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Saturday, 11 July 2020

Book III ~ Epilogue ~ Memories of the World

The bulk part of my travels is now over.

Sure, I will probably still travel in the future, but what I did up until now can barely be surpassed. Over the course of my life in total, and these last few months in particular, I have travelled all over the world, and visited all permanently settled continents of this my home planet. By now, I am aged 32, and have already been all over the world, and made some fantastic memories along the way.


And yet with all the travelling I've done, there are naturally still places I've been nowhere near, even counting all the flight routes. Interestingly, the most remote spot on earth for me is, however, not in Antarctica, as one might assume, but in fact right in the middle of the southern pacific ocean, in the middle of a 73 million km² big triangle, the corners of which are formed by Knox (Indiana, USA), Waipaoa (Gisborne, New Zealand) and Foz do Iguaçu (Paraná, Brazil), roughly 6,700 km away from each corner. That place is about as remote as it gets. Located approximately at 13°S 120°W, the closest piece of dry land – the uninhabited Henderson Island – is still about 1,400 km away, and the nearest settlement is Adamstown on Pitcairn Island, 1,600 km away. Or put in other terms, if I wanted to hide the legendary sunken continent of Mu, this is where I'd put it.


As for the as of yet most remote place on the settled continents (and major islands), there are multiple candidates, depending on whether you count flight paths and stopovers towards presence. If you do count both, the most remote place would probably be Tierra del Fuego at about 3,400km. Counting only stopovers but not flight paths, Marienberg (East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea) is 4,500 km away from the nearest land I've set foot on. And without stopovers, Galle (Southern Province, Sri Lanka) would be located about 5,500 away from the nearest place I've spend any amount of time at.


My travels around the world can be summed up into a total of four parts, three of which I covered in the books of the Travelling Fox Blog. The remaining part contains my travel in the Before-Time, which most notably include my semester at an American high school in Knox, Indiana in the USA. But let's go over them one by one.

The Before-Time

1987 – 2006

During my childhood, my family and I often visited Bibione in northern Italy, as well as Austria and Switzerland. We also went on vacations in France, Portugal, the Baleares, as well as the Canaries. One time, we went to visit my godmother in Austin, Texas, USA, and on another occasion we went swimming with dolphins in the Red Sea near Eilat, Israel.


My biggest adventure during this time, however, was the half year I spent studying at a high school in Knox, Indiana, USA. I did a lot of growing during that time alone, and my prime learning was how lucky I was to live in a family that did not routinely beat up their children.

Book I ~ Aotearoan Adventures

6-Sep-2016 – 14-Aug-2017

After my childhood, I ended up not leaving Germany for almost a decade due to university and work taking up my time. After a horrible start into my work career that ended up with me being hospitalized for several weeks, I used the remuneration to make a dream come true and travel New Zealand for a year.


That time was when I learned to fly. I learned how to truly stand on my own feet, and I met so many new people, most of whom were amazing. Sure, I also got exploited once or twice, but overall, it definitely was an amazing time, and even now, I miss the amazing New Zealand Furry Community. Thanks to all that, I managed to gather up the courage for my next big adventure:

Book II ~ The Japanese Journey

7-Feb-2018 – 6-Feb-2019

Going to Japan had been a dream for me ever since my time in Knox, where I first started dabbling in Japanese. The mythical land of foxes, so far away. How much is truth, and how much is fiction? I absolutely had to know. One attempt to go there during college failed, but I eventually managed to make my way there after all, and after some initial bloopers managed to travel all over the place once more.


In Japan, I saw so many foxes, both alive and in the form of statues. Japan as the land of foxes did not disappoint, but the interpersonal distance was rather big, and the language barrier somewhat high. If I learned to fly in New Zealand, I learned to soar in Japan. Thanks to my amazing Job at Netfira, I was able to run from one exploitative place, and then continued travelling around the country on my own terms, being and doing it all my way. It was an amazing experience, that much is for sure.

Book III ~ Wrapping up the World

6-Feb-2019 – 29-Mar-2019

Emboldened by my experiences in Japan, and with my financial independence guaranteed by my job with Netfira, I decided to finish up my travels around the world by hitting the last two remaining continents on my way home. Little did I know that things should end up going not quite according to plan.


