But after we got thru that and security, we bought 3 boxes of Tokyo Bananas and 1 box of Strawberry Tokyo Bananas (4440 yen), then went to the ISS NOA airport lounge. They took away all the ANA lounge access on Priority Pass, soI was pleasantly surprised to have this place to rest, eat mochi, omurice, matcha chocolate, and to refill our water bottle.

I got 2 boxes of white chocolate cookies (1760 yen) on the flight since it’ll be credited as a travel expense. We were sat next to the window and middle…maybe we will pay for seat selection next time so that we can have an aisle and middle in the middle part of the plane so that we don’t bother others and they don’t bother us. I totally recommend everyone to use Mobile Passport Control to do customs when coming back internationally…it is even faster than Global Entry!

Overall, what did I think about this trip? I don’t think I liked it as much as last year’s. People go to Fushimi Inari, Nara, and Arashiyama for a reason. I did plan for hiking for Anson in Hakone, but didn’t know the terrain was so steep and that their trails are not as defined as in the states and included the highways. We saved some money by taking local trains, but it feels a little more stressful than having the JR pass. I am glad we got the PASMO passport when we arrived since it meant that we didn’t have to buy individual tickets for each ride. Rain is also pretty unpredictable and because of it, we had to change some plans. We ate more at convenience stores this time around (though I didn’t feel deprived because of that…there is so much variety and you can try so many different things). If we were to come again, we might want to buy more from grocery stores since it is even less expensive and they have quality sushi on the cheap!

I’m not unhappy with our trip, though at times, it feels like all cities are kinda the same though Japan’s are cleaner/safer. Crowds are also not fun, but they’re just a victim of their own success. I think it’s more that I felt a little distracted this time around since I had booked this trip before we decided on moving back to SoCal, and our minds have been filled with plans for the move but not being able to push forward because we still had this trip to go on. Now that it has come to an end, we’re going back to reality and will need to find an agent and fix up our house to get it ready to list on the market. On to a new adventure!

Cost: Transport 966 yen + 2828 yen + Tokyo Bananas + 4440 yen + Cookies 1760 yen = 9994 yen = ~$55 ($11.73 credited)

Cost of Trip:

Flights: Zipair $1026.30

Hotels: $83.36 + $180.51 + $237.35 = $501.22

My Capital One charges: $135.39

Anson’s Capital One charges: $122.79

Anson’s BofA charges: $216.65

Cash: $250

Total = $2,252.35

Credits for trip

All hotels $501.22 + Joypolis/Borderless $78.30 + travel credits $137.10 = $716.62

Total = $2252.35 – $716.62 = $1535.73

Everything IS bigger in Texas!

Cuz I am bitten by the travel bug, I made the husband and I go to Dallas for a short trip (Sat 10/21 to Wed 10/25). I wanted to try out a budget airline called Spirit and it only cost us $101/pp for nonstop roundtrip tickets from SJC to DFW. We, of course, had breakfast at SJC The Club with priority pass. I didn’t mind the flight even though you couldn’t recline. I didn’t want to pay more for seat selection, and we still were sat together (aisle and middle seat). You’re also allowed one personal item, and both our backpacks could fit underneath the chairs. When we arrived at DFW, we tried out the Plaza Premium Lounge (it was right next to our gate), and I was surprised at the small but yummy selection of hot food (mashed potatoes, soup, chicken, turkey wraps, etc)

We then were shuttled down to the rental car pickup area and were surprised that we were given an EV (no more manager’s special please) and had to pay for a toll plate ($15/day). We drove to our hotel and I was a little apprehensive with their freeways. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Dallas Park Central Northeast for about 50k IHG points for four days. We received points, got 2 free items from their food pantry, and were upgraded to a nicer room that had two separate rooms: one bedroom and one living room.

