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ABOUT THIS BLOG

In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.

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  • Through the winter in Northeast Asia

    Posted on January 3rd, 2011 Nicolas 80 comments
    Playing video games in Osaka.

    Playing games in Osaka.

    Of course in Seoul it is very cold as well. The city is very modern and I am impressed by the services offered in the subway, for example. There are terminals to access the internet for free, giant touch screen to get information and maps, devices to disinfect your hands and all sort of other gadgets. A lot of people speak English in Korea as well, which makes it easy to find my way around.

    Some kind of giant iPhone facilitates the navigation.

    Some kind of giant iPhone facilitates the navigation.

    I am lucky enough to be invited to stay at the apartment of the parents of Jenni, an AP ex-colleague. Wherever I go to discover the city, I have to do it fast, because it is really cold out. Unfortunately the weather will make the visit of the capital uncomfortable as it is difficult to spend time out.
    Everybody is completely wired, and as I take the subway, I am the only one not watching TV on my cell phone or playing video games. Again, quite a contrast with what I have seen in this trip. It looks like half of the planet’s population is trying to get enough to eat and the other half live in a virtual reality.

    In the hills. is there someone behind me?

    In the hills. is there someone behind me?

    The snow and cold doesn’t stop me to go out the following day and visit COEX, the largest underground mall in Asia. No wonder it is located in Korea given the winter temperatures… Later I change scenery and go up in the hills to reach some kind of mountain village just a few minutes away from downtown Seoul.

    Seoul, seen from the hills.

    Seoul, seen from the hills.

    It’s Kuisadang, located on the slope of Mount Inwang. The royal national shrine where shaman rituals are conducted to this day is a beautiful place in a city that I find quite dull. Maybe it is the period of the year. Between Christmas and New Year’s, there’s not much happening, and most attractions are closed.

    On mount Inwang.

    On mount Inwang.

    It is pleasant to be among the trees, climbing paths and watching frozen streams in the quiet afternoon. Soon, I have to go back down because of the chilly wind. Dumplings will be my lunch.
    In the evenings, I go with Jenni’s brother to the public baths. It is quite an interesting place, and I should describe how it is since I don’t have picture. These bath houses are usually located in basement of buildings. A lot of Koreans use the service, but I hear that the younger ones now don’t go as often as they became more uncomfortable with nudity. I imagine it is one of the effects of globalization.

    Downtown Seoul. The city calls itself "The soul of Asia". Overstatement?

    Downtown Seoul. The city calls itself "The soul of Asia". Overstatement?

    Anyhow, it cost you US$5 to go in, and as you pay, a locker key is given to you. There’s a male and women section, and when you find your locker, you get entirely naked and go to the next room. There you find different water pools which temperatures ranging from cold to very hot. My Lonely Planet guidebook described a feeling they call exhilarating when switching from cold bath to hot bath and all over again. Let me tell you I spent way more time in the hot bath… You also visit dry or humid sauna rooms with temperatures ranging from 60C to 100C (140 to 212 Fahrenheit).

    Statue of King Sejong.

    Statue of King Sejong.

    Before and after the baths, there are showers where you can wash. Soap, shampoo and toothbrushes are supplied. Quite a nice place to relax after a day spent wandering around.

    Typical Korean meal.

    Typical Korean meal.

    Korean food is at my taste as well. Bulgogi which is barbecued beef is one of my favorite meals since a long time, and I also like bibimbap which is a bowl of rice topped with sautéed vegetables, an egg and chili pepper paste.

    Typical street in downtown Seoul, a modern city.

    Typical street in downtown Seoul, a modern city.

    After few days in the capital, I decide to seek a warmer weather in the south of the country. I take a train to Gyeongju, a city on the east coast of Korea which used to be the capital until 935 AD. My ride is one of these bullet trains so common in Asia and developed by French engineers. It is very quick to get to my destination as speed – displayed in the cars – was averaging 260 km/h (160 mi/h) when I looked at it.

    Gyeongju. Tumulus in the heart of the city.

    Gyeongju. Tumulus in the heart of the city.

    The main features of old Gyeongju and the easiest to access without a vehicle are Tumulus which are grass-covered burial grounds spread all over the city. Those are similar and serve the same purpose than Egyptians pyramids, but smaller. Most of the building activity seems to have happened around 500 AD, and restoration and excavation work only began in the 20th century.

    Elegant temple.

    Elegant temples.

    It’s still not Florida here, and I spend my first night in a freezing guesthouse dorm. This will be the kind of accommodation I will use until I get back to the United States. It is just a brief stop I do in Gyeongju as I leave by bus the day after to reach the close city of Busan, few hundred kilometers only from the Japanese coast.

    Tumulus after snow falls in the night.

    Tumulus after snow falls in the night.

    As I arrive I try to make a reservation on the following day ferry to south Japan. All the overnight ferries are full, and many of them are not running the following days because of the New Year. Finally, I decide to take the Beetle, a fast ferry getting to destination in few hours (US$130).

    Before and after the “Trans World Expedition” effect.

    Before and after the “Trans World Expedition” effect.

    For my last night in Korea, I decide to go get Korean barbecue one more time. As always, I meet some people in the restaurant and they invite me to try a selection of local drinks. This is one thing that is amazing when you travel alone. You are constantly invited to share a table with people, and locals are way more likely to speak with you then when you are with fellow travelers.
    In the morning I get to the ferry terminal only to get annoying news. The weather is too bad for the boat to depart as the sea is rough between the two countries. Once again I am a victim of the weather.

