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Posts Tagged ‘camping’

Camping in Nagasaki

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 20, 2014

October 6-8, 2012

All Pictures

AJET Camping Trip

The South Africans

This camping trip was planned and arranged by Frida and Roland, fellow nerdy campers. Both Frida and I were ALTs in the JET Programme and they lived about an hour’s drive from us. But we never actually met them until the latter part of our second year in Japan. I knew of them; we had several mutual friends, but we always seemed to just miss meeting each other.

The AJET leader in our area planned an awesome camping trip for JETs in Oita Prefecture. Well, camping not so much. Most of the “campers” were in cabins; cabins with a/c, kitchens, rice cookers… For some JETs, the ones living closer to cities, the cabins were nicer than their apartments.

There were a small few in tents. That’s where we met the South Africans. We were the only ones who brought our own grill. We were the only ones who brought first aid kits. We were the only ones who brought enough food for the whole trip and had coolers. Then I found out that they were a bit nerdy. Mark and I fell in love! Camping soul-mates at last…

We wanted to go camping with our new friends many times over this summer. But this year, 2012, had a typhoon or storm just about every weekend. We would make plans only to cancelled because of the weather. Then in July I was in the hospital. October was the first time we were able to go on a trip together and we brought some other campers too.

Everyone’s doing dishes but me.

Art and Nature

The main reason they pick this particular campsite was because it is near Huis Ten Bosch, which is like a cross between Holland and Disney World. At the time of this trip it also had some Dutch art on display for an extra fee. Frida, Roland, and the other were really keen to see the art.

But, Mark and I are not really interested in art. Although the Huis Ten Bosch itself seemed quite fun, the entrance fee was a bit high. Since I still could not walk or stand for too long without getting very tired we didn’t think we would get our money’s worth. Mark and I chose to stay at the campsite and relax while everyone else went to the park.

The Life!

The campsite itself was really nice. There weren’t too many other campers and the few that were there kept to themselves. I might have mentioned before how Japanese campers like to set up their tents right next to ours even when there are hundreds of empty sites to choose from. When we are part of a group, that does not happen.

Let me poke it. No boys, don’t poke it!

There was a beach right next to camp, but this is not a beach for swimming. It was very cold, but besides that, there isn’t any sand; just rocks. But still, the boys managed to find some fauna to play with by way of the solider crabs scurrying around.

Many families came by to day-camp and fish off the pier. And this seems to be the spot where many pet owners dump their unwanted cats. There were several strays ready to steal from our grill so we had to have someone on guard during all meals.

camping with friends

 

Frida and Roland brought a nerd trivia game. We played after dinner by moon light while listening to the waves. We had enough people to make 3 teams. Mark and I were on one of the teams. We played 2 rounds and Mark and I crushed everyone both times. And when I say crushed, I mean won by one point.

This was the first of many camping trips together and many Nerd Night battles. Freda and Roland introduced us to the worlds of QI, rooibos tea, and South African braai and showed us how to embrace the nerds within us. We introduced them to John Green, American over indulgence, and regaled them with stories about our Eagle summoning ceremonies.

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards.TakecashandcallyourbanktoaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan. I’ve never been a tourist.)

Osaki Nature Park Campgrounds
(大崎自然公園内 キャンプ場)
(Ōsaki shizenkōen-nai kyampuba)
(Ōmurawankenritsu Park)

How to get there:

  • +33° 3′ 0.79″, +129° 49′ 58.75″

Address:

〒859-3601 長崎県東彼杵郡川棚町‎
095-826-6715

Phone: 

  • 0956-83-3210
  • 0956-82-2661

Website

Cost:

  • 500 JYN per adult per night
  • 1,000 JYN for grill rental

Hours:

  • Check in 13:00
  • Check out
    • 18:00 day campers
    • 11:00 the next day for overnighters

Notes:

  •  There are lots of stray cats. It seems that this is a popular place for people who no longer want to be cat owners to abandon their cats.

Shiosainoyu Onsen
(川棚大崎温泉しおさいの湯)

How to get there:

  • +33° 3′ 20.87″, +129° 49′ 26.00″

Address:

川棚大崎温泉しおさいの湯
237 Ogushigo
Kawatana, Higashisonogi District,
Nagasaki Prefecture 859-3618
Japan

Phone: 

  • 0956-82-6868

Website

Cost: 

  • 500 JNY per adult

Hours: 

  • 9:30 – 22:00

Notes:

  • Many campsites with nearby onsens will give you a one time discount to use at the onsen. Usually the discount is 100 yen per person. You should get the coupon when you pay for your stay at the campsite.
  • There is a restaurant in this onsen and outlets to charge phones.

Sumie Family Vacation Village
(须美江家庭度假村)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates +32° 39′ 41.94″, +131° 46′ 5.03″

Address:

日本宮崎県延岡市須美江町69−1須美江家族旅行村

69-1 Sumiemachi Nobeoka,
Miyazaki Prefecture 889-0321 Japan‎

Phone: 

  • Management office 0982-43-0201

Website

Cost: 

  • CABIN – 5 persons per cabin                                                             ¥8400/cabin = ¥1680/person

-full kitchen (rice cooker, refrigerator, sink, dishes, utensils)
-TV
-bedding
-shower

  • PERMANENT TENT – 5 people   per tent                                  ¥1360/tent = ¥272/person
  • AUTO-CAMPING – bring your own tent                                     ¥3150/car = depends/person

-coin operated shower near tents
-rent bedding for 200 yen each or bring your own

Hours: 

  • Available year round
  • Check in  16:00 to 17:00
  • Check out 13:00

Notes:

  • BBQ Pits available to rent for ¥500
  • Nearby Aquarium Hours 9:00 – 17:00 M-F
  • There are 2 beaches within walking distance. The nicer beach is further away.

Map

Posted in Japan, Kawatana 町, Kyūshū, Miyazaki 県, Nagasaki 県, Nobeoka 市 | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

One of Japan’s Best 100 Sunsets

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 27, 2011

July 16 – 17, 2011

All Pictures

Of course I brought the wrong camera for sunset photos…

Finally!

I have blogged about Mark’s and my many attempts to see the sunset at Matama beach. This is supposed to be one of the most beautiful sunsets in Japan and we, up until this time, have always managed to miss it.

This time we showed up a good 4 hours before sunset. We ate at the restaurant on the beach, then sat in the water until the tide came in. When it was almost sunset we got out of the water and sat on the cement steps leading to the sea.

They didn’t notice me fall.

Right before the sunset I noticed that my shoes were a bit sandy. I wanted to rinse them off in the ocean water before I put them on. I stepped on the last step above the water, which was beginning to get flooded. There was a patch of slick moss under my foot and before I realized that I was falling, I was on the ground with one leg under me and the other awkwardly reaching out into the water.

I got up and I felt no pain initially. In a few seconds there were streams of blood running down my right leg. I rinsed it off with the salt water so I could see the wound. It was not too bad. I enjoyed the sunset as I bled.

