Sayōnara Okinawa...

You know this feeling when you come back from holiday and you're happy to be back home?

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Back to Naha town in my favorite Capsule hotel after 2 hours of Ferry from zamami Islands, I've jumped straight in the onsen.

Very relaxing after this small travel. Thats really something I enjoy in Japan : the onsen. I've been told that on my way from Kagoshima to Tokyo there is some good ones.

It's already diner time and what's best that some nice Soba! It didn't take long for me to fell asleep.

The following day Ive checked-in for my last night in a nice guest house close to the center, traditional tatami room with shared facilities, shower, small kitchen. This is like flat sharing again. For those who think Japan is expensive it cost me £20.

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The floor is all tatamis and you got a foldable futon mattress with a sheet and a blanket. It's up to you to make your bed in the fashion and orientation you want. I love it! Really comfy! I slept like a baby. I really recommend it for anyone who wants to visit Japan, at least one night for tge experience.

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Today I'm flying to Seoul to meet a couple of Friends there : Cecile and Arnaud. I'm looking forward to see them and to discover Seoul. That will be my first time there!

It's gonna be a social event in my solo traveller life! I didn't speak that much to peoples the last two weeks. But that's true that when you are traveling alone people talk to you more. 

Since I'm traveling all my landmarks have changed, from one place to another every 2-3 days. Unpacking, packing again. Im adapting myself to this new life and even after two weeks I can see that I didn't use half of what's in my bag. That make me think that you don't need much to live as an itinerant traveler : some good resistants and clean clothes, a jacket, a hat, sunglasses, some good shoes, a small toilet kit, few electronics devices to communicate and stay connected to the world. Up to you to turn it off! And thats it!

That's all I need! Less you have, less you carry, less you worry! 

My camera, my GoPro and my laptop are taking a fair amount of space in my bag, maybe more than half of it. I also have my travel yoga mat which I didn't use yet.

I'm trying to re-organize my small backpack for the next part of my adventures and I'll need to make some hard choices haha!

Since I arrived I bought only 3 things : an umbrella (then I lost an umbrella and I bought a new one, this is the umbrella chain...), my hearplugs and a small Muji toilet kit, mine was too big. 

Before leaving I found a garden on the map which was quite far, that was almost one hour of walk and of course I got lost! Haha!

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I ended up walking/climbing a hill under a hot sun. I noticed that the houses there were very simple in the way they were made... No windows...

Well that was the cemetery!

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I've finally arrived to the garden and again thought. : All that for that! A parking lot, few cars, few taxi. After buying some refreshing water I entered the garden, that wasn't only a garden!

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I was happy to discover there some pieces of Okinawa history! Traditionals houses and a zen garden. Quiet and peaceful... With many paths and bridges to walk around.

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There is two traditionals houses you can enter and visit. I was so happy that I spent my entire afternoon walking around and chilling.

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Again, I felt like I was the only one in the garden. Where are the people!

That's a true pearl! A small gem in the city! When you sit and look around you can imagine kings and queens walking in kimonos, sandals and fan. Sometimes architecture and nature are speaking to you to remind you a past that you never knew. These gardens are the memories of the city, the latest witnesses of the old Japan.

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Here I am, having my last breakfast/brunch in Okinawa! I honestly loved my time here! It's hot!  I was always sweaty, chasing the shadows on my long walks in the city and inevitably got sunburn!

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I've discovered some fantastic gardens, some curious traditions, some indescriptibles Islands and some very welcoming peoples. I've watched my first sunset in the rising country sun! I met a turtle! I had one of the best Soba in my life! I tried to be and not to do and I'll keep going. I learnt that there is so many way to communicate and to be understand, no need for a specific language. A simple smile sometime is a good start.

I'm still looking to find some questions to start to find some answers. 

During these two weeks I realized that travelling is really something I want to do as much as possible and that is totally different that "long holiday".

I want to witness unknown cultures and meet differents peoples. There is a lot of to learn from difference.

Okinawa is a mix of  the welcoming traditions of a tropicals Island and the legendary japenese hospitality.

That's a part of Japan you don't want to miss if you are traveling Japan! 

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I'm sitting now at the airport of Naha finishing this article and looking at the sky and the ocean, time to go gate 42 to a new adventure!

Sayōnara Okinawa... You've been good to me!

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Make an Island of yourself...

This morning I get up early to take the ferry to zamami Island.

Theres is something magic to jump on a boat when you are traveling, this is like a travel in the travel. It took two hours to arrived at Zamami. After checking in my new room, I walked straight to the beach to jump in the ocean. The water is green blue and 30°c.

