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24 September 2015 @ 09:33 pm
The days at Daisetsuzan were probably my favourite ones as I love being outdoors and the scenery was simply gorgeous. We took the bus from Asahikawa, which needs about 1.5 hours to get to Asahidake Onsen. Everything was easy to find and pretty straight forward. Tobi didn’t even make me ask people anything.

We didn’t hike up Asahidake, as it would’ve been pretty steep, crowded and I would’ve needed ages to get Tobi back down. Instead we took the path towards Kuridake, which was pretty amazing.

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Highlight: The lodge. Best place I ever stayed at. The owner made a lot of the furniture and wooden decoration by himself. The food was amazing too. And he knows some English, making reservation via fax possible for us mortals too.
Plot twist: most of the other guests at the lodge were probably double our age yet significantly fitter. While we went to bed early, they had one beer after another and even started singing at some point during their little party.
Tobi’s fear of the day: brown bears. He bought the probably biggest bell available at the store in order to be the noisiest hiker around the entire Daisetsuzan National Park. 
Current Location: Daisetsuzan, Japan
04 January 2014 @ 05:25 pm
Jordan was the country that surprised me the most. While originally we went there simply because it was cheapest option and someone wasn't allowed for various reasons to enter Isreal, it turned out to be a true gem.

I loved it. I loved every single part.

Most crowded: Amman. We spent a couple days and New Years Eve there. Party was expensive but certainly worth it. Petro on second spot after Amman. Never seen that many people in front of a former movie setting. There were, however, quite a few alternative hiking routes (the area is huge. took me 2 hours for just one detour) which are less frequented.

Most inspiring: Wadi Rum. We had our own tour guide and he did pretty well at showing us main spots and going hiking. The tours could be adjusted according to whatever the hell you want and we stayed at the Beduin's camp for two nights. Nothing like a night sky with the most stars you will ever see as in the desert.

Most enriching: The near death experience. The driving experience. Driving in Amman without a navigational system is crazy. Even with one it is crazy. My guidebook actually stated "you have got to be crazy to drive yourself in Amman". Well, I am crazy. But I made it and overcoming fear only makes you stronger. To further add to the crazy driving experience we got lost during our way to the Dead Sea, which ended up in us going downhill a really narrow gravel path and getting on the highway without any slip road.

Most relaxing: Spending christmas at the Dead Sea.


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Current Location: Jordan
20 October 2013 @ 10:42 pm
Enter: pure and beautiful craziness. Tokyo

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18 October 2013 @ 10:12 pm
Day: my new flatmate. Kobe.

My flatmate - Mary - is moving out in November. It's painful, but I have to look ahead and find a new flatmate. What better place to look for one than Japan? I left Kris and my bulky suitcase behind in Tokyo and headed to Kobe to meet Yuri - my new flatmate.

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17 October 2013 @ 10:13 pm
Day 6: Nachi Taisha and the big city.

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16 October 2013 @ 11:56 pm
Day 5: finding out that I am not disaster-proof. The devil's staircase.

Day 5 (day 4 of hiking) was the day that the owner of the first place we stayed at (Chikatsuyu) was most worried about. And so was I to be honest, especially after being pointed out my age by my knee in such an oblivious way. When we arrived at Koguchi the night before, the winds were already quite strong. When we asked the owner of Mishuku Momofuku whether he'd think we should start hiking at 5:30 am as the other guy had suggested, he only laughed loud and said we would only need 7 hours. We adjusted that to our fitness and decided on 9 - 10 hours. The dinner at Minshuku Momofuku was heavenly. The food in those little Minshuku and Ryokan was generally extremely good. We checked the weather forecast and it looked like the center of the typhoon would pass at night and it will be sunny again the next day (maybe Kris' wish coming true?).

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Kumano Kodo day 4 Key Data:

Difficulty: the first 2 hours is a real bitch. But after that it was fairly easy.
Scenery: Rewarding. There is one very very nice view point on the way, close to the end of the trail.
Missed out on: taking the slide down the park we passed. Meh.
Started at: 7 am
Arrived at: 3 pm
15 October 2013 @ 11:30 pm
Day 4: The one we skipped. Time for recreation.

At night on the 13th we had already arrived at Yonumine Onsen. Just as we had left Hongu Taisha to go to Yonumine, it had started raining and got suspiciously windy as well.


Typhoon time...Collapse )

Yonumine Key Data:

Location: Wakayama prefecture, can be reached from Hongu Taisha via bus or on foot (max. 1-2 hours hike)
Onsen price: the Heritage Onsen and Medical Bath Combi was only YEN 700
Water temperature: boiling hot. Luckily there was a tap with cold water. We cooled the water down for about 15 Minutes.
Current Location: Japan
Current Mood: happyhappy
14 October 2013 @ 10:30 pm
Day 3: my close to death experience. The biggest challenge.

