sunlit banksia
black cockatoo and rainbow
I’m in Australia

December finds me back in Australia living the life of an unemployed bum, a similar but much less exciting life than my time as an unemployed bum in Japan. I might have a little to say about reverse culture shock later, but my priorities for December are processing my photos for our Flickr stream, writing about the last leg of my walk in Hokkaido, and working out exactly how many thousands of kilometres I actually walked. I just added a few final thoughts about my daily haiku on my personal blog, and have started work on a book about the experience, which I hope to finish by the end of next year.

Now seems like a good time to mention The Fred Hollows Foundation, the Australian charity Ian and I have been raising money for. It’s not something I’ve pushed, mainly because I don’t like pushy charities, and figure people can see the Donate tab for themselves. But if you’ve enjoyed reading about our expedition over the last year, you might consider making a donation. For around $25, the sight we took for granted on our adventure can be restored to someone who suffers cataracts in a developing country.

The month just spent meditating in the beautiful Sunshine Coast hinterland gave me some much-needed time to absorb finishing the walk and being back in Australia. Much of my supposed meditation time consisted of intense flashbacks of moments on the trail in Japan, both the highs and the lows. More about them soon, but in the meantime I’ve jotted down some of the things I’ll miss about walking Japan, and what I’m most looking forward to about being back in Australia, which you can find below.



Being homeless and unemployed.

Hiking through the Japanese landscape.

Learning Japanese.

Feeling like I’m the most dangerous man in town.

Being a stranger in a strange land.

The generosity of complete strangers.

The challenge of finding an awesome campsite every night.

Running through The Check several times a day: watch, hat, solio, internet tablet, hiking sticks, notebook, cactus.

Seeing something truly bizarre on a regular basis.

Takaki Bakery cheesecake sticks.

All the stuff I lost.

A grapefruit chuhi at the end of a miserable day.


Being home.

Hiking in the Australian landscape.

Speaking English.

Not feeling like I’m the most dangerous man in town.

Listening to music, going to the theatre, cinema, book shop, and garden centre.

Seeing family and friends.

Writing a book about walking Japan.

Not having to think about where I’m going to get water, food, and shelter every day.

Going back to university.

Not seeing a haggard Tommy Lee Jones wherever I go.

Getting a bike.

Ginger beer and cheesecake.


If you can’t control yourself, how do you expect to control anything else?

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring.

Repetition is important.

The adolescent is the one who wants to experience everything. The adult comes to realize you can’t experience everything.

Apologise for what you’ve done, not for who you are.

I should be spending most of my time doing the things that are most important to me.

The looks of other people have no power over you other than what you grant them yourself.

Men and women are complementary equals. Failure to understand this leads to unhappiness.

The will to live is fundamental to all living things.

We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.

Habit is key.

Keep to the centre.

A single malt scotch is one of life’s great pleasures.

We all live in a yellow submarine.

I need to build my life on four verbs: Love. Learn. Meditate. Write.

Enlightenment is a long way off.

The journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath my feet.

If I’m really the hero of the story, I’d better make it a good story.

I am a writer; writing is what I do.

Walking Japan was a good idea.

All good things come to an end.

I feel ready to sit.

Trust your natural responses, and everything will fall into place.

Listen to your body and eat whatever you want.

Technology makes life easy, but the human body rewards hard work. The more technology you use every day, the less satisfied you feel. Furthermore, the technology you use alters your brain; the more you use it, the more your brain changes. Use technology mindfully, fully aware that it’s a mind-altering substance.

Coffee smells good. The smell is enough to wake me up.

You can relax anywhere, anytime.

If you play someone else’s game, you’ve already lost.

A vast field of yellowing grain is an immensely satisfying view.

There is nothing wrong with possessions. The error is not in possessing, it is becoming attached to things, either by not being able to let go of any of them, or wanting to get rid of all of them. Souvenir objects at important moments in your life and use them as props to tell a story. The emotional utility of objects lies in their function as stage props, and only secondarily in their physical characteristics. For example, an antique chair passed down in a family for 200 years is more valuable than a chair made from a 200-year-old block of wood because it can tell a better story. A home should be full of objects with interesting stories; it should be an emotional ecology of objects and customs that anchor you in the shared personal history of those who live there.

The trouble with living in affluence is that it is easy to fill your home with beautiful things, but the ease of acquisition often reduces the interest of the story you can tell, draining them of most of their emotional value. “We got it at the hippie shop”, or “We picked it up at Ikea”. This doesn’t mean objects have to be hard to find, unique, hand-made, or expensive; a million dollars of furnishings can be as dull as ditchwater, a roomful of exotic trophies can be completely lifeless, and hand-made can be a euphemism for poorly crafted. It just means being more selective about the objects you acquire, choosing them based on the story you can tell about them. For example, around my wrist is a rusty, mass-produced spring I found on the side of the road. It’s a perfect prop. And since it’s just a prop, it doesn’t matter if I lose it. I can just replace it with something else which serves the same function of telling a story about walking Japan. Personal belongings are the props of my personal narrative. Acquire objects which tell your current story; dispense of objects which no longer tell your story; be attached to none. [A few days after writing this, I lost the spring. I had to laugh at my irritation.]

Walking boosts intelligence.

Budgets are useful.

LIfe is uncertain.

