March was a fast month beautifully-dissected by a long-awaited return to my second home Japan. It also heralded the true beginning of my countdown to leaving Qatar. As the temperatures rise, bringing with them sand and electric storms, it’s time to get out of here. It’s fulfilled its role.
Leaving aside Japan for a moment, work contracts are coming to an end. I’ve enjoyed them all this time round and should I not get into the university I want, I’d consider coming back for a few months in the autumn. But I know in my heart, I am done here and need an environment where I don’t need to search out things to do. We did however make a great little boat trip a few weeks ago for the afternoon into West Bay, sailing past the towers and onto an island out in the bay. The water was too salty due to desalination and the jetskiers were annoying but we had good company, a boat, sun and a barbecue. It served its purpose.
Japan was every bit as excited, warm and rewarding as I hoped. It truly is a different world out there, inaccessible but liveable. I saw no shrines, no temples, no Mt Fuji but I did see the lights and energy of Tokyo, sang karaoke, drank sake, ate takoyaki and okonomiyaki, wndered at Kyoto Eki Ko, marvelled at the cleanineess and orderedness of the place and saw snow over Kyoto. Seoul remained its rougher edged brother, bleaker in many ways but has a vitality missing a few years ago. It’s progressing and interacting with the world unlike before. Wine, coffees, teas, food, music and beers were now international in flavour. The trade has gone both ways.
Next month is going to be fairly-chaotic or at least looks that way right now. I’m planning a trip to Moscow follwed by Jan’s wedding in Belgrade. I’ll do a week or 10 days of travelling after that (Croatia, Amsterdam) with Olivia and then return to London. Nancy is coming to visit for a few days to look around summer schools. She’s hoping to stay for a few months later. She’s never been to England or London so it should be fun.
I also regained contact with a few friends I’ve not spoken to for a while. These people remind me of summer, travelling, freedom. Despite Oli being away, I’m looking forward to catching up with Weronica, Si, Tom, Viola, Mary, Alex, Luke, Helen. Jorden and the Devon guys. Even the lovely Ash (who was with me in my David Lynch dream) is talking about coming to Europe to live awhile. And Marsha and Jeroen….I promise I’ll be over in Holland to see you.
Uni applications are finished and I await the answers. My summer work looks set. June is a free-ish month. I suspect I’ll be watching a bit of the World Cup and travelling! I’ll be in Devon, Cardiff or Oxford and yes, I’ll be making sidetrips to see you. And you. And you.