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When I arrived I was suprised by the simplicity of zamami town, I was expecting big hotels resorts all along the cost with thousand of tourists swimming around. No, that's not what you'll find in Zamami, you'll find the opposite : simplicity and authenticity.

After almost a week in Naha town, you need some time to adapt yourself to the pace of Zamami. Just sit and relax and don't forget your hat and some sun cream!

There is two beaches 20 minutes walk from the small city, they are both beautiful and perfect for a morning bath or sun bathing, the blue emeraude ocean is singing to you a peace song to help you to be in the present moment. Luckily I found not much peoples there, that was like the ocean was mine! Alone with nature enjoying the sound of the wave, clean, clear water...   

A small paradise, an unknown destination? I found myself almost being the only occidental walking around, which increased the feeling of immersion.

The first day there I choosed to take my time and to chill around, stop doing,start being...

An immaculate sand beach is perfect for that. Leave all your electronics devices in your room and enjoy!

Put fins and mask on and go for some snorkeling to see some beautiful fishes, coral and if you are lucky you'll meet one of the local stars : The turtles!

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There is a lot of scuba diving shops around, I went to see one and we agreed to meet the following day for two dives, where I was able to meet turtles, shark and an octopus.

Dive were shallow, but no need to go deep to see amazing fishes and coral diversity.

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During the first dive we went through some narrow caves with open roof letting some godrays coming in, that was stunning. Unfortunately on the second dive, a part of my equipment failed (out of the water) and I decided that I will snorkel the following days. I was lucky to spend almost 20 minutes with this beautiful turtle and I saw some magnificents school of fishes.

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After few days in zamami, I felt really chill, peoples here are very nice and welcoming.

Close to my room there is a nice cafe where you can sit in the garden, coffee is awesome and sandwiches are really tasty! Yummy! That was perfect for lunch break, you know the break in between the bath in the ocean and the nap;) haha...and then bath again ...

This town/village really kept a sens of simplicity which I really like. There is 500 peoples living on the island and even less during off peak.

One night, I was walking in the street looking for diner, and I couldn't really find some restaurants, when I saw two peoples looking at a wall and opening the door which looked like a simple house to me. That was a restaurant! I pushed the door as well and was welcome to sit in the living room on some tatami, tv was on, open kitchen, the couple leaving here was cooking diner for the guests. I had some very nice Soba!

It remenbered me my first experience when I arrived in Japan last year, I was walking around looking for a restaurant but everything seemed to be close and hidden behind a curtain, as a shy European you need to open the door and to ask, most of the time you'll be welcome to enter to have awesome food.

when writing about Naha, I told you that music was everywhere in the street. This is the same in Zamami, regularly I can here some music and announcement while walking in the city. Every hour there is a gentle music, and sometime someone is announcing something I can't understand. Haha!

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After a day snorkeling in the water I got sunburn, so no beaches for me today, maybe tonight to watch the sunset...

Sunset time was around 6:30pm, I Walked to tbe beach and found a nice spot to enjoy it! Quiet time watching the sun going down and listening to the ocean song.

I've spent 5 days on Zamami Island and could have stay longer. I really felt in love with the rythm here, the time to be, to look at birds, ocean, fishes, clouds. That was a good time not to think, just to be one with myself. I know now almost every streets, every small hidden restaurants, where to find the turtles, when the tide is the best, I wonder if I'll come back one day...

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Here you just have to let it go and everything will follow... Time will stop... and everything will be up to you...

A Horn is ringing, this is the ferry calling us to go back to civilization. Good bye Zamami! And thanks you!!!

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Are you ready to be an island?

To plant a garden...

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

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There is this curious thing happening when you stay fews days in a row at the same place when you travel. You start to know every streets and shops around, you got news habits, peoples recognize you at the cafe and some restaurants you already been.

This morning I went to the Ferry office to buy a ticket for my trip to zamami island. A fair walk under the sun made me discover an other part of the city. The less touristic Okinawa. Like many cities in Japan, concrete imposed his style but I'm always surprise to cross a garden here and there which break the concrete monotony. I won't call that the perfect balance but the contrast is very surprising. It's like finding some small glimpses of a forgotten past.

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I've localized one of these garden on the map and decided to have a look to it. After all I don't have much to do, I'm waiting the day I'll take the ferry for my next adventure. By the way, im receiving some "big waves weather notification" from japan weather center, i hope they won't cancel it. 

First I found what I thought was the garden and I have to admit that I was quite disappointed as it was looking like a normal garden square to me. After walking a bit through it I've noticed a beautiful wall and a gate! Ha! That's the garden I was looking for!

