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Saturday, 19 October 2019

Book III ~ Chapter 7 ~ Home

29-Mar-2019 – 29-Oct-2019

Over the course of 25 months…
…I travelled all around the world…
…and now I return to my home of…

Home is where the heart is, and even travelling all around the world, I've not found a place that I feel more at home than here, where my friends and family live.

My family, that is Peter, my father, who has raised me all by himself since I was six…

…as well as Mieke, my one surviving grandmother, who lives all the way out in Ruprechtsberg.

Ruprechtsberg, that is a little hamlet a good distance to the northeast of Munich, but still within driving range. One day, I hope I'll be able to make a cycling tour to visit her all the way out there.

It may be a little bit out of the way, but it's very idyllic, and I have many fond childhood memories of the place.

And even the drive there is already pretty relaxing, leading through a peaceful scenery of rolling hills and sprawling fields.

Back in Munich, meanwhile, I have a bunch of wonderful friends waiting for me, the number of whom includes my best friend Robert (on the right), Siggi (top picture, left of Robert, Stephan (bottom picture left) and, Peter (top picture left), who confusingly not only shares my father's name, but is also in roughly the same age group. There's also one more by the name of marcel, but apparently he has managed to evade all of my pictures.

You may remember Robert. He has visited me in Japan, and together we travelled all the way from Tokyo to Sapporo (see Book II ~ Chapter 5 ~ A Trip Together). In fact, I have now finally gotten around to preparing a piece of gift artwork for him to celebrate our friendship, and the way he often motivates me to go get out there and do things.

So much for the dramatis personae. Now, I shall give you an account of…

The Place

I have already talked a little bit about my place here in Munich after coming back from New Zealand (see Book I ~ Final Chapter ~ The Tail of the Tale), so I'll skip straight ahead to the parts that are new. For one, thanks to a successfully influx from Japan, my home has gained a considerable boost in vulpinity…

…as well as vulpine sanctity, in the form of my very own private Inari Shrine, made from all-Japanese ingredients. The dolls flanking it on both sides, by the way, are souvenirs from Japan that one of my grandmothers brought home. I never got to know her though, since she died well before I was even born. Even so, it's interesting to see that an interest in Japan appears to run in my family.

I also arrive right in time to see the lilac in front of my house burst into bloom, which reminds me of the lilac festival in Munich's Japanese partner city of Sapporo again (see Book II ~ Chapter 5 ~ A Trip Together). Ephemeral as it is, it only flowers for one or two short weeks in April before donning a lush green coat of leaves for the remainder of the summer.

Also, I notice that a lively little black squirrel has taken up residence in the trees in front of the house. How delightable! Unfortunately, the little critter takes off into the tress or bushes whenever somebody gets to close, so the only way I can observe him is through the kitchen window.

Another thing that I can observe through the kitchen window is a not-so-delightable traffic accident right at the street corner. Although the traffic situation here is kinda tricky, what with the crosswise street being elevated on an old causeway that can be difficult for cars to climb when snow is covering the road in winter, I can't recall any other traffic accident having ever occurred here. In this case, a police car was speeding down the crosswise street with horns blaring and lights flashing, and still another car tried to cross the perpendicular street with foreseeable consequences: Although the police car tried to dodge, it still hit the other car's side head-on and caused it to go spinning into the nearby park. The driver of said car somehow survived, but the front-seat passenger was not so lucky.

But moving on to more delightful events taking place in my home. First, there is my father's birthday in April, which comes as a perfect excuse for me to bake one of my grandmother's legendary cheese cakes. Unlike aforementioned grandmother who died before I was born, that grandmother lived nearby and took care of raising me after my mother's suicide, and even before. She, too, is no longer among us, but at the very least I was able to learn some of her greatest recipes before she left this world for the next (by the way, in case you've been counting, yes, I have a total of three grandmothers, and I even dropped a hint about how that came to be). Either way, Peter, Doro and I have relaxed evening, and my father can delight in unpacking many great presents.

Also, in the spirit of creative urges unleashed, I finally decide to fix up the living room table, which has been showing signs of massive wear and tear lately. So, I acquire a pot of orange lacquer, and set about painting over the faulty spots where the wood is showing through. Then fox goes "MUAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! KNEEL DOWN BEFORE ME!!!!!", and before I know what hit me, it's dark outside and the table somehow ends up looking like this.

Said living room table is also where my friends and I finally continue our Dungeons & Dragons game, which has been on hiatus for over 14 months now, and Dragon have I ever prepared new adventures for them to see through! The best part of all, however, is to find out which decisions they make along the road, and how the story unfolds as a result of that. I only set the stage, but the story is theirs to shape.

And half a year later, my own birthday also comes up on 4-Oct, and I end up inviting enough people over to necessitate the second table expansion as we play a game called Sidereal Confluence, which is all about trading… IN SPACE!!!

In fact, before long, everyone is so engrossed in the game, busily optimizing and trading with one another that they don't even notice me standing there and taking a video of this amazing Space-Bazaar simulation.

Setting a foot outside, the nearby forest is still much the same…

…even though for some reason, someone put an array of construction fences all around Heaven's Gate, so I can only greet it from a distance. A gatekeeper spirit resides within this gate, and I've made sure to say my goodbyes whenever I left, and check back in when I returned. In a manner of speaking, you might say that this place is the closest thing to a Shinto Shrine I've known thus far. No wonder I've always felt drawn towards this place.

Another new thing are the egg vending machines, which I've last seen in Higashi Matsue (see Book II ~ Chapter 13 ~ Daring Daisen). It looks like they now also exist around here.

Extending my range, by means of public transport, I also proceed to explore the remainder of the city, taking note of a few peculiarities here and there, as well as a number of typical German architectural design elements that I never really noticed before.

As to aforementioned public transport, Munich has a dense network of trains and buses that allows you to get to pretty much anywhere in the city within 45 minutes.

Those are, in order of reliability, U-Bahn ("subway"), Tram, bus, and S-Bahn ("urban train"). Having gotten used to Japanese standards of punctuality and reliability, all of those are a hopeless mess of delays, breakdowns and missed connections that would cause any honourable CEO to commit Seppuku on the spot. Still, of all of these, the U-Bahn is still the most reliable, with delays averaging on 5 to 10 minutes, and so that's my personal choice for when I have to use public transportation. One notable thing here is that ever since around 2000, the city has been making an effort to make the U-Bahn stations more attractive, and thus, each of the more recent stations has its own theme and its own artistic flair. We also have two main different types of trains in service there. Altogether, there are three different types that you can check out here

On the other side of the reliability spectrum, there's the S-Bahn, which suffers from one massive bottleneck known as the "Stammstrecke" ("trunk route"). That is where all of the routes converge and cross through Munich on an 8km-long two-track segment with no alternative routes, and you don't have to be a Ph.D. of transportation to be able to tell that that is absolute infrastructural suicide. Back when it was established in 1072, it was a pretty neat shortcut, but ever since then the city has failed to upscale and build additional routes as the volume of traffic increased. As a result of that (and probably other equally embarrassing bloopers in planning and execution), delays and cancellation are about as common as pigeons on the Piazza San Marco in Venice.

