Sometimes when I am travelling things happen so fast I struggle to take it all in. This was one of those days where I ended up visiting four destinations in the space of twelve hours; Imabari, Hiroshma, Miyajima and Fukuoka.
First of all I’d like to say a massive thank you to my first couchsurfing host, 63 year old retiree Taka, for showing me around Ehime region on the island on Shikoku, teaching me so much about Japanese culture and giving me an experience beyond that of the average tourist. Taka kindly sent my baggage via TA-Q-BIN to my next destination for me, a service popular in Japan and like most things, exceptionally well run.
I boarded the bus to Miyajima at Imabari station which unexpectedly ceased at Hiroshima, a city a fair way north. This meant I now had to find my way to Miyajima by guessing Japanese signs and what people were saying. I needed to be back in four hours in order to make my bus to Fukuoka in western Japan as this was the last bus available before the bank holiday weekend. From my research I knew Miyajima ferry port is an hour away from Hiroshima by tram and the Itsukushima Shrine, which I had planned to see, another ten minutes ferry and 15 minutes walk. I’d be cutting it fine.
It was possibly the most jammed-packed day-trip of my life, spending just an hour at Itsukushima Shrine which was pretty ridiculous considering it was a three hour round trip to get there, not to mention a detour to my next destination.
Itsukushima Shrine was one of those “must get the photo” landmarks, a symbol of Japan on just about every visitors itinerary. Although I very much enjoyed what I saw of Miyajima, especially the free-roaming deer, I felt like my day was somewhat wasted doing what I thought I ought to be doing and not what I wanted to do. In hindsight, my super speedy day trip was worth it namely due to the fact I found sweet potato ice cream with a warm roasted sweet potato on top and cornflakes at the bottom – wow – but it did get me thinking….
I’ve previously discussed with others I’ve met on the road about the constant battle between doing what you want to do and doing what you ought to do. Surely a trip to France isn’t complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower, a trip to Thailand isn’t complete without stepping foot inside a Buddhist temple and a trip to Italy without having pizza, right? This is something I often question, am I doing it because I want to or because I ought to? It’s a bit like the pressure of getting myself a 9-5 job.
As I travel more, I’ve become less inclined to do something because I ought to – life’s too short – but this day was one of those rare moments and on reflection, it was so rushed and “scheduled”, I didn’t really take it all in. A little advice to all those who travel, do what you want to do and not what you think you ought to do. Seeing the world isn’t about ticking things off a list or adding to an expanding photo album, it’s about new experiences, enjoying the moment and taking it all in.
Living life, loving doing what I want to do!