Meandering At Kings Canyon’s Wilderness

My second day was mixed of Kata Tjuta, a bit of Uluru and Mount Conner. So far I was floating in satisfaction and fantastic scenery and experiences. At first, I thought that the group’s next destination was just nearby until we spent more than two hours in the road. It was like the same feeling during my Day 1 trip, I felt the time passed was too long but in reality it was not. Before arriving to Kings Creek Station we passed a beautiful scenery of George Gill Ranges located at our right side while we were on our way to Wattarka National Park from Lasseter Highway. I really enjoyed the scenic views for some time since it is a long mountain range. At that very moment while enjoying the scenery, I felt that part of the world like heaven in a sense that it was a peaceful moment of my life.

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At Kings Creek Station

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Our Tour Bus

 

Camels found at Kings Creek Station

We reached our destination, the Kings Creek Station and Kings Canyon was just around the corner. I remembered, our tour guide mentioned that our second and last night accommodation was an upgrade from the first one. He told us that from swag, we were upgraded to tent, a tent with bed. With that thought in mind, I expected that the tent is not the same tent I used in my hiking adventure, because a bed will not fit on it. We got off the bus and noticed that we stopped in a gas station, we walked around the area and familiarize ourselves in the place.

The good thing about the place, it has store that you can buy basic things needed in the outback and even gifts or souvenirs. Then we passed the shower rooms and bathrooms. We walked to the area and found the version of the tent that I was thinking. Then, I realized that the tent that our tour guide was referring to, was called safari cabin. Two single bed are fit in a cabin. Therefore we have to find our partners for each cabin and I found mine but apologies as I can’t recall her name right now.

After we took our stuff from the bus, we arranged ourselves at the cabin and made ourselves comfortable. I arranged my bed and my stuff, then, I went out to help the group for our dinner. That night, all of us in the group were helping out. Another thing that I noticed was that our tour guide knows a lot about food. Even we have members in the group that are vegetarians, breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner were not been an issue to him. I learned something about food wrapping. Learned that having stuff to fill in the wrap, you are ready to fill in yourself without really cooking. Another thing that I discovered was cooking using charred wood. There was a bonfire area just near from our cabin which also used for cooking. I was familiar with cookware, pans or pots used for cooking but the new stuff for me was pots where it’s lid has a portion on its top area where you can  place burned wood wherein the heat was not only coming from the bottom of the pot but also on its top to make cooking easier and faster. It was an amazing stuff that I discovered and a very important cooking pots or basins when you wanted try to live in the outback.

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Bonfire

 

Cooking Basins

That night, we prepared a lot of food. Maybe because it was our second and last night together in the outback. I snapped the idea because it made my feelings gloomy. We still have the next day for the last adventure. We cleaned-up the kitchen and the dishes we used in preparing and cooking our food.

Maybe because it was our last night together, most of our group did not sleep immediately after the dinner. We sat around the bonfire we used in cooking for our dinner and we started talking together. At that moment in my life in front of bonfire at the outback together with the people I had been with for the past two days feel like a familiar feeling, though we’re all still strangers personally but I felt it was like home. I knew that it may not or may take longer that moment to happen again, and every bit of it, I treasured the moment in my heart and my mind. We spent hours in front of bonfire and then, one by one were saying good nights. I was one of the last person to stand away from bonfire and went to the cabin.

I felt relaxed when I returned to the cabin and in a matter of minutes I was dreaming. I walked up early in the morning, had our breakfast, cleanup the dishes and ready for the last day adventure. For our third and last adventure, I was still excited because we were scheduled to walk and trek around Kings Canyon. One of the canyon I saw was a long time ago and that time I was inside the rocky mountaineer train which was Cheakamus Canyon in Canada. I felt excited and inspired to see and experience Kings Canyon.

All of us jumped into the bus and drove towards the canyon. From Kings Creek Station we reached the parking area. Our main activity was to walk within the canyon. We followed the Canyon Rim Walk track with estimated of 3 to 4 hours of walk and trek. Our tour guide gave us a warning that the initial part of the trail is called a “heart attack” hill because we have to climb a steep and rugged steps (stairs) which he mentioned as 45 degrees. This means the climbed in that stairs will be a bit of exhausting.

 

Scenery enjoyed while resting after the heart attack trail

We walked a bit until we reached the uneven stairs. I saw the trail and I saw that it was a bit of steep climb. I knew it was a quite challenging climb because even though there’s a rugged steps, for me it’s more challenging to climb a stair than climbing with your own steps. When I did the climbed, I remembered that I was catching my breath. I looked-up and checked if the last step of the stair was almost near. I rejoiced when I saw that I was almost at the top of the stairs. The warning given by our guide was right, it was a heart attack climbed. It was not that really difficult like my other climbs that I had, it’s just that everyone were pushed to follow the steps of the stairs. So there’s a bit of time than I rested to recover my breathing. When we reached the top, we stopped a bit so everyone in the group will be gathered again. What I saw at the top excites me because I knew that we were exploring a canyon in the red center of Australia.

 

Our tour guide explaining something about sand dunes and rocks

When everyone were at the top area after the heart attack trail, our tour guide started to tell something about the canyon and its sand dunes. He mentioned that there were other trails available in the canyon and we were taking the trail that will finished just after lunch time. Next, we enjoyed the walk within the canyon wherein I just realized we were actually walking in the weathered sandstone domes that looks like the Lost City when we were at the other side of the canyon.

