A few thoughts on traveling…. and then writing about it.

Although I only have 8 entries here I have been blogging for quite a while. I have a travel blog filled with adventure at http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/13thlayer/2/tpod.html. That was the second blog I wrote about my travels, the first was my travels and experience as a teacher in Panama. I am not posting the link to that because it is not really all that good but it’s easy to find if you are interested. I had very little money and spent way too much time working that year. I switched over here because I like the flexibility of the format a little better and it has never crashed midway through loading the pictures causing me to start over again. WordPress can be a little confusing at times, I still have no idea where the spell check is on the new posting format. So I hope I  have been good at catching my mistakes so far. I probably haven’t. I have been blogging even longer then I have been sharing my travels. I like writing and usually feel compelled to write. I sometimes write fictional but I have really enjoyed documenting my experiences as I travel. It is a nice way to share with others and a great way to document my time to look back on in the future.

Until recently I was getting the blog out within the week I experienced the adventure but something about my Japan trip changed that. I was not really ready to admit it at first but the more I thought about it the more I began thinking I should. Today I finished the blog about my Japan trip and I tried to be as detailed as possible but 2 months have passed since I experienced it and I am sure some details were forgotten. I am eager to start writing the couple adventures I have had in Hong Kong since but I have not been able to get excited about writing about Japan. I needed to write about Japan to be able to feel okay to move on to more recent experiences.

I went to Japan alone. Now I have traveled alone before and thought my prior experience meant I was ready to go solo. I wasn’t. I had experienced several experiences traveling with people and I had a blast with them and I found myself really missing my companions. Now I have read a lot of travel blogs since where the write is on a solo adventure and they meet new people. Had I been meeting new people and more up for traveling that way I might have had a different experience. This might come as a shock to those who know me but I am not really all that great at starting conversations with people I don’t know. At a new job, yes, because we have something in common. At a hostel? Well I guess the answer is no. The one night I had in Osaka was because a Canadian struck up a conversation and slowly more and more people joined in. I also had the help of some liquid courage and my shyness kind of faded. What I really needed to do was spend more time being social at the hostel. I was there every night almost but I did not seek out any new acquaintances and looking back I know this is where I went wrong.

I also was battling the confusion of constantly feeling lost. I asked for help but my non-Japanese speaking ability does not help when everyone I spoke to had no real English ability. I ended up giving up and venturing out on my own. I was getting the hang of it by the time I left but it did not help while I was wandering lost. I really do expect to be able to navigate competently because most of the time I can figure things out on my own. There have been two places that I really felt turned around and one was in Ireland (but I was with my dad) and the other was Tokyo. I was totally oriented in Osaka but hopelessly disoriented a lot of the time in Tokyo. It helps to have a friend to figure things out or enough of the country’s language to really understand after you ask for help.

Then there was the unreal expectations I set for myself of seeing more then I actually could. If you look at my blog you might see that I left early and I came back late everyday. I was going 18 hours a day and I fit a lot in. There really is no way to spend 4 days in Tokyo, make that 3 days in Tokyo (one was on a bus to Mt. Fuji), and manage to see everything. I wanted to see so much more but that just means I have to go back one of these days. I knew this but I still felt super disappointed by all the things I did not see. I could make a giant list of all the things I missed but in reality I missed things because I chose to see other things.

I hit a funk when I missed my plane to Tokyo and that really colored my view of things. It was something that I am just barely realizing was not a terrible thing. It made for an interesting experience and story. I would have loved to have made that plane but I didn’t and for whatever reason I felt like I was playing catch up the entire time I was there. I was racing the clock and I was also kind of stealing the enjoyment out of the experience of navigating the city. I needed to get out of my own head and stop for a minute and just enjoy where I was. I was able to do that as I wrote the blogs. I sadly was not able to do that until then.

On my last day I managed to wake up and regroup. I was ready for the day and the exploration and things were going well. Until my camera lens broke. That thing kind of ended my good feelings. I managed a good day but it had started out so great. I wish I knew where my other lens was so I could have just swapped lenses earlier and know it was the lens and not the camera. I hope my other lens is in Oregon because it is not here. This mishap actually made me realize how much nicer it would have been to have a Canon or Nikon. The lens options were plentiful for those cameras and less so for my Sony. They were there but they did not have cheap options. Mind you, had I not bought the Canon camera I could have got a better lens for the Sony. A brand new lens, but in reality, I did not like the options in that higher price range either.

When I went to write I had a hard time pushing through the 4 days in the Tokyo area. My method of writing is to get back into that mind set and try to remember and the truth is I was unhappy. I was unhappy in one of the places I was dying to go to ever since I started thinking of traveling the world. This kind of made me feel like I failed.

The truth is…. I had. When you are traveling you need to be ready for things to go wonky and for whatever reason I wasn’t. You also need to be able to allow yourself to stop and regroup and I never allowed myself to do that. The last thing I messed up on was that I did not force myself to make new friends while I was in Tokyo or to even call on the familiar faces I had seen in Osaka. I allowed myself to become isolated and you just can’t do that. Sometimes you need to forget the schedule and the myriad lists of things still unseen and stop. You stop and you remember to live. You stop and take the time to enjoy the experience. You stop and meet someone new. Everybody in a hostel is there because they love to travel…. so there is your commonality.

I am glad I had the experiences I had, both good and bad. Now I just need to remember to take my own advice.

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