Dangerous Meredith Profile picture
May 8, 2018 51 tweets 27 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Waiting at Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn before an early morning flight. I realise how much I love hotel rooms. The crisp white sheets. The impersonality. I have been so tired. I need to step aside from my life and its trappings for a while. #cnftweet
Flying to #HongKong. 9 hours in a metal tube kilometres above the earth, which feels counter-intuitive to a nrevous flyer like me. Fortunately I can soothe myself with the monsters and martial arts offered by the in-flight movies. #cnftweet
Arrived in #HongKong. First time here and I don't have a fix on the place. My tired brain serves up cliches. Weather: turkish bath. Hotel room: swinging cats. The goal for tomorrow: get out there, get lost in it, find an original thought. #cnftweet
#HongKong is intense: full of people, concrete, smells, and loud noise. Then a miracle of quietness: Hong Kong Central Library is so hushed I want to apologise for the sound of my footfalls. #cnftweet
You can smell the incense of Man Mo Temple before you get to it. I join the other tourists for a discreet gawp but then I see an old lady in animated conversation with a deity on an alter. Time to put the camera away.
A room in Man Mo Temple that is lighter than the smokey drama of the other rooms. I look at the pretty plaques lining the walls and realise they have photos of the dead. I turn to see a young local man, sombre and dressed for jogging, light some incense. #HongKong #cnftweet
Jackhammers and car horns duking it out. One taxi driver toots long and hard. And again. And again. "But there's no-one in front of him", I think. Then I see who he's trying to avoid: two pigeons ambling across the road. #HongKong #cnftweet
A Tang dynasty dog in a museum. Unthinkably ancient. And foreign, I suppose, except that a long dead potter pinched its ears and moulded its grin and bright eager eyes into something perenially, endearingly familiar. #HongKong #cnftweet
On the balcony of the #HongKong Fringe Club, staring into the tops of trees and the mid-sections of apartments blocks. Ignoring the humidity. To my right, two Frenchmen drinking tea. To my left, a lone woman smiking into her G & T. I feel like I'm in a novel. #cnftweet
A street of small businesses: a classy florist, an oily garage, a clinical electronics repairman. The grimy window of a transport company: historic photos, news clippings, posters of tennis and kung fu movie stars. A window of stories but out of reach to me. #cnftweet #HongKong
What will holiday memories be? Will it be the 'big' sights? The famous tourist spots with accredited wow factor? Or will it be the small pleasures? A cat glaring at shoppers in Stanley market. A bus threading its way between verdant mountains and the glistening sea. #cnftweet
'Fools Rush In' is the name of an antiques shop in Hollywood Road. Do angels fear to tread in #HongKong? It certainly has plenty of deities, big and small, glamorous and plain, sitting patiently in doorway shrines and temples. #cnftweet
I visited the #HongKong Museum of Coastal Defence, displaying a history of pirates, the Opium War, British occupation, WW2, the Japanese occupation... So many brutal incursions. Where did this leave the locals? #cnftweet
Sunday evening, I'm out for dinner. Workmen are making running repairs on the restaurant I'm in. Up the street construction continues. #HongKong continually remakes itself. #cnftweet
Spent my first day in #Japan finding my sea legs, which might seem like an odd allegory for an urban on-land place like #Osaka. But it best describes the process of making the roiling reality of a new country lie steady under your feet. #cnftweet
The things we do when we travel. I'm watching sumo wrestling on the telly, not because I like it but because I can. #Japan #cnftweet
I love the little neighbourhood shrines I have seen in Osaka and Hong Kong. Tucked away, a little makeshift or rickety with age, but still loved and needed: someone has always just left fresh flowers, incense, or a can of drink as an offering.
#cnftweet #Osakajo
On the 10th floor of the Osaka Museum of History, surrounded by spectacular city views and venerable artefacts, a man lies alseep on a bench, twitching like a cat in his dreams. @cnftweet
I bought a tourist pass and, to get my money's worth, determindely spent 2 days sight seeing. To good effect: all of the monuments, museums, and boat rides pushed all thought of the normal life that awaited at home out of my head.