 

Snapshots while walking in between of weathered sandstone domes  which called Lost City of the canyon and while resting a bit not that far from the heart attack trail

We walked, ascended, then we repeated the process until we reached the famous lookout within the Canyon – Cotterrils Lookout. The said lookout gave us a chance to see 365 degrees of the canyon. We had a wide view of the Kings Creek and the overall scenery of weathered sandstone domes. In the said lookout we spent time here for photos and funny posts that our guide suggested us to do as our memories of the canyon.

 

Around or near Cotterrils Lookout

 

Cotterrils Lookout

 

While at Cotterrils Lookout

 

Lost City like scenery from Cotterrils Lookout

 

Kings Creek

Our walk in the canyon allowed us to discover the area of the canyon where there was a spot that was similar to Bungle Bungle (included in my list to see in Western Australia – I hope I will got a chance to tour around that state).

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The Little Bungle Bungle within the Kings Canyon

After enjoying the scenery of the sandstone domes, our trek within the canyon continued. We reached the wooden stairs and we descended and followed the track. Next we crossed the bridge. Then, we reached a gorge between cliff. While following the track after the stairs we saw what they called Garden of Eden because it serves as oasis where there are natural spring waterholes and has different plants around the area.

 

The Wooden Stairs and Bridges

 

Garden of Eden

 

Before we climbed up at the other side cliff we rested at the Garden of Eden near the oasis. Aside from us, other visitors stopped there too and there were few young male teenagers who jumped off in the oasis and enjoyed their swimming. While we’re resting our tour guide gave us some snacks that the whole group shared.

After resting we returned in our track and we climbed up the wooden stairs. When we reached the other side of the canyon, it gave us a chance to see the canyon in a different outlook or perspective. The part of the canyon that we just walked by and passed by, we were able to see it from the other end what it looks like. The rock domes are more notable compared to when we were walking along with it.

 

While climbing at the other side of the cliff

 

Rock Domes

 

In between Rock Domes

 

Waterhole

At the top we saw the oasis in a different angle even and the same with Kings Creek. Our walk continued. After sometime, we saw the part of the canyon that showcase another view of weathered sandstone. That weathered sandstone from a far looks similar to Old Aztec City that is why it is being called as Lost City.

 

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Kings Creek

 

The other side of the wall of the Kings Creek in Kings Canyon

 

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Lost City in Kings Canyon

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At the top, we spent more time for photos, selfies, groupies with the wonderful scenery that surrounds us. And then, our tour guide announced that we will start descending the canyon. We started our walk and followed our guide. With that moment, I know that once we reached the ground, that’s the last moment that I will have with the canyon. Probably with other people it’s just another canyon to see and visit, but for me the outback as a whole was another world for me that I may not be seeing again, but the place gave me a lot of memories because I was given a chance to discover and explore them in a short period of time. I somehow thinking that if I am not an IT (Information Technology) by profession I maybe a geologist. It may be an interesting profession.

When we touched the ground, we had our pack lunch and we headed straight back to Alice Springs where we started our 3 days adventure in the outback. I spent another night in Alice Springs and returned to Melbourne the next day.

Below are some photos that I still have after reaching Alice Springs and on my way back to Melbourne.

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Back to Alice Srings

 

With Wallabies

 

Alice Springs Airport

Note:
This is the 3rd or last part of my travel post and the continuation of my adventure of the Red Center in Australia. It takes a while for me to finish the post as I am overwhelmed with so many places that I traveled to and half of the post was done last year and now I got a chance to finish it up as I also tried to remember everything not only from photos and but also from all the experiences that are still in my memory.

Here are the other 2 posts from Australia’s Red Center which already published.
Uluru / Ayers Rock
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

Mount Fuji – A Sacred Famous Mountain and Arts Inspiration in Japan

One of the considered perfect cone volcano in the world is Mount Fuji. I first learned to know about this volcano in Japan when our very own active volcano from my country named Mayon Volcano which is also considered to be the same with perfect cone volcano. I learned that Mount Mayon considered to be similar to Mount Fuji. Though I haven’t seen Mayon Volcano for real and only in photos, I can see the resemblance of the two. For me, both of them are probably has perfect cone. Based on photos, both of them has magnificent scenery from a distance. The difference that I can emphasized between the two is Mayon Volcano doesn’t have snow-capped because we don’t have winter season like Japan.

As a mountaineer, I also dreamed to climb Mount Fuji. But during the trip to this mountain, it’s not part of the family’s itinerary, I only planned to see the mountain and its summit up close and personal and be within the mountain since I was with my family.

It was our third day in Japan when I scheduled the trip to Mount Fuji. It was Sunday that day and the only thing I booked was a bus going to Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station (also known as Yoshidaguchi 5th Station or Kawaguchiko 5th Station) of the mountain from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo and a return bus from Kawaguchiko Station back to Shinjuku Station.

All of us woke-up early in the morning and prepared as early as possible we can based on the time calculations I did to reached the bus station that will bring us to Mount Fuji. From the hotel we took subway Hibiya Line from Kayabacho station to Naka-Meguro and we transferred to Marunuchi Line to Ogikubo in Ginza station and got off at Shinjuku Station.

