The realization that I’m not going home anytime soon is starting to set in. I’ve never taken a vacation longer than 3 or 4 weeks and as I cross that threshold (26 days in Japan), the part of me that expects to go home and get back to work is a bit confused. I’ll admit Japan has felt more like vacation to me than a life on the road. I purchased a Japanese Rail (JR) Pass for $600 before coming to Japan which enables unlimited travel on the largest rail network here. While the freedom of unlimited travel is nice, I felt as if the little piece of paper in my pocket was compelling me to move and travel more than I would have preferred. The getting your money’s worth mentality was created with the rail pass. I have traveled like this before, in Europe and Central America, and while it does provide an opportunity to cover a lot of ground, it often prevents one from sitting still, intimately getting to know an area well. I’m looking forward to SE Asia, not having the pull to move as quickly and finding small places where I can read and write and hike and just exist. I’m hoping to find some interesting volunteer work that will allow me to become part of a community. This way I will be giving to or creating something rather than just consuming the place as a tourist.
Back to the transition aspect. There is a lot of it occurring. The 27th was my official last day of pay from IBM. I received a lump-sum but it was the equivalent of getting paid through June. I am now officially officially unemployed, drawing out of savings. I’m about to move from the peaceful, efficient and comfortable country of Japan to the chaos in SE Asia. I’m turning 30 in 4 weeks. I’m sure I could go on if I tried! I’ve talked a bit about finding my posture and composure on this trip – something that one does not need to do when on vacation because you can get back to your routine when you go home. My routine IS travel now and I need to find a balance in areas like diet, exercise, rest, work and play, just as I spent years learning to do at home. Often I meet travelers who are on 2 or 3 week trips and are trying to see it all. I feel a little guilty sitting in the hostel working on my laptop or reading, but the truth is my pace and path is my own and I have to recognize that. On this line of thought I’ve decided to park for my final 3 days in Japan in a small mountain town called Nikko, an hour and a half outside of Tokyo. I found a great inn in Lonely Planet that is in a natural setting and the resident monk holds “Zen-Yoga” classes each morning, apparently a very meditative form of Yoga with some chanting. I’m going sober while I’m here, will eat well and spend time catching up on the technicalities of living that often get overlooked while on the road… like blogging about my adventures of the past week!