    Downtown Osaka, Japan.

    Downtown Osaka, Japan.

    But soon enough, and thanks to the free Wi-Fi networks present everywhere in Korea, I am able to book a plane ticket leaving in the afternoon to Osaka. Too bad I will have to scratch my plans to visit Hiroshima, but at least I am on the move and will be able to spend more time in the Kyoto area.

    Osaka. You may find food, drinks and cigarettes in vending machines scattered all over the city.

    You may find food, drinks and cigarettes in vending machines scattered all over the city.

    After a bumpy flight I arrive in Osaka in the early evening. Taking the train from the airport, I get in the city center and find my guesthouse. As I go get dinner, I identify the next challenge: finding cash. For some reason, the Japanese banking system remained unusually closed to global transactions, and it is difficult to get money from ATMs with a foreign credit card. I am able to find a restaurant where I can pay with the card, but I will have to find a solution soon to this problem.
    One of the most intriguing things in Japan is the smoking rule. At the opposite of the occidental laws, it seems that you can’t smoke in cities outdoors, but you enjoy more freedom in indoors public space. For example, there are many places where you can’t smoke in the street, but it is allowed in restaurant, bars, public baths or video game arcades. Strange…

    People of all ages spend a lot of time in video game arcades.

    People of all ages spend a lot of time in video game arcades.

    The following day I put together all of the cash I have from the countries I visited previously. I still have a lot of Thai Bahts, and with my Malaysian Ringgits, Indian Rupees and Bangladeshi Thakas, I should be alright for a while. It turns out that money changers are not interested by the Indian and Bangladeshi money, but I still get enough money from them to check-in in a capsule hotel for the night and get dinner and a few drinks. Which is significant since it is December 31st and I shall go out at least until midnight. Osaka is a city of three-million people an offer a nice preview of Tokyo.

    New Year’s Eve in a capsule hotel.

    New Year’s Eve in a capsule hotel.

    Inside the capsule. TV provided if you are willing to pay.

    Inside the capsule.

    These hotels are very economical on Japanese standards, as you can get a bed for US$34 on the shelves of a well located hotel. Capsule hotels are unique to Japan. There you find many small “rooms” which are called capsules, the goal being to provide economical lodging. The plastic capsules size to a modular plastic or fiberglass is around 6 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet (2 meters x 1 m x 1 m). It does provide enough room to sleep comfortably. TV above your bed is provided if you are willing to pay. There are vending machine and Laundromat everywhere as well as free baths similar to the one I saw in Korea. Cost for one night: US$ 33 in one of the 400 Asahi Plaza Shinsaibashi capsule. I am sure the concept would work in New York City.

    Hole-in-the-wall shop in Osaka.

    Hole-in-the-wall shop in Osaka.

    Osaka alley.

    Osaka alley.

    Everything is expensive in Japan. Prices for everything are higher than in the U.S. You can hardly have simple dinner for less than $US 25. Surprisingly, very few Japanese people speak English which makes it difficult to communicate in everyday situation. One of the consequences is that most of the time I have no idea what I order in restaurants. And even after eating, I still have no idea what it was. But it is pretty good!
    I spend New Years Eve evening in an Irish bar, but even here, it is very quiet. Apparently this holiday is the equivalent of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., and most people like to spend it with their family. Christmas is the opposite, and people go out with friends for the occasion.

    Fish shop in a Osaka food market.

    Fish shop in a Osaka food market.

    In the morning, I leave the hotel and take a train ticket to Kyoto which is only a 45 minutes ride from Osaka.

    About Los Angeles, U.S.A.
    Few people have expressed interest in meeting me in Los Angeles. I have a stand-by ticket on the Delta Airlines flight 284 arriving at LAX @ 8:40am on Sunday January 9, 2011. There was some discussion about maybe getting breakfast after that, but everything is up in the air. If interested you should contact Han Duong on one of these emails: duong_viet_thuan_han@yahoo.com or hduong1@uci.edu . Thanks to everyone offering accommodation in the city, but I will stay at my old friends Andy and Michelle place.
    I will be pretty busy in L.A. as I will have to work on the clearance of the truck and do some minor work on it as well, but will also be willing to meet for drinks later in the week. I will post information on the website.
    My father should join me in the city and we will cross the U.S. together. Las Vegas is the likely destination when we leave the coast.

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80 Responses to “Through the winter in Northeast Asia”

  1. Charlie A (Santa Clara, Ca.)

    Hey Nick,
    As always, another great post. I think I will be able to make it to the airport on Sunday. Have a great time with your last week in Asia.

    Cheers mate,

  2. Charlie, it’s a long way from you to come down. If I don’t see you this time, I will next time I am in SF, so don’t do such a long drive!

  3. Nick.

    We are counting down…..again daily to meet you. , 6 more days,…5 more days,…….

    Nick have a stand-by ticket on Delta Airlines Flight 284 arriving LAX (Los Angeles, California) @ 8:40am on Sunday January 9, 2011. That means he will be able to board only if there’s free space.

    My Family ( me, my wife and my 3 years old son) is going to meet him at LAX @ 8:40am.Anyone has any plan or party for Nick, Please let me join in or we make one for Nick. Please email me at : duong_viet_thuan_han@yahoo.com or hduong1@uci.edu

    We may drive follow you to Las Vegas….….If you don’t mind !!!!