Distance-wise, this last journey should cover approximately 40,000 km, surpassing even my journey to and from New Zealand by about 10%, thus making it the longest journey of all of my travels, and roughly calculated about a quarter of all plane journeys in my life summed up. And even all of this together amounts for only about 160,000 km, which is not even halfway to the moon.

Anyway, despite being by far the longest stretch of my world-tour, this part should have only two major stops:

Chapters 1, 2 & 3 ~ Brazil



6-Feb-2019 – 17-Mar-2019
Total Stray Distance: 61.6 km
Total Stray Ascents: 605 m
Total Stray Duration: 19.5 h
1; 4/9🎁︎

Despite being 2,500 km south of the Amazonas, the climate here was surprisingly raineforest-y. The natural sights at the Iguazu Falls and the technical achievements of the Itaipu Dam were both impressive. However, despite having many blessings of the modern world, Brazil still feels much more like a developing country than I would have expected. Coming from the super-civilized and polite Japan, coming here was quite a culture shock for me, and I was happy when I finally got to leave it behind. The pizza here was good though.

Chapters 4, 5 & 6 ~ South Africa



18-Feb-2019 – 28-Mar-2019
Total Stray Distance: 42.3 km
Total Stray Ascents: 1,961 m
Total Stray Duration: 16.5 h
8/28🎁︎

Coming from Brazil, South Africa seemed like a civilized high-tech first world nation, though in the long run problems became apparent. Nonetheless, I felt much more at home here between the mountains and the ocean than in the endless expanse of green that is South America. The natural marvel of Table Mountain is a sight to behold, and in going to pet cheetahs, I made another lifelong dream a reality.

Some Statistics


Since I've effectively only been to two places on this last leg, comparing them does not make all that much sense, so let's go straight ahead to my time distribution for these last legs.

As usual, sleeping is the biggest part of my day, though compared with New Zealand and Japan, I didn't get as much sleep. That, however, is also owed to the fact that my time sleeping on planes was booked under travelling. I got significantly more projecttime in than in the other two books, which was largely due to me being stuck in Brazil for another 10 days with little more to do. Working hours were the shortest due to me only having to work 3 days a week for Netfira, which paid well enough to finance it all. Since I was staying in Airbnbs all the time, however, I had to take care of all the housework myself. I appear to have spent somewhat longer getting ready for bed in the evenings and getting up in the mornings too. The narrow eating record was mostly owed to the Brazilian Churrascarias. Interestingly, despite Book III containing all my longest journeys, it ranks only second after Japan in times of travel time ¬– I reckon the long ship cruises I did in Japan might have factored into that. I still kept up my Japanese studies throughout and since then, so naturally, learning time ranks second after Japan. Play time is also at an acceptable average. Outside time, meanwhile, took a major dump. This was surely owed to the acute lack of Shrines and Temples in Book III, as well as only few Geocaches around, but also due to the fact that especially in Brazil, after having seen all the major sights, going outside had only a very low reward/risk factor. I spent the most time dealing with miscellaneous stuff and also waiting, yet since neither of the two places had a bathtub (and people are actually called on to preserve water in Cape Town), the showering time was at a clear minimum. I also barely got any chance to socialize. As for the rest that is not easily categorized, that actually managed to add up to quite something, but was still only second to New Zealand.


And now, the financial result of all my travels. Altogether, this world tour cost me over 10,000 €, most of which was sunk in program costs and flights. Make no mistake, it was totally worth it, but the cost pretty likely makes it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


