In an effort to save a couple hundred bucks, I bought cheap air tickets to Kansai Airport that would require me to rush between airports and train stations with not much rest and food for 36 hours.

Yeah! Awesome planning skills! (Read with sarcasm.)

Despite the mad rush, there were moments that made the whole experience absolutely magical.

Often, we are so caught up with the “doing” of life, we forget to experience “being” of life.

One of my intentions in this break to learn to be — to be fully present and immersed in the immediate experience. It is only with this presence that one can encounter the real magic of life.

Below are just two such moments.

Moment 1: A Chance Meeting

The first was my flight from Singapore to Tokyo. I was sitting smack right in the middle of the row – with a young Japanese girl to my right and a very cool-looking older woman.

There was just something intriguing about her. Her short silver-blonde bob, her Louis Vuitton hand-carry, and her sharp but elegant demeanour.

At first, I just kept to myself, watching Matt Damon trying to escape another planet (yet again). Then I noticed her struggling with the screen for the second time.

Looking at her, I was pretty confident she was Japanese, so I tried to help her with mostly gestures and smatterings of Japanese. As we spoke, I realised she was actually a Singaporean who has lived in Japan for the last few decades.

Wow. Totally beyond my expectation. She didn’t remotely look or behave like a Singaporean. Even her English accent is slightly Japan-ized.

We ended chatting for quite a while. Strangely, because we were strangers, it was much easier for us to share the pleasures and pains of our lives much more openly. Even though the chat was brief, it felt that we bonded during the flight.

I won’t be sharing the details of her life since this is a public space but safe to say she lived an envious life from the outside — but just like her demeanour, one can never judge book by its cover.

Moment 2: The Blessings of Amaterasu

My flight was descending in Kansai Airport at 8am on a cloudy day. The clouds were so dark and thick I wasn’t expecting to see anything.

Just when I was about to turn away, I saw a glimpse of the sun.

For just a few seconds, the sun broke through the heavy clouds with rays of light that shone on the calm waters, surrounded by mountains and the peninsular. The waters hit by the sunlight were glistening, while the surrounding land was shrouded in a light mist. It was so breathtakingly beautiful, it almost looks like Amaterasu, the Japanese mythological sun goddess, was blessing Osaka with her presence.

I am no nature buff, so I normally wouldn’t be looking out for things like this. But the beauty was beyond words.

I wished I caught the moment with my camera so I could share it with you guys, but I have a suspicion it may have taken away the magic from my experience.