I still remember the first time I got sick while travelling solo. I was into travelling by trains in Japan, I was only 13 or 14 years old, I think, in junior high school. There was this programme that gave you certificates when you travelled each and every line of what used to be the National Railways. The challenge 20,000km it was called. I think I took local trains from Osaka to somewhere between Nagoya and Tokyo, stayed a night in a cheapest business hotel, or a ‘capsul’ it might have been, and was on the 2nd day when I felt sick. I did not keep myself warm when I slept in the hotel bed and caught a cold. I threw up in a passenger train. It was a rural area near Mt Fuji and there were not many other passengers on board, but I felt really bad, apoligised to everyone, and got off at the next stop. In the end, I think I rang my mum, and took a bullet train home, using up the emergency money that was sewn up inside my jeans.

There is nothing more miserable and lonely than getting sick when you are alone. Nobody to talk to, and nobody to comfort you.

I got sick last night. I don’t know if it had to do with something I ate (pretty shocking combination to my stomach that is used to simple, light food, that’s for sure), or I managed to catch somebody’s flu virus, I don’t know. But it is not pleasant to let the stomach push up out whatever was inside.

When I told my friends what happened, the first thing they offered was to come and get something for me: medicine, food, sport drink, whatever I needed. They asked me where my hotel was, and when I said there was no kitchen or microwave, they’d offered to pick up some decent food like porridge and bring over.

I managed to say that I was feeling much better and could find those things down at the convenience stores just around the corner (love those shops that are EVERYWHERE in Japan, and you can buy practically EVERYTHING you need!)

But I know now, what was the most comforting thing. It was hearing those friends offering to help. Knowing that they care, and knowing they’d give up a day in their short holiday visit to come look after a sick man, made me feel so much better. And that’s when I know what real friends are for.

Love you guys. Great to catch up – though I’m obviously not in the best shape :p