I've crossed the gate and wah... That was like stepping in a other world, in an other time! A peaceful place where you could stay forever.

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What is the most remarkable is that even surrounded by the city the garden is keeping is authenticity. From the garden watching through the window is like beiing able to see from the other side. It's a strange feeling to watch the busy city from their.

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I've stayed quite a while walking around and chilling, watching the fishes in the pond, the turtles. This garden is like a beating heart for the city but you need to find it. It's not that far from the city center but it's almost like it need to find you more than you will find it. For a long time I was by myself walking around, some gardeners working.

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I was hungry and thirsty, time to eat something, walking back to the entrance gate I've noticed a other path I didnt follow. Ok 5 minutes just to make sure I saw everything, and I didn't. There was a garden hidden in the garden with 2 big pagodes dedicated to Budha.

The 5 minutes became an hour. Time to jump back to reality, really need to eat something, i went for a burger... But a Japenese burger, not very typical Japenese food, but that was good.

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I had to change capsule style, that was a very comfy one, I really enjoyed it! Thihs one was big as a king size, just close by a curtain.

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later that night before going for diner I heard sone noise in the streets some people were singing. Let's have a look!

I honestly have no idea of what it was, if you have any hints, please let me know!

Stop doing, start being.

So where is the Ocean, where are all these fabulous beaches I saw on googles pictures ? 

The Ocean is definitely surrounding the beautiful city of Naha but after checking yesterday at the tourism center it seem that the closest beach is 40min away by bus. The tourist officer recommended me a trip to the kerama island which I'm planning to do next week! Scuba diving Ya!!!

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I've heard that a typhoon was coming in the next days. Let see how it goes!

Today, I've decided to take a day off! Haha Yeah..

I mean not visiting much, walking randomly in the city as I like to do. Behind the market I found few typicals streets with a lot of pottery shops, workshops.

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The sun was high and no one was in the street, my guess : everyone is taking a nap!!! The cats were taking a naps.

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It's been almost a week that I arrived in Okinawa. The weather is good as the people always smiling and welcoming. Chilling around when you are in holiday is the best. No stress of what you should or shouldn't visit. By trying making the most of our time we sometime miss the most important, the now. 

 Stop doing, start being...

 When I red this sentence few days ago it seems so simple and obvious. We are all busy doing things, working, acting socially, chating, walking, always trying to find something to be busy with. When I say "we" I should say "I".

Since I've start working years ago, focusing on my career, I stopped being. I got busy over the years and I missed something essential "Being". I forgot what I really like to do. I was always aiming for better, more and better. When you think about it there is alway better somewhere and we can always get more. But that's like chasing something you will never aim.

Recently I was writing about how I've discovered meditation, in a way that make me realize that I should stop doing and start being.

That's not an easy one to recenter oneself. This might be why I choosed to travel alone, to feel and to be again in the present moment.

Being by myself force me to think silently, to look around and to be more aware of my surrounding,  to notice small things in my daily life. Travelling a new country is a way for me to shake up my cue, my habits. It's a way to meet me again, a way to be.

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On my way back, I've walked by a square garden with a giant rope.

Walking around I found few workshops, that was the Naha craft center with craft shop and workshops. I could stay hours to watch them worked. A glass-blower(not sure if its the right name in English) and a craft potter... You can book some time with them and learn how to...

If you are wondering what are these small/big statues half lion/dog you can find in front of all houses In Okinawa, they are called Shi-sa.

A protection against some evils.

You can learn to make one with the craft potter. 

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Would you try one of these workshops?

 

 

The high Castle ...

Wake up early... No not yet, still feeling the jetlag but this is way better...

God thanks to my new earplugs I could rest last night! After saying hello to the cleaning team and a good shower it's time to visit! I've heard that there is a nice castle to visit, not far.

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First, I thought that I could do the 55min walk there. After 20 minutes under the sun and 10 liters of myself evaporated somewhere, I crossed the path of the monorail! Thanks god of the monorail!!! Cheap and efficient!

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Still 15min of walk to the high Castle, going up, going up! I'm calling it like that because is up a hill. You can actually see it from the monorail when you get off.

A castle is a castle beautiful piece of history, big wall!!! Nice garden. 

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Unfortunately the castle was under renovation, but I could visit inside.  As a good French who used to live in Fontainebleau, I'm used to castle stuff, yes we got one there and it's a beautiful one, fully furnished. I think it might be the most furnish in France. No kidding.

Anyway I highly recommend!

