Casually. As one does.
My weekend jaunts to Asia have become somewhat of a running joke in the family. The response now to any last-minute travel announcements is ‘Ah! Casually, as one does” followed by a cheeky grin and a wink.
I mean, it doesn’t make sense to go to Thailand to dive without stopping by Seoul to check in with my friends and well, if I’m stopping off in Seoul, I might as well drop by Tokyo while I’m at it, right?
Admittedly, it wasn’t quite a casual as I’ve made it out to be. Two close friends and I were planning to participate in the infamous Rickshaw Run (a competitive adventure that sees teams racing rickshaws across India) however the plans fell apart and I was left with three weeks of booked holiday and no idea of where to go. I probably should’ve gone and explored somewhere new, Africa or South America perhaps, but long story short, while I could blame work pressures (of which there are many!) and a lack of time to organise, the reality was that I was so worn out, the prospect of gallivanting off to some unexplored territory just wasn’t quite floating my boat….is this what getting old is?
Two weeks of ‘relaxation’ in Seoul and a week of diving in Phuket saw me finally ticking off one of my long standing travel goals by visiting Jeju and completing one of my 2016 goals of completing my PADI Advanced Open Water qualification. Looking at my work planner and back at my travel schedule…there was just enough time to drop by Tokyo on my roundabout return to London.
Of all the cities to visit, why Tokyo? Well, I have a special place in my heart for Tokyo. To anyone who asked, my reasoning was visiting my best friend Amanda who lives there. I was also craving sushi, I can’t seem to buy reasonably-priced matcha in London so was on a matcha mission and perhaps most importantly, I was running out of my favourite fine line pens. Not to mention the fact that I’d be ticking another box for my 12in12 challenge. In conclusion, it was a win-win decision.
I took an overnight flight from Phuket via Bangkok and landed in Tokyo in the early hours of the morning. Dazed and sleep-deprived, I lugged my two rucksacks from the airport into the city, staggering into my beloved 100 yen sushi restaurant in Shibuya for breakfast. Seven plates of sushi later, I was a new person. I thought my seven plates was a good effort but I got out-eaten by the 6-year old next to me who managed a whopping thirteen plates. Shamed and full but still dazed, caffeine was next on the agenda. With time to kill while I waited for Amanda to finish class, I sat in the Starbucks overlooking the Shibuya crossing sipping my green tea matcha latte and writing my travel diary – utter peace. This was what I’d been needing.
I did have to laugh though – “why?” you ask. You know how when you order in Starbucks, they ask for your name and write it on your cup as part of the whole personalised service business. Well, after giving my order (*in Japanese I might add*) to the barista, she’d asked my name and I told her my name was Anna. She nodded and proceeded to write on the cup, then went off and made my matcha latte. When I got my cup…
A few hours, 2 lattes and half a pen later, I got the text from Amanda saying she was out and she’d meet me on the way home.
By the time we finally made it home, I was utterly shattered so I had a nap. You know true friendship when you can wander into a their house, drop your bag, help yourself to whatever is in the fridge then promptly get into their bed and go to sleep. With a full weekend of shopping and spa visits ahead of me, I’d be needing my energy.