Wake up call

Where did the time go? Time flew in Japan and before I knew it, it was time to go.

I tried to make the best out of it, to soak in all the inspirations the cities, temples and stunning gardens have been whispering to my ears. I am impressed by this organized chaos; in which people seem to function without ever questioning the rules and habits. As much as I appreciated and learned from the kindness, politeness and organization; I cannot help my desire to break some rules. I guess it is in my DNA, to try finding a way to sneak around established protocols, to not accept rules just because of their nature, but to be willing to understand before applying.

It is done because it is how it is done that it is how it should be done. Sometimes my tries to go around are fiasco and I gladly go back to the common root – the rule – but then my acceptance process is helped and healed by my own experience. I only want to be sure that whatever I do will work for me. I do not want to blindly accept my condition, in the name of a power or a system I either understand neither necessarily have respect for. I am not sure what it says about me, and I am not sure how I will manage to conciliate this ‘’ awakening’’ with my life once I come home; but I hope I will not give it up. I do not intend to create my own system, not even my system in the system; only to make sure that whatever system I live in, I am doing it for the right reasons. Adapting is not an issue; I actually see it as a form of flexibility and therefore a kind of intelligence; but accepting should not always be the first reaction. Analyzing should be the number one reflex, without lasting for too long. It is all a matter of balance.

I have not seen a sign of impatience, either felt any negative energy while taking the commute in Tokyo. I have been impressed by the smooth and disciplined flows of people cruising in the streets. I have been amused by the genuine excitement of people when you reply ‘’France’’ to their ‘’where are you from?’’; moved by the way kids would make contact with you. I admire the way Japanese live together, how they care for each other and how they make sure everyone as a place, a role, a mission. In shops and restaurants, you can often find an employee whose only job is to greet you welcome and goodbye.

I have loved walking in the empty streets of the business district early morning and late at night; and in the residential streets a few feet away from the busy and popular shopping streets. I spent hours in libraries and groceries stores, trying to get something out of the books covers or food packaging. I sat down in the park and observed the dynamics of people – families, friends, colleagues… I have walked until I could not feel my feet anymore, I have seen so many colors and shapes that my eyes were tired of being open, I have adapted my behavior to the surrounding energy… I have traveled and loved getting lost in those Japanese playgrounds, regardless if they were cities or parks; regardless of the weather and of the time of the day. I love Japan. I just love Japan. It has awakened things in me I was not aware of, it has taken me to a new dimension.

Satisfied, by everything I had seen and felt in Tokyo for the last two days; I slept like a baby last night. So tight I did not wake up on time for my flight to Hanoi. In a bit of a rush, I made it just on time to the airport – thanks for the precious help of my compatriot / roommate.

Hanoi is … alive. That is the least I can tell after a few hours spent in this humid, warm and interactive city. Life is everywhere, in movement, sounds and smells. Walking around the old quarter and the French quarter, I saw a mix of colors, shapes and lights so unlikely it works! After a few days spent in the kingdom of organization, the chaos of Hanoi is somehow comforting. There is no such thing as one good either right way of living; everything works as long as the participants fit in the system they are evolving in. Vietnamese children riding their bikes on busy streets, slaloming between scooters, cars and trash do not look any less happy than the Japanese kids with their perfect white socks waiting on line in front of the subway doors.

Whatever works for you.

I took a ride with a girl from the hotel: she rode; I sat at the back with her 5 years old daughter squeezed between us. The rules are simple; you shall not stop. As soon as you start the engine, you shall only pause or turn it off at destination. The traffic is busy but surprisingly fluent. Hard to figure out on which side of the road we are supposed to be. Go you own way!

Sidewalks are observing desks where people stop, eat, and talk. You do not walk there. Streets are shared between all wheeled objects and moving people; food and cheap t-shirt are to be found at every corner; all of it in an atmosphere cadenced by the continuously buzzing horns.

I sit down and observe the scooters carry too much and move quickly in all directions: Hanoi is a human sized anthill. Tomorrow I have the full day to explore the city, before heading to Sapa with a night train. I am curious to see the morning rhythm of this place which does not seem to get a lot of sleep.

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