Because Shinjuku station is one of the major and interchange station we experienced some difficulties to find the bus terminal that I bought the ticket online. The terminal we were looking for was Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal. We arrived at Shinjuku station at the right time that I planned it, but because we need to find the terminal, it seems that the timing was very tight as the bus schedule we need to take was 6:40am and at 6:30am we must be in the terminal as we need to exchange the booking that I had to a bus ticket. We asked few locals around the area of Shinjuku station but it seems no one understand our English language. We looked around and saw where the bus coming from and asked again while we were walking towards the  terminal. We talked to someone and confirmed where the terminal was. I had a map of the bus station but because of some orientation issue we got confused at first. My sister whose really good in directions confused too until she noticed some of the landmarks.

Finally we found the bus terminal and we saw a lot of people in the station. It was not really surprising because Mount Fuji is a popular tourist destination in Japan. I went inside the ticket office where queues of people can be seen, I queued myself and when it was my turn, I exchanged my booking to a ticket and we were set to board the bus. Most of the people coming to Mount Fuji were climbers or hikers. They were completely geared for the climb. When I saw the climbers I felt some envy within myself because they will climb Mount Fuji and I wasn’t.

We queued in the line and waited for our bus. When the bus arrived, I started to get excited because Mount Fuji like its country of Japan was one of my dream to see for real. When we got on-boarded in the bus, I can’t deny the excitement that I felt. The bus left the terminal and while we were trying to leave Shinjuku area, I saw some part of Shinjuku. I just realized and noticed that the place is towering of buildings. It seems there are lots of businesses districts and offices area that surrounds Tokyo.

We took the highway after leaving Shinjuku area. The bus travel we did that day was the first travel we had by land aside from train. From the time that we arrived in Tokyo, we always took trains from one point to another. Because we were in the bus, it added some excitement because I can see some part of Japan while traveling. The great thing about it, I can see a lot of places while in the road. The whole travel took us more than 2 hours before we reached the 5th station in Mount Fuji. Because we traveled in Sunday morning there’s not much traffic in the road. When we reached the base of the mountain, I felt that the atmosphere changed and the road trajectory was snaky. Then, next thing happened, there’s some drizzle in the air. Being part of the mountaineering group made me realized the rain within the mountain specially if nearer in the summit seems to be normal and that drizzle in Mount Fuji was not really surprising to me.

After the rain just stopped while in 5th Station in Mount Fuji

At 5th Station (Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station)

Around Mount Fuji 5th Station

Before we reached the 5th station of Mount Fuji, the rain fell. And when we got off the bus, we felt the cool weather in the mountain. And to think that its raining, we really experienced the windy chilly rain. Since the 5th station is the most developed than other stations around the mountain before summit, we saw different establishments in the area such as hotel for accommodations and shopping stores that people can go to temporarily as a shelter while it’s raining outside and for last minute shopping before climbing the summit.

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Mount Fuji Summit

With Mount Fuji Summit

Mount Fuji is so popular to tourist and people flocking in the mountain is normal. And I also learned, that the weekend that we visited the mountain was the last weekend that the mountain was open for climbing season as it will close due to season changes. I saw a lot of groups who really came just to climb the mountain and I felt sadness again. I promised to myself that I will come back in the mountain with the objective of climbing the summit of it.

At one of the shops in Mount Fuji 5th Station

Since we were not climbing the mountain and the timing when we reached the 5th Station was not really that great. What we did were stayed and roamed around inside of one of the stores in the area as we were amazed on a lot of stuffs and souvenirs to enjoy, had our lunch, walked around in the nearby temple and lookout and finally we took photos as we can with the summit of the mountain as our background.

Komitake Shrine

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Komitake Shrine

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Sceneries at Observation Point near Komitake Shrine

Up Close of Minato Mirai 21 and Dropping By at Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History

Minato Mirai 21

We continued our walk from Nippon Maru Memorial Park until we reached the JR Sakuragicho Station. For me it was a great walk as the surroundings is really refreshing for me. Like what I experienced when my sister and I walked towards Ginza during our first night in Japan, the walk was relaxing since it still morning. The climate is not hot and just right for a good walk in the city. While we were quite a bit far from Landmark Tower, it was an amazing view of the surroundings which later I just learned that the central business district of Yokohama is called Minato Mirai 21 which means “Port of the Future in the 21st Century”.

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Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History

We crossed the Ookagawa River or Ooka River and followed the road until we found the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History. The museum was the former Yokohama Specie Bank (a Japanese founded bank which has a significant role in Japan-China trade during 1880s as per Wikipedia). The museum’s displays focuses on the history and culture of Kanagawa Prefecture. We went inside to check what we can see, were only able to had a glimpse in the first floor where some photos of the prefecture are displayed.

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A Transient Walk In Queen’s Square Yokohama And Discovering of Mok Mok Wak Wak Yokohama Yo Yo

Queen’s Square Yokohama

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Queen’s Square Yokohama (from the outside)

As we ascended from Minatomirai station to the 1st floor of Queen’s Square, all the stores were still close, since it’s still a bit early for the mall to open. We took the escalator, I can sense that the area has a bit of elegance and glamour. The ambiance that surrounds the place was also relaxing as the mall is spacious when we reached the 1st floor. We walked a bit in the Queen’s Square, then we went outside towards Landmark Tower.