Unlike the U-Bahn stations, the S-Bahn stations are all nondescriptive and bland, although sometimes the odd commercialized train breaks up the general pattern. Again, there are three different types of trains currently in use, with one older retired type that I still remember from my childhood and miss, since it was nice and orange.

Continuing with the trains, next up are the trams, which I barely ever use simply due to the fact that they are slower than the U-Bahn, more susceptible to delays, and don't really run anywhere I need to go and couldn't also go by U-Bahn. Since the prices are the same, I don't really have a reason to go by tram most of the time, but every now and then they do come up after all. Unlike with U- and S-Bahn, there are four distinct types of tram in service, although the oldest ones – big bulky wagons where you have to climb stairs to board – are a very rare sight these days. I still like them though. They ar spacious and give you a good view of the city.

And then, there's the buses, which boldly go where no train has gone before. I used to ride them a lot more frequently during my childhood in order to cover the final bit of distance from the nearby U- and S-Bahn stations to my home, but ever since the S-Bahn station Untermenzing was opened only 7 STEPs away, my use of them dwindled, and since I mostly use the bike to get to the stations ever since returning from New Zealand, these days, I barely use them at all. They have a wide range of different buses in use, and laudably, some of them use hybrid motors, or are even entire electric, with batteries powerful enough to allow them an entire day's worth of driving on a night's charge.

One of the places I frequent using public transport is the area around the Isartor ("Isar gate", after the nearby river Isar, the old bridge across which made Munich rich back in the 12th century), primarily due to the fact that I know of a Japan Shop there that I hope will sell some of the tasty goodies that I've now missed for two months already. The Isartor itself, by the way, is already pretty old too. It was built in 1337 and regularly renovated, so it's still in good shape even today.

However, after getting to the location where I last bought a Manki Neko (招き猫 "Beckoning Cat") for my friend Siggi, I notice that the store there looks significantly less like a Japan Store and significantly more like a Barber Shop than I remember.

Fortunately, however, I soon find out that it only moved, and that most conveniently its new location is just a few streets over, so I can comfortably walk there. Shortly afterwards I find myself standing in front of the beautiful gate of a store by the name of Mikado (美門 "Beautiful Gate").

And before I know it, I have invested over 50€ in a delectable assortment of tasty Japanese goods that I had not hoped to taste again in the foreseeable future, including Yakisoba, regular Soba, Udon, Natto, Melon Soda, Aburaage, extra Aburaage, extra extra Aburaage, and tasty Umeboshi. My little fox heart leaps with delight!

As for the more regular supermarkets, they are pretty much the same as everywhere else, though I have to mention the trundlers. My first thought upon driving a German trundler again is "have these things always been this big?" I didn't really use one at any point during my travels due to my effective carrying capacity being limited to what I could fit in a bag, and yet I can tell that they are easily bigger than anything I've seen in Japan, and probably even Brazil. Also, there is one very, very useful design feature to German trundlers, and that is that all four wheels can be turned, making it so much easier to navigate through the aisles with them.

One more notable shopping place is the local organic food store, which is going great lengths in order to make shopping there an unforgettable experience.

Now to something that Germany is (in)famous for: The efforts we go through for recycling. Munich has one of the best recycling systems I've ever come across. Every house has separate bins for paper (blue), organic (brown) and other waste (black), and every neighbourhood (roughly the size of Japanese Choume (丁目 "city block")) has recycling containers for plastics, metal, and bottles of various colours, as well as old but still usable clothes. Usually, no matter where you live in Munich, there is one of those recycling container hubs within 5 STEPs.

And for the more complicated stuff, there's so called "Wertstoffhöfe" ("value substance yard" = "recyclable material depot"), which are a bit more sparsely spread, but in exchange are considerably bigger and accept bulky garbage such as furniture, electronic appliances, and large household devices such as washing machines and refrigerators. Unlike in Japan, where you have to make appointments for special trucks to pick up bulky garbage from your home, here in Germany it's the norm for everyone to drive their bulky garbage to one such Wertstoffhof. As a result, these places (especially the newer ones) are laid out like big parking lots with garbage containers arranged all around them, so they are optimized for drive-through operation. And if you don't know or can't find the correct container to put your trash into, there's always staff around that you can ask.

And finally, there's a very special place – or rather a regular occasion – that I regularly went to before leaving on my journey, and now return to once again: Namely that is the Spielmilben board game meeting which takes place in the community centre of Milbertshofen roughly every two weeks. There, board game geeks such as Robert, Peter and myself get together and play all sorts of interesting games (for free!) with others of our kind. I for my part have made it my personal goal to try out as many games as possible, so I make it a rule to only play games I haven't played before, unless those are all that other people are willing to play. The sole exception of that is a game by the name of Terraforming Mars, which is just that good that I can't seem to get enough of it.

Another exception is Root, although that's mostly due to the game being so highly asymmetrical that each of the playable parties plays completely differently. Or as Robert put it: It's several players playing different games simultaneously on the same board. The most striking feature of this game, however, is its outright fluffy adorableness, that makes me fall for it right away.

Now then, we've covered the cast, we've covered the stage, that means it's now time for a quick…

Interlude ~ Perfect Cherry Blossom

Distance: 17.0km
Ascents: 80m
Duration: 3.25h

You can get the fox out of Japan, but not Japan out of the fox. That much becomes clear to me as soon as I see the cherry trees bloom only a few days after my arrival back in Germany. I did not go crazy about Hanami back in Japan, but it was still a distinct time of the year that I'll always remember from now on out.

And guess what my father just so happens to know? In the Olympia Park, which is within comfortable cycling distance from my home, there are a number of original Japanese Sakura trees gifted by our partner city of Sapporo. Now, imagine the fastest speed you can possibly imagine, then increase it a thousand-fold. That's how fast I'm on my trusty old 21-gear bike…

…and headed there, while naturally taking a circuit route that will take me past as many geocaches as possible along the way.

Around this time of the year, the air is still crisp and the trees are bare, but with a jacket on and my bike racing across the paths of the bicycle metropolis Munich, I quickly heat up to operating temperature.

My path takes me through the district of Moosach, and before long, I pass the Röth-Linde, a 350 year-old great tree and possibly the oldest remaining tree in the city of Munich, named after the 19th century painter Philipp Röth who used to sit beneath this very tree while painting. Right now it is as bare as all the other trees, but during the summer months, it turns into an impressive mass of lush greenery.

Eventually, I leave the main roads behind, and continue along one of the many very idyllic cycleways that permeate the city. This one runs along the Nymphenburg-Biedersteiner channel.

And even here, the cherry trees occasionally stand out, the first to bloom and add colour to the otherwise bare legion of trees.