In fact, Book III was easily the most expensive part of it all, costing a grand total of almost 6,800 €, of which 70% were owed to flights (offset by about 1,500 € of income I had during that month). The other expenses were comparatively tame. Whereas accommodation was the main point of cost for Japan by a broad margin, here it ranks a very distant second after flights. Shopping is still the same on place three, while I apparently spent a much large fraction on sightseeing. I also had to invest more in clothes, seeing how my luggage got temporarily lost and how I lost my only remaining long pants in Cape Town. Catering was surprisingly cheap, to the point where I was wondering: "Uh, guys, do you actually want money for this amazing food?". I had to extend my travel insurance for two months though, so that was a bit more expensive. Also, the one parcel I sent home from Brazil after the "almost lost luggage"-scare cost me more than all parcels and letters I sent from Japan combined, and my (futile) attempts to get the airplane companies to return the money for the flights they would not let me take was considerable too. Short Distance Travel (aka, by bus and/or taxi) was about the same, and without fox-stores to buy empty, the cost of souvenirs remained at an acceptable level. The fact that miscellaneous stuff is nine ranks up, meanwhile, is mostly due to the fact that a number of other categories that used to play a major role in Japan zeroed out, such as Long Distance Travel, Car Rental, Games, Gifts, Furry Events, Program Costs, Memberships or Bicycle Rental. Finally, I only had one chance to make a donation at the Buddhist temple in Brazil, and in retrospective, I probably should have given more, but after Japan I was so used to dropping coins into the donation boxes that I simply donated the largest coin I had, not doing the moth about how little that actually was.


Since I did not manage to land at a HelpX place in either country, splitting up my worktime does not really make any sense since it's just 100% programming for Netfira. Instead, let us continue with something more delectable, namely…

Fantastic Foreign Food


While it certainly won't get close to Japan, the foreign food I sampled in Brazil and South Africa easily exceeds the variety of New Zealand.

Pao



It might seem strange for someone from Germany to write about bread as foreign food, and yet… The bread of Brazil is distinctly different. They have their own baking culture here, and you can taste it in the bread. Hence, I definitely recommend sampling the various types of bread when you come to Brazil. Even if you come from Germany. Especially if you come from Germany.

Acaí



Whether in the form of juice or chilled cream that is somewhat like ice cream, this purple tropical berry is something that really defines Brazil, and one should definitely try it. There's actually entire bars that revolve all around Acaí, which I suppose makes it just a bit like Coffee.

Pizza Catupiry



Chilled pizza, again, is nothing exotic for Germany. However, there is one type that is native to South America alone, and that is pizza with Catupiry. This local specialty of a creamed cheese just goes so amazingly well with pizza, and it is absolutely impossible to get her in Europe. Believe me, I've tried.

Pão de Queijo



This, meanwhile, is something I was able to take home. Literally translating into "Bread of Cheese", this simple yet delightful food can be prepared at home with relative ease. Ready-made baking mixtures are available around the world, and so after returning home, I should routinely whip some of these tasty baked goods up for my friends. Just… make sure you stay away of the frozen variants… they are no good. You can cut them open and treat them like sandwiches, but personally, I think they already taste awesome enough on their own. However, if you want an extra kick out of them, I recommend mixing additional cheese and/or spices right into the dough.

Farofa



Not a dish on its own, but rather a condiment that goes great with meat and/or pasta. Made from "seasoned breadcrumbs", Farofa is not only tasty and filling, but also works great as an emergency dampener for particularly spicy dishes.

Churrascarias



Or as I like to call them: Battening Stations. These typically Brazilian restaurants are pretty much the indoor-equivalent of a nonstop grilling party with service, and while there is a salad buffet, the main nutritional values clearly come from the Gauchos who walk around the tables, offering the latest slice of meat fresh from the grill. Maybe the most interesting thing I've eaten in there were chicken hearts, which have an unusual, but not unpleasant texture.

Coxinha & Co



Back to baked treats, Coxinha are a sort of fried, baked dumpling made out of dough and containing chicken, cheese, and other tasty ingredients, depending on the bakery that prepared them. There's actually quite a lot of variations of the theme "baked goods filled with stuff" and sampling them sure is a delectable way to pass one's time.

Guaraná



Not a food but a drink, Guaraná is what you have when you want to stay awake. It's like the illegitimate child between coke and coffee, disowned, grown up, and come back for cold revenge. The taste is quite nice and fizzy, too. Like Acaí, Guaraná is a type of tropical berry, only this one is loaded with caffeine.