  4. Sad to see the adventure winding down. You’ve openedmy mind to some new travel destinations!
    Thanks again for sharing this journey.

  5. I especially enjoyed the pix of before and after “TWE” :) Am jealous of all that will meet you at LAX. Continue to be safe and hope there is a seat for you on the plane home.

  6. Are you passing through Chicago?

  7. I’m also a frequent traveler and discovered Schwab checking ATM card which gives the best exchange rates without ATM fees anywhere in the world. Aubrey in Bombay says hi! He has been following you after I told him about your site.

  8. Oh I am so bummed!!! I will be passing back through LA on the 6th and off again on business. I will miss you only by a few days, but will be back in the same area a few days later. Maybe I can catch up with your convoy in Vegas. Loved seeing your pictures of Japan. I was there 9 years ago (Toyko) and it brings back many fond memories. Travel safe and I hope to have the opportunity to catch up with you in Vegas.

  9. Stacy (Las Vegas)

    Hi Nick, I’ve been following your journey from the beginning. If you need suggestions for places to see in Vegas (other than the usual), I’d be more than happy to help. I’ve lived here for a few years and know the city well. I’d be down for sharing some drinks if you have the time while you’re here.

  10. Shelia, Thomasville, NC

    This is selfish I know, but I am going to miss reading about your adventures and seeing all of the beautiful places and people you’ve encountered. I know you are ready to get home and back to a “normal” life. What will all of your loyal followers do????
    Best of luck and God Bless!!!

  11. thank you so much for showing us Northeast Asia. it’s everything i imagined. this blog was absolutely amazing! like others, i loved the before and after TWE pictures! i’m so glad you’re having a great time. get ready for the States! there’s a lot of people looking forward to your crossing this wonderful country. have you traveled much throughout USA? you must be very excited to meet up with your dad.

    during your trip across US, what do you want to see/taste the most? would you do us all a favor and repost your travel plans (as you cross the country).

    fabulous!
    suzanne

  12. Nick:

    Thanks so much for the photos and very explicit descriptions of South Korea and Japan. Actually Nick, the following statement sums up a lot for me: ” It looks like half of the planet’s population is trying to get enough to eat and the other half live in a virtual reality.” It is only through your firsthand experiences that I fully comprehend exactly what you mean and I hope that you elaborate on this idea in your book. :)

    How good it is to know that your father will join you on your trek across the USA and back to Brooklyn. I think that of all your travels and experiences, memories of driving with your father at TWE’s conclusion, will be most poignant and lasting. I know the “lasting” part very well because thirty years ago my dad (now deceased) rescued me from a drive across country (Arizona-Chicago) after three flat tires. Until this day I recall just how special it was to have that one-on-one time with him.

    We look forward to reading your perceptions of traveling across the USA. Take care Nick, and stay safe. We’re so excited that you will soon be home and will see you in New York.

    -joyMaria

  13. Dear all friends in cross USA

    I already called and emailed to major TV broadcasts , News Papers in Los Angeles and Las Vegas , regarding about Nick and his coming LAX and coming home and cross USA.

    I think all of us should email to them, so they will pay attention about Nick.

    This is the list:

    Los Angeles

    CNN.COM
    KCBS http://newyork.cbslocal.com/
    KNBC http://www.nbclosangeles.com/
    KTLA, http://www.ktla.com/
    KABC http://kabc.com/
    KCAL http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/
    KOCE http://koce.org/

    Las Vegas

    3
    (2) KSNV http://www.mynews3.com/

    5
    (9) KVVU http://www.fox5vegas.com/

    8
    (7) KLAS http://www.lasvegasnow.com/

    10
    (11) KLVX http://www.klvx.org/

    13 KTNV http://www.ktnv.com/

    19 KHDF-CA : http://www.tln.com/

    21
    (22) KVMY http://www.mylvtv.com/

    25 KTUD-CA http://www.vegastv.com/

    33
    (29) KVCW http://www.thecwlasvegas.tv/

  14. Nick, Happy New Year again. I agree with Dr. JoyMaria… I think the best quote you have ever said is “It looks like half of the planet’s population is trying to get enough to eat and the other half live in a virtual reality”. It is hard to fathom such a contrasting difference for many of us privileged ones cozied up in front of a computer, get food out of a supermarket, and can eat pretty much anything we want when we want. Seeing first hand how poverished people are in the Chinese countryside (Hunan province for me), it struck me then how lucky me and my family are.

    You see pictures in National Geographic, on TV, and other media, but you don’t ever feel it until you see it with your own eyes. People have to live in shacks that have holes in the walls and roof, and barely have any electricity (they’re lucky to even have that). They have to risk their lives every day to perform their menial tasks and I saw myself one guy who crashed his motorcycle and died on the roadside with what looked like his mother next to him in tears. Other villagers gathered around helpless as that area was 2 hours to the nearest hospital. It was very graphic and I decided it was best to morally not take any photos even the photo journalistic behavior in me wanted to do so.

    Oh and as for the Osaka river photo (taken on at Shinsaibashi), I ate at this yakiniku (Japanified Korean BBQ) restaurant near/in that building on the right that has the big red square sign with Japanese writing on it. My friend (who will be moving back from Osaka soon), me, and my family had the best meat ever.. or seems like it. We had sliced Kobe beef and other stuff similar to what you eat in a real Korean BBQ.

