G needed a visa run, and since the quarantine restrictions are so light now, we all went!
We've been in the middle of this long and complex process about G's visa, and it'll all work out eventually, but in the meantime there have been quite a few unexpected developments. So one of those was that we found out in October that we only had about one month before the automatic visa renewal program he was on was ending! So that meant we either needed to book it on the paperwork for the visa he needs to switch to, or he needed to leave the country and come back visa free as a tourist. Well, you might be able to guess that we're not very good at paperwork. So leaving the country it was!
We had two options that were about the same price (and cheaper than everywhere else), and they were Japan or Vietnam. Since we were only talking about a two-day trip, we figured we'd pick Japan since both H and I had been there before and we were pretty confident we could get around without doing any research ahead of time. Also, the girls have been just dying to go! Besides K (who hasn't been anywhere), they were the only ones that hadn't been! (H went back before we got married, and I had gone with G to see my sister and brother-in-law a few years ago!)
So we picked this little touristy city that had the cheapest flights and after our hotel and flights were taken care of, we didn't think about anything else until we arrived. It turned out to be the perfect little trip! There wasn't a ton of stuff to do like there would be if we had gone to Tokyo, so the three days (we ended up taking one day off of school) we spent there felt just about right. We walked around a lot, ate lots of yummy food, and we SHOPPED like CRAZY. Once we arrived, we realized that the Japanese Yen was unusually weak against the dollar, and that meant that some of the same products (especially Japanese brands like Hello Kitty, Nintendo, Pokemon and, most importantly, G's favorite brand of toy cars, Tomica) were nearly half the price of what we would pay in the States! It didn't hurt that this was all right before Christmas either.
We did also get to go a museum of the area, which was fine. Apparently that area has its own history, quite different from the rest of Japan. I enjoyed that, but I'm pretty sure everyone else only enjoyed the children's section, which I have to admit was very good. That's where E got to play that instrument. I was pretty impressed that both girls were able to pluck out a scale on it right away! Okay there were stickers telling you where to put your fingers for each note. But I'm just saying, even with stickers, I wouldn't have been able to figure it out at their age.
The only real bad thing about the trip was that everyone got a stomach bug. Yep, you read that right. We all got a stomach bug. M had had one two days before we left, but when no one else came down with it in the intervening time, we thought maybe it was just something she ate. Well, nope, our first night there, G and K were up all night puking their guts up. There was vomit everywhere. It was my turn the next night. Fortunately, E and H got away with just feeling nauseous. It was all pretty miserable, but I do have to say that one time a few years ago we all came down with a stomach bug on an overnight train, and H spent all night catching puke in our empty fried chicken bucket from dinner. Seriously, first he caught E's puke and then she stopped puking and he started catching my puke and then I started feeling better and then I started catching G's puke. What would we have done if we hadn't had the empty fried chicken bucket from dinner?! Anyway, since then every single stomach bug we've had has just seemed not that bad. It's all about perspective! So, all that to say, we had a really great trip!