Not much later, I reach the Olympiapark, and with it the only notable challenge on my ride today: The Olympiaberg. Built in the 60s, the Olympiaberg was created from the immense amounts of debris caused by the bombings of Munich in WW2, and protrudes about 60m over the surrounding landscape, making it one of the highest elevations of Munich.

As a result, that means you can get a great panorama view of the city from up there for free.

On clear days, you can see all the way to the alps from here. However, today the humidity is a bit too high for that. However, you can see all the way over to Munich's one windmill located on the next artificial mountain over in Fröttmaning. Personally, I wouldn't mind if they put a couple of dozen more of these green giants up around the city.

Also, it's an interesting thing that there's a Geocache "hidden" around here, in the pillar with the geodetic reference point, and specifically in the chamber for the Gipfelbuch (summit book), which is guarded by two number locks, the challenge here being figuring out the correct combination, which takes me a while. Come to think of it, those summit books could very well be considered the precursors of modern Geocaches: You climb a mountain, find the book, and write down your name and date inside, the only difference being that instead of logging comments online, you write them down directly into the book.

Afterwards, I head down the other side of the hill…

…and very nearly get eaten by a cleverly disguised Sandile.

After that, I have to find a way back onto the other side of the mountain again, but after a very roundabout approach, I finally reach the Sakura trees from Sapporo.

And believe it or not, but these Sakura trees come complete with their own Japanese celebrating Hanami beneath them.

Altogether, there's a little more than a dozen Sakura trees around here, located on the northeastern slope of the Olympiaberg, right behind Angelo Rock.

Apart from that, the sights of this park are the Olympiaturm ("Olympic Tower"), a 291m high broadcasting tower with an observation platform and a revolving restaurant at 191m. It's not quite as the Tokyo Sky Tree (see Book II ~ Chapter 5 ~ A Trip Together), but nonetheless an impressive landmark of Munich.

The other, and possibly even more impressive landmark to be found here is the roof spanning the Olympic stadium, as well as several other nearby halls. Built in 1972, this creative, tent-like construction with its flowing and arcing forms is made entirely out of glass and steel, and allows the sky to be seen from anywhere within the stadiums. It's surface measures a total of 72.800m², and at the time of its completion it was the largest such structure in the entire world.

And then, there's also this picnic table, the owner of which was apparently really, really worried that someone might steal his precious table.

Returning home, I come across a street the name of which I only now register consciously. I've been driving on the Sapporobogen ("Sapporo Crescent") before – in fact, that's where I learned to drive – but it's only now that I realize the meaning of the name.

On the way back home, I realize quite a number of little changes left and right. Old houses have disappeared, and new construction sites have sprung up left and right…

…but all in all, Munich still has that same old suburban village character, especially in my home district of Untermenzing.

Anyway, that's enough cruising around for now. After all, there's also some duties that I must attend to, so let us talk about…

The Job

Before we get to my actual day job, there's one more pile of work that has amassed over the last year and needs to be taken care of upfront, namely…

Well, fortunately, it's not quite as bad as that, but I'm sure you can imagine that after 14 months of absence, there's quite a pile of stuff for me to take care, despite my father already having screened out the obvious spam.

So, one morning, I sit down four about four hours to dig through all of it. Most just needs to be filed, but there are a few things and bills that require my immediate attention, so I end up making a few calls and writing a few mails as a result of this too. All in all, however, it takes less time than I feared, and by lunchtime I am already done with it (but then again, I have by now gotten into the habit of getting up rather early).

Anyway, so much for the mail backlog, now to my actual job. As you may know, I have found a really great company by the name of Netfira after coming back from New Zealand, who were willing to have me work remotely from abroad all this time, and who are now welcoming me back with open arms.

Even better, they are happy to continue the three-days-a-week –schedule which worked out so well for me, and allow me to work from home two out of these three days, which gives me a wonderful work-projects-balance. Once a week, on Friday, I come into the little Munich office, which is located in a building at the Leopoldstraße…

…which is conveniently located just in front of the exit of the U-Bahn Station Giselastraße.

As such, getting there is quite straightforward for me: Riding the bike to Moosach, and taking the U3 to the Giselastraße from there. Even better: Whenever it's time for the Spielmilben to meet, I can just get off at the Petuelring on my way back home, which is halfway between Moosach and the Giselastraße. This arrangement could not possibly be any better!

Anyway, said office is a little business centre where my company rents one of many rooms, most of which are empty.

There's also a little kitchen with overpriced drinks, and even though the company pays for that, I find the price of over 3€ for a single teabag so outrageous that I eventually just end up buying my own tea bags and a thermos bottle.

Coffee, while not something I would ever drink, has the same problem by the way. In fact, after a sufficiently large number of people apparently did not pay for their coffee, the business centre attached a credit card device to the coffee machine, effectively turning it into a pay-to-coffee station.

But moving on. Here's our little office, the staff of which fluctuates between just me, and the full regular ledger of Alex and Hannes – two locals – Mingi from Korea, and Iman from the Middle East. I couldn't be happier with this amazing multicultural team! Frank, my senior, is also part of the Munich team, though ever since becoming a father his physical appearances at the office have become sort of a rarity – at least during the days when I'm at the office myself.

The first day after my long absence, Mingi, whom I still know from before my departure in 2018, happily welcomes me back, and I meet Hannes in person for the first time. To celebrate this, we go out to eat at a local Chinese restaurant, and share a platter of tofu and century eggs between us, to which I delight myself in some chicken with three kinds of mushrooms. By the way, despite the name, century eggs actually only take several weeks to several months to prepare.

Upon returning to Munich, my work project is still the writing of test cases in Python, but as the year progresses, I switch to documentation, creating an extensive customer documentation for our product in Confluence. Apart from that, I also have excessive fun maintaining our collaboration services, such as Octopus Deploy.

This year is also the first time I get to attend the company's summer meeting, which is over in Heidelberg near Mannheim. On the occasion, Mingi, Frank, Hannes and I travel there by train… and naturally end up arriving there with a good delay, curtesy due aforementioned train being horribly, horribly late. This does not come as a big surprise to me – in complete contrast to stereotypes about German punctuality, die Bahn ("the train"), which once was the public national railway operator that was privatized due to space slugs eating the brains of a few choice politicians around the turn of the century, is about as reliable as a cat posted to guard a stash of fish. But either way, we get there in the end.

There, we first have a productive workshop, where I get to meet the remainder of our reasonably big company in person for the first time…

…and then retire to the NH Hotel in Heidelberg for the evening…

…where much to my surprise, I find the very same relaxing chair that my father and I have in our living room back home waiting for me in my hotel room. Makes me feel right at home.

To bring the day to a close, we eventually all march to a little swimming bar on the river Neckar, which just so happens to be opposite the Fuchsrondell ("fox round square")…

…where the entire company enjoys the company of one another, and eventually has a tasty dinner buffet together.