    Japan is expensive indeed, but only if you choose to live a Western lifestyle or eat foods palatable to Westerner’s tastes. I was able to find filling meals for $6-7 by going “off radar” and going to places where locals go (at one point I got a plate of $4 curry beef rice in Akihabara, Tokyo). When you’re paying more than $12, you are getting very good meals. Nothing wrong with that except going broke fast. :) By being so stingy, I was able to get away with spending only $1000 over 3 weeks last year when I traveled in Japan mostly alone. It helps I stayed at my friend’s house too. I also agree language barrier is a major issue in Japan. Without knowing a couple of words in Japanese, communicating gets very tricky and you are limited in doing many things. It is particularly a major problem when trying to be frugal on meals.

    Some suggested places… they are chains, cheap and good:
    Yoshinoya: gyudon (beef bowl rice), they sell chicken and pork also if you don’t like their beef specialty
    Matsuya (logo looks like a red and blue bullseye on a yellow background sign): curry rice
    Coco Curry House (better than Matsuya IMO): curry rice… English menus available on request
    Sukiya: sukiyaki styled bowl rice
    Tenya/Tendonya (not as big chain, Japanese signs only; look at tenya.co.jp to see what their branding looks like): fast food style tempura… not awesome but not worse than many overseas Japanese restaurant tempura… who cares, it’s cheap and filling… :) English menus available
    Fujiya (logo is a smiling cartoon girl with tongue sticking out): family restaurant with Japanified Western food… $12-15 max per person
    Denny’s: it is unlike anything in the States and it is totally better IMO… $12 max per person on average

    I do not recommend Ajisen ramen. It is pricey and not good at all. The soup is too salty. Go to the local Mom & Pop ramen shops also and you can get a filling meal for around $8.

    There’s Mos burger, and Lotteria too of course if you want to try Japanese style hamburgers. Good stuff.

    If you prefer to just “take out” and eat at the hotel. The convenience stores all sell prepackaged “bento” meals for fairly cheap. If you find a Lawson 100, everything sold there is 105 yen (the 5 yen comes from the 5% sales tax).

    -Edwin

  15. Nick,
    Were you able to sleep in the capsule hotel? Can anyone passing by look at you while you’re sleeping or is there a curtain for the door? If not, how do you keep the light out? Where do you store your luggage? Is there a bathroom close by?
    I’ll bet your dad can’t wait until January 9th. We met our daughter in Germany after she spent a semester of college studying there. We hadn’t seen her for four months. It was so nice to have two weeks with just her to travel around the country. And she loved the fact that I had everything planned and she could just sit back and relax while we did all the navigating. I hope you and your dad can have the same kind of experience. I can’t even imagine how stressful this past year has been for you. I hope the trip across the US will be relaxing and a great ending to this adventure.

  16. I forgot to say… some Japanese company is planning to build a capsule hotel in NYC. I’m sure it will work out there also. They will localize some things for better suit Americans.

    There is also a Yoshinoya in NYC (they’re all over California, and there’s one in Vegas to) for those who know this chain and crave it.

    Also Nick, if you want some good coffee and good breakfast, look out for any UCC affiliated coffee shops. UCC is a big brand name in Japan and their coffee is excellent. Probably strong enough for your French taste buds. ;)

  17. DEAR ALL FRIENDS CROSS THE COUNTRY

    I think we should let the Media Broadcast and news papers know Nick’s Adventure and his coming home. I already contacted ,emailed most major ones.I believe that the more we contact the media the more likely they will pay attetion on Nick’s adventure.

    here is some of the media in Los Angeles, and Las vegas.

    Los Angeles:

    pr@myabc7.com

    •ABC7 Broadcast Center
    500 Circle Seven Drive
    Glendale, CA 91201 •
    Main Line: (818) 863-7777
    •Breaking News Tips: (877) 777-NEWS (6397)
    •ABC7 Job Line: (818) 863-7JOB (7562)

    KTLA-TV
    5800 Sunset Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90028
    323-460-5500

    KTLAstoriesIdeas@tribune.com
    CNN.com
    KCBS

    KNBC,KTLA,KLBS,KABC,KFHE-TV,KCAL,KCTV,KTTV,KCOP

    LAS VEGAS

    3
    (2) KSNV

    5
    (9) KVVU

    8
    (7) KLAS

    10
    (11) KLVX

    13 KTNV

    15
    (16) KINC

    17 KEEN-CA

    19 KHDF-CA

    21
    (22) KVMY

    25 KTUD-CA

  18. Jason in Arkansas

    Nick,
    What a wonderful post. Seems as if the modern world is catching up to you. I am sure you are excited about your soon return to the US and getting back into the hustle. I really enjoyed the sarcasm that you used in a previous blog about the life that you will have to return to once you get back to the NYC. It was a treat to recieve the email from you, and I hope that you got the email that I replied back to you about speaking at our club as you travel through Arkansas. I really be excited to set up a dinner one evening for you to speak. If it doesnt work out, just keep us updated on your travels and I will try to meet you in Little Rock or Memphis as you pass through. It would be a such a treat to meet you in person after following your anticipated blogs since the beginning of your expedition.

    Jason

  19. hello nicolas,
    Well done you. Ihope the rest of ur journey goes well. Just came across your site when i was doing research to drive from the UK to South Africa and back before doing the world like you.
    I totally understand what you are doing. some times you just need to get away from things.
    Am hoping to do mine in a couple of years, am still saving up. am originally African but live in the uk. hope to be the first African to do this. haha.

