NOTE: This blog post was written over the Pacific Ocean at an hour of day that can only be classified as “ungodly.” The title is a bit misleading, too, as I slept 6 hours last night and woke up at 3:30 am. My body is a horrid mess of hormones and counter-acting synapses that only want to destroy me. This isn’t so much dipping a toe in the water as it is cannon-balling in wearing a weighted vest. Enjoy!
Call this a practice run. I haven’t written on a keyboard in over two weeks and this is meant to grease the wheels and get me back into a solid typing flow.
As of writing, it is late in the night. Not sure of the hour since I’m crossing the International Date Line. My plane seat is floating somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. If we crash no one would find us. I imagine everyone else is doing their best job to sleep and ignore that fact, since this is a 12 hour flight from Beijing to LAX.
Not me, though.
My mind is too full and I needed to get something on the page. I’m using my Kindle Fire HD with AGPtek Stand Case with Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard (Amazon). It’s not entirely efficient but is getting the job done. The keys are a little too close together for my tastes but in the past I’ve found I strangely work better on smaller keyboards. It’s when the keys are too spread out that my fingers flop over each other like a disabled spider. When I got my first MacBook Pro? That was a nightmare.
This one’s keys are perhaps a millimeter or two off.
I’m not a travel writer. I don’t claim to be and I won’t ever claim to be. I’d sooner leave that to the Dan Flying Solo‘s and the (Arizona native. wOOt wOOt!) The Blog Abroad‘s of the world. No, that’s not what this is.
As previously stated it’s some unholy hour over the Pacific and I just spent two weeks in Asia.
More specifically, the Philippines (Manila), Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh), and Japan (Osaka, Lake Biwa, Tokyo). Call it a late 30th birthday present from my wife and I to ourselves. We work a lot, mostly insane hours, so this was a blow-off to the early years of our relationship. Japan was the original plan but Manila and Ho Chi Minh city were added on allowing us to visit family and for her to return back to the motherland. As a young Filipino woman, she used to declare she’s never been to the Philippines.
She’s been home. I don’t want to say too much about her familial encounters, because I do believe in a sense of privacy to some extent on this blog where I shout into the inter-aether, but I will say when we flew away from the Philippines, that moment will never leave my mind.
What to say?
I used a Field Notes Coastal Edition inside of a Robrasim Leather Journal Cover (Amazon) and shoved everything I could in there. Boarding passes. Cash. Receipts. Paper clips were required to cinch them on to the pages of the corresponding dates after a while because after dropping all the documents inside onto the floor, that was enough. I wrote down events and feelings for each day of the trip.
Can I say that it was amazing? Is that too blunt? See, if I was a travel writer I’d have better words, but no. Not here.
The food and people were something entirely different than what I could have expected. They have a life-sized, transforming Unicorn Gundam and a woman who vacuums the stairs in the underground metro. This is a city that gave me my first Pokemon GO 5-Star Raid victory.
I’ve admired Japan for a long time. Since I first discovered what anime was and where it originated. That seems simple, and nerdy, which it is, but whatever fuel moves the machine is perfectly acceptable.
I felt engrossed and bewitched by their culture thanks to the variety of shows and books ingested through my childhood until the present. Their food. Even the smallest samplings of what they offered was enough to make me want to go.
So, we did.
Now, what did I take away?
That’s the biggest thing about a trip like this. I hope anyone able to get away from their normal comfort zone for a few days or weeks comes back different. I hope they learned something, either about themselves or the world. You can’t just see another way of life and not think, “Wow. This is entirely not what I normally see. How can I change to make my life reflect this and absorb it like a fleshy solar panel?”
Or some variation of that.
I warned you. Terrible travel blogger.
The one point I kept coming back to as I filled out my Field Notes was this: There’s a level of caring and attention to detail in Japan’s everyday life that I’m not used to.
Its not just that everything is much cleaner and they give you warm towels at the beginning of every meal in a restaurant. Or that, and I believe this bears repeating, they have created a job within their infrastructure that allows someone to vacuum the stairs in the subway.
See, it’s more than that.
The desserts, the way everyone dresses when they leave the house, how couples coordinated their outfits at Tokyo DisneySea, or the way the city grid is laid out so everyone knows what side of the sidewalk to walk on. Its planned and organized so everyone can do their best work without having to worry about where to walk. Walking? That’s inconsequential. Work!
This is getting a bit rambly, but I want to nail this point.
You have to care about what you do.
If you want to have any progress, either in life or your career or in your hobby, you have to care. You have to put in the time. That takes conscious, real world thoughts and actions. Things don’t just happen. You actively make them happen. And if you do?
You get something great.
That’s what I got from Japan.
But, seriously, what the hell even is Duffy?
It feels good to be back.
Thanks for reading,
Check out mine and Arnie Bermudez’s webcomic, The Juan!