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On the way to the 1st Floor of Queen’s Square

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Queen’s Square

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Elegant Directions

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Outside Queen’s Square to Landmark Plaza

Mok Mok Wak Wak Yokohama Yo Yo

Between Queen’s Square and Landmark Plaza, we found a silver or chrome structural art. It is a magnificent roller-coaster-esque sculpture. As per map that I got, the structure is not only an art display, it has a purpose too. The art helps to break the wind tunnel that forms between the Landmark Tower and Queen’s Square Skyscrapers which still good to know. The public art is called Mok Mok Wak Wak Yokohama Yo Yo.

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Queen’s Square (from Mok Mok Wak Wak Yokohama Yo Yo)

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Mok Mok Wak Wak Yokohama Yo Yo

Transportation : Japan – Bullet Train

Transportation (Post#3) : Japan – Bullet Train

One of the things that made us happy and we will never forget an experience was, when we had a chance to travel in Japan through bullet train. Bullet train in Japan are one of the fastest train available in Earth. And this kind of transportation seems to be just another common transportation mode that being look as moving people in a fast way. What I like the most about this bullet train, the ambiance inside of it is similar to an airplane. The travel was so smooth and you will just surprise in just few hours, you were already in your destination. Snapshot captured during Japan adventure last September 2015.

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Ueno Park – One of Japan’s First Public Park and Once Kaneiji’s Ground

Ueno Park

Ueno Park

From Tokyo Station, we took JR Yamanote Line to Ueno Station. We got off at Ueno Station to visit Ueno Park. The park entrance is just beside the Ueno Station and because of this no one will ever miss the park by any visitors. We checked the map and search for things we can see around the area. There are lots of places to see in the park and all these places had their own entrance tickets. Because that day was our last day in Tokyo, we wanted to make a wise decision because we wanted to see more places as we can in a limited time that we have.

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Grand Fountain

Day Market

Tokyo National Museum

Therefore we decided to walk around the park and not to enter to any museums. Near the entrance we passed the The National Museum of Western Art Tokyo. Next, we saw the Grand Fountain wherein at the time of our visit, beside the fountain was the temporary day market. As we walked further we found The Tokyo National Museum. During that walk I used Triposo app to see if we can see interesting areas in the park aside from museums. Facing The Tokyo National Museum main entrance gate, we turned right and found The Ueno Rinnoji Temple (Rinno-ji Ryodaishi-do) which is a Buddhist temple which enshrined two priest. The temple is part of cathedral of Kaneiji temple. Beside Rinnoji temple, the Kaneiji Temple Imperial Cemetery. After taking few photos around the temple we walked back towards The Tokyo National Museum until we were near the Gate of the Inshu-Ikeda Residence known as “Kuromon (Black Gate)”.

The Ueno Rennoji Temple

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Kuromon (Black Gate)

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Kuroda Mermorial Hall

In the same corner of Kuromon, we saw Kuroda Memorial Hall. The hall was part of the estate of Kuroda Seiki which considered as father of modern western-style painting. Kuroda Seiki offered the part of his estate to be used for furtherment of the art.

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Kaneiji Temple

From the corner, we turned right and walked until we found the Kaneiji Temple. Kaneiji temple is also a Buddhist temple. I just learned that the whole Ueno Park are grounds of Kaneiji which converted into the park after it was destroyed during civil war and the temple has been relocated to where it is now. We spent time for taking photos in the surroundings of the temple and left to continue our stroll in the park.

Prince Komatsu statue

Ueno Park – Famous in Cherry Blossoms During Spring Season

We walked back to the center of the park by taking the same path we took on the way to Kaneiji Temple. After reaching the Kuroda Memorial Hall again, we walk the pathway where we found the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. We passed the main gate of more than century old Ueno Zoo. Along the way we saw the statue of Prince Komatsu. According to Wikipedia, Prince Komatsu Akihito was a member of Fushimi-no-miya, one branches of shinnoke of imperial family of Japan and eligible to Chrysanthemum Throne if the main line died out.

Benten Gate

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Bentendo

Some Fish found in Boat Pond

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Boat Pond

We walked in the middle and main walkway of the park. The said pathway is the famous area for sightseeing during spring season where visitors expecting  cherry blossoms. In the nearby area we found the Benten Gate and Benten Hall which surrounded by ponds such as Uno Pond, Boat Pond, Shinobazu Pond and Hasu Pond. Benten Hall was dedicated to Benten a goddess of good fortune, wealth, music and knowledge.

The Shitamachi Museum

From Benten Hall we walked towards The Shitamachi Museum (Museum of Down Town Customs). The said museum was dedicated to its traditional culture of Tokyo’s Shitamachi.

Ameyoko

After leaving Ueno Park, we walked in the nearby market called Ameyoko (a short name of Ameya Yokocho – candy store alley). Based on history the market was black market before second world war where most of American products were available. But even this time, it seems that if follows the history, because the said market still selling lots of various western products and common store sellers are not local Japanese but foreigners.

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Twilight : White Night Melbourne – Flinders Street Station

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Twilight (Post#3) : White Night Melbourne – Flinders Street Station

Photo above was captured during light shows at Flinders Street Station building in the midst of White Night celebration in Melbourne held last February 2014.

Akihabara – A Quick Glance of Tokyo’s Game and Anime World District

After watching sumo tournament in Ryogoku Kokugikan, we spent some time in Akihabara to check what things can be seen in the famous place. From Ryogoku Station we took Chuo Line to Akihabara Station.