    I donated $10 to you and will donate more when i can. Am jelous of you to be honest, just imagine when you r back in NY and talk to any one, u will be a spring of knowlege. and your kids, grandkids, just imagine, man.

    WISH YOU ALL THE BEST . I will now follow you.

  20. Chad in Colorado

    Hey Nick:

    I’ve really enjoyed following you journey since the beginning. What a wonderful thing to be able to do.

    If you come near Greeley, Colorado and need a place to stay or anything else, please let me know.

    Chad

  21. Let us know where you will cross Illinois. Would love to greet you somewhere! I agree that your best quote from your entire trip is: “It looks like half of the planet’s population is trying to get enough to eat and the other half live in a virtual reality.” Safe journey on this last leg.

  22. Hard to believe it’s the home stretch. It seems like not so long ago you were pimping the truck for the big trip. Thank you for so much education about the world, so many great travel tips and an interesting viewpoint every few days. My family & I will miss your posts, but appreciate your taking the time to share your adventures. Finding internet in remote places can’t have been easy! Safe travels back to the U.S.

  23. Nick,

    I can’t believe it’s almost over. Incredible! I remember reading your post leaving Manhattan like it was yesterday. You’ve inspired me greatly. Have a safe flight back home.

    John

  24. Happy New Year Nic. Thanks for your latest piece about Korea and Japan. Enjoy this last few days in Asia

    Helene

  25. Kathleen from North Dakota

    Nick, I have followed your journey and like others have stated – will miss you and your updates. Your book will be incredible and your movie will be awesome!
    I know somewhat of what you mean about the haves and havenots of this planet. I have traveled to China twice on humanitarian trips in the last couple years…unbelievable things that I witnessed.
    If you come close to North Dakota we would love to have you as a guest at our farm.

    With much respect,
    Kathleen from North Dakota

  26. I cant believe everyone just stares into there phone or gameplayer over there. i thought it was bad in the Us. I sure Miss the pre 1995 when everyopne talked to each other on the street. Those beds are a trip for sure. Well seem like you will have a lot of people waiting for ya at LAX. You Might as well do a blog about it. Heck you might as well keep the blogs going till your first couple of week after your new Job. ( we could like that I’m sure)

  27. Ms. Marti~Nashville, TN

    Nick, as everyone else has stated, we are going to miss your blog! It will be exciting when you finally reach the US and venture through our territory thru your eyes. Many of your followers will learn even more from you during your trip home to NY. There are so many beautiful sights to be seen across our country. For those that can’t travel as you have, you will open many doors to them as to where they can visit close to home.
    Has you dad traveled much in the U.S.? I’m sure he will enjoy the visit as you all did in your previous visit. Hopefully, he will learn more about you and what you have learned about yourself during the quiet time along your journey home.
    2011 will also be another adventure for you!! We look forward to hearing from you.

    Ms. Marti~

  28. Well, I have followed you from the beginning (NY). It has been quite an adventure for you, and you have shared so much. I am the better for it. I now have a better understanding of the places you have taken us all to in your blog. I will miss it, but will continue to follow you across the good old USA. We have taken 3 of our grandchildren at 12 years old on separate road trips around the US and I am looking to take the youngest one this summer. Not sure where yet, so I will be paying attention to the places you visit crossing over on you way to NY for any new ideas.

    Enjoy your last leg of the trip with your father.
    Linda

  29. Wow ! It is hard to believe that your time has flown by so fast. I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas. Be safe.

  30. Catherine LaForce

    Nick,
    curious- How many followers do you have? Now that you are “coming home” will it be a race to get back to New York? or will you be leisurely about your final few miles? Looking forward to hearing about the states and especially from your perspective. Thank You, no really THANK YOU! for your journey and you stories.
    Catherine

  31. Tammy in St. Louis

    Thank you for all of your wonderful posts! I have been following you from day 1. What a journey! Best wishes for making you plane!

  32. Donna In Ft Lauderdale

    Hey Nick, I’m sure we have alot more blogs coming, right?? As you go across the USA, you will still send us pictures and updates, (won’t you?), after all, not everyone has traveled from coast to coast. The weather also will possibly be a factor, plus we’ll all go through withdrawal if you “cold turkey” us. !! I’d like to have you keep on blogging until you are finally working and all situated back into “real life”.
    Enjoy your trip back to our great country. After seeing all that you saw, I’m sure you could lecture us all on how spoiled we are and truly how great America is. I’ve often said I wish some of these big mouths that go on TV would, “TAKE ABSOLUTLY NOTHING” with them and go live in a 3rd world country for three months. I think they would have a very different attitude when they got back.
    I’m excited about your book, there are so many different angles that you can come at it from, or write a series with the different experiences. Plus I’m excited about seeing tons of other pictures.. ! Maybe National Geographics will want to meet with you and make a documentary.. !
    I do hope you gamble a little bit while in Vegas, and have “lady luck” on your side. It’s my favorite place in the world to go. We love looking at each new building that goes up, it’s amazing what they do now a days. We were booked to go last month for our probable last trip due to aging, but my husband got sick & we had to cancel, but we have our memories from the past trips there that keep making us smile.
    Enjoy your dad and please blog often. with hugs from good ole USofA , Donna

  33. After discussion with others, we come up with some options for Nick this Sunday at Los Angeles, California

    We are going to meet at Delta terminal before 8:40 am this Sunday and go with Nick’s mood that morning.

