Punch Cycle – I Knew I was Right!

When we travel, we like to travel the back allies and find out of the way places. We want to see things most tourists don’t ever see. My husband is a cycling enthusiast, so when we travel we sometimes search for bike related places. We were in Tokyo and wanted to find Punch Cycle, a local bike shop. We were standing on the corner looking intently at a street directory, and a local man stopped his bicycle to try and help us find our way. Our Japanese is limited, and his English was limited. My husband pointed to the street we were on and mentioned the shop name.  The man pointed one direction and my husband pointed the other. If it was possible to disagree without really understanding each other, that’s what happened. My husband listened patiently as the man pointed many options, then very firmly directed us one way. My husband again disagreed, and let it go. We thanked him, bowed and went the direction my husband thought was correct.  The man got back on his bike and pointed us in the direction he suggested while riding away. 

We walked on and decided to move onto the next point of interested figuring the bike shop was a lost cause. About three blocks later we saw this…Punch Cycle. The store magically appeared. My husband was ecstatic and actually said out loud, “I knew I was right!” We all laughed. REALLY!!! This is the fabulous bike shop we hunted for, argued for, and walked to find? I had to have a picture of this one so we could tell the tale. Not only was it closed, but as you can see it most certainly was not the bike shop that we had imagined. 

Sometimes the best part of the story is getting there. The end result doesn’t matter, you had an adventure and reached your  destinantion, even if the destination was a big let down. Celebrate the success, have a laugh, then move on. Don’t dwell on it, enjoy the process. Not everything is about a successful end result. Sometimes the adventure is enough. Sometimes the failure is worth simply to learn that you were right even if where you were heading was not worth it. We got a really good story out of this one, a reference point – Punch Cycle – for future travel missteps, and we are still laughing with each other over the passionate man on the bike. And just so ya’ know, we plan to find another bicycle shop later in the  week…let the adventure continue. 

Train Whistles, Car Horns, and Airplane Engines

There are certain sounds in the world that evoke adventure and excitement. Three of them happen to be train whistles, car horns, and airplane engines. If you hear those sounds you know that something is happening and things are moving. There is something magical about travel. 

Mark Twain said…travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness

When I was fourteeen I took my first trip to Europe with my family. We spent five weeks traveling throughout. One place that struck me was East Germany. The wall was still standing and we had to go through Checkpoint Charlie to get between East and West Germany. The dogs, the machine guns, the barbed wire and search stations left me in no doubt that we were not free to roam and be tourists. It was my first encounter with communism and it left a lasting impression.  I do not take for granted my freedom or the price millions paid for it. 

When I was teaching in Japan, there was a demonstration near the Tokyo government district. The hosts we were with let us know that some of those people might be arrested for speaking so boldly in public. The crowd was not happy with how the Diet (their senate) were making decisions, so they took to the street. It made me appreciate the freedom with which we open our mouths in the US, and the price others pay for speaking their minds. 

Travel provides the opportunity for us to see how other people live. It reminds us of our abundance and freedom. It also opens our minds to other ways of thinking. Not everyone thinks like we do or see and experience the world in the same way. When I hear a train whistle I think of all the people who move back and forth making their lives work. I think of how many of them are wokring hard to provide for their families, and how many want to speak up but do not out of fear. Travel marks you forever, it leaves you knowing that your world is not the same as everyone else’s world. Travel changes you, simply by doing it. 

Take time to go and see somewhere other than where you live. Find out how other people spend their time, energy and money…even if it is only in the town next door. Once you see you will be changed. Let the whilstles, horns and engines sound!

Not Their Target Audience

I stayed in a hotel in Munich, Germany called Moxy. When I arrived the hotel lobby looked like a scene from the movie animal house. People were partying pretty hard, the music was so loud the staff had to shout to talk to you, and there was a couple making out on the sofa. To check in, you stood at the bar. When they messed up my reservation, they were shocked that I did not want a drink from the bar as compensation. 

This is the only art work that was in my sparce hotel room. It also served as the place to hang your clothes. Once I got inside my room and saw this ‘artwork’ it was pretty clear that I was not their target audience. I booked the room through our corporate travel agency, with no clue what I would find. I slept with the televsion pretty loud to drown out the party noises along the hallway. I felt like the one kid in college who actually wanted to study while everyone else was having fun. I was too old for this hotel, too much of a tired traveler, and too far from home to make a change. 

As I tried to relax in bed and absorb this art, I was ok with not being the target audience. I like my life, who I am, what I do. If I am the kid who really wants to study while everyone else parties, so be it. At my age and place in life I know what I want and what I don’t. I think that is a good thing. Not everyone gets it, and I don’t always understnad what they want. So we have different demographics, different needs, wants, things that are important to us. I wanted to sleep, the other guests wanted a wild party. I got some sleep, and they got to party. Needless to say I will not be staying in that hotel brand again. 

The real funny part was the next morning. At five o’clock we all had to take the shuttle back to the airport. I may not have been bright and sunny at that hour, but I wasn’t hung over and a sorry shade of green. The party from the previous evening may have been fun, but it looked on their faces like it was a painful memory.

It’s good to know what you want and what you don’t. It’s good to know who you are and what is important to you. It is also good to know when you have grown up and want something more than you did in your earlier years. Maybe what I really learned is that I have moxy, I just don’t want to stay at another Moxy hotel…