And breathe out...
Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
228Trip End Ongoing
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have spent the last month in Japan holding my breath, tightening my belt and
being made continually conscious of the degree to which I am not conforming.
Here you can let it all hang out. You can be yourself again and nobody cares.
Yes they will be staring at you but you can do what you want and their stare
will remain one of bewildered curiosity rather than an accusation, a judgement.
In this land, where the public freedoms are obviously managed by the political
system, the sheer numbers of people mean that whilst certain aspects of your
life are taken out of your hands there remains a remarkable space of personal
We have loved the vitality of the country. Everywhere you look there is
something going on, somebody carving out their own opportunity, foraging their
own niche. With private space so limited, so much of life is conducted in
public, out in the open. It has been a real joy to see the extent to which
public spaces are used and the level of investment of design in those spaces.
For Beth it has been a particular pleasure to see landscape architecture such a
fundamental forum for peoples’ daily lives, to see it embraced, appreciated and
thoroughly used. Here this relationship between public and private is
intriguing. Under an authoritative political regime you expect restrictions and
observation, obstructions and intrusions. Whilst this may well be the case – and
I am sure we have only seen a fraction of the full picture – the first
impression is of a free-for-all; everyone pitching for their own ownership of a
portion of public space, be it for tai chi in the park or cooling your noodles
on the pavement.
We have, above all, enjoyed not having the constant worry about money
finally eat as much as we want and have as many beers as gets us as drunk as we
choose to be rather than what our wallet dictates. And the food has been
amazing; noodle soups, roast duck, dumplings (steamed & fried), date cake,
custard milk, Muslim lamb, cold noodles with chilli sauce, sesame cakes, rice
cakes, almond & mung bean pies, fried chilli green beans, more dumplings and of
course 600ml of Tsingtao for 60p!