Monday, August 11, 2008

Future walking

New boots
nifwlseirff on flickr

The soles on my last hiking boots (Salomon sensifit) wore through surprisingly quickly. In under 3 years, they needed to be resoled. Admittedly, I wore them nearly all the time, but for the price that I had paid, I expected a longer lasting shoe. The fabric at the back of the heels had also worn through (fabric always does), but otherwise the tops of the boots were still very wearable. They were still very comfortable, so I decided to take them into the recommended hiking boot repairer (Walkalong in Camberwell).

Unfortunately, they are now unwearable. The sole that was fitted (and glued quite sloppily), seems to be less wide. The outsides of my feet now sit on the sharp edge of the new soles. *ouch*

So.... off to get new shoes, that are decent enough for work. I ended up with a pair of Asolo leather hiking boots. Very solid, inflexible, but quite comfortable. I shan't be driving in these just yet. I wonder how long they will take to break in, and how long they will last.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A whirlwind tour of Japan

Modern ojizosan
nifwlseirff on flickr
My trip to Japan was amazing and exhausting... including the earthquake which left me stranded in Sendai! ;> The lush greeness makes Australia look positively brown, especially during winter. I'm already saving for my next trip, but this time I must avoid the rainy season, and travel south to visit friends.

I was able to book hotels over a rather patchy mobile phone connection, and stumble my way through a very long conversation during a hike in Japanese, which I was very happy about.

My blue hair got mixed reactions from all ages - some loved it, some looked at me strangely then walked away. I was approached by one primary school group wanting to practice their English while in Nikko.

After a few days of huge amounts of walking on uneven ground, my ankle was unhappy, so I cut out a few hikes and visited a few more touristy places. Still, 220km walked during this trip!

I took about 1800 photos!

My itinerary and the weather looked something like below.

Narita: temples and park, overcast/patchy rain
Chuzenji ko: pouring and cold one day, gorgeous the next (warm and humid), hiked from Yuno ko to Chuzenji ko on the second day.
Nikko: temples, waterfalls, long walks and a stunning imperial villa, overcast/raining -- my favourite place - the sound of running water everywhere!

(3 days sleeping in Sendai - 3 different hotels :-\ )
Sendai: museum and castle ruins, hot and humid -- an incredible number of crows!
Hiraizumi: temples and a very long uphill walk/hike, very hot and humid -- lots of bugs
Sendai: earthquake... *pout* very hot and humid, and very frustrating. I didn't get to see Kakunodate this trip!

Hirosaki: samurai houses, town, zen temple precinct, castle grounds and parks, warm and overcast -- nice place!
Mount Iwate: Was gorgeous, but then the clouds rolled in and cancelled my hike down the mountain - visibility was incredibly poor, hot then mild and raining -- back to Hirosaki for an izakaya meal

(Hokkaido region)
Hakodate: town and night view from Mount Hakodate, hot and dry, then cold at night -- I am very short when compared to this generation of Japanese school kids.

Asahikawa: a long train trip from Hakodate, meant little sightseeing, very very hot and dry -- apparently it was a heatwave!

Wakkanai: northern shore, parks, small town (only one convenience store!), cold and raining.
Rebun/Rishiri: long day, ferry and bus tours, very cold and pouring. The mist stopped me from seeing much at all - not worth doing this in poor weather. Back to Wakkanai to defrost with warm sake and a good meal. Had there been good weather, this would have been a hike.

(I skipped Sapporo - didn't feel like visiting another city, and jumped back to Tohoku region....)
Wakkanai -> Morioka: 13 hours on 4 trains with a maximum of 10 minutes between each connection. Warm and humid.

Chuzenji ko: onsen and yummy food - it was pouring, so I didn't do my planned boat tour of the lake.

(Note to self and other non-Japan-residents - don't travel JR without a JR Pass.... awfully expensive!)
Tokyo: detached palace garden (Shiodome), very hot and humid. On Mondays most things are closed :-\
Tokyo: B arrived and we went shopping! (Yodobashi camera) Government building for the view from on high, then Ueno park, very hot and humid

Then to Germany (Bremen) for a whirlwind 3 days of catching up with family and friends and squeezing in some shopping, then a 54 hour trip home, only 8 hours of which is time difference...... *yuck*
From Japan I miss the food, cleanliness, green-ness, convenience stores and vending machines. :-) And the history... Australia is simply too young! I don't miss the insects!!!