Picture: Very old temple guardians, much less friendly than the temple cat.
Dedication: Sally was my dog while I was growing up. I loved her, loved walking her and enjoyed the conversations I had with my dad as we walked her together. I once had an awful day at school being bullied by a guy who had a tough time himself at home. I came home very upset and Sally ran over to me with her tail between her legs to comfort me. I kicked her. I still feel awful when I remember that and how I lashed out at her when she wanted nothing but to help me. She was a great companion and I loved her a lot.
Here are a few of the less fantastic things I’ve done this trip:
* I left my staff at a temple and only realised when I was almost at the next temple – I just turned around and trudged back. The staff is said to be the embodiment of Kukai and I’ve grown quite attached to mine. It has the Sanskrit letters for the five elements on as well so it can be used as a grave marker if you die while you’re walking. This is also the reason you wear white, Buddhists are traditionally buried in white.
* I can’t reach the pockets on the side of my rucksack so I came up with an ingenious solution. I used my staff to push things out of the pockets then picked them up. This worked fantastically until I pushed the suncream out and watched it hit the ground, roll and fall off a massive cliff. I got burnt that day.
* I don’t really know my katakana, which you write foreign words in. I wrote my name (Maaku in Japanese) on the slips you give to temples and people who help you. On day 5 I handed a slip to a woman who looked at it and said “Nice to meet you Muuwa”. Muuwa is my new name.
On a more positive note I was having an awful day a bit ago and passed a post office. I took my backpack off and unloaded a few small items: a tshirt I was never going to wear, a glasses case, some mugs, plates and extra batteries. I packed them all up and sent them off to Richard and Iain to collect when I’m back. It was a tiny thing, maybe 1kg of weight, but it made the day so much better. It’s little moments of control like that that have helped me go on.