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This is the second castle I'm visiting in Japan (I've visited one in Kyoto last year) and I've noticed that they are not really what we can call furnished. Instead you walk on the path of the king and queen in beautiful rooms withs Tatamis(for who knows me, you know that I truly love tatami and futon bed), most of them open windows to a very nice garden and some bonsai, some funny old dready tree. Beautiful and peaceful.  On your way some rooms are exhibiting old kimonos and furnitures, the tea set used to celebrate new year eve. 

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While walking outside the castle a guard called me. He wanted to make sure that I won't miss the dragon fountain where the king used to drink and explain me that I could visit as well this beautiful garden, on the left other there, few staircases... 

After thanking him, I went to the left, few staircases and discover a beautiful garden with a point of view of the city. 

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Did i mention that it was damn hot!!! Yes? It was damn hot! like my hat was melting with my hair. 

Anyway, walking in this garden, alone, meeting only some (a lot indeed) dragonflys was so relaxing and peaceful.

Oh of course, I never found the dragon king fountain...haha... Classic! 

Some Archaeological excavations ☝️☝️☝️ (when someone lost his wallet in Japan this is serious stuff 😀)

Back in town center with my favorite Okinawa transportation (yes the monorail), I'm enjoying a nice moka writing this article.

 But wait I was about to forgot my "interaction of the day" : while coming back a blind man was waiting at the crossway where a car was waiting to let him pass. The 2 girls in the car point to me and to the guy apparently asking me to tell him that the way was safe! Luckily he was speaking English haha! I think I scared him with my big voice... But he crossed the road safely! The two girls wave at me with a big smile to say thank you! 

Time to speak about food.

So far I've been lucky finding random restaurants. I'm snacking at lunch time, which is breakfast for me (you know the jetlag).

Tonight That was really good! I loved it! Good peoples, good food!!! Sometimes walking randomly give you a very nice meal! ;) The place is called 'Mahobora'. I highly recommend it if you like noodles!

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Later this night, I was at the onsen while my dirty clothes were in the washing machine. There is two baths, one is a 41°c and the other one is about 15°c. I usually only go in the 41°c which is quite relaxing. But this time I tried the 15°c, oh my god!!! So cold, slowly but surely I made it and immerse me a long five minutes in it! Victory!!! 

 Did you ever tried Japenese Onsen?

Let sea ...Okinawa ...

This time I've set my alarm clock to 8am...

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And ... I woke up at 12am, hearing the cleaning team working outside my capsule. "Housekeeping, housekeeping ...."  A cleaner is singing.

It's seem that here in Okinawa everything is related to music.

Every morning there is a very organise team cleaning and changing the sheets of every cabins/capsules. We are suppose to be out by 10am to let them work peacefully... Well, I'll try again tomorrow...

The jetlag is there and it was really difficult to sleep last night. I've forgot that sometime it can be noisy, people going in and out all night despite the tiny thin curtain you can hear everything...it remembered me to buy some earplugs...   

Today, I went to see the Ocean ... That's what I thought... 

On my way to the Ocean I cross a fabulous small garden with some really nice intricate trees... Some old peoples were playing tennis, some cats were taking a break... A cat break ... 

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Then I arrived to what I thought was the Ocean, the blue part on google map I was aiming for! You know... Well that was more a highway to the Ocean... A lot of highways indeed...

But from far I could see a rock, a big rock and on this big rock, something looking like a shrine! 

When I arrived there I found a small beach, under the highway bridge, few peoples having fun swimming in the water and playing volleyball.

I finally made it to the shrine after taking few staircases. When I enter it, not much tourists.

A couple was waiting on the side. After few minutes a priest came with some encens and start to pray with them. 

He's holding a bell and sometime he's ringing it. 

And again, and again, faster and faster, like a crescendo.

He started to sing and pray and ring the bell again...

Time is suspended, I'm thinking for whom is this prayer ? A son, a daughter ? A father, a mother...

After maybe 10 minutes the bell is not ringing anymore, the priest is quiet... 

Time is back to normal. 

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A day like that, under the sun, walking around, there is always something to look at. I really enjoy looking at people daily life and taking pictures.

It's been almost a year that I'm not taking that much pictures of peoples. I did some nice polaroid experiments but my Fuji XE-2 was on the shelf lonely. 

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Today I took few shots, slowly trying to tame my 35mm and my eyes again. I really like this focale because you need to be in the action and you need to be close to your subject, to interact and take some risk in a way. Taming the wild animal. This year was a year of reading and I red some interviews about photography with Cartier-Bresson, he was saying something like :

"It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera... they are made with the eye, heart and head."

 Yes that is true, for me there is always a story I can remember behind a photography I take. This is the moment and the now. Im not saying it's always a good story. But this moment is one shot, one clic, one story.

