Sometimes when you’re homesick and nothing is working to keep you motivated and happy, you need to do something out the ordinary. Similar to most of you, I decided to go traveling around Japan for spring break. Even though I love Awaji, every now and then I get island fever.
I prepared for this trip a few weeks beforehand to go to Hiroshima, Miyajima, then bike Shimanami Kaido (from Onomichi to Imabari), and finish the trip in Matsuyama. With my teachers and friends’ help, I had planned how I would get everywhere and go to everything I wanted to see. The only problem was that I didn’t want to do it alone. Besides moving ½ way around the world, this would be my first trip traveling alone.
I honestly didn’t book the hotel until the night before because I was avoiding going. Have you ever wanted to do something, but were also scared of the unknown? Will I really be safe? Will I be lonely? Who will I meet? Worry. I recently learned that if you can’t do anything about it, why worry? If you can do something about it, why worry?
Eventually I packed my suitcase, got on the bus to get off Awaji, and faced my fear of traveling “hitori de.” After deciding I would be an American tourist on this trip, I went to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park. I loved it! I had forgotten how taking pictures at new places made me happy. I had Vietnamese food for dinner and hung out at the infamous foreign bar called, “Mac.” The owner speaks English and his cool bar is filled with over 8,000 CDs. Here I had met an ALT who biked the Shikoku islands before. He told me that even if you’re tired and want to quit, don’t. “The sights are so beautiful, keep going so you don’t miss them!” That night I booked the hostel for my finish line in Matsuyama and decided I would bike the islands on Friday.
The next day, I went to Miyajima and made a friend for the day. It was so much fun, and unexpected. We got along great and were able to do everything on my checklist. This included things like, “Pet a deer,” “See the Floating O-Tori,” “Eat oysters,” “Hike Mt. Misen.” On the hike, my new friend constantly reminded me to “Slow down! It’s not a race. You can stop and take picture if you want. It takes two seconds.” This got me ready for my bike ride the next day too.
Finally, the big day had arrived. I sat in a café for a long time during breakfast because I had to mentally prepare for this ride. It is 70 kilometers and would take me about 7 hours depending on stops for pictures, complications, and the unknown. I did it in 8 hours and didn’t even use my iPod! I just enjoyed the beauty of the ride the entire time. After the longest day adventure of my life, I rewarded myself with a relaxing bath at the infamous Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama.
I was so blessed to be able to go on this excursion and proud of my accomplishments. It helped that every person I met served a purpose and I never once felt lonely at all. I was able to do and see everything I wanted to. The memories I created will last a lifetime and I now have a newfound love for traveling alone! I’m sharing this story in hopes that you too will face your fears, however big or small they may be, because you never know what unexpected surprises lie ahead.