Looking back, it was the little things, the unplanned moments, the unexpected ones, the ones that absolutely took my breath away. These were the ones a photo wished to but could never capture. The times I learned something new and where I learned more and more about myself. The moments where my mind simply wandered and drifted away. These were the ones of total serendipity that truly made me reinvigorated and lustful for life. These adventures were simply, magical.
I spent the last day in Tokyo alone, in the middle of the busiest intersection in the world among hundreds, if not thousands of people.
Among the organized chaos, I felt at ease marveling at the vastness of this world. I enjoyed the solitude, the alone time to process thoughts and come to conclusions on the important questions in life like, ‘How much money did I just spend on sushi last night?! Did I turn off the stove? Kidding. The questions were more like, ‘Who am I am? Who are these people and what’s their story?’
If you’re wondering whether my adventure got any lonelier, get this.
I spent my last night in Japan sleeping in a Hotel Capsule. I’d always been fascinated with this unique Japanese concept of a bedroom that looked like a drawer, so I decided to try it out for myself. Oddly enough, It was the best night of sleep I had in Japan.
That day, I met with Fumiya, a Japanese friend I’d made back in the states during a college gig as a guide to international students studying abroad. Fumiya was shy, extremely polite, and nice, as expected by Japanese cultural standards.
He showed me all around Tokyo. We had unagi for lunch in a department store, gazed at teenage girls in Harajuku, nerds in Akihabara, and all of Japan in Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine. For dinner, he took me out to one of his favorite restaurants, Sorano Shubuya, an elegant restaurant that welcomes you with running water beneath stone steps as you walk into a dimly lit interior with amazing ambiance.
Throughout the day with Fumiya, it was obvious something was on his mind.
He later revealed at Sorano Shibuya that he wanted to leave Japan.
‘But why?’ I asked. ‘You’re living in one of the most desirable countries in the world!’
He fantasized leaving his corporate job, his entire life in Japan, and everything he had worked for. Fumiya was tired of societal expectations and the upcoming exam he had to study for on top of long work hours. He also mentioned how difficult it had become to date in Japan (its birth and marriage rate just hit an all time low).
Fumiya craved new experiences and ADVENTURES.
As much as he’d traveled to more places than I had, he wanted more. Fumiya thirsted for adventure and his excitement showed when he was able to practice his English with me.
Here I was, in Japan with a friend I hadn’t had a conversation with in years. Yet he POURED his feelings out to me, as if I had THE ANSWERS he was looking for.
This is one of the things I absolutely love about traveling. There is some magic in the air, where your guard comes down and the anxieties disappear.
I thought about that conversation for awhile. It reminded me that no matter who we are or where we are, we’re all just trying to figure it out. When we reveal these things to one another, perhaps a friend or a complete stranger while traveling, that’s when we truly connect. And then you don’t feel so alone in the world.
Since that day, I haven’t heard from Fumiya, but I’m rooting for him.
Tulum + Cancun
GET TIFF MEOWIED 😺💍was the motto of the bachelorette trip.
What started off as smooth sailing on a boat to celebrate my cousin Tiffany getting married, quickly took a wild turn.
We were somewhere we shouldn’t have been.
My cousin Ashley, the cab driver and I ended up in ‘Region 221’, a ghetto neighborhood outside of Cancun. Ashley’s iPhone was stolen just a few hours beforehand in a touristy nightclub in Downtown Cancun and we had tracked its location down to ‘Region 221’. But that’s a story for another time that you can read about here.
The Yucatan Peninsula is filled with tons of cenotes (natural swimming holes), many of which are underground.
Tiffany (the bride) and the nine of us climbed down a hole to the very bottom of our first cenote, Ik-Kil Cenote.
Next was Cenote Tankach-Ha, a unique cenote which leads you down a set of spiral stairs and two diving boards (20 feet and 40 feet).
Tiffany finally found the courage to attempt the 20 foot jump despite her fear of heights!
After a lot of hesitation, turning around, then turning back to jump, a crowd of about 15 people had gathered to cheer her on! Finally, Tiffany conquered the cenote and jumped off the 20 foot ledge into the water!
And then I jumped too, just for the thrill of it.
And we did this again and again exploring more hidden gems in Tulum and Cancun.
After nonstop activities, exploring underground caves, surviving a failed iPhone rescue mission, I was happy I was alive and safely back at the wellness retreat Papaya Playa Project.
I was relieved to finally lay down on the beach in Tulum and listen to the crashing ocean waves…
Sequoia + King’s Canyon National Park
Towards the end of the year, I satisfied my quench for adventure with a spontaneous voyage into the wilderness of Sierra Nevada with Josh.
I hiked alongside grand ancient trees and into a vast meadow of shoulder tall flowers.
Around the bend of Generals Highway, we hiked half a mile down into Crystal Cave, a cave in Sequoia National Park.
Due to efforts to conserve the natural rock formations, the cave is only accessible through guided tours in the springtime. During the tour which was like a mix of earth science and geology class, our tour guide caveman mentioned this was one of the 240 known caves in Sequoia National Park.
Who knew caves existed here?! There’s so much natural beauty and wonderful hidden places in the world near and far. It’s easy to miss it..
The year started off strong with conquering Mt. Wilson with a bottle of champagne at the top.
The momentum carried over 5,520 miles onto the other side of the world, underneath the cherry blossom trees of Kyoto. Making Kobe proud and experiencing the richest steak in Kobe. On the sands of Pismo Beach, I took my new Subaru on her first adventure ever and was pulled over for speeding on the beach! From getting out of a speeding ticket there, exploring underground caves with the cousins I grew up with, escaping the ghetto of Mexico, and forming new and rekindling old relationships, it’s been one hell of a year. And it’s not over yet because I still have one more adventure left for the year (Hello East Coast!)
As I come to the end of reflecting on 2018 adventures, I feel more than ever inclined to keep this sense of childlike wonder alive!
Here I am blogging and pondering the questions of life, alone again, but this time I’m not at Shibuya Crossing. I’m in my room. And I’m wondering, ‘How much did I spend on sushi last night? Did I leave the stove on? Who am I? Who are these people and what’s their story?’
Where to next?