As the day draws to a close and night falls, I eventually decide it's time for me to retire, but since I'm still me, I naturally do not take the direct path back to the hotel, but instead settle on a roundabout route…

…which should take me across the Neckar via the old bridge…

…and consequentially grant me a great view on the Heidelberg Castle, which happens to be brightly illuminated at night.

I sleep well that night, and the next morning, it is time for the four of us to embark on our journey back to Munich. As usual, the train is late, but that is something we're all used to by now. In fact, the one unexpected obstacle in our path is the maze-like array of roadblocks just in front of the station that almost causes us to miss our first train (or so it would have, had that one not been late as well).

In the end, we make it back to Munich a little bit late, but still safe, sound and happy. I'm definitely glad that I managed to get this job, and hope that I can keep it for a long, long time. Not only are the people nice, but it also gives me the time that I need to work on my projects and also explore my surroundings, such as that one time I should be ending up…

Interlude ~ Daring Devil Mountain

Distance: 27.1km
Ascents: 90m
Duration: 4.25h

Okay, so that probably sounds a lot more epic than it actually is, but we actually do have a cute little hill with the very intimidating name of Teufelsberg ("devil mountain") just a few kilometres outside of town here. And since I checked my maps and noticed that I haven't really explored the eastern environs of Munich that much yet, I figure that might be as good a goal as any to approach. As such, I plan my tour to take me on top of the 542m-high Teufelsberg (which admittedly sounds significantly more impressive if you omit the fact that the surrounding landscape is already 517m high).

By now it's already over a month since my last big stray, so I figure it's high time I get out there and do something again. So, on one nice and partially cloudy May day, I start out with my trusty bicycle and embark north, following the course of the S2-tracks for quite a while…

…before eventually disappearing into one of the many little woods surrounding the city of Munich, this one already a part of the Allacher Lohe ("Allach woodlands").

I believe I already mentioned it, but Munich is generally a very green city, even more so on the outskirts where I live. There are lots of trees and parks, and houses right next to them, so you're never far from nature.

For example, there's what's informally known as the dog race course, a green causeway of sorts that was original meant to become a highway, but eventually got repurposed into a strip of green which now even features at least one official dog pond, as well as several smaller inofficial puddles. Either way, this place is a popular dogwalk venue.

One thing I dearly miss from Japan are the Temples and Shrines at every turn. The closest thing to that we have around here are chapels, and even of those there are only a few around, such as this one in the nearby town of Fürstenfeldbruck ("lords field bridge").

After that, I continue along one of the many small rural roads in these parts…

…and before I know it, I'm already up atop the Teufelsberg. Unfortunately, the many trees sort of block out the panorama, but that sort of makes this a nice view too.

The Teufelsberg is part of the Aubinger Lohe ("Aubing woodlands"), which is one of many monoculture woods around these parts, but I guess monoculture woods are still better than no woods at all.

Either way, the forests are quite popular with riders of bikes and other forms of unmotorized transportation.

Shortly after emerging from the Aubinger Lohe, I come across one of those mobile chicken stables that supply the new egg vending machines. Consisting of naught but a chicken coop in a trailer and a fence, these mobile farms are quite an interesting new development: Every week or so, when the chickens have cleared one patch of land of worms and insects, the stable relocates, feeding the chickens cheaply and efficiently while also allowing them to see quite a number of different places.

Also, by the way, that's not a Geocache…

that's a Geocache!

And that's a log!!!

With that big find, this little tour of mine is already coming to an end. I return back to Munich via Aubing, Langwied and Pasing and cross the Pasing-Nyphenburg channel, where a boy has chosen a very energy-efficient form of transportation…

…and before long, I'm back home already, ready for…

The Food

I've been to so many places now and have tasted so many different foods, so you may wonder what does the fox eat now that he's at home. Well, for breakfast, that usually includes bread with cream cheese or meat spread, though I also delight in the New Zealand combination of mustard and mayonnaise, and my father has somehow procured a sort of Hokkaido curry spread, which I try only three times: The first, last and only time.

As a Japanese alternative to that, I much prefer good old natto on toast, which I can enjoy even here in Germany curtesy to the Mikado selling it.

Lunch, meanwhile, is pretty straightforward. After having missed out on it for over a year now, I can finally delight once again in sweet, sweet frozen pizza, my absolute favourite of which is the Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza Funghi. However, I should also soon find out that some of my favourites – namely all the pizzas from Wagner – are actually manufactured by Nestlé, thus cutting my effective selection in half. Still, that leaves me with quite enough different tasty pizzas to eat one each day for easily two weeks without repeating myself.

The best part, however, is when my friends visit me on Sundays, and we share the lunch pizza between us, each of us getting a mix of different pieces to taste.

Apart from that, Robert and I also try out something that I've been keeping up until now, and that is that strange package I've gotten from the ceremony at Toyokawa Inari Tokyo Betsuin (see Book II ~ Final Chapter ~ Of Spirits and Shrines), which turns out to be some sort of bean soup – one red, one white. I am not entirely sure I understood the instructions correctly. Maybe I should have prepared it as a sauce for something? Either way, it turns out to be somewhat lacking. But I am glad I got to share it with Robrt nonetheless.

Also, every now and then (at least after I've compensated for 14 months without tasty German pizza) I also fix myself the odd plate of Yakisoba or Yakiudon with self-made Inari-age, though I still have not gotten my Inari-age to taste as absolutely delicious as the one served in proper Udon-ya.

And while working in the office, I usually go with a very simple and typical meal of a Leberkässemmel ("meatloaf roll"), which, along with the slightly more sophisticated Schnitzelsemmel, is a very typical quick lunchtime food for busy office workers. Much to my delight, I manage to find a supermarket not far from the office that not only sells those at only 1,50€ apiece, but also in four different variations: normal, pizza, chili and cheese. Enough for a good rotation, and on top of that, the supermarket also sells those super-tasty Pretzel Pieces that are one of my favourite snacks around.

Dinner, meanwhile is and always was the most diverse meal of the day – especially now that I'm living with my father again and we take turns cooking for one another. It begins with my father welcoming me home with a dish of tasty Saltimbocca on the evening of my arrival.

My father meanwhile is happy when I prepare him a pan of Käsespätzle after the recipe I learned from his mother and my grandmother.

And we both delight in our time-honed family special of Gamm Ligeral.

Naturally, I am also quite eager to share the many tasty Japanese recipes I've learned with my father, starting with something simple such as Yakisoba and rice with Umeboshi…

…continuing with Hiyashi Tsukemen (I've really got to get one of these Japanese "zaru" (笊) plates to serve them properly)…

…and going all the way to Inari Sushi (though I got that one pre-made from the Mikado).

I also share the wonderful magic of cup noodles with him, and after a special request to the folks running the Mikado am even able to give him a taste of the cup version of Kitsune Udon.

