Few places elicit the response in me the way Tokyo does, and I say this with complete realisation that I’ve ever only been to a few places outside of Malaysia. I am not by any means a well traveled person, with a few exceptions for work in previous jobs, but I will say this. No other place I have been to gives me the same feeling of liberation that Tokyo does. To hear my 8 year old tell me over his first sip of coffee, “I get it. I get it why you like Japan” and immediately plan for our next trip means there’s a vibe that transcends our generations and ages. I call it a vibe but it’s more like a total sense of place that can’t exactly be described. It just is, and while I am cognizant that some things will definitely change, Tokyo seems to be a mega-city that knows its place in the world and is actively working to be a better place for its citizens. It is not without its flaws, but everything I’ve seen points to it knowing there are issues and working to address them, which is more than can be said for a lot of other places in the world.
It was to be the first long-distance trip with the kids abroad, as we decided on this trip somewhat immediately after we returned from the one last year. The planning was crucial, not only for the itinerary and how to fill up the time so everyone would get something out of it (not that we needed to worry that much in the end) but more importantly to be sure that we could travel safely and comfortably without being at each other’s throats all the time. Traveling with family can be an ordeal if not managed properly, after all, and anyone who tells you different is lying or in denial.
We were apprehensive, because taking two kids who’ve never been anywhere but within a 4 hour driving distance (and yes, I don’t really count Singapore as international travel because we took a bus) and who already argue and fight even in trips to the local mall seemed daunting. How would we divvy up the time between showing them new things they’d like and the things we as parents love? How would sleeping arrangements work? Can we trust them not raise chaos in the orderly quiet of Japanese trains? These and more questions bugged us every step of the way as we planned the itinerary.
One thing I had to figure out when we got back was how I would write this? Probably the easiest would need to be in chronological order, so maybe someone else who’s planning to go to Tokyo and stumbles upon this blog via the magic of Google would find it useful. I don’t know how this will end, but there’s definitely some stuff in my head I need to offload here. Till the next entry!