Enjoying warm shallow water

Japanese Lesson for this situation

So, I’ve been living in Japan for almost a year now and that’s a total of almost 2 years of my life spent in Japan. But still I speak very little Japanese. Don’t feel bad Japan, I grew up with 2 Spanish-speaking parents and still have no idea what the heck Speedy Gonzales says. It’s not you, it’s me.

I basically learn just what is needed for me to survive. This is why I can order food in Korean, I can say, “Fill-her-up,” in Japanese, and say bad things about your mother in Spanish. But I can’t ask about the weather in any language other than English.

And for the record, my parents did not teach me to say bad things about your mother in Spanish. …And tu madre es una dama simpática.

I will put here, for future reference, for me or whoever else needs it, the vocabulary needed for this situation.

Rubbing alcohol 

  • 消毒用アルコール
  • (Shōdoku-yō arukōru)
Topical antibiotic cream (Like Neosporin in the US, or Fucidin in many countries)
  • 抗菌外用薬クリーム
  • (Kōkin gaiyō-yaku kurīmu)
  • Make sure to ask a pharmacist about this one. Not all topical antibiotic creams are for wounds, most in Japan are for rashes.
  • This one might be hard to find.
  • 絆創膏
  • Bansōkō

or in my case

  • 大きい 絆創膏 (Big band-aid)
  • Ōkii bansōkō
No need for sentences. That will just give me more things to forget.

Guards of Scotch

Typhooie!

Before we went to Matama beach we pitched our tent and Mark sprayed it down with Scotch Guard to make it more water proof. The last time we were camping, the tent leaked so this needed to be done. Before we left the apartment we saw that a typhoon was heading our way. The storm would hit Oita Monday night, so we didn’t cancel our trip. The Scotch Guard would help us if it started to rain a couple of days before the storm.

Just to get something straight before I continue. I do not recommend camping during a Typhoon, or even a tropical storm. A tent is not good shelter from anything other than mild rain. We checked the weather forecast before heading out and we knew that we were good for camping until Monday evening. By then we were safely back in our apartment by Monday night.

St. Croix

Mark –  “What’s the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?”

Me     – “Geography”

I grew up on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As a kid I loved hurricanes. It usually meant that my parents would let me stay up late to see what was going on. The electricity would sometimes go out, and my mom would bring out her kerosene lantern.We would sit in the living room listening to the radio. I would curl up in a blanket on the sofa next to my mom or dad as the wind whistled outside. The reception on the radio would crackle as the fire in the lantern danced about. I loved the sound of the radio snow over the howling of the wind along with the smell of the burning kerosene. I would go to bed hoping that school would be cancelled the next day.

Usually, nothing more than a couple of trees or telephone polls would be knocked down. Most of the time, I and many other kids, would be in school the following morning making up tales of people blown away in the winds. The hurricanes, would either just miss us and only dump rain on us, get down graded to a tropical storm, or turn away from us completely. My first real hurricane was Hugo. Few people on the island were prepared for the disaster Hugo would bring.

The aftermath

You haven’t seen a real hurricane yet!

The morning of September 17, 1989 I was excited. It was a Sunday. Not only was my piano lessons for that day cancelled because of the hurricane, but so was school the next day. I hated piano lessons!

My family and I went to the crowded grocery store where everyone was buying the hurricane essentials, batteries, water, canned food… I, for one, was thrilled. The air was filled with hurricane anticipation as everyone, excited about the hurricane, talked about what they thought about the storm.

The afternoon we and all our neighbors prepared for the hurricane. I remember my parents arguing about some sand we had in the back yard. My parents were fixing up the house, so my father bought some sand with which to make cement. My father said that it wasn’t necessary to cover the sand with tarp. “Would you cover the whole beach with tarp?”

Mom – “No but the beach gets its sand from the ocean. If some sand gets blown away, more will wash up on shore the next day. I’m telling you, if you don’t cover the sand, it will be gone by tomorrow.”

My father covered the sand, but it and the tarp would be gone by the next day anyway.

My mother was the only one, who seemed uneasy. Everyone else was looking forward to a little excitement and a day off that Monday. This would be the biggest hurricane the island had seen in over 60 years, so schools and businesses had already announced that they would be closed on Monday.

My mom walked around like Cassandra warning people that this hurricane would not be any fun if it did hit St. Croix. She lived through hurricane Hattie when it hit her home town of Belize City, Belize. “We were excited, just like you are now.” My mom made my dad take extra precautions. They parked the cars closer to the house and away from the trees in the backyard. They took in anything that could be taken indoors.

The size of my island compared to hurricane Hugo

I didn’t know wind could do that!

The hurricane was supposed to hit late that night, so I was surprised, when at 6:00 pm I could see the bushes in the yard in front of ours laying down because of the wind. “Wow, I didn’t know wind could do that!” My mom dryly replied, “This hurricane hasn’t even started yet.”

I wanted to stay up, but my parents made me go to bed around 9:00 pm. I’m not sure how long I was asleep, but sometime that night my father woke me up. “Come, we have to go to the living room.” I was a little groggy, but I got up and followed him. He seemed worried and agitated. As we passed my bathroom, I stopped. “Can I used the bathroom first?”

I asked, only out of respect. I didn’t really think  he would say no. He hesitated, looking back down the hall where we had just come. He seemed to be thinking it over. “Make it quick.”

I didn’t understand what was going on. I was a kid and I was too sleepy to care. When we got to the living room my mom was sitting on the floor with her flash light. The electricity was out. I started to remember the hurricane. “Are we camping out in the living room?” This seemed like fun.

“No”, my dad said, “It’s… it’s… ”

“Just show her,” my mom interrupted.

My dad took my hand and a flash light and led me back down the hallway. My parents’ bedroom door was closed. “One quick look, then we have to go back to the living room.” I could not imagine what could be in their bedroom that would cause them to spend the night in the living room.

He opened the door. I could hear the wind outside screaming around the house, but everything looked normal. He closed the door. “What? I didn’t see anything.”

He opened the door again, but this time he turned on the flash light. I followed the spot of light with my eyes. It moved from the floor, onto the bed, then up the wall. There was a gap between where the wall ended and the roof began. The roof was moving up and down. “Wow! Do you think that could happen in my room?”

My room was across the hall from my parents’. “It is happening in your room. That’s why we woke you up.” I didn’t believe him. I was asleep in that room not more than 10 minutes ago. If my roof was dancing, I think I would have noticed. He open my bed room door to show me. Sure enough, the roof was bobbing up and down like a play thing of the wind.

I felt sick. I sat in the living feeling cold on the inside. The roof of my bed room was being pulled off the house as I slept. I was right under it and I didn’t even know. What if my parent slept as deeply as I did?

