Monday, May 6, 2013

The Solo Adventurer Part 1

When embarking on a solo adventure there are of course ups and downs to this type of endeavor. The ups may seem less obvious than the downs, but I would submit they definitely outweigh the downs. It's all a matter of perspective!

One of the best things about traveling alone is your timeline. You only have to follow the schedule of one person! I set out to go to Kamakura and Enoshima which are both about an hour and half from where I am in Kawagoe or an hour south of Tokyo. My goal was to leave at 9ish to arrive there by 11. I had 6 places to visit in Kamakura and then at 4 places to visit in Enoshima. I won't go into the list because, suffice it to say, only 1 thing on my entire list happened that day, BUT because I was no one elses' timeline there was no stress.

How did none of it happen you ask....well everything began all well. I took the train from Kasumigaseki to Ikebukuro (in Tokyo) and then found the train to go to Kamakura.  Well.... I got on the wrong train. It was going north instead of south and I didn't realize until I'd been on the train for an hour. Again, luckily I was by myself so the only person to be mad or irritated or laugh was me, and since I didn't care, I chuckled to myself got off at the next stop and transferred trains.

I made it to Kamakura at about 330 pm, quite a while after I wanted to be there. Since there was only one MUST SEE place I wanted to go to in Kamakura that day I headed straight for the bus stop to head up to Daibutsu or "giant Buddha". One of the largest in Japan, I originally thought one of the largest in the world...Ha!  Google "world's largest Buddhas" you'll be shocked! Anyway, this is the one thing I really wanted to see so I went to the bus stop...where I proceeded to wait for 45 minutes, all the while listening to this couple prattle on the entire time! Good thing it was just one to judge me for the continuous eye rolling I was doing to the sky. The bus finally arrived and about 65 people crammed onto a bus built for 30 and then we went to stop and go for less than 2 kilometers for an hour! You might be asking why I didn't just walk, and I would have, but I didn't know where it was and my phone was dying so I wasn't able to just google map it. Again, luckily I was by myself I could just doze in and out and ignore the woman next to me who was sitting with her back to me, with her backpack on and, said back pack, practically sitting in my lap or shoving up against my left arm repeatedly.

Finally I arrive and every single moment of the trip was worth it. What a site.

After spending about 10 or 15 minutes walking around (and charging my phone for 5 minutes in the bathroom) and taking pictures I headed down the hill. Now that I knew exactly how far away it was from the station I felt perfectly comfortable walking back to the station and stopping anywhere that struck my fancy on the way. 

First stop was to get some food, I was starving, so I did the only logical thing you do in a tourist town. I bought what I saw everyone carrying around with them. A big ass rice cracker. It was 250 Yen, but well worth it. Yummy!

As I was walking down the street, peeking into various storefronts I saw a sign for a shrine. It was about 5 and everything would start shutting down around 6, but it was enough time to look around. The shrine I found was called Hasedera Temple, it was beautiful! What a find. As I was planning this trip I kept getting confused looking at the map because of all the swastikas all over the place, before I remembered that before Hitler took the symbol and nearly irreparably harmed it's meaning. The swastikas I kept seeing meant there was a Buddhist temple or shrine there! It didn't click until I was at Hasedera Temple and saw this:

After I left Hasedera all of the temples and shrines were closing. I walked into a couple of shops (again benefit of being by myself) and then found myself at the beach! I didn't realize I was that close! What a find :)

I got to stop and chat with a young couple, maybe the same age as my students. They needed someone to take a picture of them. That was probably one of the greatest highlights of the day. I miss talking to random strangers (yes I do that) and making small talk. This gave me the opportunity to actually speak with someone! 

By this time the sun was setting and I was starving and exhausted. I was going to have to forgo my trip to Enoshima and do it another day. There was a Turkish restaurant I saw when I got off the bus, so I went there. I've always wanted to try Turkish coffee and I was determined to also try lamb again, even though I've hated it every time I've eaten before. End results Lamb - 0, Turkish coffee - .5 But the owners were really nice the hummus was AMAZING and the beer was good. So with a full stomach I made the 2+ hour trek home. Mostly without incident and before midnight. 

So those positives and negatives...well as long as I'm not with someone who gets irritated about getting lost, I guess the trip would have been better with someone; however, that will not discourage me from taking another solo trip. Stay tuned for Solo Adventurer Part 2.


  1. Thanks for sharing Lee Ann! Love knowing what you are up to! - Michelle