5 weeks, 35 days or lots of hours.

I figure that it’s about time for a recap post! It’s important to stop and look at all you have achieved and reassess your goals and to do list now and then!

When you put it all down together I cant believe how much has happened! I dont mean to blow my own trumpet but I am really proud of myself! Hehe. So on the 2nd of April I stood at Melbourne airport and took the first official step of this journey, saying goodbye to my town, my country, my family and friends.

I boarded a plane to Brisbane, and a connecting flight to Tokyo.

I explored the city streets and found beautiful blossoms.

I caught the train to Kyoto and explored a whole lot more!

I found the Nanzenji Temple and the Philosophers Walk and I watched the people go about their daily lives. I soaked it all up. I was a foreigner in a foreign country and I didnt really speak the language. That’s kinda thrilling.

Then I headed to Vancouver, Canada – a city and a country that I had been dreaming about visiting since I was 18. Nine years later and I finally got here – at precisely the right time. It’s funny how things work out like that, but I truly believe that to undertake such a big adventure I wouldnt have been in the right frame of mind to do until now.

And so I made it to Stanley Park – I even walked all the way around it. I saw squirrels and a raccoon and a hummingbird and canadian geese and deer and robins. I ate a nanaimo bar, a cinnamon bun, a beaver tail, a reese bar, a jolly rancher, a key lime pie and more! I went to the hockey, gastown, granville island, kitsilano, lynn valley suspension bridge, lonsdale quay, metrotown, park royal mall, commercial drive, main street, downtown, MOA, the Aquarium, capilano suspension bridge, pemberton, van art gallery, deep cove, chinatown, chinese gardens. I made new friends and listened to tips about where to go and what to do. I crossed a lot off my to do list!! And you know what? I still have a lot to do!

A customer at work enquired about my accent today and asked whether I was from Australia or New Zealand. I realised that she is the first stranger I have spoken to who has guessed it correctly. She was so lovely and told me her son had visited Australia. I asked if he had been to Melbourne and she said no. I told her that he missed out! She laughed. See, I know my accent stands out and to locals I say things strangely, but hardly anyone has actually said anything to me about that. Isnt that a little strange itself?
There are people over here that are so lovely and welcoming and friendly but there is also a part of the population that seem to be quite unfriendly and.. well.. basically cold. It’s hard to break through the surface with them.

The main thing that has struck me is that everything is so different over here. And yes, I mean everything. The only thing that remains the same is the human relationships and psyche. As we are all humans on this earth the issues dont really change with the location.

It has been an incredible, interesting, fun, inspiring trip so far. 35 days of adventure down- and counting!! Here’s hoping that there are many, many more to come. And I hope that your adventures inspire you to try for more too.

Someone said to me that I am brave doing all of these things by myself. Many people have said that they couldnt have done what I am doing. I dont think it’s about being brave. I spent a few years of my life waiting. I was waiting for friends. Waiting for them to come along so I could have someone to go to a concert with. Or go on a roadtrip with. Or go overseas with. Years I waited and friends came and went. And as their promises faded to dust I realised something. If I sit and wait for someone to come before I do what I want to do then I will be waiting for years and lets face it – I might never get there! So you know what I did? I started doing things by myself. I like my own company – I know I am reliable, fun and I listen to my gut. I got to go to concerts and line up early and go front row and meet my fave musicians. I got to travel and explore and I found out that being alone isnt as scary as being with someone you dont want to be with.

So thats how I came to take this trip by myself, and I say to all those who dont think they could do it – you can. You should! Dont put something you want to do on the backburner for someone else. Go do what you want to do – go explore the world. It’ll be the best decision you ever made for yourself.

happy travels!!

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ohayo gozaimasu from tokyo

Hello! I am safe and yes, I’ve arrived in Tokyo. Ohayo Gozaimasu (that means good morning!). What an adventure it has been so far! Just getting to my hotel was pretty crazy. My first flight in the morning was to Brisbane, where I caught a connecting flight to Tokyo. When I was walking down the aisle to get on the plane I thought to myself ‘I am going to Japan!’ and I was happy. This was the view of the sunrise from the windows of the plane – so pretty!