We tried to get some sleep. Just when I had calmed down I heard a crash. The chandelier on the living room ceiling came crashing down inches from my mom’s head. I began to think how lucky that was. If she have been hit, there would be no way of getting her to the hospital any time soon. After that I could not sleep.

I sat there rocking myself as my parents tried to sleep. My mom kept telling me that everything would be okay. From her tune of voice, I knew that she didn’t believe what she said. My stomach didn’t feel so well.

Sometime after that we heard a big woosh sound. My dad went to look at the rooms down the hall. I followed too. My parents let me. I guess they thought that my imagination was too active and I would be less afraid if I saw what was going on, then if I didn’t.

We looked into my parents’ bedroom. The roof was gone. The bed, clothes, and other things in the room were spinning around as if being stirred with a giant invisible spoon. “This can’t be good,” I said to myself.

We all went back to the living room to wait out the rest of the storm. No one tried to sleep now. I don’t know what was going on in my parents’ heads, but my mind was buzzing. “What is tomorrow going to be like? My parents will have to sleep in the living room until the roof over their room is fixed. Maybe we’ll have to get a new house.”

Sometime after that we heard the woosh sound again. It was the roof over my bedroom. We just sat there. We did not feel the need to look. I knew that all my things were gone.

Later the winds died down. My dad went outside the check on the cars. He wanted to walk down the street to see what happened to the neighborhood, but my mom wouldn’t let him.

“The hurricane is not over. This is just the eye.” She told us.

“What? You mean there’s more?” I asked.

“That was just the first half. Now the wind will come in the other direction. We should really move to the other side of the house, but…”

I had never heard of an “eye of a storm” before. I don’t think I was the only one, because later I heard stories of people going out during the eye thinking everything was over, only to be caught outdoors when the second part of the storm began. I don’t know how true any of those stories were. Maybe they thought the eye would last longer than it did and didn’t have enough time to get back indoors.

Hurricane Hugo

When the storm started again we sat in the living room. No one spoke a word. The winds roared outside mocking us. It moved like a monster trying to rip open our home to get at us.

I looked up at the roof on the other side of the room. “Mom, this roof is going to go.” My mom shone her flashlight where the roof and wall met. It looked normal. There wasn’t even a crack on the wall. “I think it will be fine.”

“No mom. This roof is going to go.” I insisted.

“You’re just scared. Everything will be fine.” she said.

I muttered to myself, “That roof is going to go!”

Half an hour later, as I was staring at the roof, it just lifted up. It broke apart in the air and disappeared into the dark windy night. It even took the lighting fixtures with it. I don’t remember the sound it made. I just sat there, looking at it go, blown away like paper. The blackness of the night came in my house and it brought rain. I was getting wet.

My parents grabbed me and took me to the middle room. They closed the door and we sat on the bed.

I felt really sick and I really needed to pee. Even though the bathroom was right across the hall, my mom would not let me leave the room. There was an orange tub that she used to bathe me in when I was a baby. She gave it to me and told me to take it to the closet and pee in it. I went to the closet and sat over the basin, but I could not pee. I was just really scared.

My mom did not want to be trapped in the house. She and my dad started to think of things they could do to ensure our survival.

“If this house catches on fire, something crashes down on this roof, or this roof goes, we’re trapped.” My mom said.

“If only we had a basement.” My dad put in.

Houses in the Caribbean don’t have basements. Under our houses, we have cisterns, where we keep the water from the rain that falls on the roof. We use this water to flush the toilets and for showering. I did hear of a family who, after losing their roof and most of their walls, spent this hurricane standing in their half empty cistern. They must have opened some sort of lever to keep the water flowing out the cistern so it would not fill up and drown them all.

“But, Mr. Ash, has a two-story house. We must go to Mr. Ash’s house.”

Mr. Ash was our next door neighbor. I had been over to his house countless times to play with his oldest daughter Kizzy. The family lived on the second floor and Mr. Ash worked on the first floor.

He made and improved houses for a living. He had his own business. He designed his house. The first floor of the Ash house was his office. It looked like a smaller version of a hardware store. There were tools, machines, and equipment on this floor of the Ash residence. Kizzy, her sister and brother, me, and all the other kids in the neighborhood were never allowed on the first floor. So of course, we were always trying to get in.

The family lived upstairs. There were steps that went from their front garden to the second floor, completely bypassing the ground floor. I don’t even think there was a way to go from the first to second floor without going outside.

The Hess Oil Refinery on the Island

I didn’t want to go. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid of walking out in the storm. The dangers of that only occurred to me years later. I didn’t want to see the living room without its roof again.

In the spare bed room, nothing had changed. It looked like it did before the hurricane. Its roof was still on. Its floor was still dry. Everything in the room was as it should have been. Outside the room was complete disorder. And the storm was just about halfway passed.

Later we would find out that the hurricane was moving very slowly. Although the winds were moving at 140 mph the storm itself was moving at about 3 or 4 mph. I remember my dad using his car to show me how fast 3 mph was. “I can run faster than this!”

My parents each held onto one of my forearms. I was given a hat and jacket and was told to cover my face and keep my head down. The wind was so strong, I remember, that it stung my face. It was very hard to walk because the winds made putting my foot on the ground almost impossible.

We got over to the Ashs’ house and their gate was latched but unlock, like it usually was. They had 2 big, mean looking dogs, Blackman and Whiteman, that guarded the house, but they were indoors for the storm. We opened the gate and closed it behind us. We got to their downstairs door and started yelling and banging on the door. My mom prayed that they would hear us. We stood out there for a minute or two wondering if we had made a huge mistake. When the door open, I fell in.

The National Guard was called into St. Croix.

I sat on the floor in complete shock. I could not stop shaking. I threw up and kept throwing up even though my stomach was empty. I saw Kizzy and her brother and sister. They looked scared too, but they were not in the state I was in. Mrs. Ash, kept bringing me water and asked if I needed anything, but I just wanted to be alone with my vomit bucket. I move to a corner where I fell asleep.

The next day I woke up on the floor. My bucket was gone and so were my parents. I sat there thinking, “I’m homeless. I don’t have a home anymore. Where am I going to sleep tonight?” Mrs. Ash told me that my parents went to do something for the house. She tried to feed me cereal, but I could not eat.

The upstairs of the Ashes’ house was heavily damaged. Parts of their roof had been damaged, but it did not come off like the roof of my house.They spent the next couple months living on the first floor until the upstairs was completely fixed.

When my parents got back they took me to see the house. “Is it safe? There is a lot of water; what about live wires?”

“There is no electricity on this island. No stop lights. Nothing is working.” My dad said.

We walked through the house. It did not look familiar. Everything was thrown about and wet. The only glimmer of hope for me was that, among all the soaked and bloated items floating around our house, was the piano. Well, it didn’t float.

My mom sat on its bench which sagged a bit and threatened to give out. She stood up and tapped a key. It groaned like a dying cat. “Oh no, not the piano. I wanted to have at least one child learn to play the piano well.” Days later when we loaded up a borrowed truck of our things to be taken to Anguilla, the dumpsite, I happily tossed part of that piano bench in. Did I mention that I hated that piano?

