After taking the wrong train for the fifth time because of the intricate Japanese train system that means what looks like one train station is actually four, operated by totally different companies with their own ticket gates, I get off the train at the right stop, only to find out out that by now, I have gone over the amount my ticket is valid for and the ticket gate won't open for me. Luckily, this is Japan, so there is a neat little machine at the inside part where you can top up your ticket without getting fined (try that, Transport for London). Except that I have to pay exactly 110 yen extra (around $1), and all I have is a 1000 yen note that the machine, unsurprisingly, won't take. This is in the middle of nowhere north of Kyoto and no staff is around. Frustrated, I give up on visiting the temple I was headed for and stomp off to take the train back to town. A little old lady at the platform stops me and asks me what's wrong, and, being all shaken up by now, I tell her in my broken Japanese (the English equivalent being „I - train – ticket - not enough – 1000 yen! *waves 1000 yen note* - machine – go back to Osaka now“ *shakes head* *sad face*). She pats my arm and gives me exactly the 110 yen change I need. I bow frantically, she says it's ok, don't worry, and enjoy the temple.
This is just one example of the many random acts of kindness from strangers I experienced in the two months I spent in Japan – other episodes include sending a parcel to my brother, going to the supermarket without my wallet, and getting several rides when I lost my way and only asked for directions.
I'm a pretty self-reliant person. Usually, so much that I prefer to walk 3 miles rather than taking a taxi, even if it means I end up getting totally lost (I don't ask for directions, either). I've had to take care of myself since I've been fairly young, so accepting help or even admitting I need it is very hard for me, as I expect to be let down anyway. Travelling on my own, I am often forced to rely on others, and very slowly, I am learning that this might not always be the worst thing to do.
(Oh and by the way, if you DO end up going to Kyoto, check out Fushimi inari. It's a little out of the way, but everything you ever dreamed a Shinto shrine would be)
This is my (belated, thank you, crappy Malaysian internet connection) contribution to BootnAll's 30 Days of Indie Travel project, Day 2,about Embracing Change.