In the week before I left I kept thinking 'What the feck have I got myself into?' The reality of walking 1200 kms, by myself, in a foreign country hit home with a whumpf - you know that falling feeling in dreams?
My brother, whom I will always think of as The Saint, came with me to Christchurch 10 days before I left and paid for me to have Lasik Eye Surgery.
It really is a miracle procedure. Not only was it painless but I could see even as I got off the operating table and could only wonder at why I didn't get it done sooner.
Of course I knew why I didn't get it done sooner! Fear of having my eyeballs sliced and scraped by a strange man in a green paper suit.
Now I say to anyone who shows interest - You haven't got a moment to lose!
So my new eyes and I set off for our big adventure.
It was exciting until I got to Tokyo Train Station - then I felt like I hit a brick wall. At least in a country like Finland one can make out letters. In Japan everything is intelligible hieroglyphics!! I couldn't even work out where the bathrooms were, so, can you imagine me trying to get an any-vehicle-will-do ticket to Osaka?
Let’s just say on the third day I got a paralysing case of Culture Shock and I couldn't remember seeing that particular clause in my travel insurance. Luckily I had another form of insurance - contact with my family and friends. Through their texts and emails, I was able to stumble through the confusion and carry on.
From there things got manageable. I still got frustrated but only 10 times a day instead of a minute. I tried out different demographics to see who were the most probable English speakers and got slicker at getting help...
Writing this account might be the (second) most ludicrous thing I've ever done and I am sure to be misunderstood, misquoted or sued, so, even though there are many fantastic websites and blogs and books dedicated to the Pilgrimage, I felt it would be wrong of me not to share my experiences too,
But then, if I had read this, I might not have set off at all...