We went to the back yard. “There’s our roof! Can we just put it back on?” I asked.

My parents looked at the roof suspiciously. It was a completely intact roof, laying galvanize side down. All it was missing was the rest of its house. “That’s not our roof.” my mom said.

I looked at the thing. It was smaller than our house and it was the wrong shape. Besides, we didn’t lose our whole roof, just the bits in the front and the bits in the back. Many of our neighbors roofs were missing but none had a roof like that.

Mr. Ash came over, along with other neighbors and they butchered that roof. Parts of it went on our house, Mr. Ash’s house, and other neighbors’ houses to keep the rain out. There was a small tropical storm coming and it rained the entire next day.

The tropical storm was Gabrielle, formally hurricane Gabrielle, but by the time she got to us, she was weak and old and only delivered rain. She would have never even stayed in my mind, if my house had a roof. But when she came every Cruzan was listening to the weather forecast on his or her radio like it was the latest gossip.

Thankfully, our radios still worked. They were our only connection to the outside world. We had no electricity and the phones were down. The day after Hugo we stay glued to the radio as we tried to clean up what we could. I remember that the governor at the time, Alexander Farrelly who lived on St. Thomas, got on the air and told the world that the US Virgin Islands were all oaky.

Those of us on the island of St. Croix were shocked. Apparently, the island of St. Thomas was not hit as severely. But since we, on St. Croix, had no electricity or any means of contact to the outside world, the governor assumed that no news was good news. Later he would have to retract his statement and ask President Bush, not only for aid for St. Croix, but for soldiers to put the island under Marshal Law. There was wild looting, fighting, and all around chaos in the streets for days following Hugo.

My parents were a few of the lucky people who were able to collect their insurance money. Many insurance companies went bankrupt. It took people months, some years, to repair all the damage. Some of them had to pay for the repairs all on their own.

Within a year, our house was completely fixed. The new roof that was put on, not only had 3 new sunroofs, but was designed to withstand any hurricane. The roof had smaller eaves and was connected to the bottom of the house. The builder told us, “For this roof to go, the walls must go with it!” As far as I know the house is still there.

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cashandcallyourbanktoaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan. I’ve never been a tourist.)

Matama Beach
(真玉海水浴場)
(Matama Kaisuiyokujō)

How to get there:

  • 33°37’20.9″N 131°28’23.3″E

From Oita by car –

  • Take route 10 North.
  • When you reach Hiji town, you can stay on route 10 or take route 213
    1. If you stay on route 10 at Hiji town, you will get on route 213 in Usa. Be careful because the turn is at an odd angle making it a little easy to miss. This is the shorter way.
    2. If you get on route 213 in Hiji, stay on route 213 until you pass the beach.
  • It doesn’t really look like a beach when you’re driving by. It is mostly a cemented area with lots of parking across the road from the “beach”.

Address:

〒872-1101 大分県西国東郡真玉町2144-12

Website:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • always available

Notes:

  • There is a little restaurant at the beach that sells drinks, snacks, and meals.
  • When we went, the water was not deep enough to swim in. But I don’t know what it is like at high tide or at other times of the year

Nagasakihana Resort campsite
(長崎鼻リゾートキャンプ場)
(Nagasakibana Rizōto Kyanpu-ba)

How to get there:

  • 33°40’55.9″N 131°31’29.3″E

From Matama Beach –

  • Get on Route 213 heading east.
  • You will pass 4 tunnels.
  • After the 4th tunnel you will be in a little town. You will need to make a left onto a little road that is opposite to a pedestrian tunnel. The first time you go, it will be a little tricky, because you can’t really see the pedestrian tunnel when making the left. But if you reach a 5th tunnel, that is kind of long, turn around and you will be able to clearly see the pedestrian tunnel.
  • Take the road across the little one lane bridge and take the biggest road up the hill.
  • You will pass a rape field and a sunflower field.

Address:

4060 Mime, Bungotakada, Oita Prefecture 872-1207

Phone:

  • 0978-54-2237

Websites:

Cost:

  • 1,000YEN per tent   &
  • 300YEN per person
  • The second night they only charged us for the tent. I don’t know if they always do this, or they just liked us.

Hours:

  • Open year round
  • Reception hours are 9:00 to 17:00

Notes:

  • They also have cabins, some with AC.
  • There is a beach at the campsite.
  • There are free electric bikes you can borrow.
    • 1 person – 1 hour max
    • 2 people – 2 hours max

Map:

Posted in Bungo Takada 市, Japan, Kyūshū, Matama 町, Oita 県, St. Croix, United States, The, US Virgin Islands | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

I Love Camping

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 11, 2011

April 9, 2011

All Pictures

First camping trip in Japan.

Homelessness-light

I remember watching Stone Pillow with Lucille Ball when I was a kid. It’s about a homeless woman who likes living on the streets. Lucy’s character talks about life as a homeless person as being free from responsibilities and how a person on the street can do whatever she likes.

I don’t know how true that is in reality, but when I heard this as a child, I liked it. Since then, I’ve always wanted to be homeless, in a way. I saw myself as more of a hobo, riding the rails like Natty Gann, or rafting down a river like Huck Finn.

I’m beginning to think I watched way too much television as a child.

jump for cherry blossom joy

But this would partially explain why I love camping so much. It’s like homelessness-light. I don’t care that much about nature, but it is a huge bonus. I really just like the feeling of being away… away from work, away from walls, away from the indoors.

So this year, when my birthday came around, it just happened to coincide with the first week of days that were just warm enough to go camping. Mark and I stuffed the car with blankets and other camping gear and drove all the way (35 minutes from our doorstep to the park’s gate) to Lake Shidaka in Beppu.

Ready for sunset

The camp was not bad for one that is so close to home. There is a lake to paddle boat in, though the lake looks like it used to be bigger. The cherry blossoms not only added to the beauty, but attracted a bus full of photographers who roamed the park, walking through many people’s camps.

Amateurs!

Shutter Bugs

They all herded together at the far end of the campsite to get some snap shots of the sunset on my birthday and I devilishly followed them to get some photos of their ridiculously large lens. But they had the last laugh because the sunset was quite beautiful.

So nice of all of you to show up and take photos of my birthday sunset.

I watched the sunset and thought about how lucky I was to have Mark, to live in Japan, and to own a tent.

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to askwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan. I’ve never been a tourist.)

Lake Shidaka Campground
(別府市営志高湖キャンプ場)
(Beppu-shi Shidakako Camp-jo)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 33°15’53.8″N 131°27’09.1″E
  • Take route 10 to Beppu.
  • Then take route 500 heading west to road 11 heading south.
  • You will drive up a very steep and windy road. At the top you will see a traffic light near a gas station.
  • Turn left and take the road that is most left.
  • Follow this road to the campsite.

