I was awake from around 5:30. It was a good time to be awake for the trip ahead, but I didn’t want to be awake so early and so, after a quick pit stop, I climbed back into bed until nearly 6:00. I didn’t fall back into deep sleep, but was able to rest a bit more. I got up, pulled back the curtains and ushered in the the full light of the day, and settled into my devotions. I knew it was going to be a shortened version today to allow me to get some things done before heading out. There was quite a struggle, I confess, to whether I should go on this trip or not. But I really wanted to go and experience another side of the island. The only thing was that it was the first Sunday of the month which is when I’d go to church for communion. The timing wasn’t great, but I made my decision. One day at a time sweet Jesus. I was reminded that God is the master of time. He is in control of everything. So I don’t pretend to ever be in control. I’m at God’s mercy. “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/2pe.3.8.KJV.
After my devotions, I wanted to stretch my legs, but I didn’t think there was enough time to do it, so I had a shower, put on the kettle for some hot water and got the ingredients together for my green smoothie. While I was doing all this, I was wondering what to wear. I should have decided that before hand, because it usually causes me to move a bit slower. I realized I wouldn’t be able to have my smoothie and so I put it in my bag with the travel cover on it. I also made some black tea and put on my bag along with two apples. My plan was to leave home by 7:20 to get to my friend’s house at 7:45. It was already 7:15 and I finally decided what to wear. But guess what? It needed to be ironed. And this caused be to be further delayed. Of course I could have worn something else but I’d have to search for what else to wear. The long and short of that was, I ended up leaving home 7:30, and what was worse, I threw the freshly ironed short into my back, getting it all crushed. LOL. The frame of my sunglasses also broke as I was packing the bicycle basket. I’d had quite a few things in my hands, but I didn’t realise the frame was being crushed.
I got to my friends apartment and 7:50 after pedaling very hard. She was like, “Take a rest. Take a rest.” What, I thought to myself. She had set me up. She was like, “We can take the 8:45 train too. No worries.” The plan was to take the 8:07 train, but I guess she was thinking I’m tired from my bike ride. I was happy for the rest though and took the chance to enjoy my smoothie. I wasn’t sure where exactly we were going, so I felt like I was really just going along for the ride. She covered my transportation using her seasonal ticket called seishun 18 ticket, which allows five trips at a reduced cost using only the JR Line. You can use it for five people in one go, or make five different trips on different days. Cool right? The thing is that there is a fixed period in which the ticket can be used. For example the summer period goes from July 20 to September 10. This covers the school summer holiday period. The only other seasons the ticket is available for are spring and winter. We hopped from train to train to train until we got to one of our destinations, Nara. This seasonal ticket is a great way to travel and explore, at a reduced cost, if you plan wisely. It took us about three and a half hours to get to Nara from Ozone. I was not prepared for this trip at all. Usually, if I’m going so far, I’d probably have taken an overnight bus. That’s only one vehicle for the however many hours.
I haven’t been on a train for so long, in a long time. The only train I’d ever been on for over an hour was the shinkansen or bullet ttrain and it had a different feel all together. We took 3 trains in total. But of course, my first leg was the bike ride to my friends apartment. The ventilation on the two last trains was terrible. And they took the longest. I changed from the thick mask I started out with, to the cotton mask and then to the sponge mask, while fanning myself. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to see the deer and so the decision was made to change from going to Kobe to Nara. What I didn’t know was that Nara was in a completely different direction and so we had to change trains at Kyoto. While we were on our way, I said I wanted an onigiri or rice ball from Family Mart. After passing two 7-11 convenience stores and searching Google maps, we found a Family Mart inside another station. My friend said the operator said we would have to pay to go past the wicket to make a purchase in the Family Mart. This made absolutely no sense to me. But since I hadn’t been the one to talk to the station operator, I just took it as is. We had to make our way back to one of the 7-11s, much to my dismay. And what made it even worse was the fact that I didn’t enjoy the onigiri much. It was an interesting salmon, wasabi and soy sauce taste though, but not my style. It filled a gap anyway as by this time it was minutes to 12 and we were no where near our final destination yet, Nara.
