Quite a few, I'd say:
Early in the morning, I hopped the flight to Narita, Japan. Kate and Lane had spent a day in Tokyo and were wishing they could stay and see more (another adventure for another time)! They met me at the gate and we booked into a hotel in Narita - the name of the airport and also a small, pretty community nearby.
[Image = garden at traditional Japanese inn]
With some time to spend before the long flight to Toronto, we wandered around a grand old temple with gardens that will be exquisite in the spring and had lunch in a small local restaurant. We were the only foreigners there and folks watched us with interest as we ordered sushi and other goodies and handled the chopsticks well. We sat on the floor - unlike the other patrons who had secured the more comfortable western tables and chairs. When the meal was over, I said to the one man who was most interested in us, "we're from Canada". "Oh! Canada" he exclaimed... "Vancouver? Olympics?" "Yes, Vancouver Olympics!" we said... and everyone at his table laughed and smiled and waved to us. Seems to me that no matter where your interests lie and no matter how closely you follow the winter games, they are a real icebreaker!!
[Image = Courtyard, Shinto shrine]
The flight between Japan and Toronto takes about 14 hours going west and blissfully less when coming back the other way. We were grateful to get standby seats and even more grateful for having taken carry-on luggage. To think that we could manage such a long trip with so little and without buying much; for me, this is a new travel era to be sure!
Landing in snowy Toronto was a relief and a wonder. Just a few hours before we'd been in Narita eating sushi with chopsticks! Getting into North Bay took some time as the flights were heavily booked but when we finally landed, that windy, white, blowing runway was a pleasure to see. Coming home makes you wonder if you ever were away at all. It seems like such a miracle that we can go so far so fast.
Thinking back, I'm amazed we did and saw and learned so much. From the bustle of Bangkok to the simplicity of the monks praying in the temples, from the rush of busy highways to the serenity of the towering hillsides and white sandy beaches, we experienced so much and there is still so much more to see. I think the one thing that stands out for me about Thailand is the constant reminder of spirituality and faith. There is always a small shrine with flowers on it, always someone expressing their devotion in prayer, in the wearing of ceremonial clothing, and even in the greetings which bring the hands together in such a genteel salute. In a country that finds itself redefining its society in the face of social change, industry, and the influx of strangers... one is always aware of the comforting presence of God.
Thanks for coming on the journey with us! Lynn
[Image = Lynn swimming]
- She's probably talking about Narita New Town when she says "small, pretty community" nearby; that's because Narita is more or less Newark to Tokyo's Five Boroughs.
- She seems not to figured out that the people at the sushi place were staring and pointing at her because she made a ridiculous spectacle of herself; Lynn seems to be under the impression that the people at the restaurant will remember the day some idiot Westerner they've never heard of (and who blended in with all the other moron tourists they've ever run into) showed up for the rest of their lives. The notion that they will tell their impressed grandchildren about her seems somewhat farfetched; what seems far more likely is that they forgot her about a day later.
- New travel era, she says; what rock did she just crawl out from under, says I! People have been traveling like this for donkey's years.
- Marveling at the snow when you were in a subtropical climate hours before might have seemed miraculous in the days of steamships but in the jet age, it's not such a miracle.
- Given that we've learned a lot about Thailand because of her mistakes, she's right in all the wrong ways about learning a lot.
- That last passage about the importance of spirituality reminds me of that episode of the Simpsons that had Bart explain that on December 25th, people of all faiths gathered together to worship Jesus Christ. The same nebulous belief in the importance of faith and ignorance of other faiths shines through both passages.
- Finally, thank God this crap is over with; if I ever see another candid snapshot of Lynn in a bathing suit, it'll be twenty thousand million years too soon.