Agua de Coco



And finally, another drink. Agua de Coco ("Water of Coconut") is a 100% organic solution to OH DRAGON IT'S HOT I'M GOING TO DIE!!! The silky coconut juice just goes down even the most parched of throats, and vendors usually keep the coconuts refrigerated, so it's nice and cool as well.

Dovi



Moving on to South Africa, where I did not taste quite as many original meals, but still at least a few. For one, there was the Zimbabwean Dovi that I ate at the mama Africa restaurant. It had an exotic touch to it, but somehow, it was not quite what I expected.

Denning Vleis



A tasty meat dish with soft bread and various condiments that may have Indian roots. South Africa in general and Cape Town in particular is something of a melting pot for different cultures, so sometimes it's hard to tell what came from where. Anyway, regardless of where it came from, this is tasty, and its foreign, so it fits all the criteria to be mentioned here.

Simba Chips



A snack that I miss dearly. Specifically, I miss two flavours, the likes of which I have not encountered anywhere else in the world. The first is the All Gold Tomato Sauce flavour, and the second and my personal favourite is the Mrs H. S. Ball's Chutney flavour.

Cape Bobotie



This, meanwhile, is very definitely a local specialty, though I only got to taste it in refrigerated form. It consists of minced meat that is "baked over" with egg. It's a typical South African dish, and there's dozens of regional variations of it.

That probably sums up the genuinely foreign food I sampled in these final two months of my journey, and while I should be able to procure some of it at home, I would miss some forever. Oh well, one way or another, it is no time to talk about some…

Awesome Animals


Since I've seen quite a bunch of animals in Brazil and South Africa, I'll only stick to my absolute highlights here.

Coatis



Nature's practical demonstration that cuteness is a valid survival strategy. These adorable creatures live in the rainforests of Brazil, and are related to a bunch of other critters that you've probably never heard about, as well as raccoons. In the Iguazu Falls Jungle Park, they were, like, all over the park, displaying their ability to survive on cuteness alone thanks to the tourists feeding them all over the place, despite it being explicitly forbidden. The Coatis sure didn't mind though.

Hummingbirds



Hummingbirds always had a somewhat mythical feel to me, and I don't think I had ever seen one before in real life prior to coming to the Parque das Aves (Park of Birds) in Brazil. And Dragon, let me tell you are these little flyers ever-fast. They do literally move faster than the eye can follow. I was watching one of these really tiny birds sitting on a branch, and zip! In the blink of an eye, it was gone!

Zorritos



Literally "Fox-lets". Cute and adorable, these false foxes are also known as Crab-Eating Foxes are actually quite widespread all over the "temperate" rainforests and highlands of Brazil. Like true foxes, they feed on small mammals, insects, fruits and berries, but notably also crustaceans which they hunt on the floodplains of rivers, thus giving them their name. They are also absolutely adorable.

Cheetahs



Definitely the highlight of Book III, and the very reason why I went to Cape Town of all the places. I always had a deep connection with these big kitties, and getting the opportunity to actually pet one was truly amazing, and not something I will ever again forget.

Bat-Eared Foxes



Unfortunately, due to the foxes having young right now, I was not able to get up and close to these cute false foxes, though the option theoretically exists. Even though these small canines are only a "side attraction" of the Cheetah Outreach, they made an already unforgettable experience even greater. It's like having some of your favourite foods for dinner, and then finding out you get your favourite dessert as well.

Yes, for all of this, this expensive Bonus Round was definitely worth it. I'll cherish the memories I made here forever. And now, it's time for a…

Roundabout Review


With my travels over, it is now time to look back on it all, and decide on the most memorable events, both good, and bad. It's hard to decide, since every single part of the journey was somewhat special in its own, unique way, but there are a few that stand out among all else.

Book I ~ Chapter 4 ~ The New Plymouth Furry Den

30-Sep-2016 – 5-Oct-2016


About a month after arriving in New Zealand, I finally really arrived there. Staying at a furry place and celebrating my 29th birthday there was a wonderful experience. I'll never forget the amazing hospitality that Sandy the Chakat showed me, a strange fox from the other side of the world, without even hesitating.