I ended up my day walking around in the center of the town, this is alway a special time when the sun start to go to sleep, the sky is becoming pink, the road is crowded of people looking for a place to eat.

You're wondering what this man is doing on this video.... No kidding, me too! I'll find out soon by testing these yummy cookies.

On my way back to my hotel, I found this nice and friendly restaurant. I have to say indeed that they found me haha! Most of the restaurant have a Japenese menu so it's always hard to know what will be serve, but walking by this one a friendly waiter invite me to have a look to an English menu version. A beer, some chicken and this very nice rice/eggs/pork/tofu, that was a delicious diner, eating in front of the cook at the bar doing giants flames while grilling some chicken!

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 Tell me what's your favorite Japenese food?

And yes I bought some professionals earplugs! 

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Good morning Okinawa ...

Good morning Okinawa! It's 2pm.

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After a comfortable long night in my capsule and postponing ten time my alarm clock initially set to 8am, time to wake up and explore Naha Okinawa. 

Shower, put some adequate clothes and go! 

Wait ... 

It's raining!

Damned!  Hopefully everything is ready in Japan and I could buy an umbrella at the hotel lobby. A nice transparent umbrella! 

 Ok where to go? I'm right in the middle of the city. Maybe let's have a look to the Ocean. 

A step outside... Wooow that's hot and humide, it remember Hong-kong in a way... it's around 3pm and there is no one in the city, where are the people... Certainly inside enjoying the aircon, ha wait... Working maybe !

While walking under the rain in small streets, I always choose to walk the smalls streets and I always got lost...haha... So I got lost... But while walking in the street I realize that a lot of cars were behind waiting patiently walking at my pace, so I put myself to the side to let them keep going. That's might sound nothing but for me that what I like in Japan, call that as you like, I call that Japenese courtesy. No horn, no sad face... Just wait... There is so many countries where even one car would have used his horn to warn me that I was on his way. Not here! 

That make me smile. Welcome to Japan I thought.

 After few minutes chasing for a coffee place I found a Starbucks. I know, not really typic Japenese but they have coffee and I needed my daily americano !

Originally while planning my time in Okinawa, no I'm kidding, I didn't plan a thing! Haha ...

I've finally choosed to stay around and to have a long walk in the city center. I've discover a very nice cover market which remember be a lot one I visited in kyoto, but this one seem to be way bigger with more small corner and dead ends, you can find a lot of variety of food and a lot of shop for everything. I've crossed the road of an old lady who was selling some complex origamis Tupi.

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I really like the mix of colors of the building under a shiny sun on a rainy day . From every shop you cross on the main street and under the market you can here some music wich are quite different along the walk, that give you this really funny feeling.

From afar, I see a man, salary man dancing in front of a small LCD Tv, trying to mimic the dance of a Japenese Boys band. Thay look to be a quite serious business and he's doing well haha!!!

back in the Starbucks to write this articles while looking at thr windows, the main street is crowded now, it's around 6pm and the sun is on his way to go to sleep. Through few clouds i can see the end of the light day.

This is time to find a place to eat diner. Along the street waiters are waiting to show you some menu but today I've choose to go back to eat at the hotel and enjoy a nice onsen bath.  

 Good night Okinawa...

  

The day I left ...

Time to put the hat back on.

Good bye London !!!

Good bye London !!!

After a year living in this beautiful flat in London, I'm waking up in the couch. The flat is empty, next to the fire place my 38L backpack and my scuba gear... Ready to go... 

The last few days were weird, I don't know how to explain that. I guess this is always like that when you live somewhere for a year. You want to go but you got this nostalgic feeling, maybe you don't want to stay, maybe you're only scare to go somewhere else. 

After handling the keys of my flat to the inventory clerck, last good by to Belsize park by having a nice breakfast at Gail and I jumped in the tube direction airport! I'm sitting now next to the duty free enjoying a glass of champagne to celebrate my first day of traveling :)

Not bad especially after I realize that by mistake my family name and name were inverted on my flight booking :) Finally it wasn't an issue.

After 11 hours sitting in between the airplane windows and a chatty grandma going for the first time in Korea to meet his grandson, I made it to Seoul airport. One hour after I was in a plane direction Okinawa and arrived there around 6pm, grabbed a pocket wifi(a bit expensive to hire but honestly worth it), asked for direction, jumped in the monorail while realizing that I didn't really know where I was going... finally made it to my capsule hotel, shower, something to eat ... Meditation .... Good night!  

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First night in my capsule.

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Let's grab some food.