June 2010 marked a very important time for me. For one, I finished my first semester of university studies. My GPA was above 6. I also used K-Rudd’s stimulus package to buy discount Jetstar flights to Japan.
My parents didn’t want me to go. My mother begged me to reconsider. She asked me if she could come along.
“No.” I insisted.
I needed to do this on my own.
My parents thought I needed to “wait until I had friends who wanted to travel with me.” I realised I’d probably be waiting forever, and the thought of being overseas in someone else’s pocket when I just want to be left alone, is probably not advisable for a friendship.
So I went. 20 year old me hopped on a plane and went to Tokyo.
When I got off the plane, I had to catch a train to Minowa station. I had a print-out from Google Maps of where my hostel was in relation to the train station.
I knew, based on the map, that my hostel was across from a McDonald’s.
I looked left. McDonald’s. I looked right. McDonald’s.
As I stood there deliberating, my map print out melted beneath the rain. Uh-oh.
I knew hailing a cab down was going to cost me and I was pretty poor, but the rain was getting heavy so I did.
I arrived safely at the backpacker hostel and climbed into bed. The next morning, I took a photo.
Every day, I walked and walked and walked. I got off at many places, including the Central Business District and Akihabara. I had a red wine in Shibuya so I could get free internet. I sat upstairs in McDonald’s eating a sundae while everyone smoked inside. I went to Disneyland, which involved catching a train. I drank Coke out of a circular bottle.
If I had advice for any other young people wanting to travel, I would say, don’t delay. Get out there and do it. Many countries are safe to travel to independently. You will be more likely to regret the chances you didn’t take, as opposed to the money you spent.