From the Kyushu Express way –

  • you can take the Beppu exit which will put you on road 11.
  • Head south on road 11.
  • You will drive up a very steep and windy road. At the top you will see a traffic light near a gas station.
  • Turn left and take the road that is most left.
  • Follow this road to the campsite.

Bus:

  • It’s 40 minutes by bus from Beppu Station on the Nippo Line to Tori-i Bus Stop.
  • There are 4 buses a day.

Address:

4380-1, Shidaka, Beppu-shi, Oita-ken

大分県別府市志高4380-1

Phone:

  • (0977) 25-3601

Website:

Download:

Cost:

  • 310 per person and
  • 410 per car for parking

Hours:

  • This campsite id open all year

Notes:

  • There are no tents for rent. You can, however, rent grilling equipment.
  • There are toilets, but no showers.
  • There is running water near the camping area
  • You can rent bikes, and paddle boat.
  • You cannot swim in the lake.

Map:


Posted in Beppu 市, Japan, Kyūshū, Oita 県 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

All I hear is “Closed”.

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 13, 2011

February 11-12, 2011

All Pictures

Who is that!?

1008 Buddhas

Mark planned this trip. He made and printed out the directions and everything. There was a three-day weekend and I told Mark I wanted to, “do something” so he put this all together.

Our first stop was to see a thousand and eight Buddha statues. Mark wasn’t too sure he could find this place because there wasn’t much information about it online. He knew the town it was in, but that was about it.

“What’s going on here?” “These foreigners are lost.”

We walked into a grocery store. I found a lady walking around and stopped her.

“Sumemasen. Egio-ga wakademas-ka?” (Excuse me. Do you speak English?)

She responded by saying something like, “not even a little bit” in Japanese. But, I didn’t let a little thing like her not knowing any English at all stop me.

“Renjoji Temple, doko des-ka?” (Where is Rejoji Temple?)

Then she did something that almost all Japanese people do when they have to answer a hard question. She tilted her head to one side and sucked in air through her mouth. Mark took out the map and handed it to her.

As she looked through it another lady passed by. I don’t speak Japanese but I imagined the conversation went something like this.

Lady 1 – “Oh let’s see…”

Lady 2 – “Hey what’s going on? There’s a foreigner standing right there… and is that guy there Korean or something?”

Lady 1 – “They want to go to Rejoji Temple. Do you know where that is?”

Lady 2 – “Oh yes. Took the grandkids there 2 years ago. Had a great time!”

Lady 3 – “Hey what’s going on? Why are there so many foreigners in this store?

Lady 2 – “They’re lost.”

Lady 3 – “You don’t say. It’s kinda like that time when that other foreigner and his friends were in this very store. Remember Ethel?”

Lady 4 – “Oh yes. A fine day that was!”

and so on.

Eventually, with the help of a small crowd of old ladies, we were able to find the temple on our map written in Kanji. So remember, dear reader, when lost in Japan, go to a grocery store to ask for directions.

The smart one is the one in the middle.

Of course we would have still missed the turn to the 1008 Buddhas had it not been for the giant lady in the picture at the start of this post. The roads on the map are a little ambiguous. We thought the turn was further down the road and we weren’t even looking out for signs yet.

We saw a huge statue sticking out on the horizon. We were wondering if we should go look at it before or after seeing the Buddhas. Mark concluded that since the 1008 Buddhas might be hard to find, we should check out the lady first. Then we might find someone who could give us better directions to the Buddhas.

There was no one there to ask for directions, but in our search for the path up to the big lady, we found the temple with the many Buddhas. Hazzah!

No touching!

Stalec-might?

Our next stop was the Underwater Cave. It was not hard to find at all. The drive was a bit scary due to the windiness of the supposedly, 2-lane back roads with drops off sheer cliffs. Some drivers seem to take these roads as a challenge and refuse to drive at a sane speed. I try to pull over whenever I can to let these types of drivers by. I think they should die alone and definitely without me.

It’s cold and wet

The cave was okay; nothing like Hwanseon Cave in Samcheok, but still worth seeing. There were many kitschy things to pose with and take photos of outside the cave. It might even be a nice place to go camping or “cabin-ing” in the summer.

Japan’s Niagara

Every country has its Niagara.

I travel a lot… a whole lot. Everywhere I go the locals of whatever country I’m in will say, “Go to such-and-such Falls. It’s the Niagara of this country.” Then I would make my way there, usually by hiking up or climbing some horribly steep mountain to see the falls, only to be disappointed.

I think to myself, “Have any of these people ever actually seen Niagara? If they did they would stop comparing this little trickle of water to it.”

Below is the Niagara of the US and Canada; otherwise known as just Niagara Falls. Notice how small the 100-passenger boat looks in comparison. The falls in the picture above does not have enough water to float a dinghy, much less a 100-passenger vessel. …And the picture below is of only part of Niagara. There is more to the left out of the shot.

Niagara’s Niagara

So, lets all agree that Harajiri Falls is no Niagara. That said, it was still very nice. If I lived in Ogata I would come here for a picnic at least once a month.

There was a terrifying, but, hopefully safe, rope bridge to walk across. Nearby there was a lovely restaurant. The falls came with more that ample free parking, which I love. And I think it’s worth a trip here just to get some nice photos.

This was when our timing and good luck ran out…

“Put snow chains on your tires, now!”

Tie me up in chains

We left the county… I mean prefecture. We were going to see a volcano, a mound, and then maybe a bridge that spouts water. Now I must digress from my tale a bit to tell you about something we happened upon.

Three times on this trip we heard some weird sounding music. The first time it happen, we just thought that someone in the car ahead or behind us was play their music at full blast on very bad speakers. The second time it happen we knew exactly where the music was coming from. The third time, we recorded it.

We were driving over a musical road. If the road were to be thought of as a record, then my tires would be the needle and my car itself would be the cone-shaped part of a gramophone. Take a listen…

Alright, back to the story…

Mark and I went all the way up Aso mountain, or as far as we could drive for free. When we got to the toll road it was closed. We were an hour too late. It was 17:00 in the evening. Even though Oita city is about a 2.5 hour drive from where we were in Aso, I didn’t want to go home. I still had hopes of seeing the volcano the next day and it didn’t make sense to drive home to then drive back.

Unplanned overnight trips and sitting by wood burning stoves and now my favorite things.

I remembered that we passed a hostel on our way up the mountain. Mark and I decided that if the cheapest room cost 4,000YEN per person per night or less, we would stay.

We pulled into the hostel’s parking lot right in from a big hand written sign that said, “¥2,000 a night”. We thought nothing of it. Many motels have “bait and switch” prices to lurk customers in. When a traveler goes in and asks about the advertised price, he or she is told that those rooms are all taken, or that the sign is quoting a weekday price…

It’s just us.