#cnftweet #Japan
After a break of 17 years I was not confident I could find the place where I formerly lived. But I took a train to my old suburb and then recognised an alley of shops, a shrine, a park, and then the ugly brown building I once called home. #cnftweet #Japan
Time took Sunday afternoon off and I was left to enjoy the temple without him looking over my shoulder or chattering in my ear. When I emerged from the beauty and peace I found, when I could be bothered to check, that 4 hours had passed instead of the expected 1. #cnftweet #Japan
My 1st day in Tokushima and I was given a warm welcome by a pretty tabby miss. My Japanese is not good but I am proficient in cat. So we strolled side by side for a while and she told me, via a fluent squirm on her back, how much she liked living here. #cnftweet
Years ago a Japanese student of mine explained why he was a Christian, Bhuddist, and Shintoist. "Shinto has many gods", he said. "I can have Jesus as one more." In my Japanese hotel room today I noticed a copy of The Bible and The Teachings of Bhudda. #cnftweet
The quiet lacework of moss, lichen, and vines, resting on stone grave markers and statues heavy with age, provides a perfect counterpoint to the quicksilver energy of mountain streams running through these lovely temple grounds. #Japan #cnftweet
The sign explains that the locals have been coming to this spring for its purity of water for hundreds of years, and in a short time I see two fill large bottles. One, with a smile, tells me the water is special and invites me to drink. #Japan #cnftweet
I hear a gentle rhythmic noise like a tiny frog croaking. This puzzles me as I am in an early morning Shinkansen. But then I realise: one of my fellow commuters is softly snoring. #Japan #cnftweet
Travelling to another country is a lot like traversing the inland sea on a slow moving ferry on a rainy day. You see outlines in the mist and make assumptions about what they are. You only understand what you're looking at - ship or island - when you draw nearer. #cnftweet #Japan
On my way in search of temples in Tokushima.
"I'm going to do 5 temples tomorrow" intones a fellow traveller, squaring his jaw & narrowing his eyes against an imagined horizon. "We've done beaches, we've done mountains, we've done cities" I overhear an Aussie tell his son. Do? Done? The grammar interests me #cnftweet #Japan
I grin at the Capobaras in Tokushima Zoo, enjoying the sight of something I don't get to see everyday, something exotic but also sort of plump and homely. I turn to find myself the object of round eyed but interested scrutiny by a Japanese toddler. #cnftweet
Nature abhors a vacuum; humans abhor an empty promenade. While I have been sitting beside the river sipping my wine I have seen school kids, young couples, pensioners, solemn babies in prams, and dogs with bows on their ears all amble by. #Japan #cnftweet
Strolling down a quiet street I see someone's shirts on hangers drying on a balcony. The sleeve of one has blown onto another and it clasps its neighbour's shoulder in a perfect gesture of chumminess. #Japan #cnftweet
Near Tokushima
"Early bird catches the worm". A cheery admonition decorated with flowers. A little bemusing, though, to find it on the wall of a toilet cubicle in Tokushima Zoo. #cnftweet
While I am waiting for my coach, I observe a new staff member being introduced by his manager to the team who runs the bus station. Deep solemn bows all around. "Very Japanese", I think. The Hitler salute aimed at the manager's turned back isn't, though. #cnftweet #Japan
In the grounds of a Nara temple a woman presses some origami cranes into my hands. "No money". She waves her hands at my surprise. "Gift!" Is she mad? Working a scam? Undertaking a penance? Wrong questions. The right one: why am I questioning this generosity? #cnftweet
"Blowing from the west
Fallen leaves gather
In the east." ~ Yosa Buson.
As well as pressing upon me green tea bags, maps, and free tooth brushes, the reception at the Nara Visitor Centre and Inn, where I'm staying, also provides haiku.
Under the direct gaze of one of the biggest statues of Bhudda in Japan, a man inserts a selfie stick through the slots of a collection box, retrieves a note, and pockets it. It's early morning, I'm the only (human) witness, so he gets away with it. #cnftweet
"The splash-splash,
The spring sea water dash against
The shrine torii gate." ~ Kawahigashi Hekigoto (1873-1937).
Another haiku provided by the reception desk of the Nara Visitor Centre and Inn.
Many roads in Japan don't have footpaths. I don't like it. It jars to have cars pass so close by. A couple of times I have felt the air displace on my wrist.
"The spring rain.
Talking and passing
The straw rain-cape and umbrella." ~ Yosa Buson (1716-1784).
Once again, time made himself busy somewhere else and the outline around the space where he usually stands dissolved and lost shape in this lovely place of trees, moss, flowers, spring rain, and ancient temple buildings. #Japan #cnftweet
Perhaps the weirdest thing to happen to me in Japan: I was jotting down some notes in my OWN notebook with my OWN pen in a museum, when the attendant told me I wasn't allowed to use pen and gave me a pencil. I found this irritating. It felt intrusive. And stupid.
Out of the train window I see a huge pile of stones under a railway bridge. I wonder: is it some sort of neo-modernist Shinto cairn or a pile of rubble left by a maintenance crew? I am falling back on the tourist's prerogative of reading too much into everything. #cnftweet #Japan
Spotted at Kasuga Taisha shrine in Nara, Japan:
It's official: I'm all templed out. I've seen some beautiful places but I'm sated.
The hallmarks of a holiday drawing to a close: some clothes aren't making it out of the suitcase, emails reminding me I can check into my flight online. What to do this last day? What memory will I choose to create? #cnftweet #Japan
I am a nervous flier, I confess. So I was grateful to the toddler who squealed with exhilerations when our plane took. off. I think the power of his uncomplicated joy was enough, by itself, to lift us all up into the air. #cnftweet #cominghome
I'm home.
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