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Ok, you might be thinking to yourself that it’s too early to dole out world’s best awards. True, we’ve only been on the road for a little more than seven months and we’ve only hit three continents. But when you watch the video below I am sure you will agree this award is absolutely warranted.

Two words: heated seats.

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After months of squat toilets, especially those that allowed for direct access to train tracks, we felt very lucky to go to Japan and meet this marvel of modern engineering. These fantastic toilets varied wherever you went. There was one at our guesthouse in Kyoto that had a button to raise and lower the seat. We found others at museums and restaurants that had a switch to turn on a flushing noise just in case there were any shy loo-goers among their clientele.

But my favorite was the one in our guest room in our friends’ apartment building. It was simple but lovely. It had just the right amount of bells and whistles (and more that we couldn’t understand.) After coming home from a long day of walking around, this toilet you greeted you with its toasty seat.

The first time we met, Nellu came rushing out of the bathroom and challenged me to guess where the toilet flush was. I had a hard time finding it and was delighted when he revealed its location on the wall mounted control panel. It had a dual flush and the two of us determined which was for number one and which was for number two by observing the length of the flush and the amount of water that ran through the system.

But I should have asked for the complete toilet tutorial when I had my chance. I didn’t and when I started experimenting with the bidet settings, I couldn’t figure out how to turn them off. For minutes I sat there with my bum getting a full washing, contemplating whether I should call Nellu in to rescue me or risk standing up and getting water all over the floor. I finally resolved the issue on my own in the same way I resolve most tech-related issues – push a lot of buttons until the desired happens.

I hope we haven’t embarrassed our lovely hosts with this post. The Japanese toilets are just too good of a discovery not to share!

~ Molly

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When we were planning this trip people would often ask where I wanted to go most in the world. I would just tell them, “I want to go everywhere.” Incidentally, this response was not what some were looking for because more than once the asker got mad at me and demanded more details. It was almost as if I insulted them with my open agenda. But that’s the truth. I never really had one place in mind when we set out on this trip. There’s no bucket list. I just wanted to get out and see the place.

But it turns out, I do have specifics. I just forgot. It seems that over the years I’ve been mentally filing away places I want to visit based on your standard stimulants – movies, pictures, articles. Over time all this inspiration got buried. But it’s still there. I found one piece when I went looking for the movie Lost in Translation. It’s based in Tokyo and we get the biggest kick out of seeing moves shot in places we’ve been. We were in Kyoto when I watched the trailer and ultimately downloaded the movie through iTunes.

There’s a scene where Scarlett Johansson‘s character visits some of the temples in Kyoto and one in particular where she walks across a path of circular rocks through a pond. You can see it in the trailer at 1:37 below.

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These stones live at Heian Temple in the gardens behind the main shrine. Only when I rewatched the trailer did I remember that when I first saw that scene years ago I thought to myself, “I want to go there,” even though we had just gone to the temple and walked across the stepping stones the day before. Yes, we did go specifically to Heian to find the stones because of my obsession with all things water and I did shoot video of it to share with you. But still, why hadn’t I put the two together?

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I think that I should start a bucket list so 1) I can actually remember the places I want to go and 2) I can have things to cross off once and awhile to make me feel more productive.

~ Molly

Editor’s Note: After I published this blog we discovered that not only is someone working on the perfect bucket list but they used two of Nellu’s photos from flickr in building that list. Check out the perfect bucket list by clicking the picture below.

Nellu Mazilu

 Shibuya Crossing

There are a lot of opportunities to get lost on this trip each and every time we set foot outside. But most frequently we get lost when we first arrive in a new place. It seems no matter how many times we take a look at the map or prepare turn by turn directions from the airport, a city doesn’t make sense until we’ve been in it for at least a day.

This was particularly true about Tokyo. In Bangkok, I watched Nellu work for hours researching our route from Narita Airport, more than 60 km east of central Tokyo, to our friends apartment in the neighborhood Setagaya, west of central Tokyo.

(Ok, to be honest I sarcastically nagged him that he was playing Farmville while I needed him to write a blog post he had promised. If you’re wondering why it takes us so long to get up posts, sometimes it’s because when we finally get good internet after a long stretch without it we turn into fiends, playing on the web like procrastinating teenagers. But it turns out this time, Nellu was doing what we really needed to get done, while I was reading Gawker.)

But despite all his prep work, we still got lost.

Tokyo’s complicated web of trains and subways…via pagemaya

But it wasn’t even the train system that really threw us It was a far more basic misstep. We walked in the complete opposite direction for about 15 minutes after getting off the train. Nellu kept saying that we needed to pass a field or farmland that he saw when he mapped out our step by step route on Google Earth. So off we went into the cool Tokyo night looking for a farm in the middle in of the city.

I tried to maintain an upbeat attitude. Nellu did do all the leg work on this one and it had to be the most complicated airport to lodging transfer of our trip. God knows I’ve certainly gotten us lost. And I am sure he was questioning my sanity when I suggested we get into the beat-up, white van outside the Lima airport with only a few words of broken Spanish to the driver’s assistant. We obviously got where we were going, but there was a good 45 minutes when it really could have gone either way.

Tokyo was a new city for us and a new situation. When finally the straps of my bag started to dig channels into the flesh on my shoulders, I insisted he approach someone for directions. After much prodding, he did and we arrived at our destination a healthy four and half hours after we landed in Japan. (He actually tried to explain to me today that the cliched man who won’t ask for direction has to do with primitive gender roles, something about more iron in his system, and the preference to die trying rather than ask.)

When we recounted this story to friends in Tokyo, they wondered if we fought or if I got exasperated with getting lost. I chuckled explaining that I was just grateful that Nellu planned the route and we each take turns getting the other one lost so it was ok.

So you can imagine on our walk from Shinjuku to Shibuya two days later, I had the same upbeat attitude when we once again got lost. Nope. With words laced with attitude, I asked Nellu if we were looking once again for a field.

It’s a good thing that Tokyo is filled with street maps. Between the maps on almost every corner, our GPS compass Nellu uses to geotag pictures and a pdf of Lonely Planet’s Tokyo chapter stored on his phone, we finally found Shibuya and the famous Shibuya Crossing. We also walked by several really cool buildings.

We spent about a half an hour in the Starbucks across the street from Shibuya Crossing watching people go back and forth and then we crossed ourselves becoming two of the 100,000 people that traverse the intersection each hour.

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By the end of our time in Tokyo, we felt pretty confident in our ability to get around. We even ventured far out east to Shibamata where we found a great little neighborhood full of temples and spent some time getting lost on our way back to the train station. I also shot another piece of video, one that I should probably visualize the next time I get snotty about getting lost.

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I am also starting to realize that if it really is the journey and not the destination, then get lost is probably more important than getting found.

~ Molly

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