    If Nick is really tired after long flight, we are going straight to option 1 or whatever is close to the terminal such as HomeTown Buffet, Mc Donald ,….So he can rest

    1-Hometown Buffer or similar .about .5 min. from terminal.
    Hometown Buffet for Hot Soup, Hot meal, Hot Coffee.
    8629 South Sepulveda Blvd
    CA 90045
    310-216-9208

    If Nick is fresh like he was leaving New York about 1 year and 3 months ago, we are going to others options.

    2 – San Pedro: real fried fish breakfast
    3 – Gourmet Road Roaches…
    4. Santa Monica
    5. Marina Del Rey
    6. French food for Nico, but is too far away…
    Rolling Hills Dr & N Brea Blvd
    Fullerton, CA 92835
    7. Dim Sum at China Town

  34. Hey Nick,

    I was very much looking forward to meeting you at your home coming in LAX. I found it funny you telling me that It’s not necessary to make such a long drive to meet you, coming from a guy that has just driven around the world. How long has your drive been? :0) Funny. Any way, I have just been informed that my plans to drive down to LA will have to be canceled. My wife has an emergency contract thing that she needs to take care of in Fresno, so I will have to stay home and watch the ahhhhh… Cats, Kids, bad mortgage or something. Have a good last night in Japan and I hope you get an upgrade to first class on your flight back to the US. Please shoot me an email when you are going to come to SF. We can celebrate my new employment. The first 12 rounds are on me!

    I’m really bummed, I was so looking forward to this little road trip.

    Cheers Mate.

  35. Han,
    Thanks so much for organizing the festivities. As I told you, I would need anything. I would eat anything L.A. is good at. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. There are more than 40 seats available on the plane still, so it is looking good. And don’t worry, I will not be tired by the time I arrive. We are used to it on the Trans World!
    Charlie A.,
    we will catch up at one point, I am sure.
    Joy Maria,
    I see you in few weeks.
    Nauvlet,
    see you in Las Vegas. If other people are interested to meet up there, let us know!
    Donna,
    I will keep updating my blog through the U.S. even after I am finished with the trip, I will keep adding to the blog, probably practical detail for equipment and planning of such expedition.
    Catherine,
    I get around 1,500 visitors per day on the website. I will take my time to get back to NY, probably 2-3 weeks.
    Mrs Marti,
    I am looking forward to visit the U.S. again. I drove once from SF to Chicago, and 3 years back from NY to Key West in a Chrysler Lebaron convertible. That was fun. My dad spent time on the east coast in the last years already.
    Helene,
    I’ll see you in NY. Will keep you updated about party time! We will sure miss Nadia… But at least we will not get arrested when she starts a fight with the cops.
    LW Warfel,
    I don’t think I will cross Illinois. For now I am planning on this road. If that changes, will let you know!
    Jason,
    we may meet while I go through. The country club diner is too early for me to catch I believe.
    Edwin,
    I am sure a capsule hotel in NY would work.
    Mindy,
    Yes, I slept in the capsule hotel. There is a curtain at the door and lockers downstairs. They give you a kimono for hanging around in the hotel. Everything is conveniently placed, including the bathrooms.
    Stacy, Heidi,
    hopefully we meet in Vegas.
    Kedar,
    no Chicago for me this time, sorry!

  36. Nick, call me biased, but here is an honest opinion and advice:
    There isn’t much to see in eastern Colorado and Kansas is flat as a pancake. I found myself falling asleep on the drive through there to Denver. Oklahoma is quite uninteresting too.

    If you want an interesting drive, go east from Pueblo (Colorado), then southeast through the corner of New Mexico then down the Texas panhandle and southeast again from Amarillo to Dallas. The desert in southeastern Colorado/northeastern New Mexico is very interesting and very isolated. As you get past Dalhart, Texas and south towards Amarillo, the terrain gets very hilly and everything you see around you is red (the color of the soil). The only boring stretch you’ll get is from Amarillo to Fort Worth, which isn’t too long compared to going through Kansas and Oklahoma. I took this return route home and it was more scenic and worthy to me.

    I drove through Kansas twice and half of Oklahoma many times. It wasn’t enjoyable at all compared to driving through many other states (I road tripped through half the US already so I have seen my fair share of good and bad roads :) ).

    From Dallas you can just head east on Interstate 30 to Arkansas and continue on your way as planned. :) Only western Arkansas is scenic, the eastern part of the state is just your typical Mississippi valley terrain.

    Remember, you’re welcomed here in Dallas any time.

    -Edwin

  37. Jenni-KIrkland, WA

    Apologies if this was already posted this, but have any firm dates been announced for when the Expedition is hitting Vegas?

  38. Nick: What good news! Wish I could be there but I know you all will have fun and enjoy the time you’ll have to spend with each other. What a nice way to meet new friends. Have a safe journey to LAX and welcome home! Han Duong, I will speak for the 1500 and thank you for arranging the festivities. You are appreciated. Enjoy.
    -joyMaria

  39. Nick, I have been following you from the beginning of your marvelous journey. I would be so honored and thrilled to host you and your father for a meal, or an overnight on your way home to NYC. We are exactly 5 hours from NYC and just off the Bedford, PA (a beautiful quaint town) exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Route I-76) and then you would take I-78. We have a lovely home built in the 1700′s with plenty of rooms and my wife can cook you an American meal, delicious Thai food, or wonderful Indian cuisine, and fabulous Chinese food! (Sorry we have never lived in France, so no French cuisine). But maybe only five hours from NYC is too close to home. I’m sure you are anxious to get there. But do know we would love to meet you, even for coffee!

