It feels like it was just yesterday when I was rushing through packing for my leisure-and-conference trip to Tokyo with my good friend and colleague, Reni. That happened five days ago. As I am writing this, I am actually on my way home alone, just as Reni is on her way to her next destination alone. I am physically exhausted, but my mind is racing with thoughts of yesterdays. I can’t stop thinking that it was just less than a day ago when Reni and I were nervously but proudly presenting Malaysia’s national park system and Kinabalu Park to a group of people who had come from different countries, and it was just a few hours ago when we took part in the Japanese dance during the conference dinner, and had pleasant conversations and shared laughter with some of the attendees.
It was just two days ago we went to Saitama to see the Chichibu festival (one of the three biggest floats in Japan) with our research friend, Tom, and four other people, and saw things that I had not seen before, tried things that I had been curious about, such as sake. That festival presented a golden opportunity to understand a small part of the Japanese cultures and watch people!
It was just three days ago Reni and I took a day tour to Mount Fuji and Hakone, and had an up-close view of the national symbol of Japan covered in snow for the very first time. It seemed to be at peace, as if it was taking a long break for the winter, like a wise old man with a long white beard sitting quietly after a long day, contemplating the future. Reni, we will be back to conquer the mountain, yes?
The return to Tokyo by the Shinkansen bullet train was a unique experience in its own right. It was just four days ago when we arrived right after midnight, took the train to the station nearest to our hotel, got lost looking for it, but eventually found our way with the help of some very kind Japanese. It was truly a blissful moment to be the only strangers wandering in the middle of nowhere in this metropolitan city after midnight when it was cold and silent, and when most of the very people who ‘owned’ it had already retreated to the dreamland… and now I am almost home…time flies, doesn’t it? One day, you are just getting ready for it. Then the next thing you know, you find yourself looking out of the plane window, staring blankly at the skies, and reminiscing the beautiful past. I would like to think that is one of the very beautiful things about travel. It is not just about exploring places, or learning new things. It is a supreme creator of long-lasting memories that no one can take away from you. The time spent becomes very precious. This Tokyo trip is short, but it is certainly one of the most memorable ones. That reminds me of a saying by Abraham Lincoln ‘In the end, it is not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years’. It is not the length of a trip that matters; it is the memories you are creating. I would like to dedicate this piece to Reni who has been my lost-and-found good friend, a wonderful and dedicated colleague, and one of strongest women I have ever known. Keep travelling, my friend! The world is our classroom! Kampai