Episode 36 – Learning Japanese

Before we launch in to this week’s show notes, a quick note on a major disaster here in Canada.  The Fort McMurray wildfire has caused more than 80,000 people to be displaced as fire has ravaged a number of homes and businesses in the northern Alberta city.

The Canadian Red Cross is a fantastic organization helping those who are in emergency shelters and other accommodations since many people left with the clothes on their backs and the few items they could cram in to a suitcase.

For Canadians wanting to donate to the relief effort, you can pledge $5 by texting REDCROSS to 30333.  To donate $10, text FIRES to 45678.  These will be billed to your cell phone account.

If you’re not in Canada or wish to pledge using the Red Cross’ online donation form, you can do so by clicking here.


Before going to Japan, I was trying to brush up on my Japanese using an app called iTranslate Voice.  It wasn’t going so well.

Despite my frustrations with the app, my time in Japan went really well and I even picked up on some basic pleasantries and started to recognize some of the Kanji characters used in their writing system.

However, considering I love Japan – and I’ve visited so many times – I feel like I should become better versed in the language.  I should strive to at least be literate.  And so it was the gift of Japanese textbooks from Chris that have helped launch me in to actually buckling down and starting to learn the language.

Learning to write Hiragana characters is helping me remember them and the sounds they make.
Learning to write Hiragana characters is helping me remember them and the sounds they make.

On this week’s episode, I talk about the challenge that lies before me, and what I have identified as my first major task – to understand the Hiragana writing system (one of three writing systems used in the Japanese language).

I’ll be updating my progress on future podcast episodes and with posts on the website.

Episode 35 – Mouse Tale

There are two quotes from Walt Disney which are relevant to this week’s show.

If you can dream it, you can do it.

Walt definitely had a big dream of his own – putting everything he owned on the line to open Disneyland in Anaheim, California in under a year.  It was an ambitious task – one that some people even called impossible.  That’s where quote number two comes in.

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.

Seattle’s Christopher Wing also had a big dream that some people might say would be impossible.

A long-time fan of the film Around the World in 80 Days, Wing started thinking one day about what it’d be like to circumnavigate the globe himself.  80 days seemed excessive given how fast we can now travel – and a rather long time to be away from work.  But after doing some math, he figured it might be entirely possible to do the trip in 80 hours.

But Wing didn’t want to just stop in airports, he wanted to bring another passion of his along for the journey.  This was his love of Disney theme parks.  Aside from the original Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida, three other countries are home to Disney parks – France, Hong Kong and Japan.

After crunching the numbers and figuring out the logistics, Christopher’s mind was set – he was going to visit all five Disney theme park resorts (and 11 theme parks in total), and attempt to do it in under 80 hours.

On this week’s show, Chris talks about his long-time connection to Disney theme parks, why he made the trip, and how he pulled it off!

For more on Christopher’s Disney adventures, visit his website – Mouse Around the World.  Also, be sure to check him out on Twitter (@MouseATW), Instagram and on YouTube.

One of my favourite videos from Chris’ YouTube channel is of the fireworks he saw from his plane as he was arriving back in California at the end of the trip.  They seem like a perfect way to cap off what was a marathon adventure!

If you want to connect with The Gone John Show, tweet me @GoneJohnLive, visit our Facebook page, or e-mail me at john@gonejohn.com.

SIM Card Review : Viettel (Vietnam)

I’ve long talked about the benefits of having a local SIM card when visiting another country. Staying connected lets you easily keep in touch with family and friends at home, helps you make hotel, flight and other purchases without needing to use insecure WiFi networks, and gives you the confidence to better navigate the place you’re visiting – which can often lead to more local and “off the beaten path” experiences.

Today, I look back on my mobile experience while visiting Vietnam in February of this year.

Read moreSIM Card Review : Viettel (Vietnam)

Episode 34 – Take Me Back to Chicago

Old photographs and old podcasts have a similar effect on me.  They make me smile about experiences I’ve enjoyed – and also make me cringe a little.  On one hand, photos are usually marked with bad hair, dubious fashion choices and never being ready for the camera.  Podcasts, though, are a sonic reminder of progress – and that as a storyteller I continue to evolve.  (And, that makes me a cringe a bit.)

This week, we revisit an episode of my previous travel podcast series – Boarding Call – where I decide to take the show on the road to Chicago for the Memorial Day Weekend.

I get a chance to sample some stuffed pizza at Giordanos, and take an architectural tour of the city.

I do want to get back and visit Chicago again soon.  It’s a pretty awesome place.

Episode 33 – The Swedish Number

The Swedish Tourist Association has set up a telephone number which anyone in the world can call which – when dialled – will connect the caller to a random Swede.  (Don’t worry – you’re not interrupting someone like a telemarketer would.  Swedes download an app on to their smartphone in order to take the call.)

The campaign is encouraging people to talk to Swedes about anything – a way to celebrate the country’s 250th anniversary since the abolishment of censorship.

Since the tourist association set up the line, I figured it’d only be natural to talk to Swedes about their own country – and find out why they love where they live.

Ewan is no stranger to Canada.  He lived here for 10 months and worked as a ski bum up in the mountains in British Columbia and Alberta.  He also planted trees in Ontario.  He loves Canada’s wilderness, but has lots of great things to say about where he’s from.

Mattias encouraged us to check out Astrid Lindgren’s World – a park dedicated to the author of Pippi Longstocking.  It is located in Vimmerby, Sweden.

Richard downloaded The Swedish Number app on to his phone, but it was his friend Ahed who answered.  We had a great conversation about not only what’s great about Sweden, but also the importance of expanding our horizons on where we travel.

Finally, Ewacarin talked Swedish food, encouraging us to seek out great Michelin-starred restaurants in her country.

When it comes to selling a destination, the best spokespeople are always the everyday, ordinary folks who live somewhere.  The Swedish Number is a fantastic advertising campaign to connecting the world to the nordic nation.

In an effort to help guests save long distance fees, local dial-in numbers have been established in a number of countries to access the Swedish Tourist Association’s line.

  • United Kingdom : +442038089899
  • Denmark : +4570806160
  • Poland : +48222922333
  • USA : +13012760600
  • Brazil : +556135500700
  • Germany : +4932221096868
  • France : +33974483777
  • Netherlands : +31852085000
  • Finland : +358753266266
  • Norway : +4781511558

Otherwise, the number to call is +46 771 793 336.  Remember that long distance/airtime/all regular charges apply as this is not a toll-free number.