Well, the sign was accurate. It really was 2,000YEN per person per night; no strings attached. The hostel is run by two sweet old ladies, who speak a little English. That night we were the only guests.

The ladies worried about how our trip would go. “Tomorrow many snow,” one told us. “You car have tire chain?” It didn’t. “Maybe bus better…”

They had the bus scheduled hung up in the lounge. We planned to take the bus up the mountain and then the “ropeway” to the crater if there was indeed “many snow” the next day. …which there was.

It’s like a snow cloud threw up everywhere!

At 9:50 we were standing at the bus stop to wait for the 9:55 bus. We waited in the cold. The wind whipped at our backs. Even though I had on my pajamas under my jeans and yesterday’s dirty socks over today’s clean ones, I felt grossly under-dressed.

There was an electronic sign hanging over the road. Many cars would drive up to it, then turn around and head back to town. Mark and I speculated on what the sign said. “Maybe the road is closed…” “Maybe there is a horrible accident up the road…” “Maybe our bus isn’t coming…”

We took a picture of the sign and walked back to the hostel. We showed the picture to one of the ladies. “Put chain on tire,” is what she read. At that moment our bus drove by, without us.

The next bus wouldn’t pass by for another hour. Mark and I decided to drive down to the bus station and catch the bus there. That way, we could wait indoors and maybe get a cup of hot coffee. Besides, if it started to snow harder, it would be better to not have to drive down the mountain later.

When it’s icy enough, you can just slide down Aso.

We walked into the bus station’s ticket office. There was a small line. I over heard a Korean couple asking about the bus to the top of Aso mountain. The Japanese ticket clerk didn’t speak English very well, but he managed to say that the bus was still running, but the cable car and the toll road were closed.

A German couple behind us in line asked if we could walk to the crater. Incredulously, I said, “But that’s a 3 kilometer walk; there’s no way it can be done in that snow!” The German lady seemed to like the challenge and responded, “I can do it.” Her husband nodded in agreement.

By then the resident English speaker of the bus station had stepped out. “No, you cannot. It is not allowed. The mountain is closed today because of the snow” Marked asked if it would be open tomorrow. “Maybe, but don’t count on it.”

We drove back to Oita with heavy hearts.

This looks a bit sketchy…

Wild Onsens

Back in our neck of the woods, we drove over to Beppu to look for some free outdoor onsens. They are referred to as “wild onsens” which make them sound even more appealing.

That’s not a good.

We knew of 3 and planned to test them all out by doing a little onsen hopping. But the first one had no water. The other two were completely closed off with a locked gate and a sign like the one in the picture above.

Last August a woman named, Hiromi Yokote from Kobe while alone near the Nabeyama-no-yu onsen was murdered. The Police are apparently still looking for suspects and/ or witnesses.

All the wild onsens that Mark and I know about in Beppu are closed. I’m not sure if it is because of the murder or the season.

Warming up

Our plan B was to go to any of the many private onsens in the area, but they were all full or separated by gender. So we ended up going to an onsen that we had both been to before.

All in all, it was a very good weekend!

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your banktoaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan. I’ve never been a tourist.)

Uchiyama Kannon
(内山観音) &

Yuchizan Renjoji Temple
(蓮城寺)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 32°57’22.8″N 131°35’01.1″E

From Oita City by car –

  • Take route 10 south. Follow 10 to Inukai.
  • Be careful, in or near Inukai do not get on the Inukai By-Pass.
  • Instead go onto route 326.
  • Route 326 will then merge with route 502 heading west.
  • Take 502 heading west.
  •  When routes 326 and route 502 splits, stay with route 326.
  • When you see this sign, follow it to Uchiyama Kannon.
  • (If you pass the gas station you’ve missed it. But you can turn at the gas station. See the google map below.
    •  The Giant lady in the mountain should also be a clue that you’re near the temple.)
  • You will find 2 temples. One is right by the parking lot. The other is a 1 minute walk away.
  • The giant statues is a little walk up a trail by the second temple.

Address:

大分県豊後大野市三重町内山527

Phone:

  • 0974-22-2616 Mie-cho Tourist Association (Japanese)

Website:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

Lots of free parking and a decent public bath, but you will have to bring your own soap.


Inazumi Stalactite Grotto /
Underwater Cave Inazumi

(稲積水中鍾乳洞)
(Inadzumi Suichūshōnyūdō)

How to get there:

  • Coordinate 32°54’01.4″N 131°32’36.5″E

From Oita City by car –

  • Take route 10 south.
  • Follow 10 to Inukai.
  • Be careful, in or near Inukai do not get on the Inukai By-Pass.
  • Instead go onto route 326.
  • Route 326 will then merge with route 502 heading west.
  • Take 502 heading west.
  • When routes 326 and route 502 splits, stay with route 502.
  • After you pass Bungo-Kiyokawa Station look out for route 45.
  • Take route 45 heading south.
  • You will see a sign for the cave on your right, eventually.

By bus/train –

(from wikipedia-Japanese) –

Address:

稲積水中鍾乳洞〒879-7263 大分県豊後大野市三重町大字中津留300番地

Phone:

  • 0974-26-2468

Website:

e-mail: Info@Inazumi.com

Cost:

  • 1,200YEN/ Adult

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 17:00

Notes:


 Harajiri Falls
(原尻の滝)
(Harajiri no Taki)

How to get there:

  • 32°57’55.9″N 131°27’08.0″E

From Oita City by car –

  • Take route 10 south.
  • Follow 10 to Inukai.
  • Be careful, in or near Inukai do not get on the Inukai By-Pass.
  • Instead go onto route 326.
  • Route 326 will then merge with route 502 heading west.
  • Take 502 heading west.
  • When routes 326 and route 502 splits, stay with route 502.
  • When you get to the town of Ogata look out for route 7.
  • Turn left on route 7.
  • The falls are about 200 meters down route 7.

By bus/train –

(from wikipedia-Japanese) –

Address:

大分県豊後大野市緒方町原尻936-1

Phone:

  • 0974-42-4140

Website

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always available, though the restaurant and shops nearby do close.

Notes:

Free Parking


Kumamoto Aso Youth Hostel
(阿蘇ユースホステル)
(Aso Yūsu Hosuteru)

How to get there:

From Oita City by car –

  • Take route 10 south. Follow 10 to Inukai.
  • Then get on Route 57 (Inukai-Chitose).
  • There are 2 Route 57’s. If you get on the wrong one it doesn’t matter. They both basically* go the same place. One is just more windy than the other.
  • *Route 57 (Inukai-Chitose) will end somewhere in Onomachi Tanaka. When this happens just head north on route 26 to route 57 (Higo Highway).
  • Once you’ve left Oita Prefecture and you’ve passed the windy mountain area look out for route 111.
  • Take a left onto route 111.
  • The hostel will be on your left before the information center.