So, we landed and what I hadnt remembered was that Brisbane airport has two terminals – one for domestic and one for international – so I had to rush around to try and find out how to get there to make my connecting flight. I eventually found a bus and by the time I got through immigration and looked at the flight board it said my plane was boarding in 20 minutes. Yeah, we cut that one a bit fine! While I was waiting I went and got some money changed over into smaller amounts (they were more helpful than melbourne airport) and then took this photo before I boarded.

This was my view for the next 8 hours.

And this was the tiny, tiny screen where I watched three movies – Whip it, The Blind Side and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. The Blind Side was the best of the three, I almost cried several times.
Whilst flying I decided that I’m not a fan of long haul flights – I dont know how anyone can sit on a plane for longer than I did, I couldnt sleep and after a sleepless night before I was worn out.

When we finally arrived at Narita Airport we were ushered into a small train, which then took us to the main airport. We waited at immigration for around an hour, before collecting my bags and going out through customs! Next I had to find the luggage storage to keep my huge suitcase at the airport for the 4 days I’d be travelling. I asked three people for help and even though they didnt speak much english they all did their best to send me in the right direction. The Japanese are so polite and helpful! After more confusion and asking one more person I found myself on the right level and checking my bag in. Hopefully I can find it when I want my bag back! hahaha.

Ok so then I had to find the japanese JTB rail window, where I had been told I could convert the rail pass I had bought before I left. After asking someone I found the window, and the queue that was waiting just like me. Half an hour or so later I was served and promptly handed my new japan rail pass (something I’ll need today for my trip to Kyoto!).

I followed where I had been told to go and ended up on one of many, many platforms. Everything was written in japanese, so I wasnt too sure if I was in the right spot but I thought I was. You may have heard Japan is big on these things.

I just wanted some water and it took me a while to find it – right next to this interestingly named drink.

Pocari Sweat? Who is he and why do people drink that? Hehehe.
I took some headache tablets and tried to will myself to feel better. At this stage I just wanted to curl up in a ball – I needed sleep, I had a headache, I was hungry, my bags were annoying me and I felt a little overwhelmed to say the least.

Then a train pulled up and I checked with the man beside me if this was mine, he said it was – so I hopped on and found my seat. A lovely japanese lady hopped out of the row so I could put my bags in first (I had the window seat) and then in the process of trying not to hit her with my bags getting them infront of my seat I smashed my head on the bar above the window that I hadnt noticed. I couldnt help but laugh.

It was dark outside, so I couldnt see too much of Japan passing by – my eyes were closed half the time so that was ok by me. I kept thinking about how when the train stopped at Tokyo main station I had to find my way onto three more trains and three other lines before I’d get to my hotel. The time was quarter past 8pm and I was thinking of other options. I made a choice to try to get a taxi from the station, as I thought it might be easier and quicker. I didnt care if it’d be expensive I just wanted to get to my hotel. I looked at the huge signs detailing every different line in the station, desperately trying to find an exit. Swarms of people walked around me and I felt lost in an endless sea. Still, I pushed myself and followed the way I thought I was meant to be going. The tunnels went left and right and winded around for ages. After help from another lady I found my way out into the open. I could breathe.

This was my first real look at Tokyo and I liked what I saw. I crossed the road and headed in the direction of a line of what I thought were taxis. I stepped onto the road and the man in the first car opened his window. “I want to go here” I said, and handed him the paper I had so thoughtfully written down with the address of my hotel. He entered a few numbers in his JPS and got out to put my bags in the boot. Then I hopped in and he drove off. He said nothing, as we drove around the streets and I stared in awe at the lights and trees and skyscrapers.

Then he asked me “where you from?” I told him Australia.
“How many time?”
“How many times have I been here? This is my first time.”
“First time? Ok. I tell you places.”

As we drove along he pointed out The Imperial Palace, Ginza provence, Tokyo Tower, The Parliament Building (which looks a little like our shrine of rememberence), The Canadian Embassy (funny that!) and then we arrived at my hoteI. I tell you what – when I saw the sign it was like a beacon of hope to me. I was so happy! I thanked the taxi man, gave him a tip and then checked myself in. I went to bed right away and slept well.
My room is tiny! But it has all that I need! I will be checking out the breakfast buffet soon – on the menu is dried seaweed, fermented soybeans, japanese pickles and grilled fish. I think I’ll stick to eggs, bacon and bread. Then I might go for a wander along the streets before checking out and heading to the train.

I am feeling better after my sleep, and looking forward to some more exploring!
Sayonara!