Near in Akihabara Station

My thoughts about Akihabara is a place of manga and anime. Where all the famous anime or cartoons from Japan can be seen. There are lots of stores selling anime character products such as posters, cards, video games, electronics and others. There are lots of computer game shops in the surrounding areas where not only accommodating for young but adult fanatics too, since it was evening when we arrived in Akihabara, we just had a limited time to stroll around the place. We went inside of one of the electronics mall named – Yodobashi-Akiba.

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Along Chuo-dori

The mall has 9 floors and just spending time inside this mall will consume mostly of our time. We found a lot of electronic stuff inside the mall. As we entered the mall, the first things we saw are mobile phones, tablets and computers. Next, we continued to the 2nd floor where mostly are PC accessories and printers. We stop a bit in 3rd floor as I saw a lot of digital cameras, I was looking for different lenses for my Canon DSLR and wanting to buy one but I did not. We climbed again to the next floor which is 4th floor where we saw mostly music related products such as head phones, the last floor we visited was the 5th floor, even though there still up to 9th floor. At 5th floor, we saw a lot of household products. We’re almost wanted to buy things but we stop the idea as we knew the customs in my country where you will be tax heavily for the products bought outside the country. We just enjoyed looking at difference products displayed in the mall.

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We felt hungry and decided to leave the mall and find a place to have our dinner. After our dinner, we decided to go home as it’s getting late and we concluded our day.

Ryogoku Kokugikan – One of the Home of Most Ancient Japanese Sport

At first I had this impression that Sumo Wrestling or just Sumo was kind of violent sport. Yes I am aware that it is the traditional and national sport of Japan, without really knowing stuff about it, I was curious how this sport is being played. I visited sumo site prior to traveling to Japan and found that during our travel in Japan there will be Grand Sumo Tournament. I saw in one site the Sumo ticket sale will be available soon. I booked the ticket at the 1st day of ticket sale. And to be honest booking the ticket was already an experience because the box seat tickets near the center for most of the 15 days tournament were immediately sold out in a matter of hours. And because of that I immediately bought 1 box seat (4 people) to make sure we have seats in one of the days that the sumo tournament is happening while we are in Japan. I was glad that even there’s not much festivals happening during our visit (September is low peak month of visitors) at least we can watch the most ancient Japanese sport – The Sumo.

We watched sumo on our 4th day in Japan and it was Monday. I planned that day to just watch Sumo as I wanted to balance the itinerary that we have for the consideration of my aged parents. That day, I allowed all of us to regain long rest as the main event of the Sumo was scheduled at 2PM in the afternoon that day.

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Rikishi (Wrestlers)

From hotel, we took train from Kayabacho Station and transferred to Akihabara Station and took Chuo Line going to Ryogoku Station and got off at the same station. From that station, we walked few minutes to Ryogoku Kokugikan. We found that a lot of people were at the front gate and noticed that people seems waiting for something or someone as people were lined-up to both sides like there some parade coming, until we realized that some of the Sumo Wrestlers are coming. We felt excited too when we saw them. I got excited because our activity that day is uniquely a Japan culture.

I brought the printed order ticket at Ryogoku. Before passing the entrance, we saw the booth beside it which designated for tickets bought online. And then, I requested for help from assistant which just standing by at the booth. With the printed document I have in my hand, we were able to retrieved the tickets after verifying the credit card I used to order the ticket online. Before entering the gate, there’s a big announcement that the ticket was sold out for that day. It was a good relief that I bought ticket online. It secured us that day for guaranteed seat to be able to watch Sumo comfortably.

When we entered The  Kokugikan Sumo Stadium, we felt good, we saw the human board of famous Rikishi (wrestler) at the entrance and even though we don’t know them, we stand beside them and took our photos. When we were inside the stadium before entering the sumo arenas, people are going back and forth and most of them are buying food in the surrounding stores inside the stadium. We did the same thing, we bought lunch boxes for all of us. When were done buying and looking around, we went to the door nearest to our seat.

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Riskishi (Wrestlers)

Sumo arena are divided into two, the lower ground is called box seats while the balcony or upper level are called arena seats. The ticket that we bought were in the box seats and the unique experience we had in box seats was were going to seat in the floor with cushion and we will sit in Lotus position where we cross our legs.

At the center of the stadium we found the Dohyo, a stage with circular ring on it and with suspended roof similar to the Shinto shrine with four giant tassels hanging to each corner that signifies the seasons of the year (information from Sumo official website).

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Rikishi’s (Wrestlers) Bouts (preparation time during warm-up period)

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Rikishi In Action

We waited for almost an hour before the tournament started. And then the sumo arena were filled with people. When we enter the stadium and went to our assigned box seats, there were some Rikishi that are fighting in the Dohyo. I got a paper for the Torikumi or Sumo Bouts for 2nd Day. From the paper that I got there were two bouts, one is Juryo and one is Makuuchi. Based on my understanding in Banzuke (Banzuke-hyo – offical document of rankings of professional sumo wrestlers) Sumo rankings, the upper division of Rikishi is called Maku-uchi which includes the five positions of Rikishi order from highest to lowest rank: Yokuzana, Ozeki, Sekiwake, Komusubi, and Maegashira. The lower division includes Juryo, Makushita, Sandame, Jonidan, and Jonokuchi. As per Sumo official site, below Makushita ranks does not get to wrestle on each day of tournament. The tournament for day actually started in the morning and low ranking Rikishi bouts happen on that time. The main event of bout starts in the afternoon which includes Juryo and Makuuchi bout.