    Enjoy your re-entry into the States.

    Ned

  40. Marlon Trivino (Eastvale, CA)

    Hi Nick,

    I won’t be able to make it on your arrival to LAX cause I am here in the Philippines right now until January 16. By then, you would probably be out of California. If not, let me know cause I want to at least meet you in person. It would be an honor.

    Enjoy the last leg of your long journey!

  41. Have a safe flight home! The route across the US looks like a good one. You are hitting all the highlights except for Columbus, OH, but that’s OK, I’m not there went south for the winter. Enjoy these last few weeks and the time with your dad and friends. God Bless.

  42. Happy New Years Nick! I can’t believe this journey has come to an end already! Have a safe flight back to California, and enjoy the rest of your drive home to New York! xx.

  43. Hi Nick,

    By the time you read this you may be flying back to the US.

    Welcome back and enjoy the last leg of your journey.

    It’s snowing in NY (yet again) so take your time and try to avoid as much of this snowy weather as possible.

    Hope to meet you in NY at some point.

  44. Ms. Marti~Nashville, TN

    Nick, I was thinking of the rude man that wrote that you would never get out of Africa! LOL at him! Guess their were a lot of people that didn’t think you could do it. Well everyone here knew you could and would. You’ve shown us that real commitment will work for all of us. I still believe that this journey and your commitment will be very valuable in your search for a new job.

    Be safe and keep on forgin forward to NY! Bet you’ll be sooo happy to see your bird again. Hopefully he still remembers you!!
    Ms. Marti

  45. FYI…..Nick actually arrives in LAX on Saturday morning @ 840am. We all forgot about the international date line and that he actually left 4:00 Saturday evening (Toyko time). So technically had left before it was now!

  46. Thanks Scott, I just logged on to review the information for clarification. You saved me and probably others a lot of time. I suppose that will be in about twenty minutes for me? :) How exciting. Again, welcome home (USA), Nick.

    -joyMaria

  47. Nick next Stop is LAS VEGAS

    I got a lot emails from las vegas friends. I don’t know who is interesting and want to be in charge to put people together and pick which location and time to meet Nick. Please post your contact information here and your email. So people can contact each other.

    Couple of us will driving along with Nick to Las Vegas.

  48. Dear Nick ,so happy u made it back safe
    Thank you for allowing us to take the adventure with you
    Im sure I will go back and read it all over again
    I hope it wont be the last we hear from you..
    Take care and enjoy time with family and friends..
    Sending HUGS to welcome you home ,,Carol,,,

  49. Hi all,
    You are gonna think I am crazy, but something crazy happened. I arrived this morning in LAX. I left Tokyo on Saturday afternoon, and when I arrived in LA, I was surprised to see nobody there. It was because it was Saturday morning here. In short, I crossed the international dateline during the night, and because I have been traveling toward the east, I gained one day.
    So I am now in LA, and still want to meet tomorrow, but this time probably not at the airport.
    Would it work for everybody to meet at Aroma coffee and tea company, 4360 tujunga ave., Studio City. 11 am would be great. Let me know what you think.

    NIck

  50. LAS VEGAS MEETING

    KAREN E. PURVES will volunteer to be a connecting point to connect with others at Las Vegas. Who live at Las Vegas and want to meet Nick at his next stop city, please contact Karen at:

    samneph@earthlink.net

  51. OK, it’s 8:35 PM Saturday where I am so I guess you have been in the US for quite some time now. Yea God!! Welcome home!

  52. NICK IS ALREADY HERE AT LOS ANGELES !!!!!!! THIS MORNING SATURDAY 01/08/2011

    MY FRIENDS who are going to airport tomorrow morning, hope that you will check your email or read Nick’s post today or early morning, if you don’t see Nick at the airport, please call me at 714-724-9697 ( cell) or we will stop at airport before meeting Nick at 11am SUNDAY 01/09.2011 at:

    Aroma Coffee and Tea Company
    4360 Tujunga ave
    Studio city, ca

    NICK! IF you read this post, please confirm location again and check your watch pacific time, not Japan time line

  53. Aroma Coffee and Tea Company,

    4360 Tujunga Ave.
    Studio City, CA 91604

    Phone: 818-508-7377

    Nick! Can you confirm this address and phone number?

  54. I am so jealous of any and all that will be able to meet Nick tomorrow for coffee. What a surprise to arrive without a welcoming committee. Those pesky datelines! Thanks again – it has been so fun to ride along with you.

    Mary – South Dakota – definitely not on anyone’s route this time of year :)

  55. LOL What a crazy return! lt only gets better from here on buddy. Am def gonna see you when u get to nyc. Cheers. Be Safe.

    Surfer Dude

  56. Welcome home Nick! I hope you are able to relax and enjoy meeting up with many of your faithful followers. Wish I were able to be one of them. Congratulaltions on completing (almost) your goal. Take your time and really savor the last leg! As always, travel safe!

