new destinations: Japan, Thailand, & Vietnam

In a week I'm off to Asia. I'm super excited. I gave my two weeks' notice at my job at the end of April and I'll be funemployed for the foreseeable future. I really wanted to travel and since my sister is also currently on sabbatical, we decided to go all out and venture to the other side of the world for three weeks.
We only just finished booking everything. And actually, the way we even planned this trip was done on a whim. The day I gave my notice, I was just looking around to see what the potential options were and I found direct flights to Tokyo from Newark (because apparently United does that). They weren't super cheap or anything; if anything, they're the most expensive flights I have ever booked at $1,600 (and I'm mildly annoyed because right now they're $1,400). But, this is a pretty special trip and something I have always wanted to do and though we could've gotten much cheaper tickets, they all had layovers and I really value my own time much more.

So once we had Tokyo nailed down, we had to figure out where else we wanted to go and honestly, we based it on the foods I really wanted to eat. And that's why our itinerary includes Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea. (I didn't include Korea in the title because technically I've been there before so it's not really a new destination.)
I'm mildly anxious because, as I've mentioned before, as I get older, I tend to get a bit more anxious about travel and it's always a bit worse when I'm going somewhere with tough language barriers and completely unfamiliar culture and customs. But, in this case, at least I will be able to blend in aesthetic-wise. It won't be like when I was in India last year and I was a spectacle and people asked to take photos with me like I was some character at a theme park.

There was a lot of leg work in terms of research and prep. We had to figure out all of the transportation between cities, hotels, currency exchange, and find out what our options were for wifi and SIM cards for our phones. We also needed to get visas to enter Vietnam. It was a pretty painless process (it only took 2 days to get approval), but this is something we wouldn't have known about if we hadn't done our research.
My plan is to pack a regular-sized backpack because we won't have much in terms of carry on luggage allowance for some of the inter-Asia flights we're taking. And by "regular-sized" I mean my North Face jester backpack, which is 28 liters. I'll also have to make some kind of provision for an extra bag on the flight back, whether that's a packable tote or if I buy something abroad, because I'm sure we'll have collected at least a few souvenirs.

I'm v. excited and of course I'll be documenting everything in my journal so I can blog about it when I'm back. It'll be interesting to see what my style of blogging will be for this trip since I can devote much more time to this trip instead of squeezing in my writing after work and on weekends.