Saying Goodbye To Koh Lipe Thailand, And Finalizing Plans For Our Walking Pilgrimage In Kyushu, Japan

Saying Goodbye To Koh Lipe Thailand, And Finalizing Plans For Our Walking Pilgrimage In Kyushu, Japan

After a couple of weeks going barefoot or wearing only flip flops, it felt so strange to put on our walking shoes for the flight back to Bangkok.

Even with some rainy days, our stay in Koh Lipe was memorable.
We made some great memories and met fabulous people.
On my last dive, Tos, the dive master, let me dive more than 80 minutes, instead of the customary 60 minutes.
He knew I would miss diving in the ocean, and without my saying one word, he let me linger.

I dived with an adventurous Thai woman who spends half of her time in Denmark with her Danish partner.
They race single sailboats and travel the world.
I admire her flexibility, beauty and strength, regardless of her age, and again I aspire to become strong, yet flexible and tender, like the people I admire.

It makes me sad to think of all the people who age without awareness, believing that decay is an unavoidable fact.
They do not know that you could and SHOULD IMPROVE with time, not just keep decay and deterioration of body and mind at bay.

Every day after diving in Koh Lipe, I spent hours planning our walking pilgrimage route around Kyushu island in Japan.
I estimated the kilometers we would walk each day and booked the places where we could stay along the way.

Because this pilgrimage was not designed for walking, I had no references to rely on.
I simply made an imaginary route between the 108 temples that we should visit around the island.

When possible, I made sure we would be able to reach a train station, so we could use the train to get back to our hotel or guesthouse for the night, and continue walking from that station the next day.
Our goal still remains to walk the whole way from temple to temple, circumnavigating the entire island.

The temples are numbered, but not sequentially.
We will be visiting them not in any particular order, but by the area we will be staying in.
Finding accommodations near the temples and along the way was challenging.
Hotels are usually concentrated in cities or tourist destinations and attractions.
Rural areas might have small inns, but they are not usually bookable through any online booking services.
Also, prices of most accommodations double on the weekends, making them extremely expensive for people like us, who need to keep a sensible budget on such a long trip.

When we first started walking pilgrimages, the advice we got was to make sure to give ourselves one rest day per week.
Over time, we noticed that we never actually rested on our one day a week off.
We always spent these rest days sightseeing on foot, often covering more distance than on our walking days.

Then we started putting in one rest day every ten days, which was better for us, but when planning this very long pilgrimage, I ended up not adding ANY rest days.

It wasn’t a decision I made lightly.
The pilgrimage is about 2200 kilometers.
At 22 kilometers per day, it requires 100 days of walking.
We are only allowed to stay in Japan for 90 days per visit, which means that whatever portion of the pilgrimage we cannot finish, we might have to walk during a future visit.

When planning our trip to Asia, we did leave some time to return to Japan to finish our pilgrimage, but as I started booking our accommodations along the route, it seemed like we could finish the entire pilgrimage in 90 days, if we did not take rest days and walked closer to 30 kilometers per day.
Jules was encouraging me to walk more, mentioning all the diving destinations we could go to if we don’t have to return to Japan.

It will be cold in Kyushu by the end of December, and the thought of all the warm beaches and colorful creatures I could meet on my dives, encouraged me to try and finish this pilgrimage.

When I finally finished planning our pilgrimage, I felt exhausted.
It felt like I had finished something difficult, when in fact, we hadn’t even started walking…. Which is really the hardest part.

When we arrived back in Bangkok from Koh Lipe, we spread out our pilgrimage clothing and toiletries on the bed to try and cut out what is not absolutely necessary, so we can walk with lighter backpacks.

It felt so ridiculous to fill three quarters of our backpacks with warm weather clothes, when it is almost 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees celsius) in Fukuoka.
But the gods of the weather have always been on my side, and hopefully they will also help this time, and cool down the temperature in Fukuoka.

I am both a little nervous and excited about our upcoming adventure.
My stomach turns and I hope all will be well and that we will have the strength both mental and physical to do this….

Sending you love,

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