  57. Yes, this is the right address! At 11 a.m.

    Aroma Coffee and Tea Company,

    4360 Tujunga Ave.
    Studio City, CA 91604

    Phone: 818-508-7377

  58. Oops! Nick forgot about the international date line! :D

    Welcome back to the States Nick!

  59. WELCOME BACK!!! NICK!

  60. You’ve done it! I know you have to drive across country but that should be a piece of cake compared to some of the places you have had to drive. I am so excited for you that your mission is just about accomplished. What a feeling that must give you. Now you KNOW you can do anything you set your mind to. CONGRATULATIONS !!

  61. Donna Ft Lauderdale

    WELCOME HOME NICK!!! Thanks for the ride. Hugs to you and your dad!

  62. Wahoooo!!!! You’re back in the US (I’d say you’re home, but I know France is your true home.) Welcome back! We love having you as part of the fabric that makes up the good ole US of A! I am really hoping to catch up with you in Vegas.

  63. Jason in Arkansas

    Welcome home. I can only imagine the look on your face and the thoughts that went through your mind slightly before realizing the time difference. Looking back I bet you laughed really hard. I hope you all have a super great time at the welcoming party today.

    WELCOME HOME!!!!!!!

    Jason

  64. Hey Nick,
    Glad you’re back! I’ve followed your trip for several months now, and saw that you had stopped to speak at one of the schools here in Baton Rouge, LA. Thanks for doing that–I imagine the kids and teachers really enjoyed your presentation. If you ever come to Baton Rouge again you can perhaps speak at our public library–they sometimes present speakers such as yourself. I’ve constantly been fascinated by your trip–I’d love to hear you in person. Have a wonderful rest of the trip.
    Best wishes,
    Kim

  65. Welcome back Nick!!! Safe travels to you and your dad across the US. See you in NYC.

  66. Bienvenue!! So glad to hear you are back in the states. Reading all of the blogs, I was I could be their in LA, too! Please let us know all about the homecoming and how many people were able to attend. You definitely can feel the excitement in everyone’s posts!

  67. Wow, my old stomping grounds….Studio City….Wished I were there and not in Spokane, WA.!

    Following you from the beginning has been a real treat. You took me places I will most likely never see in my life time! What an education from my chair!

    Your return to the U.S. is somewhat bittersweet for me knowing that you must return to your everyday life not having any more wonderful worldly adventures to post for us all to read (at least for now anyway)! My, what are we all going to do now? LOL….LOL…

    You must be elated knowing you accomplished this journey on your own basically without the help some people suggested you take (i.e. armed guards). Kudos to you Nick!

    It really would be a feather in the hat if you would at least ‘consider’ writing of your journey to share with us all who felt we were there with you in spirit. You know…little details that go along with all the photos that you just didn’t have room or time to share. I know I would enjoy the read!

    In any case…thank you for sharing this with me…and everyone else. Safe trip out of L.A. and through Vegas (I have lived in both sin cities)…Now its time to see the rest of the USA. Enjoy!

    Safe Journey to you…
    Charlene
    Spokane, WA

  68. well, you’ve come full circle! welcome “home.” so many people welcome you back. eat well. enjoy the football playoffs, ProBowl, and Superbowl as you travel across the nation.

    repeating others, columbus, Ohio is right on Interstate 70 and a straight shot to New York. please consider traveling through, we’d love to share a beverage with you.

    peace and smooth travels,

    suzanne

  69. Welcome home Nick!!

  70. So did anyone actually meet up with Nick?

  71. YEAH!!!!!!

    FINALLY, A LOT PEOPLE MEET NICK AND THEY HAVE A LONG CHAT WITH NICK. AND THEY ALL MADE IT ON TIME AT THE RESTAURANT.

  72. Good News Han Duong, and thanks so very much for keeping us informed. I am sure that we will hear from Nick in due time. Enjoy yourselves and drive safely to Las Vegas, all of you.

    -joyMaria

    -

  73. Welcome back to the US Nick! What an amazing journey!!! Hope you and your Dad have a great time seeing the US. Wish you were passing close to us, we would offer you a place to stay. Thanks so much for sharing your adventures and I have learned so much from you.

  74. Han Duong -Did you have any luck with the media coverage? Like many other followers I would have loved to have been there to meet Nick and welcome him back. If there were any news stories or video could someone post a link to them?

  75. [a little late, but: ]

    WELCOME HOME NICK!

  76. Hi Nick,

    When is your car arriving? I would like to take a picture with you and your car before departing LA.

  77. Once again Nick you should consider revising your trip and come up to Columbus, Ohio. We are a great city and here at Phoenix Middle School we have followed you very closely and would love to have you. It would be an easy trip up 71 and would put you in perfect position to go to NYC. To go from there all you do is go up 70 merge into 76 and then merge into 78!

  78. Nick,
    really enjoyed the conversation on Sunday, and meeting your friend, ( I can’t remember his name) An interesting group with much to offer. I would like to confirm, to those who may be curious; as I was, He has a french accent.

  79. Hey, Nick! Are you planning to have a party in Brooklyn when you come back here? We’d love to have you over for dinner, if you’d like some yummy vegetarian fare…we live in Park Slope…have a safe drive across the country!

  80. Hello Nick!

    Welcome Back Home! We are in Ft Worth Texas, if you come by this area and need a place to spend the night, we will be glad to have a hot meal and a clean bed for you and your father. Thanks again for taking me around the world and share with all of us an incredible adventure!

    Thanks!