Book I ~ Chapter 5 ~ Ferreting around Marton

5-Oct-2016 – 17-Oct-2016


Right afterwards, I experienced the absolute opposite. Parents who neglected their children and expected me to work my tail off at their farm. I tried my best, but I also set limits. The children liked me, but alas, the mother did not. In the end, I was rejected and thrown out of the house. This early on, the experience definitely left a deep impression in my heart.

Book I ~ Chapter 10 ~ The Island Hills Miracle

12-Nov-2016 – 20-Nov-2016


In the middle of the Southern Alps, I not only learned to operate a freaking bulldozer, but also somehow survived the legendary Kaikoura Earthquake of 2016, which – despite having been the most complex earthquake ever studied (which consisted of ruptures at a total of 25 faults) – claimed only two lives. As a result of this quake, the South Island of New Zealand is now 2 meters closer to the North Island. Also, I was busy with cleanup work over the next couple of days.

Book I ~ Chapter 12 ~ Christchurchly Second

28-Dec-2016 – 3-Feb-2017


Getting properly exploited at Thornton Grange was certainly not pleasant, but it sure helped putting things into perspective. On average, I worked 50 hours a week just for food and a place to sleep in a ramshackle barn with gaps big enough for mice to fit through. So why did I put up with that? For one, I had just lost the only regulated, paid job I should ever have in New Zealand, and for another, this place had many amazing animals, most notably llamas. Also, the hosts were reasonably grateful for my help, and that alone made up for a lot. Still, after that, I swore not to let myself get exploited like this ever again, and with that said goodbye to WWOOF, and hello to HelpX.

Book I ~ Chapter 13 ~ The Trip To Taupo

3-Feb-2017 – 7-Feb-2017


Attending the FurCoNZ at Lake Taupo was my one big break of sequence on my New Zealand round trip, but it was worth it. In retrospective, however, it would have been cheaper taking busses and ferries up to Taupo as opposed by going by plane, hostel costs included. All in all, it was an amazing, fuzzy time, and I am still talking to some people I met there even now.

Book I ~ Chapter 14 ~ Out in Outram

8-Feb-2017 – 22-Feb-2017


My cross-country descent down the Maungatua Mountains should always stay with me as a defining moment. It was when I bit off more than I could chew, and then still saw it through to the end anyway. Despite all risk and danger, I pushed forward on pure willpower alone, knowing that giving up was simply not an option. I learned a lot about what true wilderness was like on that day, and how even something that looks like a simple, green field at a distance can turn out to be a pathless shrubland up close. It was also here that I learned how to drive a horsesled and scaled Baldwin Road, the world's steepest street in Dunedin.

Book I ~ Chapter 15 ~ Restless in Rakiura

23-Feb-2017 – 10-Mar-2017


The southernmost settled place in New Zealand, and the closest I should get to Antarctica. I totally forgot to be on the lookout for polar lights at night here, so busy was my stay. It's an interesting feeling, staying on an island with only 200 people, where pretty much everybody knows everybody.

Book I ~ Chapter 19 ~ The Takaka Tales

31-Mar-2017 – 14-Apr-2017


Staying at a place where it was okay to be naked all the time sure was a new and pleasant experience for me. The only shame was that the weather was pretty cold on most days, so I mostly had to wear clothing for warmth. Still, it was definitely nice to see that alternate places such as these exists somewhere out there, and I'm definitely happy I came here. Also, there were many adorable Piwakawakas – or Fantails – around this place.

Book I ~ Chapter 21 ~ A Slice of Heaven

28-Apr-2017 – 16-May-2017


After all this travelling around, I can now officially say that Cable Bay really is the most beautiful place on earth. I can still remember when I first arrived here, and my reaction was: "Are you kidding me? There's no way that such a fantastic place can be real! I don't get how, but clearly someone has been photoshopping reality here!"

Book I ~ Chapter 25 ~ Wonderful Waipaoa

14-Jun-2017 – 28-Jun-2017


My most favourite place in all of New Zealand, not because of the landscape or the work, but because of the family that I really became a part of. Karen, Rowan and Finn, together with their dogs Maple, Angus and Mac will forever stay in my heart. I still remember how I introduced them to Geocaching. I wonder if they kept it up and how many caches they found by now.

