Between strolling down a beautiful tourist path alongside a canal lined with Japanese cherry blossom trees in full bloom, and cycling through the local neighbourhood to get groceries - which is a better travel experience?
Even without context and specifics, most travelers would agree that seeing the cherry blossoms would be better. But, strangely, not for me. Today had been a day of just such contrasts.
It started off mundane enough. I needed a grocery top-up today, so I cycled to the nearby neighbourhood supermarket. It was one of those quiet, sleep-in Sunday mornings here in this Kyoto neighbourhood. The sun's out - pale silverlight shining through scant clouds. Cruising down the narrow alleyways in a cool 22°C breeze. No one's out, no one's rushing to work, because it's Sunday. So the streets are seeped in silence. The only sound of my legs paddling the bicycle, and the wind in my ears. The quaint facades of the local homes, providing a backdrop of extraordinary ordinariness. It was a peak sensorial experience, yet relaxed, and deeply comforting, strangely heart-warming.
Contrast with my afternoon experience - I visited the Philosopher's Path in Kyoto. It's an ultra-touristy trail that follows a walking path besides a river canal, lined entirely by cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Peppered along the path are ancient temples, and quaint little artisan shops selling all manner of goods and food. From afar, sakura in full bloom is a sight to behold. It's such a elegant tree - clouds of fluffy snow-white flowers floating right above your head. The tinge of pink makes it blush, almost like it's shy. The occasional breeze blows, and a flurry of white 'snowflakes' rain down on us. It's almost like confetti, and you're walking down your wedding aisle for kilometres. A romantic atmosphere, for sure. And the tourist hordes here are testament to that attraction (though their presence did take away much of the magic).
And the experience that spoke to me, reached in deeper into my heart, was the one in the morning. The mundane one. On my way to getting groceries.
My intellectual mind simply cannot comprehend this, though my heart's choice is clear. Why did I come thousands of kilometres here, only to prefer such seemingly ordinary things? (So that I can be displaced from my indifference and take joy in the everyday!) Couldn't I have done this back at home? (No, I couldn't have experienced this even if I done it back home. Because indifferent.) Did I break my wanderlust, somehow? Is it age? What does this mean for my future travels? (Dude, don't overthink it. Just enjoy what your body remembers. And forget about achieving when traveling.)
I think I broke my wanderlust. (But it's probably for the better).