Address:

922-2 Kurokawa Aso-shi, Kumamoto 869-2225 Japan

Phone:

  • 096-34-0804

Website:

Cost:

  • 2,000YEN/ night

Notes:

  • This place is run by 2 little old lady who speak a little English. They are both very nice.
  • It does not have a restaurant, but there is a Joyfull (not Joyful,butJoyfull) not too far away on route 57.
    • Turn right from route 111 onto route 57. It’s next to a Family Mart.

 Mount Aso 
(阿蘇山)
(Asosan)
Komezuka
(米塚)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 32°53’12.7″N 131°05’03.0″E

From Oita City by car –

  • Take route 10 south. Follow 10 to Inukai.
  • Then get on Route 57 (Inukai-Chitose).
  • There are 2 Route 57’s. If you get on the wrong one it doesn’t matter. They both basically* go the same place. One is just more windy than the other.
  • *Route 57 (Inukai-Chitose) will end somewhere in Onomachi Tanaka. When this happens just head north on route 26 to route 57 (Higo Highway).
  • Once you’ve left Oita Prefecture and you’ve passed the windy mountain area look out for route 111. Take a left onto route 111.
  • For Aso Mountain take route 111 all the way to the toll road, where 111 ends. You can then take the cable car up for 1,000YEN round trip/ person or drive up the toll road for 560YEN/ car.
  • For Komezuka turn right onto route 298. You should see Komezuka in 1 kilometer.

Website:

Cost:

  • Cable Car Ride – 600Yen one way, 1,000Yen round trip
  • To drive up to the top – 560YEN per car

Hours:

  • The toll road and cable car to Mount Aso are open 9:30 to 16:30 when the weather permits.
Videos:
about volcanoes:

Notes:

  • Don’t go in the winter to avoid the chances of you going all the way out there only to find that it’s closed due to snow.
  • It is recommended that people with asthma, bronchitis, or heart disease should not go to the top of Mount Aso.

Free Onsens in Beppu

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 33°18’41.1″N 131°26’34.8″E

Mostly you will get lost.

By Car from Oita –

  • Take route 10 heading north. When you see “Las Vagas” turn left on route 500.
  • Pass the Hells of Beppu and stay on route 500.
  • Be careful, because route 500 turns. If you find yourself in route 11, you weren’t paying attention.
  • Grave-side onsen – (If you anything bigger than a small kei-car forget about this one. Your car should also have very good breaks.)
    • Before you pass under the expressway, you will see a shrap turn on your left. You will look at it and think, there is no way in hell my car, or any car for that matter, can make it up that hill.
    • Go up that hill.
    • Follow it until you have to make a turn.
    • Turn right there and go under the expressway.
    • Drive as far as you can pass the hundreds of graves.
    • When you almost get to a round-about you will see a flat area on the left where you can park.
    • Park your car and walk up the hill.
    • Then follow the path to the onsen.
  • Nabeyama-no-yuandHebi-no-yu- (I only got as far as the gate)
    • After you pass under the expressway, route 500 will take a sharp turn right.
    • You will leave route 500 and go straight.
    • Keep going straight even though you will begin to think that you can’t possibly still be on a drivable road.
    • Honk your horn around corners if it makes you feel safer. Who knows, it might help.
    • This road leads you straight to the gate. Then you’re on your own.

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

  • When I went there all 3 of these were closed or had no water in them. It might be because of the season, the murder, or a combination of the two.
  • *Update: The police have apprehended a suspect in the murder of Hiromi Yokote.

 

Kitahama Termas Onsen
(北浜温泉/テルマス)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 33°17’09.5″N 131°30’18.5″E

By Car –

  • Drive to Beppu at way of route 10 which is also route 52 through downtown Beppu.
  • It’s along route 10/52 and across the street from a pachinko parlor; what isn’t in Japan? The nearby landmarks near would be Beppu Central Hostipal and a short swimmable section of beach.

By Public Transportation –

  • Go to Beppu Station.
  • Exit through the east end of the station.
  • Head east until you reach route 10.
  • Then go north on route 10 until you pass Beppu Central Hospital.
  • Cross the street and look out for the osen.

Address:

11-1, Kyo Beppu

or

別府市京町11-1

Phone:

  • 0977-24-4126

Websites:

Cost:

  • Adult – 500JPY
  • Kids – 250JPY
  • You can bring your own towel, razor, or what have you, or you can rent them.
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and soap are free.
  • Parking is free

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 22:00
  • Admittance ends at 21:00

Notes:

  • This is a co-ed onsen, so you must wear a swimsuit when you go outdoors. You can go naked in the gender segregated areas.
  • Every now and then they change the gender of the locker rooms. So don’t head off to change in one direction that was the lady’s area the last time you came.
  • You will need to have a 100 yen coin to put your shoes in a small locker in the main lobby. Everyone must have their own locker and you will get your coin back when you retrieve your shoes.
  • Give your shoe locker key to the front desk clerk and he or she will give you a corresponding key to the lockers in the gender segregated area. Put your stuff in that locker.
  • Take a shower. Put on your swim suit and head outdoors.
  • There is also a sauna and a bucket of freezing cold water that you can torture yourself with.

Map:

Posted in Aso 市, Beppu 市, Bungo-ōno 市, Japan, Kumamoto 県, Kyūshū, Mie 町, Ogata 町, Oita 県, Ōno 郡 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Not Manuel’s Isthmus!*

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 28, 2010

July 10-13, 2010

All Pictures

Panama City Beach’s beach

Boogie boarding

We drove for 10 hours from Hollywood, South Carolina to Panama City Beach, Florida. Mark did most of the driving in our van and we got to the camp about 3 hours ahead of Malcolm’s SUV. He had to remount the tire on his trailer.

Since we where there before everyone else, Mark and I went swimming. There was nothing else to do. Malcolm had most of the stuff and all of the food. We took the kids that were with us and headed for the sea. Alex, my nephew, was hoping that while we were having fun, his dad and brother would arrive and put up the tent without him, so he wouldn’t have to help.

We had some boogie boards with us. We tried to ride the waves. It took me a couple of days to get a hang of it, but I did. I could still use some more practice though.

When Malcolm came we told him about the waves. Some of his sons, his daughter, niece, and Laura, the family friend, went to the souvenir shop and bought boards of their own.

We spent most of our mornings in Florida boogie boarding. In the evenings, we all swam in the heated pool at our campsite. At noon, during the hottest part of the day we went to the unheated pool at the campsite. I felt very spoiled with so many swimming options.

Fixing something delicious

The End of Camp-Food

In the picture above is my sister-in-law, Vonia. She did all of the cooking on our camping trip. She did a most fabulous job!

When Mark and I go camping, the food is okay if we can find a restaurant near by. If not, it’s mainly ramen and PB&J. It never occurred to us that one should enjoy eating while on a camping trip.

Then I met Vonia. She camps with a slow cooker and a rice cooker. While everyone is out enjoying the waves, playing with Mark’s aerobie, exploring a navy ship and submarine, our delicious dinner or lunch is cooking.

