Kyoto: Of castles, shoguns, and geishas

"I have to see a geisha."  

That's what I kept saying over and over during our trip to Japan last March.

Since we were staying in Osaka, my travel companions and I decided to go on a day trip to Kyoto which was approximately just an hour and a half away.  I was excited!  Located in Kyoto is the Gion District, one of the last remaining geisha districts in Japan.  It is also home to several temples built by shoguns or Japanese military commanders centuries ago.
"Kyoto (京都, Kyōto) served as Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. 
Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but due to its historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and spared from air raids during World War II." (More info here.)
The moment we got down from the bus, I was immediately charmed by the city.  While Osaka was bustling and industrial (in some areas), Kyoto had a more quaint vibe with little cafes lining up the side streets and people going around in their bicycles.

Charming Kyoto.
The sun was bright and the weather was cool.  With cameras in tow, we set off to explore one of the most historical cities in Japan.

A life of wander and wonder

*Blog entry title courtesy of Leosyncracies.

Aside from New Year, your birthday is that other occasion every year that gives you license to have your "what have I done with my life" moment (something I think I'm too fond of doing haha).

When I was in college, I only wanted to spend every Holy Week break in Boracay,  getting a tan and partying.  When I got my first whiff of a foreign country during my Thailand trip with my sister, that's when the addiction began.  The goal was simple--save up for low-budget trips to nearby SEA countries like Singapore, HongKong, etc.  Places like South Korea and Japan (the more expensive Asian countries) were far down my list.  Farther down are places like Brazil, Greece, and Europe.  They all seemed like distant dreams.

But I focused on my goals.  I focused my energy on envisioning the places I wanted to go to.  And one by one, I ticked the places off my bucket list.  Then three weeks ago, I found myself wandering the streets of Osaka, Japan.  A week later, I booked a ticket, this time, to a bigger destination.   Without realizing it, I have slowly been making my dreams come true.

There are some things about my life that are not ideal right now.  But if I can make things happen, I can certainly workout the bad.

They say with age comes wisdom.  But with wisdom comes more curiosity.  And I believe we never really find all the answers we look for.  It's the asking and the passionate pursuit for answers that gives us character.

In that pursuit, here are some things that I learned will help you live a full life :

Spend time with your family.
Hug your kids, nephews, or nieces.  They grow up too fast sometimes.
Be generous to your parents.  Seeing them smile over the simple things is priceless.
Save money whenever you can.  But never scrimp over the things that are worth spending for.
Say "I love you" and mean it.
Say "I'm sorry" and mean it.
Open yourself to love.  Take risks.  If your heart breaks, take time to heal.  And then give yourself the chance to love again.
Keep the friends that will say the things that make you feel good but won't be afraid to tell you the brutal truth.
Keep out the negative vibes.  Overpower them with good vibes.
Be kind to the people who hurt you.  They might be having their own struggles.
Every year, discover a new place. 
Do not be afraid to explore on your own.
Find yourself a hobby.  Something to look forward to every time the work week ends.
Work to live.  Do not live to work.
Take care of your body.  You'll never be able to do all these things if you're frail and sickly.


The list goes on.  And I am open to learning so much more.  Because a wise person once told me, the moment you think you know everything is the moment you stop learning.  So yes.  I am determined to continue living a life of wander and wonder.

Wandering around the windmills of Bangui.  (Photo by my brother-in-law, Conrad Vidad.)