Apart from those foods depicted, we also go over Gyouza, Oyakodon, Tonkatsu, Oden, Cheese Curry Rice and Tenpura. The result? It would seem he's not all that much into Japanese food, but the Oyakodon agrees with him.

As for me, I can't get enough of it! In fact, I soon enough go out on a crusade to find a place that sells Kitsune Udon here in Munich. Unlikely, you say? Well, one would think so, but we have SO FUCKING MANY Japanese restaurants in town that I reckon one of them has to sell it by sheer chance.

Unfortunately, most of them only sell Sushi, but eventually, I manage to find a place by the name of Kushi-Tei not far from my workplace that I try out one Friday evening after work. Now the good news is that it does serve Udon. The bad news, however, is, that it doesn't serve Kitsune Udon, and so I contend myself with a bowl of Tenpura Udon instead.

After that, I polish my search algorithm, and as a result of that make my way to the slightly more distant Little Tokyo instead, where ironically no one of the staff speaks Japanese.

However, that does not matter much to me since it is here that I find the first proper bowl of Kitsune Udon ever since leaving Japan, which by this point is already over six months in the past. And not only that, but they also serve the tasty, tasty Sanpincha (さんぴん茶 "jasmine tea") that I've learned to love so much in Okinawa.

I walk home extremely happy that night, and yet, there's still something missing. The Udon soup is not quite as good as even in the cheapest eateries I've been to on my travels, and so I remain determined to find an even better Udon-ya here in Munich. But at any rate, it's great to know that such a place exists, and that I can go there any time I desire tasty, tasty Kitsune Udon.

Now, here's a bit on the topic of cooking and baking. First off, the EU has recently passed a law mandating that meats need to be labelled by husbandry system, which is something I strongly approve of primarily because it directly affected my own shopping behaviour: Whereas previously I often simply went for the cheapest meat, now I am deterred to pick anything from the lower categories. After all, as a fox I do very much prefer for my prey to have lived a reasonably free life. The direct consequence of which is that I now buy meat a little less commonly and only buy smaller portions, which is probably for the better anyway.

Then, after having tasted it back in Nanao (see Book II ~ Chapter 12 ~ The Great Escape), I naturally just had to order an array of good old Blair's Sudden Death Sauce…

…which now makes an appearance in several of my dishes, most notably Jylcnaleiayafero.

Apart from that, I'm also busy baking tasty chocolate chip cookies for everyone, now that I have a proper oven again…

…and the birthdays of first my father in April and then my own in October naturally make for great excuses to bake my grandmother's legendary cheesecake.

With that, we're already halfway to the snack section, so let's continue in that department. Since my homecoming in in April, that means the stores are filled with Easter goodies, and both my father and Doro provide me with generous amount of them that should literally last for months, and also help me recover my somewhat substandard travel-weight of 71kg back to a stable 75kg (Note: The filling Brazilian food already helped a lot on that front too. Back after Japan and before Brazil I was at only 67kg, and my minimum in New Zealand a year earlier were 65kg, and the reason why I now own belts).

My absolute favourite of that bunch are the tasty tasty tasty tasty tasty jelly eggs, the tastiness of which is not comparable to anything except maybe Kitsune Udon. As such, I naturally hit the Easter clearance sales hard and secure myself a stack of them that would last well into the year even at my rather generous rate of consumption. Also a fun fact, the German word for this is quite unusual, since it consists mostly of the letter "E": Geleeeier

Going from sweet to salty, I'm also happy to taste my favourite types of chips again, those being Salt & Vinegar as well as Balsamic Vinegar. However, I still very much miss the amazing and novel flavours that I got to taste in South Africa, spesifically the "Mrs H.S.Ball's Chutney" and the "All Gold Tomato Sauce" chips.

And finally, here's one of those tasty crazy novelties that I just had to try out.

Finally, there's also a number of drinks I've missed, the first of which is a Bavarian soft drink that is effectively a mix of Cola and Fanta. I don't drink a lot of it since it tends to give me headaches, but every now and then I allow myself a glass of it – usually when I eat out with others and they all order beer. If you want to try it, it's actually pretty easy to create a facsimile simply by combining equal parts of Cola and Fanta (or equivalent soft drinks).

Much more commonly, however, I drink ice tea, of which there are quite a number of different brands that I like to cycle through for variety. Pretty much the only brand I don't drink there is Nestea, which is owned by Nestlé, an infamous multinational corporation that among other things pulls cheap tricks such as buying wells and aquifers from natives at ridiculously cheap prices, and then sells them the water they used to get for free at horribly overpriced rates.

So much for food and drink. Now, it's time for my next bike trip. I should not know it then, but it would end with…

Interlude ~ All Hail the Bike

Distance: 41.0km
Ascents: 60m
Duration: 5.75h

Approximately one month after completing my eastern circuit featuring the Teufelsberg, I feel like it's time to go on another big ride, this one taking me north. My primary target for today is the Schloss Schleißheim ("Schleißheim palace"), and to get there, I pick a rather square route that should first take me north through Karlsfeld and all the way to Dachau, then east to Schleißheim, and finally back south to Munich again. at this point, I should not yet know of the calamity that was to strike along the way.

It starts out as a nice and cloudy day, not too hot, and not to cold, the ideal weather for biking, and so I cycle down to Karlsfeld along a little-used country road happily enough.

Not much later, I reach a cross a relaxed little dirt road next to a community garden of sorts, where an energetic little native birdie captivates me with a melodious song. After having been all over the world, I realize for the first time just how distinctly different the songs of birds are even here in my home town… and also how rarely I actually get to hear the twittering of the birds.

And literally only 2 STEPs further, I run into a Chickeria that where brutally regional eggs are being produced.

As I cycle through Karlsfeld, I pass through one of those very rare streets with no sidewalks, and as I do, I am instantly reminded of Japan.

And just a little bit further, I find the first Geocache of the day, cleverly disguised beneath a metal stairway next to the railroad tracks.

It is shortly after entering Dachau that it is time for me to find a way to cross said railroad tracks, and I do find a very exclusive way in the form of a low-clearance underpass…

…which gets even lower further in, until it is just barely big enough for my bike to pass through.

From there, the next few kilometres form a somewhat straightforward segment in the shade of supple shrubbery skirting the Schleißheimer Straße ("Schleißheim Street")…

…which among other things also takes me across the A92, one of Germany's many highways. Sometimes, you can see cars speeding by at velocities exceeding 200km/h, but at least for the time that I stay and watch I don't see any of those speed demons. Still, personally, I think even the recommended speed of "only" 130km/h is still outrageously fast, especially after driving in Japan, where the speed limit for rural roads was 60km/h, and 100km/h for highways.

Soon after, I finally arrive in Schleißheim, which is a place that I have some history with, mostly due to my grandfather frequently taking me to the Flugwerft Schleißheim ("Aviation Wharf Schleißheim"), which is an aviation museum that I really enjoyed back during my childhood. This time I don't actually go in, but being at the place still takes me way back. More importantly, however, now that I have actually cycled here, it feels like a remote "satellite" place has suddenly become "fixed" within my world. I can still remember that I thought this place was actually south of Munich back when I was a child. Back in the days of the Cold War, by the way, this used to be an US airbase.