Milk chocolate is an abomination. It may be a necessary evil.

Chocolate milk revives.

To have any hope of getting myself out of debt on my return to normal life, I have to avoid bookshops, music stores, theatres, cinemas, and gardening centres at all costs.

I need to stop setting myself up for failure.

Maybe it’s time to get a credit card.

There’s a financial crisis?

Humans aren’t designed to grow on chairs. Every day, I need to use my legs.

To think properly, I need plants and animals around me.

You can only ever interact with your models of other people, even when they’re saying something right in front of you.

Just because you’re not religious, don’t pretend you don’t have as much need for certainty as those who are.

The most important habits are the ones which help you attend.

If you’re not formal some of the time, you can’t be casual any of the time. The more formal you are, the more casual you can be.

We live in interesting times.

Life is good.

Cigarettes stink.

Meaning is constructed.

Bees do good through acquisition. They do good because they acquire what has been designed to be given to them. Take what has been designed to be given to you, and you will do good without any extra effort.

You can only reflect in retrospect.

Synergise all aspects of your life.  If an activity isn’t serving all the other activities, it has to go.

Is it just me, or are there a lot of dental clinics in Japan?

I’m overdue for a dental check.

Word roots aren’t arbitrary. Sometimes they’re profound. Etymology is culture, and even biology.


Flat feet are no impediment to walking thousands of kilometres.

My shadow knows north.

Midday is halfway between sunrise and sunset, not 12pm.

I want to grow something and then eat it.

Calories and nutrition are not the same.

Japanese people let their dogs do the barking.

You rarely see cats in Japan. Oddly, the two places where cats were common were also areas with (almost equally rare) Christian populations.

Corega and YBBuser are my friends.

Prejudice impairs linguistic comprehension. In both parties.

It’s a little freaky that half the trucks in Japan announce they’re turning left or right in the same plaintive female voice.

Curiosity didn’t kill the cat; carelessness did.

It’s a long way to Tipperary.

I have no idea where Tipperary is.

I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends.

I love the concept of mortality. My only concern is that it might apply to me.

Some things aren’t worth thinking about.

Spend your disposable income on experiences, not disposables.

Don’t make promises I can’t keep.

Teaching trains you in the art of deciphering gibberish.

Constant small sips are better than occasional big gulps.

Know your limits. How? By pushing at them gently.

Barbarians have beards.

Japan has a lot of barbers.

An onsen is both civilised and civilising.

I can be unhappy now and happy when I get to the top, or I can be happy now and happy when I get to the top. The choice is mine.

Patience is a pleasure.

The only reason you can walk and chew gum at the same time is that you don’t have to think to do either.

Dragonflies mate and fly at the same time.

I’d volunteer for a Mars mission tomorrow.

I think I’m normal, but no one else does. What’s wrong with everyone?

The aim of the artist is to notice what others only see.

Regardless of success or failure, a psychological slump inevitably follows the culmination of an act of will. Plan for it and don’t feel guilty about it. It’s normal.

I don’t have a body; I am a body.

It’s a small world. But you can make it big.

Mustard and tomato sauce: what a great combination.

According to a comprehensive survey of roadside litter, Georgia canned coffee is the most popular beverage in Japan.

Snickers really does satisfy, but no-name brand Peanut Choco Block has 220kcal more and is 15 yen less. Satisfaction can wait.

Lots of chocolate is sold in Japan, but strangely only one chocolate bar.

I’m not really a blogger.

I’m becoming more open.

I probably wouldn’t get away with an orange road mirror as carry-on. Besides, I don’t have a spanner.

To know the individual, start from the social; to know the social, start from the individual.

You can only translate into your mother tongue.

Even a snail can get to the other side. It just needs to choose the right road and never stop looking both ways.

If you don’t correct the smallest misuses of language, pretty soon you’ll be speaking different languages. Languages evolve. But they also die when people stop speaking them. If you want people to keep speaking your language, keep correcting them.


Children should study anatomy as deeply as they study mathematics. In fact, they should study mathematics through anatomy. Maths is easier with your body than with your head.

If you can’t manage your time, it means you don’t know what you want.

The point of a proverb is that you and I are interchangeable.

Girls like flowers.

Boys like to say hello.

Pretending to know something you don’t is a good way to fool people. It’s also a good way to be a fool.

The teachers you like will teach you the lessons you want to learn. The teachers you don’t like will teach you the lessons you don’t want to learn. You need more than one teacher.

I am just as self-absorbed as everyone else.

The best gift to give a stranger is a glass of iced tea and a piece of fruit.

To clear your head, go for a walk.

Children with no expectations of themselves will never grow up; adults with no expectations of themselves will never grow old.

The pathways of broken habits don’t just disappear.

I’m a poor judge of how I’ll feel later.

Working hard and getting the job done are not always the same.

A worldview is a map of your battlefield. Most people spend their lives fighting other people’s battles. If you can’t articulate your worldview, the chances are you’re fighting someone else’s battle.

Never underestimate your ability to self-deceive.  You are not as self-aware as you think you are.

Boys mature more slowly than girls.

Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from nature.


There are 10 steps to breaking a bad habit. Step 1 is to notice. Step 10 is to stop doing it. Steps 2-9 are the same as Step 1.

What’s with all the crows?