Two weeks ago I had simultaneously submitted my resignation and booked a one way ticket to Tokyo. In the two months since my last vacation, I had witnessed a sea change in the culture, leadership, and personnel of the company. Many of my friends had already been let go in what would be our first round of layoffs. I struggled adapting to a new team, manager, and a less autonomous role, and found myself unmotivated and unhappy. But as I handed in my company issued laptop to HR on my last day, a friend remarked that she had never seen me look happier.
One day later, I was boarding a red-eye flight to Tokyo with a small backpack and duffel and preparing for a multi-month saunter in South East Asia. Part career break, part quarter-life crisis, and partly an attempt to reverse some Zenefits PTSD, I arrived on an early drowsy morning in the familiar surroundings of the Haneda airport and navigated my way towards the subway to Tokyo. I promptly lost my passport briefly and then dropped and shattered my phone—to say that I'm not an early morning person is a definitive understatement.
Sid had left Zenefits during our first RIF (Reduction-In-Force) and had promptly visited Mexico before finding herself roaming through Myanmar and the Philippines with our friend Brynne. (Soon there would be a whole host of former Zenefits employees roaming around South East Asia putting their severance packages to good use). As Brynne was headed stateside, Sid and I agreed to meet in Tokyo for her first Japanese excursion and I suggested she go earlier and visit Kyoto first as I knew she'd fall in love with the city and its sights as I did last year.
We stayed at the Park Hotel Tokyo and experienced the miniatureness of the city's accommodations first hand. I had arrived in the morning and immediately went to the Apple Store in Ginza to repair my phone and Sid arrived shortly thereafter in the afternoon, and promptly confessed that she hadn't showered in 3 days because of some unfathomable fear of hostel showers. As someone obsessed with aquatic animals, she was expectedly eager to wake up early the next day to see the Tsukiji Fish Market. I expected to be awoken at an ungodly hour the next morning with Sid shrills and jumping on the bed, but when I rolled my head over, she was still fast asleep–her fish market dreams held back by her Tokyo slumber. We eventually made our way over to the famed market, but alas it was one of the few Wednesdays that the market was closed, so all Sid could do was imagine the sights and sounds, and smells, of waders, fish guts and ocean water.
The rest of our Tokyo rendezvous was spent browsing the streets and stores of Ginza, meandering through the city's vast parks and trying to get a last glimpse of the cherry blossoms, and catching up with some friends over trendy Korean food. The weather wasn't entirely cooperative and we were unproductive tourists when it rained (and we started a nasty habit of watching Harry Potter movies on an iPad mini). Next up was a quick stopover in Bangkok before embarking on our first liveaboard!