Sunday, January 15, 2017

Shirakawa-go Village, A Bliss in Every Step.

Shirakawa-go -- Never forget are the first words I saw when I tried googling the place. I still feel nostalgic for I feel like I left my heart (again!) in Shirakawa-go.  


Gifu Perfecture, Japan. It was declared UNESCO World Heritage in 1995 for its gassho-zukiri farmhouses. At first, I was decided to visit the place during the winter season but our schedule won't permit it. Had to go during the autumn season (again) where it's also a great time for sight-seeing. So far the best place we have seen during this vacation.


We were from Kyoto a day before going to this haven. I decided to write about this first while I am still overwhelmed how amazing this place is. We diligently planned on leaving Kyoto at 5am but since I can be amnesiac (lol) I remembered I set the alarm clock right when when we arrived at Kyoto station, it was already 7AM instead of 6AM, you know why? My phone was not set manually and it was still in SG time (an hour behind JP time). I wonder why it's not doing its job to auto update timezone.


Anyways, good thing we reached 20 minutes before 9AM as the first bus was scheduled to leave at 9AM. Ticket is 7000 yen, round trip tickets can be bought at the Meitetsu Shirakawa-go Bus Line. This building is right beside the Nagoya Station. Maybe a 7 minute walk when you know where to go. There's only 2 schedules from Nagoya: 9AM and 11AM. If you know you're late, then you're right, do not expect someone might've waited. :P 
Time is of the essence.


As per google research, journey will take about 2 hours and 45 minutes but it took 3 hours and several minutes. You won't get bored anyways, the couch are cozy and the view outside your window will ease your boredom. The path is through main highways and more of a province type where you see more greens and rivers of turquoise running water. 


It snowed in Tokyo when we arrived in Nagoya on Monday, I was hoping to see it snow here but the forecast was accurate, it was raining. Don't know if I was hallucinating whilst in the bus when I saw somewhat hail falling, but I'd like to think it was though my smartphone didn't capture much.

My hands touches the moist as I try to write on the slightly foggy glass. It started 7degrees and became 2 degrees when we're almost there. It was raining. I hated the rain from pouring because we were wearing rubber shoes. We know its going to be cold and yet we were under-dressed, again. At the Ogimachi tourist information center, we arrive 12:30PM. There's a few lockers where you can store your things but it may all be vacated. No worries you can leave your bags at the counter but you will have to pay 500 yen. 


We ignored the cold feet as we gazed the friendly village or rather, you will forget about your cold feet when you see this landscape.

Gassho-zukuri means "constructed like hands in prayer", as the farmhouses' steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer.- reference

There is a map guide available in different languages. Ogimachi is the largest village with houses made with thatched roofs. There are a couple houses for viewing where you will see how they lived and what appliances they used in their everyday chores. We opted to enter only one, it was the Wada House:

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   inside Wada House

Houses and museums are of 300 yen entrance except for the Heritage site which costs 600 yen. I wish I could say more but we decided not to check it out, I wouldn't say there might be more to see because it's not what happened when we were at the Nijo Castle in Kyoto.
We practically saw almost all of the must-sees, since it is a smaller village, 3 hours would be enough if its not raining. You have to walk carefully when the road is wet. The map might look like a gigantic land to roam around but its manageable. Sun sets early in Japan, the village is not well lit up and it seems Japan is not that big with the lights on for 24 hours. Convenient stores' open untill 11PM and restaurant's until 9PM. It will be dark but it's definitely safe.

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We stayed at the Guesthouse AntHut. It is near the police station in which I will feature on my next entries. It is located 20minutes away from the Ogimachi Tourist Center. The next day, we picked up where we left off. We went to those areas where we didn't see much. The village stretches up until Kanmachi (refer to map). There's also a spa, unfortunately we're no fan of spas. The fresh cold air could've been enough. The greenery is overwhelming, and how impressive can these thatched roofs are especially when someone's cooking in the house in an early morning. The scenery is a bliss with the smoke out of its roof. 

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I realized we were lucky to see the place wet on our first day because it was sunny the next day. The trees were suddenly dry and pale when yesterday the autumn leaves were vividly striking. 

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   dried grass on our 2nd day

In this photo you will see the mountain is already filled up with ice. I wish the snow would fall but it is not yet our time to see one. At the end of the day, it was all about every step was worth taken for what Shirakawa-go offers. 

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Wonderful Mount Bromo -- Indonesia

I probably hate myself for the lack on consistency nowadays I would rather cuddle my little one than work in my office desk. Just like today, It's a Monday, feels off-peak though and I am on a 12-hour shift. Yes, I've been praying my shift to be over since about 3 hours ago.

Anyway, I better get started on this long overdue Mount Bromo post. Right after Kawah Ijen, our itinerary is set for Mount Bromo which is located nearer Surabaya Airport. We headed back to the homestay, packed our bags and checked out. 

It's a good thing we managed to negotiate with the rented cars to take us directly to Cemoro Lawang, a town in Bromo. It was way easier for us than to go by the bus.


As we arrived pretty late in the evening, it was chilling but I didn't bother checking what the temperature is because the pain in my broken ankle is getting more serious. There was a number of people gathered where the car stopped. They were drivers and homestay owners and care takers. Basically, people who usually deals with tourists. It was the right crowd we needed. We found a homestay, the 4x4 deal who will take us to Mount Bromo by 1:30AM and a ride back to Surabaya Airport all in one. 