Now, it's just a little bit further until I reach the main goal of my ride today: The magnificent Schloss Schleißheim, which actually consists of three separate palaces, as well as almost one square kilometre of elaborate gardens, that were built 17th and 18th century by the royal house of Wittelsbach.

The old palace is the biggest of the three, and is located in the very west. It was originally a stately rural mansion that was eventually expanded into the palace it is today by 1623. It was eventually destroyed in World War II, but has since then been reconstructed, and today serves as a museum.

The second palace was added from 1684 to 1688, when Elector Max Emanuel had the "miniature" hunting and garden palace of Lustheim to be constructed at the very eastern end of the extensive gardens to celebrate his marriage with Maria Antonia, daughter of the Austrian Emperor. "Miniature" though it may be called, that thing still pales all houses I've ever lived in, as well as most hotels and hostels I stayed in on my journeys.

And then, there's the new palace located between the two, just east of the old palace. Originally, it was planned to have it become an extension of the old palace, connecting to it like a square bracket, but due to financing issues, only the eastern wing was completed, and so it ended up being a solitary building by 1726.

Far more impressive than the palaces, however, are the extensive gardens, which are one of the few remaining baroque gardens that have been preserved up to this day in their original form.

The whole place is like a fairy tale retreat made from the letter "green", arranged in all shapes and forms, with paths that are sometimes straight and sometimes curved, sometimes grey and sometimes green, and only a few selected flowers arranged for accent. It all twists and flows around the central line that is the channel connecting the new palace with the Schloss Lustheim, and if it were not for a decorative waterfall near the new palace, you could take a boat right from one to the other.

It goes without saying that I only push my bike in this oasis of peace, walking through the full length of the park before emerging at the far side in the little town of Lustheim. From there, I continue my ride back south to Munich… or so I try, since before long I run into an obstacle of sorts.

This is another typical German sight: Blocking infrastructural construction sites left to lay bare. Were this Japan, there would be workers on it around the clock, and the project would be finished within a day or two at max. Fortunately for me, however, there is a very narrow causeway for me to cross the river next to the bridge that is apparently not important enough to repair in a timely manner.

From there, my route takes me south through the Schweizerholz ("Swiss Wood")…

…and past the Fröttmaninger Heide ("Fröttmaning Heath"), where I get another view on Munich's one windmill in the distance.

Before long, I am back within the northern outskirts of Munich, namely within the district known as Am Hart ("At Hard")…

…however, as I turn east, I behold a threatening sky which is the harbinger of the calamity yet to come.

Even now, I do not yet anticipate the nature of this disaster, but still I hurry since I don't want to get caught in a thunderstorm. As of yet, I still have about 9km ahead of me, which is a distance that I could cross within half an hour or less. Going at the fastest speed I can manage after a trip that was already over 30km long, I hurry back home, hoping that I should make it in time, or at least minimize my time in the rain.

And in a manner of speaking, I should succeed. In the end, I should not get wet at all.

Instead, only about 4km from home, I get battered and bruised as all of a sudden hailstones start falling all around and onto me. That is one of those situations where I don't need to consider my options, because within seconds it becomes obvious that I have to find shelter immediately or risk sustaining painful-to-crippling injuries. If the hailstorm already starts like this, then I don't want to be caught inside it when it reaches its climax, which might only be seconds away.

So I cross a road with minimal precautions and take shelter under the entrance roof of a block of apartments… for what little it's worth. However, the hailstones, which keep getting bigger and bigger, start shattering on the ground and bounce in all directions, so even though I have cover from above, I still get buffeted from the front. My bike's lithe frame makes a poor shield, and even cowering in a corner does little good. Within a minute, I am at the point where my self-preservation instinct is stronger than my innate shyness, and I start ringing the doorbells of the apartment at random, pleading to be let in.

And thankfully, some kind soul opens the door and I make it into safety, leaving my poor, trusty old bike outside to be buffeted by the hailstorm as I sit out and watch the calamity in safety, licking my own wounds.

In the end, I am pinned there for at least half an hour, and even as the storm lets up, getting home is still not all that easy. The Allacher Unterführung, the underpass I was planning to take, is, like many others, flooded, and closed to cars. However, I, battered and bruised, am at this point desperate enough to simply wade through with my trusty bike.

And it's not only the underpasses. Even level roads are flooded to the point where they rival rivers.

Maybe most impressively, however, are the roads and walkways near trees, which are suddenly painted a solid green from the mass of leaves that the storm and hail tore loose. Also, every now and then I come across a fallen branch of the size category that you really would not want to fall on your head.

In the end, I manage to make it home, chilled and bruised, but alive and in one piece, and with my trusty bike missing only the cover of its back-light. I take a nice, hot shower right away to recover from the worst (and also wash off whatever I accumulated wading through that underpass), and am glad that my wounds will heal automatically with time.

Unlike the damage this hailstorm managed to do to the city. With hailstone measuring up to 5cm in diameter, countless houses and cars were damaged, window shutters smashed, roof windows broken and the plaster on house walls shredded. I should still see the damage for months afterwards in the neighbourhood as window, shutter and carpentry companies were suddenly hit by a surge of requests.

As such, I am glad that one of those killer-hailstones did not fall onto my head, and thank the goddess that I managed to live through this. And yet, it feels like I lost yet another life here.

But anyway, I'm happy that I lived to tell the tale, so let me celebrate this by telling you about…

The Flair

Starting out with the curiosities inside my house, first of all, Ran, the white fox plushie from Fushimi Inari Taisha is finally reunited with her smaller sister Chen, whom I sent home in the load of souvenirs back then (see Book II ~ Chapter 20 ~ Kinky Kyoto), and Levi is reunited with the remainder of my plushy fox family, and then Ran and Chen festively join the skulk as well.

Also, a key feature of my home now are the travel maps, which show the routes I took around a total of six major and nine minor Pacific islands.

Then, I also take tally of all my remaining tea bags from all over the world, and assemble about a dozen or so sets of one tea each to gift to all my friends and members of my family the first time I see them.

As for my father, he receives a special souvenir straight away in the shape of a cork that I bought at the Cheetah Outreach in Cape Town (see Book III ~ Chapter 5 ~ African Adventures), and befittingly, he has bought a bottle of South African wine to go with it, quite possibly from the Cape Town region.

Another memento of that time is Flytt (see Book II ~ Chapter 11 ~ The Yoke of Yudanaka), whom I somehow managed to bring home all the way from Japan in a reasonably small number of pieces. Naturally, now I want to preserve it, and to do so, I have ordered a set of cast resin.

