Travel triangles, i.e. Talking about the rest of the world while you’re staying somewhere: Japan-Italy-Macedonia, Episode .1
What excited me the most in my last two journeys was meeting and talking all day long with people from really different parts of the world than the place we were. That happened recently meeting a very nice Japanese man in Macedonia and meeting an Australian family in Croatia.
Let’s go into details: Japanese culture is very fascinating and I had the chance to know more about it while I was going for a boat trip to some famous Macedonian caves; that day I got lost in a one hour walking tour that seemed to be never ending and he was my precious companion. But let’s start from the very beginning: I was in Macedonia for a one week international project about volunteerism financed by the European Union – which is, by the way, currently spending lots of money on this projects family called Erasmus +, aiming at European integration, mutual knowledge, and working skills enhancement – and on my penultimate day there, after one week mingling with people from all over Europe, I went alone for a few hours excursion to canyon Matka, one of the most popular outdoor destinations in Macedonia, home to several medieval monasteries (the Matka Lake within the Matka Canyon is the oldest artificial lake in the country).
I got off the public bus after a ride through the city traffic -one thing to mention: public bus driver in Macedonia are really crazy or reckless, as you prefer; they drive fast in blind curves and drift :)- and I walked straight to the entrance of the canyon tour, where I found a very nice – and expensive, compared to the average Macedonian prices – restaurant bar; but nothing else, like boats, other buses and so on. Thus, I started walking, hopeful that the way was short and comfortable; instead, I found myself walking through a very narrow and sometimes slippery path which seemed to have no end. After I was starting feeling desperate and worried I first saw a boat below in the river, too far to talk to it but close enough to communicate with the language of gestures (and Italians feel at ease with gestures :-). I asked which way to go and people on the boat told me: “you are in the middle of the path, half an hour from the start, half an hour from the end”. Guess my reaction…
While I was mournfully going back to the starting point I met the person that changed my day and mood!
A middle aged Japanese man, talking English without Japanese accent and with a very positive approach, so that we immediately started to talk (also because we both lost the way, that increased empathy and we finished after three or four hours. Guess the subject of our talk? Japanese and Italian cultures, of course.
I gained, in a very pleasant but unusual way (that is: I was being careful not to slip into the river and not to encounter dangerous animals) a lot of information about the Japanese families, their habits, their working culture, their mentality and what made it easier was the fact that this Japanese man had also some European culture, given that for many years he had been living in Brussels. Ok, let’s delve deep in those differences.
First of all: we are completely different :)! They (Japanese) are tidy, silent, organised, workers, respectful towards others. We (Italians) are noisy, lazy, sleepy (in the South), sly (sometimes in a positive sense, some not), unrespectful of others and of public things, we try to get the most doing the least :)(
Other than these first rough approximations, that would let Italians lose because seeming like strange unusual animals :9, there were also some other points of view that made me reflect over my compatriots (they must have some positive features, though ;p) and they were: we work but not too much, we don’t sell our private life to our employer, we save it and try to enjoy it at its best (the country also offers us lots of natural-historical landscapes, sun, food, culture and so on; we usually don’t respect our country but we take advantage of it). We also have a different attitude towards our family in the sense that we care first about our families, then about any other things. For Japanese people, instead, company and work come first, family is something to devote to in the spare time (very little, to be honest) as well as their private life
In conclusion, travelling is always an experience, that opens your mind and gives you an unredictable chance to change your lifestyle and point of view.
So, keep travelling and enjoy it till the end !