You know I like to save a buck or two and it gets really ridiculous sometimes. Even so much that I rather walk for 2 hours than pay $2 for the metro fare. That is not a joke. It saves me two chocolate bars! But when you realize the time and energy it cost you before you can rest your protesting feet and growling stomach and you wolf down four times the usual portion of a bowl of noodles and you cannot concentrate on your work anymore out of exhaustion, this whole money saving business becomes a source of annoyance, But habits are hard to shake, I know this very well. So let me tel you two precautionary tales to remind you and myself how important it is to stick to reason and not give in to stubbornness. And spend a dime more here and there.
It was a brilliant day, everything so far was a blast. I had just carried the mikoshi, caught a small army of goldfish, ate my first crushed ice cream in all colours of the rainbow and hung out with Tokyo locals, getting a glimpse into real Japanese life. When it was time to go home and get things done, I figured why not take the scenic route and walk. It was only supposed to be 1.5h walk instead of a 30 minute train jump. And I am all down for walking.
Everything went swell for the first hour. The scenic route was more of a concrete parade of apartment blocks with the occasional tempting convenience store and so I pulled out my new old gameboy and played the time away. With my inner compass still working and the path being poker straight, I had nothing to worry over.
Things changed when I had crossed the bridge, found a supermarket and went shopping. Only 15 minutes towards my goal and I had the nerve to look at a map. I should add here that I have an excellent inner compass. It magically guides me to my destinations (unless it is in Tokyo), that is until I use a map. Maps mess with my head. I don’t think that’s how they’re supposed to work but that’s the effect they have on me.
And at the next crossing I turned right where I had to turn left. Don’t ask me why, I for the life of me cannot explain it. And so I walked all the way back to the bridge and realized my mistake when I finally looked up from my game and recognized passing the exact same spot (how lucky is that, recognizing a shop when you paid zero attention?!).
And when I walked the same way back, the path was more than foolproof. Just follow the train tracks, without straying this time and you’ll be fine. Walking the way back, the street turned slightly away from the tracks and remembering the map, I walked on, knowing that there would be a river, which would block me way and guide me to the bridge I needed,
The river was all good until I realized how meandering it was and I walked on for another hour just trying to not lose sight of it again. I didn’t this time (three time’s the charm) but lost my flower hair band instead. Talk about the crowning glory. My day was officially over once I entered the hostel doors.
Google Maps Reading Skills (or Lack thereof)
The second incident was just the day after. Talk about learning a lesson. I guess Karma really wanted to hammer it into my thick skull. I wanted to go to Ashikaga Flower Park and witness the remaining of the wisteria. Remains would have been a better term to describe them because there were basically none left. So after a quick stroll a sobered from believing tourist information advice blindly, I decided on saving the $7 extra train fare and walk one stop. After all, it was advertised online – but with a taxi ride.
Skip the taxi ride, I thought, my legs are all well and only hurting a little bit from the day before and google maps promised only a 30 minute walk from Ashikaga Park. If you have excellent reading skills (unlike me, apparently), you might have noticed that it was a park and not the flower park. The walk was actually 2 hours long. And there were no stops inbetween and nothing to save my hurting feet from the pain I keep inflicting on them. It didn’t really help that halfway through I bought new inlet soles from a 100 Yen shop.
And the end of the story was that I had not only wasted precious time but also strained my health, tortured my nerves and limited my productivity yet again. Where was the gain in that? Oh, wait, all for $7! Well, if that wasn’t a good deal.