I ate so well on this trip. She made everything from beef stew and curry goat to pancakes and tamales. I have been so inspired that for our upcoming road trip to Canada, Mark, mom, and I, are bringing a slow cooker and a rice cooker.

All Pictures

* “Manuel” as in ex-Presidente Noriega and isthmus as in Panama. I like people to think that I am more geographically and post-politically aware than I really am.


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

Raccoon River Campground

How to get there:

  • 30°11’41.9″N 85°49’43.7″W
  • From 79 head east on Front Beach road.
  • Then turn right on Alf Coleman (rd or st?).
  • Then turn right again on Hutchison Blvd.
  • The camp will be on your right.

Address:

12209 Hutchison Blvd
Panama City Beach, FL 32407

Phone:

  • (850) 234-0181
  • Toll Free: (877) 234-0181

Website

Download:

Cost

Hours:

  • check in time is 13:00
  • check out time is 11:00

Notes:

  • There is a library across the street from the camp site on Hutchison Blvd.

Map:

Posted in Florida, Panama City Beach, United States, The | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lonely Island

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 28, 2009

June 20, 2009

All Pictures

Taken by William

Sa Seung Bong Do is my favorite place in Korea.

What I heard is that the island belongs to some lady who wants to keep it undeveloped. She does, from time to time, allow people to rent the island for camping purposes. There is a care taker there who stays in a little cabin, but other than that the place is deserted. You can rent tents, but you have to pick them up from Seung Bong Do, the island you go to before going to Sa Seung Bong Do.

Sa Seung Bong Do Loves signs

Mark and I were not among the people who rented tents. I had seen a nice 2-person tent at Lotte Mart a few weeks earlier and bought it. It’s a lovely blue tent that’s pretty easy to set up and tall enough for me to stand in.

The first day of our trip we found our spots and set up our individual tents and the community tent. It was a very beautiful island, but we could not see it. It rained all day creating a heavy fog. It gave everyone a feeling of awe at being in such a wonderful place and misery because everything was cold and wet.

starting fire in the rain

Fire

The rain also made everyone a bit moody. Mark decided that he had had enough with just sitting around and being wet. He talked a couple other guys into helping him build a fire in the rain. Everyone else said that it couldn’t be done. “You can’t make a fire with wet wood.” I think that even Mark didn’t believe it was possible. He was just too bored not to build a fire.

They started out with paper cups and chopsticks for kindling. They drowned it in lighter fluid then added wood to it. They, one by one, ran off into the forest to get more wet wood for the fire. In just one hour they had a roaring fire going.

Fire for the people

The fire seemed to draw people out of their tents and the great cooking began. We had burgers, hot dogs, and Hobo Stew. The stew was the idea of Susan. You make a pocket out of foil paper, add water, vegetables, meat, and whatever else you would like, season, fold up shut, and place in the fire to cook.

At night many people got drunk and sat around the fire singing songs and playing a guitar. Things can get crazy on a lonely island and several people got hurt. It wasn’t anything serious, just a bruise here and a cut there; nothing a good first aid kit couldn’t handle.

The next day there was no rain, just sunshine and happiness. I was one of the first people up and one of the first to see the mess left after a night of drinking. As I, along with a few other people, cleaned up we found cameras, flashlights, and underwear sticking out of the sand.

People looking for their stuff

The rest of the morning was spent frolicking in the water and running way out to sea. The tide goes out very far on the east coast of Korea. It leaves interesting ridges on the sea floor which feels really nice on the feet when you walk across it.

A Funeral for a Pancake

We did have a lot of fun goofing around while making breakfast after the clean up. Our horse-play resulted in a casualty for one little pancake. We couldn’t just throw it away; we had to make a whole event of it!

Sa Seung Bong Do

Island in the Sun

It was sad to leave. Although I had only been there for about 24 hours I really fell in love with the island. I must get an island of my very own someday.

All Pictures


 

South Korea
(대한민국)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, or train, though entry by train is rare if not damn impossible for most non-presidents of North or South Korea.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to South Korea.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 90-day visa at the airport or ferry port.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Korean embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Korea is a generally safe country. You don’t really have to watch out for pickpockets,muggers, or scam artists.
    • You should watch out when crossing the streets, beware of scooters on the sidewalk, and the little old ladies that will push you to get that last seat on the bus or subway.
  • Use common sense and you will be okay.
  • Things are generally inexpensive and there are many wonderful things to buy.

Enjoy Korea! I live there for 2 years and had a fantastic time.


Sa Seung Bong Do
(사승봉도)

How do get there:

  • 37°09’14.5″N 126°19’18.1″E

The easiest way to get there is to join meetup.com, find William, and beg him to organize another trip to Sa Seung Bong Do. I don’t know who William called to arrange a stay on the deserted island, but I do know how to get there from Seoul.

From Seoul

  • Take the line 1 subway to Incheon station. That’s Incheon station, not Incheon Airport. Don’t get the two confused; they are not near each other at all. Once at Incheon station take bus #720 to Yeonan Budu Ferry Terminal. It’s a blue bus.
  • Another way is to take bus #1600 from Seoul station. This one is a red bus. You can get to it by going through exit 2 of Seoul station and walking to where all the red buses stop. This bus also stops near Hongdae Subway Station.

 

From the ferry terminal in Incheon

  • You can get a ticket for a 2 hours boat ride to Seong Bong Do (승봉도), another island off the coast of Incheon. Now, this is where William worked his magic. He hired a couple of boats to take our group to the island of Sa Seung Bong Do.
  • According to a sign on the island you should call 017-344-4089 to reserves a boat. I think the boat ride costs 15,000KRW for adults and 5,000 for kids. So give that a try.

Website:

Websites that might be helpful in getting you to Sa Seung Bong Do

Website that might be helpful in getting you to Seung Bong Do (the adjacent island)

Cost:

I have no idea. William set everything up and he priced everything to include food.

Hours:

There might be seasonal restrictions on when people can stay on the island.

Notes:  Camping Equipment in Korea

If you are buying camping equipment in Korea during the summer, you are in luck. Every halfway decent grocery or department store (Lotte Mart, E-Mart, Home Plus, etc) will have a camping section. They will sell both name brand expensive stuff and the store brand cheaper stuff. They’re all good, so don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money for good equipment. I bought a decent 2-person tent (that could actually fit 4 people) for about 40USD.

If summer has just passed or it’s not quite summer yet, too bad. The only places that sell camping things at these times are camping stores. They only sell high-end camping gear for hard-core campers with lots of money. My advice is to just not camp until summer. Stay in love motels or rent your equipment when possible, until you see the camping gear in the department stores.

Honestly, it would be cheaper to order your camping stuff from Amazon.com (use the global shipping option)  than to buy most things for sale at any of the camping stores in Korea.

Map:

Click for Google maps

Posted in Incheon, Sa Seung Bong Do, South Korea | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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