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Juryo Dohyo-iri Ceremony

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Juryo Dohyo-iri Ceremony

Past 2PM that day, the main event started when Juryo Grade did their entrance both from East and West teams (please take note that Rikishi from different team does not fight for team, the fight does not have any relations which ever team the Rikishi belong) did their colorful dohyo-iri or “entering the ring” ceremony. I saw all Rikishi in queue wearing their kesho-mawashi (ceremonial aprons) and climbed to the dohyo. Each Rikishi, when they were all in the Dohyo did their short ritual ancient in sumo tradition wherein they raise their hands. That ritual is very unique which I really enjoyed watching.

After the Juryo Dohyo-iri ceremony, it followed by Juryo Bouts. We witness their bouts and my family enjoys the ancient sports of Japan.

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Juryo Grade In Action

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Dohyo Sweeping

I also observed that the Dohyo was frequently swept after the bouts and after Rikishi’s entrance ceremony, it was mentioned that Dohyo was made of special kind of clay and covers some think layer of sands, this is the reason why few people assigned to swept it.

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Shimpan (Judges)

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Gyoji (Referee) at the center

My curiosities were not only focus to the Rikishi who fough inside Dohyo. Other people were also noticeable such as the judges of sumo which called as Shimpan and the referee whose inside the sumo stables are called Gyoji. As I watch the fight of Rikishi, I learned that sumo is a sport where the wrestler aims their opponent to be out of the ring or their opponent parts of the body touch the ground aside their feet to be able to win the game.

After the Juryo Bouts, it followed the Makuuchi Dohyo-iri Ceremony. The whole stadium was jam pack of people which signifies that people are more curious of the Makuuchi’s fight as I understand that being included in Makuuchi ranking is really important in this sports.

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Makuuchi Dohyo-iri Ceremony

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Makuuchi Dohyo-iri Ceremony

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Yokuzana Dohyo-iri Ceremony

During the tournament, we were able to watch as well a Yokuzana which is the highest rank of grand sumo wrestlers and represent all sumo’s participants entered the Dohyo and did his Dohyo-iri ceremony with greatest dignity.

After the entrance of Yokuzana in Dohyo, it followed by Makuuchi Bouts. And we felt the heat of Makuuchi fight as people reacted more in every action seen inside the ring.

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Makuuchi Bout In Action

Before the tournament of the day ended, there was a bow dance which done by Makushita Rikishi, which shows the expression of satisfaction on behalf of the victorious Rikishi of the day.

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Bow Dance – A Makushita Rikishi performs Yumitori-Shiki

I observed the whole tournament while enjoying the Rikishi wrestled with their opponents. By watching the sumo, I learned that the sumo sport is not really violent sport, it’s very traditional and cultural sports which strictly following the sumo ancient rules. All my bad impressions regarding this sport was gone, it was replaced with utmost respect with this ancient sport and to all Rikishi.

I can truly say that we had a such great time discovering and watching sumo tournament.

Tokyo – From A Small Fishing Village To A Bustling Metropolitan Prefecture

When I am researching information about Tokyo, there is a curiosity about the history of one of the popular or famous city in the world. Tokyo’s former name was Edo which was part of old Musashi Province (information from Wikipedia) wherein fortified by Edo clan. Edo  was a small fishing village around 18th century, but seeing Tokyo right now, as I knew that it was a city until I understand that it’s not just a city but a metropolitan prefecture of Japan. It is the most populous metropolitan area of the country and where Japan’s government located.

After seeing some part of Tokyo, knowing what it was before is an amazing thing to discover. Realizing how far it progressed from where it was before is truly considered exponential growth and success of the small village.

A Metro To Remember

The inbound flight that I was able to book to Japan was through Narita Airport. The said airport is 1 hour train to Tokyo Downtown. At first, when I started planning my family’s itinerary, Narita area was first on my list to visit while in Japan with the reason that it is near from the airport and considering utilizing our time. Then I changed the list when I was finalizing the itinerary, I replaced Narita with Tokyo.

We left home from Dasmarinas Cavite around 1AM of September 11, allotting 4.5 hours before the scheduled flight. The past few days that week in my country had gloomy weather as almost every afternoon to evening, in Metro Manila and its outskirts had been raining. We left early as we were trying to anticipate road traffic challenges that may arise if the weather will be the same. I was really glad that Friday early morning, the road was quiet as we travel on the way to the airport. We had smooth travel from home to the airport and the good thing about that morning, it wasn’t raining at all. Around 2AM we’re already at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Terminal 3.

At the airport, we followed the norms of people traveling international such as paying travel taxes and flight checking-in. After checked-in, since it was still early and we had ample time to spare, we had our breakfast at local food chain in the airport. Next, we went to immigration gate. After passing immigration, we went straight to the airline’s gate. While waiting at the designated gate of our flight, I was thinking about Japan. In my mind, in just less than an hour or so, I will be on my way in a country called “Land of the Rising Sun”. A country which for me was only a dream. At that moment of my life, I felt excited because soon the dream in my mind will become a reality. And the momentous about it, I’m traveling with my family.

The flight was more than 4 hours. The plane took off around 5:30AM in Manila. We landed in Narita International Airport past 10:35AM. Japan was 1 hour ahead in Philippines. We disembarked the plane and walked towards immigration section. Standing in one of the airport in Japan was the realization of my thoughts that I was really in Japan. When we passed the immigration officers, that was the time I believed we will really see and experience Japan.