On Sunday after our free breakfast at the hotel, we went up to Plano to go to Go Ape, an adventure park up in the trees…I don’t know why I was the one who suggested it…I thought I was gonna plunge to my death (there were safety harnesses, but it was just pretty scary being 30 ft up in the air). I was only able to finish 60% of the course, but Anson had a great time and even was allowed to repeat some parts. We wanted to charge our EV for a little bit, so we brought our car to a work campus and ate at the nearby 99 ranch. 2 hours later…24 miles charged -_-

On Monday, we went to the Dallas Farmers Market and had jerk chicken for lunch. We saw the Giant Eyeball, JFK Memorial Plaza, and Pioneer Plaza. I get how EVs are more popular now, but it is NOT conducive to a good vacation experience. It felt like part of the time, we were just trying to find a charging station and the app is useless. Fast chargers are only for Tesla, we went to one place and it was in an apartment structure and wasn’t on, we couldn’t charge at another one since we were beaten to it, and others that were on the app, we couldn’t find even though we were driving around. You kinda get range anxiety cuz you don’t know if you’ll be able to find one in time. We finally gave up and just were reserved to pay the rental company to charge it when we brought it back (thankfully, they never did!)

On Tuesday, it was raining pretty hard, so we ended up just working from the hotel. I didn’t mind since I would have been doing this at home. Plus, Anson’s been having some fun times at work and this vacation wasn’t exactly at the best time. On Wednesday, after I got us breakfast 2 mins before they closed the dining area, we packed up and headed to the Fort Worth Stockyards. As I am cheap, we parked a little further and walked in. We saw some of the longhorns (my fav was the beige one named Gus!). After walking around the downtown area, we headed to DFW airport where we went to the Capital One Lounge (the best lounge ever!). They had amazing food like this meatball slider, mac n cheese, soba noodles, cauliflower rice, baklava, and so much more! (This was probably my favorite part of the trip lol)

All in all, I think this trip was kind of a letdown having to deal with the rain, driving in Dallas, the EV, fearing for my life at Go Ape, and it being an inopportune time to travel. I’m just writing this since the husband is making me….I’ll be much more happier blogging when we got to Japan…again…next March 🙂 🙂 🙂

Work work work…was that an echo?

I’ve been at Cityteam for 2 years now. Time sure flies by! I’m not sure how I thought my work life would turn out, and I’m also not entirely sure this was how I wanted things to become, but I know that I have no reason to complain and that where ever I am, I should glorify God in my work.

Jada texted me recently to let me know that my previous position at BWC had an opening. It made me contemplate on how my life has changed after leaving the company. I miss my former coworkers since I had a good working relationship with them. I loved that BWC was 2 miles away from work. I was salaried and had a generous PTO policy. Work was tough, but I would normally get off at a reasonable time and only worked a couple weekends a year.

At CityTeam, it is a blessing and a curse to be able to work from home part of the time. It is hard to develop good working relationships when, at Zanker, most people were on the other side and far from my desk, so it was hard to have a good rapport even when I was in the office. My manager also works from home most of the time, so if I was in the office, it wouldn’t make much difference. We are also moving offices to Echo…echo…echo…

I am thankful that our accounting team is not moving with everyone else from Zanker to 13th St. Our lease at Zanker was up and they had to move HR, executive team, and marketing and development teams to an existing location: 13th st…which is, frankly, not in the best or safest neighborhood due to the nature of our work with the homeless and drug rehabilitation programs. Iraida, Leila, and I, instead, are moving to the Echo Executive Center which are the offices that are connected to Echo Church in San Jose. 

We’ve been settling down in our new office. It has a lot of light from the windows as it is a corner office. We all have standing desks and a fridge and coffee/small snacks (mostly provided by me becuz it’s my love language 🙂 At first, I didn’t know if the placement of my desk was the best since Leila would be able to see my screen, but I moved one of the monitors so that I could put my laptop on the desk, so it gives me a little more privacy. I also love that I have unrestricted access with my desk placed where it is and can wheel my chair to the fridge/printer 🙂 

Whenever I do go in to the office (either 1 or 2 times a week), the hubby and I can carpool since Pure moved to Santa Clara. I’ve enjoyed being able to get lunch and dinner at Great America during this summer. Now that summer is over though, need to check the schedule for when they are open…don’t think I’ll be renewing next year, so gotta take advantage!

Overall..I think I’m happy here. Work will always have its ups and downs. I believe in their mission to reach the lost for Christ in tangible and spiritual ways. I need to work on using my time in a way that God would be honored.