We initially reserved a homestay at Cemoro Lawang but when we get we asked them, no one could tell us where the homestay is and ended up renting the homestay at the back of where our new found friends was. 

There was this guy about his 50's. Very friendly and helpful giving us directions and some tips. Turned out he was looking for passengers going back to Surabaya the next day. We then gave a haggled price just as what we read from other blogs, about 500,000 IDR = 51 SGD. Suprisingly, he didn't ask for any increase. The travel agency was asking 750,000 lowest price. This was a risk we took and we turned out to be so damn lucky since they warn us its impossible to get 500k. Guessing from his strategy, he wasn't getting any luck of getting a passenger going back to Surabaya that day so he had to agree than get nothing at all. We agreed meeting at 8:30AM just as where we met in getting back to Surabaya.

Fer and I hurriedly took the room, of course in a perfectly haggled price. We asked the locals where to get something to eat, turned out only one is open. We got to try a local noodles shop that serves beer perfect in that cold night weather. 
We had a nice chat at the restaurant about 50 meters away from the homestay and met a cute German baby cuddled by his friendly Daddy, 6 months and already climbing the mountains with her parents! Wish I could get the courage when I have my baby, but then again... Nope! I cannot imagine how they feed the baby in those long hours of travel at the same time they should be equipped with nappies, distilled water and the formula, not to mention clean clothing! I salute these parents.

Alright, passed one hour, we decided to call it a night. I had the hardest time cleaning myself up. I have done it the quickest way though. We were in our deep sojourn sleep when someone kept knocking on our door. I feel it was a little late for someone to check in at about 11PM and I got paranoid when I saw how someone could easily kick and break the plywood door open. We had to ask who was it first before we opened the door. It was a younger guy who said to be looking for the tickets we got earlier that we already handed off to the other guy who was going to drive us to Mount Bromo. He was scratching his head and walked away.

We immediately fell asleep under the cold night.

Fast forward to after 2 in a half hours. We are ready to hop in the jeep, especially me in my condition. As negotiated, we had the jeep all for the two of us, yeah.. plus the driver. The night was still deep, too cold for me but I managed. 

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I know, I'm nowhere close

As we reached the top, we hurriedly setup our camera for some long exposure shots. We were so excited to find our we were the first ones to be there. Camera mounted towards the endless dark skies end until my world just fell apart. First, I was wondering why my camera won't focus. Then, ERROR. It felt like my mind was blurring like a mad dog, disappointed but I tried not to ruin the day. I just told myself that it's just another bad luck, it'll pass, I won't be able to get one shot of that dream long exposure. T_T but, it will pass.... :)


Fer was nice to let me borrow for a quick ones on the Bromo mountain, I feel its too much to use her camera for long exposure but she had me take a few ones. If you guys intend to take some long exposure, be there as early as possible, we arrive at about 230am and we wished we were there another hour earlier, it was like a market place bustling in minutes. 


We just found ourselves pinched in the metal railing at this overlooking facade. People are all over the place, all holding their cameras. And I'm the one who dont'! We had enough at about 6am so we decided to go down. The view is amazing! No words can describe how beautiful the view was. I will live to you, as usual my photos does not do the view justice. You have to see it with your own eyes.


Approaching the sunrise, we met with the black ashes and wonderful sunrise shadows. A group of men would usually gather around and ask you for a ride with a cost of course. This is one of the tourist attractions and people earn a living by a pony-like ride going to the volcano. Unfortunately for me, I had to wait and see. I watched Fer go to the volcano and faded.


For non-hikers like me, you would definitely enjoy this. The walk to the volcano will not take you 30 minutes to see the crater that breathes sulphur smoke. I'd definitely be happier if it wasn't for my bad ankle. But who am I to complain, I've seen another mystery of nature!  


Monday, August 1, 2016

Torstein Ivar de la Cruz - Welcoming this precious blessing!

It's been three months of another hiatus in a wonderful motherhood. I cant believe it has finally happened and I didn't even know I am capable of bearing a child. I must say, its true what they say. It seems my family has been completed by this baby boy.


May 14th, 2016 caesarian section. I was ditching the CS expert OB-Gyne eversince I arrived in our hometown hoping I could deliver normal. It was normal at first but since my BP has been going bad, Doctor has tried to induce me for an overnight stay in BRTTH where she is a resident consultant. It was a public hospital, I saw every several mothers shouted in pain and even one screaming, literally throwing tantrums like a kid on the floor. Shouted, she can't do it anymore. I didn't feel scared, I was confident I can deliver normal because I feel like I have a high tolerance of pain. Well, I wouldn't know, I never had a chance to prove it. I had a second OB, first Doctor had to refer me over because she is going out of town on my expected delivery date. The moment I told her I had a headache and high BP she said, go to the hospital now and I will have you deliver today (May 14th). That time, I felt being nervous! Truth be told, my precious little boy was born 10:30pm. I saw him right after they pulled him out of me. The doctor said, here's your baby boy and he's a big one at 3.9kg! I had a glance for I am still nauseous with the anaesthesia.

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I think I'd be posting more of baby photos. 
Maybe get baby product reviews? Haha! Yes, I definitely have one in mind.😁
Travel posts? Yes, I promise i have a lot of backlogs. Trabaho teh? Next stop on my blog is Mount Bromo. 
We are hoping to add more trips this coming year. Thanks for dropping by! 😁

Torsteins candles

Graphics not mine, personal use on my baby's baptismal.