After the immigration, one of the first thing that’s unique with Japan at the airport is their toilet where you have a lot of options to do aside from the normal stuff that people does. What I’m referring to is that, their toilets has options to play some music or soothing sounds while doing your business. And most of the manual stuff like flushing before and after, it will be done automatically for you. Well, in my country that’s not the case, though some malls has toilets with automatic flush after doing your business.

We were adjusting in the airport and I was thinking what’s the next thing to do, we tried to figure out how we were going to Tokyo downtown. We found Skyliner desk, Skyliner is a train line that directly goes to Nippori and Ueno Station (another option is Narita Express train line that goes straight to Tokyo Station). I chose Skyliner because our Japan Railpass was not yet activated and it has only 7 days, we will be in Japan for 10 days so we were saving the other 3 days. I also knew that we still have chance to experience Narita Express train once we return to the Airport, for our scheduled flight back to Manila. Skyliner is just one of the great trains that we were able to ride while in Japan. I bought the tickets for four and then I looked for ATM to get some money. We went upstairs  (where the departure floor is located) to pickup the pocket WiFi in Japan Post Office that I reserved for rent prior arriving in Japan, WiFi will enable us to connect to internet while roaming around the country which is a LTE connection, unlimited data and cheaper for 10 days compared if I will activate data roaming in my mobile from my country and the best of all, all in the family can connect internet seamlessly.  After I picked-up the wifi, my father told me that he lost his jacket somewhere and it seems he left it after we passed the immigration officers. My father and my sister went to Information Desk at the airport and requested to looked for the jacket. It was a good thing that we had some photos of the jacket and we were able to show it to airport officers. In few minutes of waiting, my father’s jacket had been returned to him immediately. That kind of experience in a new place was really a great thing. I appreciated how people in that place were so efficient and trustworthy that they can easily find my father’s jacket. It may be a different situation if we were in another country.

Because of the incident, we came back to the Skyliner train desk where we bought our tickets and we requested to replace our tickets as the ticket schedule has passed already. They issued us new tickets for next train which will be leaving soon. We hurriedly went down to the train platform but the train doors were already closed when we arrived and its departing, we missed it for the second time. I came back upstairs and let my family wait in the platform as it’s quite inconvenient if all of us going up with our luggage. I talked to the train officer and advised me to get new ticket. I returned to the Skyliner for the second time, the third schedule given to us was at least an hour waiting time, a very sufficient time for all of us not to miss the train. Missing the train is not really something that’s surprising for us to experience because its our first time to find the train platform and it’s also first time to ride a train in Japan.

From Narita Airport Station (because there is Narita Station which different station), we arrived at Ueno Station after an hour.  Japan is a country where train is the most common and most efficient public mass transportation. After arriving in Ueno Station, we started to use our Passmo card I bought together with the Japan Railpass. Passmo card are usable to all trains and buses around Tokyo, but it cannot be used for long travel. Passmo card are accepted to many cities in Japan, maybe in the next coming years they have one card for all transportation which I will be looking forward to in the future. I did my research about public transportation in Japan and understood that there are specific tickets for some train lines. That’s why I made sure that we have the appropriate ticket for the train line we will be taking. From Ueno Station, we transferred to Tokyo Metro Subway and took Hibiya Line towards Naka-meguro and got-off at Kayabacho Station where our hotel for 4 consecutive days in Tokyo is very near and the hotel we will be staying is Sotetsu-Fresa Inn Nihombashi Kayabacho.

Honestly, based on my plan, after we arrived in Japan, we planned to see some places in the afternoon as part of our activity to end our first day. The original plan was to visit Ueno Park, but the plan did not happen because both of my parents were already tired as we haven’t slept due to early flight that day, I decided to cancel the planned activity.

The following places we visited in Tokyo are: Ginza for the first day, Ryogoku, Akihabara for the fourth day and Ueno, Azakusa, Tokyo SkyTree for the 9th day in Japan. Detailed stories of each places are posted or will be posted separately on the link given below.

Day 1 – Ginza

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Day 4 – Ryogoku Kokugikan

Hidden Panorama - Tokyo Fishing Village Metropolitan Prefecture

Day 4 – Akihabara

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Our second and last Saturday in Japan spent another day in Tokyo. Early in the morning, we took Shinkansen train from Kyoto to Tokyo. We left Kyoto Station around 6:23AM and we arrived in Tokyo Station around 9AM. Though these two cities far from each other, the Shinkansen train made us felt that both are just near each other. The estimated distance between Kyoto Station and Tokyo Station are around 500 km and it only needs more than 2.5 hours travel within the two stations. It was 3rd time we had Shinkansen Train, though it was not the fastest Shikansen, but it still comparable in terms of its speed, for what I’m aware of the Shinkansen train we took just late of 10 minutes compared with the fastest bullet train. Because it was long weekend (as September 21 is a public holiday in Japan), I anticipated that a lot of people were traveling and we reserved our ticket a day before and it’s almost fully booked  when I reserved our tickets, the seats we got were not beside each other and one seat was in another car train. I let myself apart from my family as I can be on my own and let my youngest sister be with my parents in another car train.

When we were at Tokyo Station, we looked around for luggage locker because our hotel for the night is near in Narita International Airport. After checking-in our luggage, we roam around again for the last time in Tokyo.