Since this is my first time doing something like that, I have chosen a day without anything else to do for it, and wisely so, for the first obstacle turns out that Flytt by now is less dense than the resin, and as such floats on top of the liquid. As such, I resort to pushing it into the Resin with a construct hastily assembled from Lego, that I fully well realize will become a permanent part of the finished sculpture once it dried.

Later that same day, the next problem would be getting the cast off again, since the dried and hardened resin turns out to be properly stuck inside, and no amount of pushing, bending or hitting the cast will get it loose, so eventually, I resort to more drastic measures.

But in the end, my efforts pay off, and although we're now one plastic tub short, Flytt is now preserved for all eternity in a resin cast that is not only of unusual shape, but can also dock with Lego.

The next challenge I kept for now is the first Shrine expansion, aka the miniature Inari Shrine that I bought back in Tokyo, and which is a highly complex little paper model with tiny parts that turn out to be up to 1mm² small at their most extreme. I actually have to use needles to put this together as even pincers are too inaccurate.

In the end, however, I somehow manage to do it, and subsequently add it as an additional element to my home Inari Shrine.

Another addition to my home is Vinyl Scratch, my new and very own laser printer, who for some strange reason comes with a South African power cord.

And now for some curiosities of our apartment. You see, interestingly enough, it's built in such a way that on certain days of the year, the sun can shine right through it from one side to the other, and that even though we barely have any rectangular rooms in the entire apartment.

Also, that's not a glass of dried ceps…

that's a glass of dried ceps.

Moving on to a few interesting bloopers found in local supermarkets, here's a hand calculator that I somehow doubt sells very well…

…and this other place does have a very interesting idea of what qualifies as glass wares.

Looking out into the city, there are also some interesting sights to be discovered, such as this creative sand dog sculptor whom I always give a coin whenever I see him…

…or this cleverly named bakery that you can go to whenever you feel you need some back-up.

Also, speaking of creativity, not far from where I live, there's this really creatively designed pedestrian and bike underpass, just south of the Allach S-Bahn station…

…as well as an equally colourful house just across from aforementioned station.

Another house is located a little bit further away, but definitely just as interesting. This one belongs to the Erwin Sattler GmbH, which is unsurprisingly a clockmaker. However, I'm afraid standing out all the way in Lochham, this innovative clock-house is a little bit too out-of-the-way to be promotionally effective.

And yet, innovation seems to run within the area, for just a short distance further to the west, in Gräfelfing, I encounter very clever sidewalk divisions between pedestrian and bike lanes: The bike lane has a smooth structure, while the pedestrian lane has a rough structure, so when you ride a bike, you not only notice right away when you drive on the pedestrian lane, it's also ever-so-slightly uncomfortable, thus actively encouraging people not to cycle on the pedestrian's lane.

Meanwhile, back in Munich, I come across bloopers such as this (it says "Do not cross here; ←2m Crossing").

Also, on some of my bike rides around the city, I come across what I guess you can only call a tree house…

…as well as whatever the hell that is.

So much for the curiosities around here. Now, let me tell you of…

Interlude ~ Rabbits, Moon and Foxes


In order to keep in touch with Japan, I joined the German-Japanese society not long after my return, and through them, I learned of a Japanese festival taking place in Weßling, a town a little bit to the southwest of Munich.

This festival, which goes by the name of Tsukimi (月見 "Moon View"), is a traditional Japanese harvest festival celebrated between the 15th and 18th day of the 8th lunar month of the traditional Japanese calendar, and as such falls into September or October in the Gregorian calendar. It is also connected with rabbits, since according to Japanese mythology, rabbits live on the moon and make Mochi (rice cake).

Weßling is actually not that far away, and while outside the city area of Munich, it's still easily reachable by S-Bahn, and from the train station, the way to the festival is more or less well signposted.

However, after having actually been to Japan, this Matsuri is actually just a little bit disappointing, with not much Japanese flair to it at all.

But there's some, such as moon-themed Ikebana...

…as well as a Japanese drumming performance, that reminds me of the somewhat more spectacular Sansa Oodori Matsuri in Morioka (see Book II ~ Chapter 9 ~ Amicable Appi-Kogen).

And then, there's the cosplay "contest" which I may have won by default due to showing up in such an elaborate Kitsune-outfit that two girls wearing Japanese Kimonos did not even enter. Speaking of which, imagine the looks I drew en-route, wearing this sort of outfit in the S-Bahn.

As a direct consequence of this, I get the high honour of receiving the Moon Rabbit Cup from the Japanese consul general Tetsuya Kimura himself.

That's actually just a little bit troublesome since I came here without a partner, and my outfit doesn't really have any kinds of pockets, so for the remainder of the festival my two hands are busy carrying the Gohei (御幣 "Honourable Rope" = "Shinto Prayer Wand") and the Moon Rabbit Cup around.

But anyway. Afterwards, there's a little open-air concert given by a solo pianist and singer, singing songs about the moon…

As night falls, the event moves indoors into the community hall, where some light Japanese music is played in the hall beneath the roof…

…followed by a traditional Japanese fan dance that is only lacking a Japanese orchestra to perform the music live.

Afterwards, the festival comes to a close with some quite interesting Japanese folk tales, as well as the reading of Haiku so horrible that I expect the deceased spirit of Masaoka Noboru – father of modern Haikus – to descend from the heavens in a flaming chariot of sorts and strike the composers down with righteous lightning.

As such, I do not remain for much longer but rather leave just in time to see the full moon reflecting beautifully in the nearby Weßling lake…

…and then draw yet more curious and amused glances as I head back home by S-Bahn, still in my fully vulpine outfit. Now, it's time to move on to…

The Retrospective

Home is where the heart is, and to be honest, of all the places I've been to, this is still my most favourite place of all, mostly owing due to my friends and family living here, but there's also a bunch of other factors. So let me quickly compare this here my home to the other places I've been to using the same set of criteria.

The accommodation is good to great. I share an apartment with my father that I mostly have to myself, and have my own little room. The food is tasty and plentiful, with snacks and drinks included in the monthly housekeeping fee I pay my father for shopping and service charges. As a bed, I have my wonderful comfy fox den that could not possibly be any better, and the atmosphere is nice, quiet and friendly, and lacking only a cat to make it perfect. For facilities, we have a full set of dishwasher, washing machine and drier, and we also have reliable WiFi, a fully functional kitchen with everything, I have my bike, my friends, and my consoles. On top of that all, my home is also reasonably close to a station, and has shopping options reasonably nearby as well. Crunching the numbers, it's slightly more expensive to live here than at most AirBnbs I've lived in on my journey, but the benefits greatly outweigh the costs, making this without a doubt the best place ever.

And with that, it is only natural that I finally, after all these years, prepare a piece of gift artwork for them as well, featuring my father as a Water-Flirial, his mate Doro as a bird, and also not forgetting her little Bolonka dog Sunny, all together with a certain travelling fox.

And that's already all there's left to say her. Now, the next part is…

Interlude ~ For our Future


Imagine a magical world.