The second day of hiking Kumano Kodo was by far the hardest. We originally planned on hiking all the way from Chikatsuyu to Hongu Taisha. However, there was a detour for one part of the trail due to a land slide. That detour sadly (or luckily?) lead us through a valley, just to go up an 800m mountain, just to go back down again. Due to the Wakayama prefecture being so close to the ocean, most valleys are near sea level, at maybe 40m. This of course meant that whenever we went down a valley and back up a small hill, we always had to hike up and down something between 60 and 700m. If you do this once, it isn't really that bad. But on the second day, we had do this 5 (!) times. Plus 3 small elevation of maybe 200 to 300m. That day was a bitch not so nice.

However - as always in life - the worst days are also the best.

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Kumano Kodo Day 2 Key Data

Difficulty: we both agreed that this was the hardest day. But it might just be cause of the detour. Nonetheless, the path from the look-out point down to the goal is the worst. It's going mostly downhill on big steps made of giant stones. Even Kris' knees started hurting at some point. And due to the fact that I only used one leg to do the stairs, my right bottom cheek was almost on fire due to the pain. Just saying.
Started at: 7 am
Arrived at: 3 pm
Stayed at: Yonumine Onsen
Got there: By bus from Hongu Taishi.
Met: Absolutely nobody. Why. WHY.
Side note: The detour we hiked due to the landslide was a true gem. I have no idea what the actual trail looks like, but I like thinking that the detour was better.
Current Location: Japan
Current Mood: in pain
13 October 2013 @ 11:40 pm
Hiking the entire Kumano Kodo trail is said to purify one's soul. Since I already failed at finding my path to Nirwana at Borobudur, I decided to get it right this time.

Day 2: Not Kumano Kodo Starting the hike.

Due to my inability to set clocks after entering a different time zone, my alarm went off at 4:30 am the next day. Kristian had recently lost her phone, so when I woke her up at 4:45 am, thinking it was 5:45 am and our bus would be leaving in one hour, she - fully trusting me - just nodded and had a shower without suspecting anything. Since I was overly excited about being in Japan and not really in any time zone as I had just landed the day before, I didn't notice how early it was at all - until I turned on the TV. Morning programmes are a fine thing. They always show the time...

After Kristian was done laughing at me, we decided to use this opportunity and simply take the earlier bus, which was bound to leave at 6:18 am. With this unusual coincidence, we took a first step towards friendship - we initiated a tradition which we didn't plan at all and only noticed we were doing it on the last day. We started hiking at 7 am.



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Kumano Kodo Day 1 Key Data

Difficulty: Looking back now that I know what the other parts of the trail were like, day 1 - the hike from Takijiri to Chikatsuyu - was by far the easiest day. Nonetheless it was also the day we needed the most time for the shortest distance at the lowest elevation.
Started at: 7 am
Arrived at: 3 pm
Stayed at: Minshuku Chikatsuyu (awesome dinner & awesome breakfast)
Met: a young family, who kindly shared their umeboshi with us as well as an elderly couple who shared mochi with us.
Scenery: Good for everything. Forests, small towns, all kinds of pavement. Highly recommended.

Current Location: Japan
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
12 October 2013 @ 10:01 pm
I'd love to claim that destiny brought me back to my favourite country, but it was only a combination of available resources, formally applied for vacation and of course my friend, the internet, who so selflessly helped me plan my trip. After an 18-hour-journey with a stop-over in Amsterdam, I finally arrived at my beloved Japan.

Day 1: Meeting the stranger Tanabe


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Tanabe Key Facts

Stayed at: Miyoshiya Ryokan
Awesome fact: If you stay a night at the Ryokan, you can leave your luggage there for free while hiking the Kumano Kodo. This was the first and definitely not the last time I left that damn heavy suitcase behind.
Kumano Kodo relevance: Kind of starting point. There is a bus leaving from Tanabe station going to Takajiri, the actual starting point of the hike. Plus it's a good spot when meeting up with strangers. I think.
Size: Tiny. We walked through the entire town within 2 hours.
Surprising fact: This tiny village has a surprisingly lively nightlife. Or rather evening life. I would even go as far as saying it has some sort of bar district. With pretty floor lighting and everything. Kinda hard to describe. We spent the evening at an Izakaya, having awesome food and beer. It was simply perfect - I decided that I wanna live in that town one day.
Current Location: Japan
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: on top of the world