Day 9 – Ueno Park and Ameyoko

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Day 9 – Asakusa and Sensoji Temple

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Day 9 – Tokyo SkyTree

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After taking our time with photo shots in Tokyo SkyTree, we decided to go down as we need to catch-up train going Otsuka to attend an event. From Tokyo SkyTree Station in Tobu Line, we returned to Asakusa  Station, then transferred to Ginza Line. We got off at Ueno Station. At Ueno Station  I just realized that I have to cancel our travel in the place that my family need to be, due to my unintended mistake, we had to take train to Tokyo Station instead to Otsuka Station as we need to catch-up the last trip of Narita Express train from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport Station, as our hotel for our last night in Japan was near the airport.

At Tokyo Station we walked so fast as we need to find the luggage locker we used to checked-in our luggage and bags at the station. We arrived at the train platform for Narita Express train at least 5 minutes before its scheduled departure as we were catching our breath. For all of us it was really a nick of time because if we missed the train, we have to take a taxi which was really expensive coming from Tokyo to Narita.

We arrived past 9PM at Narita Airport Station. Then, we took the shuttle bus to the hotel we booked. We checked-in at the Narita Tobu Airport hotel before 10PM. Before we ended the night, we had a wonderful and delightful dinner at the hotel as both of my parents complimented the food we had that night and I felt relieved to what I heard.

We woke-up early and did last-minute packing of our luggage and checked-out the hotel. We took the shuttle bus back to the airport. We arrived at the airport, had enough time before our flight. I went back to the Post Office booth and returned the WiFi device I rented. We checked-in in our flight and passed the immigration. We went to the designated gate of our flight and waited for our departure. At that time I felt that days passed so fast. I remembered 9 days ago, we just came in to Japan and yet that moment we’re about to leave the country. I sensed that in few hours I and my family has to go back in reality of our lives again.

I had a great time in Tokyo and oveall in Japan, though there are lots of places that I haven’t seen but we had wonderful time and we had fun as Japan offered us a lot of places to see to enjoy our trip in this country called “Land of the Rising Sun”.

Until I return again.

Kangaroo Island – Australia’s Wild Life Park Island

It was my second and last tour in South Australia, I knew that one of the hardest thing to decide when traveling is choosing which tour or adventure to select and which one is to give up. When I’m planning my holiday in this state, I wished that I had a longer days of holiday but I don’t have. After spending some thoughts about it, I chose Grand Adelaide and Kangaroo Island tour. I already published the stories happened to me on my first day in Adelaide in my previous posts and this time I am focused in my Kangaroo Island experience.

Every time I travel, I tried my best to see the national park around the area or nearby area because I have this thoughts that there is something special in such kind of place, something considered as natural treasure that humanity must protect. Kangaroo Island has Flinders Chase National Park and conservation parks wherein Seal Bay Conservation Park is one of them. The name of the Kangaroo Island was made because the early explorer of the island was came from the group of Matthew Flinders and at that time they haven’t eaten meat for so long until they saw small Kangaroo which the group hunted. That kind of story behind the names of places sometimes quite fascinating to learn.

Kangaroo Island Sealink Ferry Terminal - Cape Jervis

— Kangaroo Island Sealink Ferry Terminal – Cape Jervis Port

— Kangaroo Island from Kangaroo Island Sealink Ferry Terminal – Cape Jervis Port

From my hotel, the tour bus picked me up and we traveled to Cape Jervis for more than 1.5 hours where the Kangaroo Island Sealink ferry terminal is located. We jumped off the bus and transferred to the ferry that will bring us to the island which gave us a chance to cruise Backstairs Passage. In less than an hour we arrived at Penneshaw which is the ferry terminal of Sealink in Kangaroo Island. We left the ferry and transferred to the tour bus that’s waiting for us.

At Penneshaw Kangaroo Island - Kangaroo Island Sealink Ferry Terminal

— Kangaroo Island Penneshaw Port – Bay Terrace

From Penneshaw, we took Bay Terrace and North Terrace. We turned left to Thomas Wilson St to Howard Drive, then straight to Hog Bay Road. I enjoyed the ride as my eyes wandering in sceneries that I saw in the island such as Penneshaw Hotel near the port and Sea Dragon Lodge where a yacht station for island residences and visitors. The island is said to be the third largest island in Australia which means that one day may not enough to see all of the island. While inside the bus, one of my self entertainment was capturing photos as much as I can to remember all the places that I had been.

— Some window view snapshots from the bus along North Terrace road.

— Snapshots along Howard Drive

— Snapshots from Hog Bay Road

After passing Howard Drive, we stayed in Hog Bay Road in a while. Along the road, we saw American River which looks like a lake at first while inside the bus just to realised it is a river where it ends in Easter Cove of the island. Next thing happened that I noticed, we turned left on the way to Seal Bay Conservation Park. I can’t remember which road we took but one thing that I remembered, we passed the nearby island airport. We reached the Seal Bay Conservation Park. The park is located in the nearby coastal area or beach area called as Seal Bay Aquatic Reserve which is the access to many seals towards the bay. The park has boardwalk where visitors can walk through without disturbing the seals around the park. During our visits, most of the seals that I saw were sleeping or lets say they were resting. When I saw the seals, it actually confused me because they look like a sea-lion to me. But I noticed there’s difference between Seal and sea-lion. I found out that seal has small flipper, wriggle on their bellies on land and lack visible ear flaps while sea-lion has large flipper, walk on land using flipper and have visible ear flaps.

American River from Hog Bay Rd