Book I ~ Chapter 30 ~ Navigating Northland

8-Aug-2017 – 11-Aug-2017


The fitting finale for New Zealand, taking me all the way up to Spirits' Bay at the northernmost tip of the North Island. I'll never forget how I found a poor lost dog on the road in the middle of nowhere, and how happy he was when I stopped for him. I also remember how I almost rear-ended a car with my rental car while driving him to the nearest animal shelter because he unexpectedly jumped on my lap while I was driving, and how I had to pay another 100$ to get the car cleaned afterwards. Despite all that, I know in my heart that I made the right choice. I couldn't ignore a poor creature in need. That's simply not who I am.

Book II ~ Chapter 2 ~ Touchdown in Tokyo

9-Feb-2018 – 13-Feb-2018


Over six years later than intended, I finally managed to make it to Japan, and within a few days of my arrival, I found the very first Inari Shrine in my life, just sitting there between two houses in a backroad of Koto-Ku (江東区 "East Bay District"), like it was the most natural thing in the world. Words cannot express my feelings. It should only be the first of many, and certainly not the most glamorous, but I should never forget this little backroad Shrine on account of it being the very first one I ever encountered. Its name is Kurofune Inari Jinja (黒船稲荷神社 "Black Ships Inari Shrine").

Book II ~ Chapter 3 ~ Living, Learning and Working

14-Feb-2018 – 31-Mar-2018


I was busy learning Japanese for most of the following month, but I also found the time to attend a Shinto Shrine Renewal Ceremony at an Inari Shrine. For me, this was another little dream come true, and it was especially scary since I was the only non-Japanese person at that little backyard ceremony. Still, I was welcomed by the other participants and not only allowed to observe, but also participate in the ceremony, thus forging a special bond to this place.

Book II ~ Chapter 4 ~ Action at Akihabara

1-Apr-2018 – 4-May-2018


This chapter marked the birth of a legend: The Flirials, and it was all thanks to Kim from Korea, my flatmate in the Akihabara Monterosa Biru. One guy so nice that he inspired me to come up with an entirely new species of fantastic critters, which would over the months to come ripen and grow into more than just a species, but a philosophy in its own right. Anyone can be Flirial. It's simply about being nice, considerate and caring. It's about trying to make the world better, even if others are being valicious jerks. If you're in a bad situation, try to make things better for others, and if there are other Flirials around, work together for a better future. The concept of Flirials should have such a decisive impact on my life, and it all started right here, right then.

Book II ~ Chapter 5 ~ A Trip Together

5-May-2018 – 24-May-2018


Travelling with my best friend Robert up north along the east coast of Japan, a lifelong dream came true for me. I visited the Zao Kitsune Mura (蔵王狐村 "Zao Fox Village") and got to hold a real fox kit in my arms. It was only for a few short moments, but it filled my heart with such incredible happiness. With this, one of my biggest dreams has been fulfilled.

Book II ~ Chapter 8 ~ An East Side Story

30-Jun-2018 – 6-Jul-2018


What could possibly be better than getting up and close with foxes, the most beautiful creatures in the universe? Well, maybe getting up and close with foxes and Tanuki, who are so closely associated in Japanese that there exists a two-syllable word for "Foxes and Tanuki": Kori (狐狸). I only learned of this place thanks to a kind hostel host in Asahikawa, and I did not actually know about the Tanuki prior to getting here, so finding some of these adorable chubby critters mixed in with the foxes was an absolutely amazing twist. By the way, the Kanji don't show it, but after having been in Japan for a year (and witnessing Tanuki steal from the strawberry fields of my hosts in Sapporo), I am going to wager that the etymological roots for Kitsune (狐 "fox") come from Ki and Tsume ("Tree Claw"), while Tanuki originate from Ta and Nuki ("Field Thief").