By-by-by-byeeee Corolla

For the July 4th weekend, Anson and I took both cars down. Wait, which cars? The Honda Civic and my Toyota Corolla. What are you talking about? What Honda Civic? In April, we went down for Anson’s GRIT event. My parents gave me their 2012 Honda Civic since they are downsizing to one car. They have shown love to us in many ways…we have received two cars from them: one at the beginning of our marriage and another now. Anyways, we were going to donate my old Toyota Corolla since it is 20 years old and needs a new catalytic converter and won’t pass smog check until it is replaced, but Aaron said that he actually wants it for his in-laws. So that is why we are driving both cars down to give them my-my-my-myyyy Corolla!

I left around 8:15 a.m. and met up with the husband at Harris Ranch. I am glad that I got a Starbucks coffee with my expiring Stars for free to help me stay awake for the 2nd half. We stayed at the Wongs’ house on Saturday and Sunday. Auntie Esther mom and Uncle Ken dad always make so much food. They made rice noodles, salad, and salmon for dinner. 

On Sunday, I went to CCAC and met up with Cindy Au and Gina to catch up. Cindy was my former discipler many years ago, and it was nice to see what has been happening in her life. The biggest thing is her trying to start up a mentoring program at the church. Anson went to Shepherd Church to watch Crescentia sing in the Risen choir. We then went to California Fish Grill for lunch where we met up with Gina, Weber, Cindy To, and Crescentia. Food is so expensive now. Entrees now are normally $16+ now.

We went to my parents place in San Gabriel for lunch on Monday. Auntie Esther mom gave us leftover noodles, salmon, and 2 tilapia. My mom always appreciates it because she doesn’t like to cook. For dinner, we went to our usual Kami Buffet. Anson helped my mom with a bunch of computer stuff as usual too. 

On tuesday, I went with my mom to do Chinese exercises in the park. They had stopped that when covid hit, but started up again a couple months ago. I’m glad that my mom is able to do this again everyday. I was the youngest person in the class:-) the day was kind of a blur since I don’t always know what to do with my parents. It’s kind of amalgamation of making them food with whatever is in their pantry and refrigerator and doing dishes and helping them with technology, but after dinner, we did see a fireworks show at 9pm. Their area is pretty popular and there were probably at least 3 different shows going on at the same time that we could see from our vantage point.

As they get older, I’m not really sure what kind of activities to do with them. In september, I am going to have to spend a whole week with my dad since my mom is going on a cruise to be their photographer/videographer for a mission’s conference. I haven’t lived with my dad for over 11 years, so I wonder how I am going to relate with him. I usually talk to my mom when we come down and my dad is usually just in the background. I need to learn how to love him better, so maybe this is actually a good thing in disguise.

On Wednesday, I did Chinese exercises with my mom again at the park, and then made potatoes and eggs for breakfast. We said our goodbyes and made a stop at the Wong’s house to pick up food. Anson being the resident IT specialist helped his dad with some computer stuff while we all ate an informal lunch, and then we headed off back home, arriving at 7:00 p.m. We weren’t able to see Aaron and his family this time around, but Aaron did call Anson multiple times about my, scratch that, their Corolla now. Aaron had gone to the DMV in order to register the car, but they wouldn’t let him until a smog check was done. He got the catalytic converter fixed, smog check passed, registered the car, and got insurance for it after getting it inspected. All in all, it was less than $1,000. I’m glad that he was able to sort it out in a few days time even though there were a few more hoops to jump through then we thought.

I am not that sentimental about this car, but I have had it since working at NTS, and for my whole marriage up to this point. It has been a reliable and consistent part of my life. Even though the top was shedding, I liked it so that it would deter thieves from ever stealing it. It is a little loud, but it has never broken down in my time in the Bay Area. It has treated me well, and I hope that it’s new owners will be able to have good memories with it too.

My unique personality

God has given me my personality and my talents. It is no good to compare what others have to what I have. I need to know my shortcomings and my strengths. What matters is how you use your talents and to not waste them. How can I use my life to help others that are in my sphere of influence? I am in the unique position of having more time than others, and I should not squander that opportunity. I want to be able to love others and not feel like I need something in return. The people that I mostly gravitate to are probably those who feel more on the fringe, those who don’t always fit in or have as many social graces. Perhaps that is because that is sometimes how I feel I am like. 