A world in which people are able to perform miraculous deeds through the aid of Crystals. They can use the Crystals to move heavy things, travel quickly turn night into day, cure diseases, make food and water, and perform many other tasks with ease.

However, the use of Crystals comes at a price: The Crystals allow Demons from the Doom Dimension to creep into this world like ghosts and sap the life of the people and the world around them. Even if precautions are taken, these Demons cannot be contained indefinitely, and will seep out into the world, draining it of all life and turning it into a barren wasteland. The more Crystals are used, the more Demons come through, and the faster this process advances. On its own, the world can handle a certain number of Demons, but if they become too numerous, the world is doomed to destruction.

Now in this world, there are three groups of people. One that does care for naught but an easy and convenient life, and promotes use of the Crystals, even going so far as to deny the existence of the Demons even as the land visibly withers around them, those who oppose the use of Crystals and try to combat the Demons to save the world, and a third, huge group of people that are somewhere in between, caring not for one way or the other as long as they get to live their life in peace.

That is the situation we have in our own world now.

I for myself have always sided with the faction that promotes saving the planet. I don't have a car and go by bike and public transport, use trains whenever possible even if a plane would be faster, and instead of making multiple plane vacations each year, I spent one year in both New Zealand and Japan at a piece to minimise my emissions, and yet it still hurts me to think about how much I contributed to global warming myself even by doing that. As such, I do not intend to board another plane for a long, long time.

But what can one do? Well, you don't have to go and start a rebellion all for yourself – partly, because such a rebellion already exists (Extinction Rebellion). Even if you just follow the call for climate justice whenever it reaches your ear, that's already a great source of motivation for those heading those movements. Just like I followed the call when it reached my ears… or eyes in that case.

It doesn't take much to go out and attend one such event. In my case, I don't even have to take a day off. I just come in early, attend the strike's main phase during an extended lunch break, and then work late to make up for it. The feedback I get from my co-workers is mixed. Some just view the strikers as good-for-nothing slackers, others admire them, and others still think that individual people can't really do that much.

With the first opinion, I have to vehemently disagree. Students skipping school to strike for a future they might not get thanks to politicians ignoring studied scientists for decades seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do, especially considering that the relevance of the knowledge I acquired in school, such as the inner-tropical convergence cycle or the 30-year war asymptotically approaches zero within the reference frame of my job and life as a general.

The second opinion is good to hear, but even so, I can't help but wonder how such a person, if he/she really thinks it's that great does not come join the strike even though I specifically called for it.

And the third opinion is simply wrong. This entire mess was brought about by people, and at the end of the day, people could fix it within ONE. FREAKING. YEAR. FLAT. if they really wanted it. Naturally, that actually happening is unrealistic unless we somehow get a vengeful deity to start throwing thunderbolts at the worst climate killers on a daily basis, but the principle is clear: We could theoretically still halt and even reverse climate change. Shut down the fossil fuel power plants in favour of regenerative energies, get petrol cars off the road and steam ships off the seas, invest in electric planes (which exist but have not yet seen much development due to petrol still being too cheap), and find some creative way to filter and store all that excess CO2 from the air. Here's one organic, autonomous, aesthetic and actually pretty cheap option that requires naught but a little space:

Sure, such a change may cause some inconveniences, and I'm also aware of the fact that batteries require some "messy" ingredients, but right now, the runaway global warming effect is by far the biggest threat we face. We may have only years left to get it under control, but if we do, we can then focus on other environmental issues, such as plastic in the oceans or toxic waste deposits. But right now, we need to focus on preventing our planet from turning into Venus 2.0, because with a surface temperature of 462°C, I can think of only one kind of creature that would find that hospitable.

And that's why on this lovely day in September, I am en-route to participate in the Global Climate Strike. In fact, I have spent the last afternoon making preparations, not only for myself but also for Doro.

Once again, maybe the one reason for not going that I can understand best is a lack of faith that one can change something, but I for my part would rather be fighting on the side that's right and lose than to never even try at all.

Anyway, my route leads me from the office to the Königsplatz ("King's Square"), where the main rally will be held. From there, I should join the demonstration train until the University, and eventually return back to the office afterwards.

I arrive at the Königsplatz about 15 minutes before the start of the rally, but even so, there are already quite a lot of people around.

However, that is simple nothing compared to the amount of people crowding the square by the time the rally actually starts. Altogether, there must be thousands of people on the square and in the neighbouring streets.

After the initial rally is over, it takes me more than half an hour to cross the square and join the demonstration train, which should eventually stretch across the entire distance from the Königsplatz to the University in one big mass of people, fighting for a better tomorrow. And it'S really all sorts of people who are here, young and old, rich and poor, all determined to do whatever they can for a better future, coming together to demonstrate their will.

And carried by the people there are many signs and banners, some highbrow, others shabby, but all of them clearly showing the determination of those who carry them. And going back on one of aforementioned excuses for not attending, I think maybe the most meaningful of all those many signs I see today is this one:

Although, that one is probably the one thing that rings true most, and the one thing I blame current politics for most in terms of priorities.

Another unforgivable crime that this demonstration does a good job of punishing is the driving of SUV, which get mercilessly plastered with fliers left and right wherever they park. Somehow, the trend of bigger and bigger cars passed me by while I was abroad, but now that I was in Japan for a year, where the cars are small and compact and consume only 3.6 litres on 100km (see Book II ~ Chapter 8 ~ An East Side Story), that makes the contrast to these crazy giant monster vehicles only all the more striking, and quite frankly, I simply can't imagine a future in which people and petrol cars coexist, and sincerely hope that 50 years from now, petrol cars will have disappeared from the streets as entirely as steam locomotives did from the rails 50 years ago.

The demonstration train turns left at the Odeonsplatz, and proceeds through the spacious Ludwigsstraße…

…before eventually reaching its midpoint goal in the middle of a governmental district, in front of the Bavarian state archives, and across from several governmental institutions. This is where they put up a little display to illustrate the urgency of the situation.

As for me, this is as far as I go. Without anyone to accompany me (Peter, Doro and I failed to meet up due to the sheer masses of people moving around here), I am susceptible to large concentrations of people such as this, and even attending just this long made be burn through a generous portion of my PP. And yet, as I return to the office, I do it with pride that I have done my part today, and should another call reach my ears, I will do it again. Either way, all that's left for now is to look forward to…

The Road Ahead

And now?

Now I'm back home.

Having been all around the world, what's there left to tell?

Well, for one, I now realize almost painfully that I know both New Zealand and Japan better than my own home country of Germany by now, and have been on more epic tours around various foreign cities than my own home town of Munich.

As such, my intent from now on is to explore my own home and give both myself as well as all of you who may or may not be from the various corners of the earth a visited a better insight into the corner of the world that I was born into. I'll be travelling close by bike and far by train, and I'll keep it up, at the very least until I reach my New Home.

Hence, you may yet be looking forward to at least a few more Tales from the Travelling Fox.

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