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Story: In the densely populated urban centres of Japan and Hong Kong, my spirits were lifted by bright lights. Bursts of scarlett red illuminated horizons studded by skyscrapers.

Streets were filled with beeping car horns and yelling people, but to step indoors was to find serenity and calm. People there tend to have a gentle nature, a sense of peace. My core communication with locals was smiles, nods and the tender touching of hands.

In Asia I discovered tranquillity in the most unexpected places: in cafés perched half way up mountains; on beach-bound buses; in sweet red-bean pancakes from roadside vendors; in the promises of good fortune given in temples.

I travelled on stuffy, people-filled trains, the air occasionally scented by a passenger’s miso soup, my belly full of dumplings. Meanwhile, my eyes were spoiled by passing sights: origami-like buildings towered over Japanese gardens.

It was cleansing to dip my body in Japanese public baths each evening; between hot and cold water, I would feel a wave of harmony wash over me.

If only I could be back there now, taking in each moment, hampered only by the constant ache of being content. I was inspired by the richness of life that people seem to embrace, whether it be in savouring the first bite of a rice ball, spending time in steamy waters or finding moments of peace. I feel that we would all benefit from being present and showing our appreciation in such a way.


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