My dad’s side of the family has some issues with mental health. I think I can relate to it being that I can’t take too much pressure (examples are my breakdowns at Maxreal and BWC). It makes me feel inadequate. Why is it that others can stand the pressure and I cannot? In a way, it helps me recognize that I cannot stand on my own strength. I should still try to make use of time in a way that glorifies God. In the meantime, what I should try to do is be more in God’s word daily, read books, avoid entertainment that does not edify/wastes time, reach out to different friends down in LA or other church friends on my days off. Live this life well and live it for God. Easier said than done, but should just take it one step at a time. 

LA for mom’s 80th birthday

I went down to LA from Wed, 3/14 to Sat, 3/18 for my mom’s birthday. I also went down in January for my dad’s birthday. As they get older, I think it is a good excuse to visit them. I have the ability to see them because of the flexibility of my job, points from Southwest making it free(ish), and not having kids which gives me the time to do things others may find much harder to do because of other responsibilities. 

On Wednesday, Anson brought me to the SJC airport, and I was able to have lunch at one of the airport lounges. I love their new system in which they have QR codes on the tables, and you can order your food thru the phone and they will bring it right out to you in minutes. I had a cheese plate, a half deli sandwich, two sweet and sour meatballs over rice, avocado hummus with veggies, a Bloody Mary, and a cappuccino. I’ve missed going to lounges and I’m glad that I have the Capital One Venture X card to get free Priority Pass.

My dad normally drives and my mom helps navigate on the GPS. I usually drive back. I’m thankful that there wasn’t too much rain as I am worried for them in their older age. We had Yoshinoya for dinner. On Thursday, I worked a little, my mom’s friend, Joanne, brought her some bread and Costco chicken for lunch, I walked to Smart & Final to get her roses and hid them behind the couch, we had some sushi, yakisoba, and potato croquette from Mitsuwa for dinner, and I rewatched Top Gun: Maverick since I had been meaning to (such a good movie that I bought it with my Google Play Credits) with my mom and had to kind of explain what was happening to her, but I know she hasn’t really watched a movie in a long time, so it was nice to love on her in this way.

On Friday, I made Trader Joe’s pumpkin pancakes for breakfast and Anson was on the call when we sang happy birthday to my mom when I gave her the flowers. I’m glad she was surprised since there were a couple times when I thought she would see them. I did a little work again while my mom went to the Asian Youth Center and got some fresh vegetables and food (it is nice that non profit organizations try to reach out to the community in this way. I just wish there wasn’t as much waste in our society). I helped them with some technology questions and also took their tax documents so that I could work on their return. As “payment”, my mom gave me a $25 Amazon gift card that she received from someone else at church. For dinner, we went to Kami Buffet in Rosemead. I ate so much sashimi (feels like that is the only way to make it worth it).

Saturday is my flight back to the Bay Area. I made the Trader Joe’s pancakes again for breakfast and had a good talk with my mom. There are times when I feel like I don’t always know what to say to my mom, but it was a good, deep conversation about the past, our present and future life. I sometimes feel like we are pretty different and I am more like my dad. She is what I aspire to be in how she is able to make different friends and serve in the church. 

Walk for Life 5k 2023

Anson and I participated in this year’s walk for life hosted by Real Options. We do this as an annual thing. In 2020, we did this right before the world shut down from the pandemic. In 2021, we participated, but more in a socially distanced setting (hosted by the Kwok’s) and went around a school’s field near their house. I remembered talking to Sharon for most of the walk. In 2022, we weren’t able to make it because of Anson’s Spartan event in LA, but this year, we are back into the swing of things!

There were a bunch of people who came this time from our church. I probably did not have to register at the event since they already had all our money from FundEasy online, and I declined the wristband and shirt since I know I probably won’t wear them again. We were fed our customary Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit for breakfast (my favorite part of this whole event). I walked and talked with Emily, Vivian, Janine, Kelly, and Julie, while Anson ran and placed 2nd overall!. His mile time was under 7 mins. I think that’s a pretty cool feat! We also had some pretty good runners as Jojo and Conner both got first in their age groups. Overall, we raised $1000 as a couple and over $16k as a church.