Nara started off interesting, once we got on track towards the hugely popular Nara Park. You know, that ‘new feeling’. I was enjoying seeing the deer scattered everywhere. People were interacting with them and the deer didn’t seem afraid or bothered. In fact, the flip side seemed more true. People, especially some children were afraid and seemed bothered by the deer. I reasoned to myself that if people are always feeding them, then the deer would always be approaching people. And that’s how it has been for however many years. But that excitement soon changed as I realised what the deer must be going through. They didn’t look healthy. My heart was broken especially for the deer whose antlers, I observed, had been cut off. Why had such cruelty been inflicted on them? I was no longer happy to see the deer in this environment. To see their dependence on ‘handouts’. I found myself apologizing to the deer, especially those whose antlers had been removed. I started to experience frustration and I couldn’t help my feelings for the deer. Later on whole we were making our way through the underground crossway, my friend pointed out a poster which showed that the deer sometimes became aggressive towards people, and so we should be on the alert.
I couldn’t keep my shirt on anymore. I took it off and tied it around my neck. Can you believe it? The shirt that had started off with so much care. It was so hot, and though I was grateful for the beautiful weather, the heat was stifling at times. I wished I’d worn loose clothing. It seems like I still don’t know how to dress for the different seasons. Every season I have to re-learn and until I do, the default is always jeans. Oh boy. I observed what people had on and most persons had on loose fitting or short clothing. I didn’t have cold water with me either, but warm tea, which is technically better. I was really unprepared for the trip. LOL. But I survived. My friend and I navigated the deer to enjoy some beautiful architecture and scenes. It was a lot of of walking. I was glad that I had on my sneakers which gave extra support. To combat the heat, I moved through all the public misting stations, washed my face and at one time, wet my hair. I had brought two apples. One for myself and the other for my friend. I thought we were probably going to have lunch there but the timing was all over the place, and deer were all over us.
We had found some really nice seating near a small river area in the park. It was so beautiful and serene. While we were enjoying our apples, we had a few deers visit us. They were not easily turned away. In fact, one of them refused to go away and was literally all up in our business. My friend had to get up and take up her stuff and I had to follow shortly after. It was a bit annoying having to deal with that since I was so hungry. But I imagined that the deer was hungry too and had smelled the delicious apples. This was not an unusual thing for the deers. We observed them pestering old, young and anybody that had shika senbei or deer snacks. Yup. Therein lay the problem. Special snacks were sold to people to feed the deer with. And without going into anything lengthy, this simply meant that deer were always reaching towards people and their hands, in expectation of a treat. But the ‘treat’ included any and everything including ice-cream, paper, flyers and apples of course. Even my train pass had to be sanitizer after it found itself being sucked on by a huge deer, while we were purchasing ice-cream. I had had enough honestly. I wanted to enjoy my ice-cream in peace and so I tried to find the most isolating area as possible, away from deer. The mango ice-cream was good. A really nice flavour. I had to stand and move away to enjoy the last bit and the cone.
It was time to start back toward the station. We stopped briefly in a supermarket to get some water and then I expressed a desire for takoyaki. That’s a popular food, more like finger food, in osaka. But guess mi wah? Osaka took us even further away from the direction of home. I honestly didn’t want that, but now I really had takoyaki on my mind. And so we set off on the 15:15 bound for Osaka. I wanted to eat takoyaki really badly. As it turned out, we stopped in Namba, not all the way to Osaka station. It was all so confusing for me. But in the end we got our takoyaki and took a very touristy picture. The authentic taste was well worth the trip, but it was time to go home at last. And that was going to be a long way off.
By 17:00, I was beat and the journey home had barely started. We had over 3 hours to go and that was more like 4 hours for me, to get to my apartment. There was still the matter of getting some food to eat. I decided I’d have McDonald’s for dinner because there was nothing at all at home that I could have right away. The plan was to get a free meal as a first time user of Uber Eats with a promotional coupon from my friend. But that didn’t go as planned and caused me to be quite delayed in getting home. My friend shared her meal with me. She has truly been a blessing to me over the years. I didn’t get home until almost 23:00 by God’s mercy, as there had been such a heavy downpour for about a half an hour., just before I headed home. Once I got home, the rains came back few minutes later. It was an an awesome day! Thanks be to God for using my friend.
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