A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

After 17 days in rainy season Japan, here we are in an Asian resort with sun and sand at our feet; not to mention actual beds!! But, as always, after a couple of days, once we have sampled all the activities and gone to the pool a few times, we get bored. I am an avid reader so one would think I would love to sit on the beach or by the pool to read, but here are the problems with doing this: 1) need to find a shady spot, 2) even in shady spot, I burn, 3) need to find lots of potable water (coconut is great, but can be pricey and really, there just isn’t space for this large fruit on my small lounge chair), 4) need to find close toilet (and this is a whole other problem when one has a fitted one-piece suit, especially one that tucks in certain less aesthetic body parts), and not to forget, 5) sand everywhere!!!

So, you can imagine that after a couple of days, I’m ready to move on. This time, I tried to stretch my activities on the resort by having a lengthy body massage (in a proper spa room) the first day, meeting some employees of Justin’s on the second day (in a mall where we also went early to see a movie!), going to the gym with my son the third day and fifth day, taking two-hours dinners in a different restaurant every night and also taking long detours wherever we need to go. And, even though I am working for a few hours every day as well as reading books, I have never seen so many cooking episodes on TLC. I can truly say that I am fully ready to go home, red skin and all.

But don’t get me wrong, the resort is quite nice and they do offer many activities, I am just not one to go snorkeling, boating or fishing. And leaving the resort can be a bit scary. It did remind us of certain parts of India and our 14 km taxi ride took over an over in overcrowded, unkept roads. I probably would not come back here unless I was traveling to a destination in close proximity to Cebu, but if I were to come back, this resort is the perfect getaway… for a few days. And I must say that Filipinos are very charming and welcoming; this, I will actually miss!

Tokyo feels much more like a regular big city than the other Japanese cities we have visited so far. And when I say big city, I mean a city with dozens of districts, crazy shopping, and Time Square-like lights and billboards. To be honest, I miss the beauty of Kyoto with its traditional ways and simple beauty.

I haven’t mentioned yet how smoking is still quite prevalent in Japan, and it feels like this is even more noticeable in Tokyo. Every restaurant has a smoking area (although enclosed) and so do trains!! There are still smoking wagons on every train which is very odd for North Americans.

Also, in Tokyo, the Japanese do not seem to follow the same etiquette as in Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nara or even Nikko. We have been refused entry in many restaurants which did not seem reserved and were certainly not full. I have felt, on more than one occasion, like the locals preferred not to deal with us. We are far from boisterous and are always very polite, so I’m not sure what problem they see with us, but in the end, we simply do not feel welcome.

And, there is the problem of rubbish. This is not a Tokyo problem, but a Japan one where bins or recycling containers simply cannot be found. There are some, although very few, in stations and are solely for the purpose of recycling your plastic bottles. We have gathered that eating in public is not acceptable so if bins are to be found, they will be right beside a vending machine or restaurant. But, what is really startling is that everything you buy, and I really mean everything, is individually wrapped in plastic and then put in plastic bags, so rubbish accumulates quite quickly and for tourists on the go, our pockets are full to the brink every single day. There must be a more ecological way to buy groceries and trinkets, but we haven’t found it yet.

Furthermore, we are not sleeping well. Since everything is so expensive in Japan, we had to find more affordable accommodations which meant we would be going the Japanese-style route with mats on the floor. What seemed like a fun idea at the time became a sort of body torture after a few nights. In Hiroshima, we had some sort of mattress on the floor so although it was hard getting up and down, once down, we slept fairly well. In Kyoto, we had a kind of box spring on a bed frame but as we had extra futons, we piled them up on our beds and slept quite comfortably. But in Tokyo… we only have a very soft, very thin futon that is directly on hardwood floors. I have bruises on both my hips from sleeping this way and my whole body feels like knotted muscles every morning.

I really am trying my best to enjoy every minute of this trip, especially as chances are very high that I will not come back to Japan and that since our daughter is starting University next September, she may not be as inclined to travel with us in the future. This being said, I realize that when one is not sleeping well, everything else is that much more difficult.

We have had some amazing adventures in Tokyo, but was I to redo this trip, I believe I would find a homestay in another city and travel as a day-trip to Tokyo, even doing it twice if I felt like it. With bullet trains and great ground transportation, it is easy and quick enough to travel from one city to the next. (And we have found a teleport station in Tokyo so travel can really be lightning fast 🙂 ). This is my opinion, of course, as I’m sure others would prefer the big city lights on a daily basis to a more subdued area, weary bones or not haha.