Book II ~ Chapter 11 ~ The Yoke of Yudanaka

11-Aug-2018 – 23-Aug-2018


Another strongly negative experience. Now mind you, it wasn't the part where Anna Morita tricked me to come help at the Nozaru Hostel, or the 50+ hours I put in per week again… What really killed it was the lack of appreciation for me and the other helpers, and the lack of organization. The kitchen was a mess, and at one point, she locked away the bread because she felt we were eating too much. Also there were times where she could not be bothered going shopping, leaving us with rather sparse meals after hard days of work, with no free days in between. Faced with that, I had no choice but to step up to the lack of organization, and did my best to organize the other helpers, trying to make tasks easier for them. Soon, we became a pack of Flirials, working together and doing our best even when faced with tough work and little appreciation. In the end, however, I noticed that it was getting to much for me when I started scratching myself up again and punching walls and the floor. So in the end, one morning in the early hours, I just ran, but not without having said goodbye to my fellow Flirials the night before.

Book II ~ Chapter 12 ~ The Great Escape

23-Aug-2018 – 6-Sep-2018


This was where I learned to soar. Determined to never again let myself be exploited like that, I stood on my own legs, and flew on my own wings. It was also here that I started using Airbnb as my primary source for finding accommodations. I also happened to be caught in Japan's counterpart of the Legendary Kaikoura Earthquake of 2016, Typhoon Jebi, or as it was called in Japan, Taifuu Dai-21-Gou (台風第21号 "Hearth Wind Number 21"). The third-costliest Typhoon on record (and second-costliest at that time) it caused 12.8 billion $ of damage, and the most intense one since over 25 years. Just my luck to get caught in the path of this Category 5 Super Typhoon. Even though it had somewhat diminished by the time it reached my then stay place in Nagahama, it was still way scarier than the Legendary Kaikoura Earthquake of 2016 on account of it going on for hours. But in the end, everything turned out alright, and despite everything, only 17 fatalities were reported in its entire path.

Book II ~ Chapter 14 ~ Fantastic Fukuoka Family Friendliness

27-Sep-2018 – 1-Nov-2018


Of all the places I've been, I've never become as much a part of a family as here in Fukuoka. Maybe it was because I stayed here for more than a whole month – longer than with any other family – but somehow, hyperactive, young Hikaru ended up feeling like a real son to me – the son I could have had if I had been luckier in terms of love. And I certainly won't ever forget the long walks I had with the equally energetic Shiba-Inu Colin – or that time when he bolted out of the front door and I had to go search for him, only to find him again by some miracle. I'll definitely never forget my time with Sumire and her family here in Fukuoka, and it was one of the places where leaving actually made me cry.

Book II ~ Chapter 16 ~ Tropical Tokashiki

3-Nov-2018 – 4-Dec-2018


Cable Bay in New Zealand proved impossible to top, but that is not to say that the Kerama Shoutou (慶良間諸島 "Jubilant Good Space Island Group") in Okinawa did not come close. Not only was the nature absolutely beautiful, being able to hop between the different islands was actually quite an interesting experience. This was also my very last HelpX experience, and it could not have been a better one. The job at the Kerama Backpackers was very relaxing, I met nice people there, and once again, leaving brought tears to my eyes. The guys even came to the harbour to see me off when my ferry left at the end of my time here, how touching is that?

Book II ~ Chapter 18 ~ Matsuyama Madness

8-Dec-2018 – 15-Dec-2018


This chapter featured the cattiest 10 minutes of my life. Thanks to a storm cancelling the afternoon ferry, my day on Aoshima, the true island of cats, was cut short to a meagre ten minutes, during which I somehow still managed to meet a good number of cats, visit several Shrines and a Temple, as well as get an overview picture of the island.

Book II ~ Chapter 19 ~ The Onomichi Overdrive

15-Dec-2018 – 22-Dec-2018


After the cat islands and the fox village (plus the bonus fox village), the rabbit island of Ookunoshima had been another of my goals from the beginning. The lovely leporids did not disappoint, and were astoundingly affectionate despite my having neglected to bring rabbit chow from the mainland.

