Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Is it the adventure? Or the best gyoza in town?

I've been pondering why travel is so much fun...so interesting...so good (I hate that word but it fits).

And I don't have the answer to that question but I do know it has something to do with absolutely everything being com-p-lete-ly different.

For me the fun part isn't the sightseeing necessarily. Seeing cool stuff is cool, but that's not "it".

It's more about the process. Having absolutely no reference point, it's almost necessary to teach yourself how to function in another country. Especially if it's not a country similar to the one you live in.

It's the adventure of it all!

[I'm grinning right now.]

Trying to figure out the train system. At home there's not a lot of fun in that (unless something new and interesting happens) but somewhere foreign (like Japan for example, where I am right now) it's an accomplishment. A small one perhaps but for me that feeling is fun.

Want something to eat? Abandon everything you know about feeding yourself and try to firstly identify what you want to eat without really knowing what this food is exactly and without having a clue how to ask for it. Then use money you're not familiar with to pay for it during an exchange with a stranger with whom you have a very limited ability to communicate with.

It's. All. Different.

And I love it. I don't at first, of course, it scares me quite a bit. But then when I finally manage to pull it off somehow and get over that part it's so incredibly rewarding.

Example? The first time I was in Japan, it took me three separate trips to Starbucks to figure out how to order a standard latte. And when I finally got that latte (instead of the other strange coffee beverages I had ended up with the two previous days)...wow it was just so cool.

Who knew ordering coffee could be so interesting.

[I'm grinning again.]

And then last night we used something called a ramen map to find the best ramen in the area I was staying.

It was, indeed, the best ramen I've tasted, and I thought I disliked ramen. The lovely Japanese fellow who ran the place also offered us gyoza. I love gyoza, and this gyoza was incredible.

Another example? Today I completely (very pleasantly) surprised myself by actually making it to my hostel in Kyoto. All on my own. Google may have helped somewhat...and I say somewhat because her instructions are often unhelpful, "head west" she says...

--- can I interject here - I am incredulous every time my Google machine says that..."I still don't know which direction west is!". Why can't someone invent a software update for Google so it's friendly to those of us who don't have internal compasses? The instructions for compass-less people like me could be "look up, you should be able to see a tall building, a road, and a 7-eleven...turn and face the tall building, then turn to your right and walk straight...this way is west" and yes it would be SO EASY for Google to know when someone is compass-less. Because they walk 10 paces in one direction. Then pivot on the heel and walk 10 paces back in the direction they'd just come. Then they take 2 steps to the right, and then 4 to the left, trying to work out which way that stupid little blue dot is going. Anyway rant over. Nope, still going...OR we could just have a compass built into Google maps perhaps! Sorry, now the rant is over. ---

...anyway when I eventually have a sense of direction Google is rather helpful again.

But honestly, I didn't have significant help from a person for any part of the process of getting here. And I don't mean in no sense, of course there was the lady at Tokyo station who told me me to go to platform 18, domo arigato. And the man at platform 18 telling me to go to carriage 3, domo arigato. Then there was the train driver, thank you. Etc etc.

What I mean is, all those people were doing their thing, and I had to do my thing, on my own, to get here. No one did any of it for me, or showed me how. I had to work it out. And, for me...that! That, is the fun part.

So why is something so simple so exciting?


[My eyes are beaming right now.]

There was a time I didn't think I'd be able to do this on my own.

More than that, there was a time I didn't think I'd be able to do this, period.

There was a time I wasn't certain I'd ever leave the house again, let alone with a smile on my face. And even after I was able to leave my house I wasn't certain I'd be able to leave my comfort zone. Or at least I'd not be able to go very far out of it.

And, yet, here I am.

It's just me. And all of me, too, even the weird bent-out-of-shape and banged-up and totally-freaked-out bits...gradually breaking down my comfort zone walls to make way for new and exciting things...

...and currently thoroughly enjoying the cuteness of this place. Everything here has a magnified cute-ness!

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