Book II ~ Chapter 21 ~ Kinky Kyoto

22-Dec-2018 – 11-Jan-2019


The absolute climax in terms of Fox Shrines. I had been sceptical, but the sheer amount of vulpinity at these Shrines simply took my breath away, made me gasp, and took my breath away again. I committed Hatsumoude (初詣 "First Shrine Visit") – the first Shrine Visit of a new year – at the top of Inariyama at Fushimi Inari Taisha, the highest Shrine of Inari worship, and as if that was not awesome enough already, I also visited Nara, the city of deer, where deer are as tame as the rabbits of Ookunoshima, and walk among people with amazing casualness.

Book II ~ Chapter 21 ~ The Twofold Toyo Thuggery

11-Jan-2019 – 18-Jan-2019


Kyoto may be home to more fox Shrines, but if it's about cultural acceptance, then Toyokawa is the city of foxes, without a doubt. This city positively identifies with foxes, having foxes as their mascots, to the point where they are even used as a decorative manhole cover element. Toyokawa is centred around Toyokawa Inari, a Shinto-Buddhist Shrine/Temple complex, where the borders between the two religions blur, and the single one place with the highest concentration of fox statues that I should come around in all of Japan. Originally, I came here to attend JMoF, the Japan Meeting of Furries, and although that was just a bit disappointing, the city of foxes more than made up for it.

Book II ~ Final Chapter ~ Of Spirits and Shrines

30-Jan-2019 – 6-Feb-2019


At the very last station of my journey through Japan, I attended yet another ceremony, this one a Buddhist one. Thanks goes to Asa for helping me with arranging this, and though somewhat expensive, I think it was well worth the cost to experience this amazing event, which incidentally took place at Toyokawa Inari Tokyo Betsuin – the Tokyo branch office of aforementioned Toyokawa Inari.

Book III ~ Chapter 2 ~ Brasilian Bolero

7-Feb-2019 – 6-Mar-2019


This was an expensive and emotionally taxing chapter, and not a place I would like to return to. However, it also had its good parts, such as the cute Coatis, and the amazing Iguazu Falls, which are one of the seven wonders of the natural world for a reason. Still not better than Cable Bay, though.

Book III ~ Chapter 5 ~ African Adventures

7-Feb-2019 – 6-Mar-2019


Home to Table Mountain – another of the seven wonders of the natural world – I instantly connected with Cape Town. Somehow, the symphony of sea and mountains just spoke to my heart right away, and even though this, too, did not quite reach Cable Bay, it was still amazing. By the way, would you believe that I hit both Iguazu Falls and Cable Mountain entirely by chance? I ended up at Iguazu Falls because an acquaintance bailed out on hosting me in nearby El Dorado and I was forced to organize myself a stay in a nearby town, and my main reason for coming to Cape Town were the big kitties.

The Final Result


So, all things considered, which country did I like it best in? It's a tough call, so why don't we try to break it down?

  • My family is only here in Germany.
  • My friends are here too, but I did meet a bunch of amazing cuddly friendly furs in New Zealand too.
  • Japan is, without a doubt, the land of foxes. In New Zealand, these adorable, energetic fluffballs are notably absent.
  • New Zealand and Japan were even safer than Germany, to the point where you could even leave your front door unlocked. Meanwhile, In Brazil, I got scammed out of several thousand €.
  • With the exception of New Zealand, every country had interesting and tasting cuisine to offer.
  • Tasty frozen pizza was strangely absent on all countries surrounded by the Pacific Ocean.
  • Despite trying, I did not manage to find anyone willing to raise a family with me in all of the world.
  • Exploring the landscape – be it on foot or on bike – is something best enjoyed in the three safer countries. In Brazil, meanwhile, there was nothing much to explore. Just endless forest and farmland in all directions.
  • And finally, Japan is naturally the only country that features Shrines at every corner – something I got used to quickly, and now dearly miss.
When I started travelling the world, I was mentally prepared to settle down wherever I found a home. However, in the end, I did never actually come across a place that – all things considered – was better than the one I embarked from. Yes, many other places had their ups, but at the end of the day, the downs outweighed them. And so, at the end of the day, I finished my journey the way that all great journeys end.

By returning home.

The Travelling Fox Blog ~ Book III

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