Day 9: Takayama

18th October 2007:

My original intention then was to actually take a trip to Himeji and check out the castle and stuff but reports indicate that there were a lot of people there and so my plans were amended to go to Takayama instead.

Anyway, having a grueling day before in Nara I woke in the morning with the most intense pain on my left hip. Upon inspection I discovered a rather large bruise on the area where I had been knocked down by the deer the day before. I had to rest a little longer after taking some pain killer to ease it. So I didn’t go out as early as I had hoped for but then its a good thing a lot of my plans are flexible.

Soon I departed and headed straight for the Kyoto station where I then place an order for a ticket to Takayama it would take me about 3~4 hours

I had been worried that the pain killers would wear off halfway through the day so I brought them along as well. Damn it was really painful.

Soon I was on my way to Takayama while having a delicious breakfast.  I usually try and only take direct routes to my destination since I’m scared shit about getting lost and have heard of horror stories of tourist getting real lost badly. I was wondering at the time what was CC doing. Probably a lot better than I was and definitely not in pain >_<

With breakfast all done, I decided to just spend my time gazing at the beautiful landscape passing by.

Truly a wonderful sight to behold. Lush green and a beautiful mountain view against a blue skyline. I think this is why I picked Japan for a vacation.

Train wasn’t that packed.

The journey was pleasant and peaceful. It gave me time to reflect my time I’ve spent so far. I’ve learned quite a lot as I spend my time walking about as well as honing my photography skill.

It also allowed me some peace away from the chaos of my life in Malaysia at the moment. The night before I had checked my email and got word my department at Agilent had formally dissolved and I was officially jobless. What a way to spend the rest of your vacation, knowing you would have no income when you went back. Compounded by the injury I suffered that morning, it really felt like I had hit rock bottom that day. But then I would look out the window and saw all these beautiful sights as well as the shots I took. I couldn’t help but smile and forget about it.

Soon I arrived at Takayama, as I stepped off the train I could taste the cold air. Strangely everything had a rather surreal feeling as if a puzzle piece had been fitted into place.

I grabbed a copy of the tourist guide off one of the many information counters. I had literally come to Takayama will absolutely no idea of what to see. I then decided to take a chance and go to mount Norikura which is a mountain about 3026 meter. I could have instead opt to go around the town of Takayama but I just wanted to the highest point that day and just bask in its glory.

So I quickly booked a ticket on the next bus up to the peak of mount Norikura which would take about an hour or so and off I went.

The bus took a rather scenic route through the town.

For reasons unknown to me but the town gave me a rather warm and fuzzy feeling even though the weather was rather cold when compared to the other parts of Japan I’ve visited. Not to mentioned that the bus was heated and the seats were very comfortable.

I also had the fortunate luck of sitting next to a very helpful Japanese who spoke English.

I managed to ask him (managed meaning I was able to communicate the bare minimum information to him that I was going up to Norikura for photos) on what I could expect to see and informed me that there was a lot of wild flora as well as beautiful scenes but it would depend on how lucky I am depending on the weather.

The journey up the mountain required a change of bus halfway up.

We passed numerous valleys as well as hill side views which are to die for! It was beautiful, so beautiful that I had completely forgotten the email I had received the night before and the pain in my hip.

I had seriously at that time considered a change of career, IT work in Malaysia has become rather monotonous and boring as well as intensely political.

Everyone backstabbing everyone at Intel and  bosses sacrificing employees to save themselves or secure themselves a golden parachute before they go down in flames at Agilent.

IT was a great and fascinating industry when it first started and if you were lucky and smart, you could have become a major player in it. But I don’t think that’s possible in Malaysia with all the bullshit around.

It was these things that were whirling in my mind at the time. I figure perhaps it was time to go into another field, one that have been left alone by everyone else because it wouldn’t bring “the money” into your hands.  I had previously thought of going into photography when I was younger but my plans were quickly mooted by my parents as it was considered “shameful” if your chosen career is anything artistic as it doesn’t bring in huge amount of money that they could brag to their friends or relatives about.  This is the part of Chinese mentality I have always resented.

Anyway enough mental anguish dumping, we soon reached the rest stop.

It was cold but fun ^_^.

The surrounding area was boring but I managed to keep myself entertained till the next bus.

A shot of the rest stop both outside and inside.

Soon the bus arrived and off I went. To the top of mount Norikura

Approaching the cold peak…

Finally I had arrived at the town of silent hill, err I mean the logging at the peak of mount Norikura. It was cold! Real cold! Not the type of cold in a shopping complex but the type of cold where you had to endure it! Not the feel good kind of cold ! Anyway I was rather hungry after all the travelling so I went to have something to eat at the cabin. They also had one of those food vending machines I had mentioned in my previous entries. Except this time they did not have any picture along with the buttons. Hence making it a game of chance for me to order food.

I had hope that the buttons I had press would be food but tragically, no……it was warm orange juice. So I tried again, then I got hot green tea. Then I tried again, it was hot coffee……..this was getting a bit ridiculous. Until the guy at the counter wondered why I kept going back to the machine with so many order of drinks while I was the only one. He approached me and asked what I was looking for, I remember asking I was trying to order food (I believe along the words “gohan”). He smiled and understood what I wanted and press the button marked “Ramen” for me.

So I then bottled  the orange juice into a bottle I had been carrying. Then finished the rest. Here is the shot of the hot coffee and ramen.

With that I then bought some onigiri and went out to hike about. The temperature was about I think “Really damn cold!”

When I stepped onto the plateau, something occurred to me. It was stone dead silent. Not the type where it was so silent you could hear the ringing in your ears but the type where you don’t even hear it.

Truly, no sound nor ring could  be heard through my hike. It was as if I had entered a world devoid of sound. Not even the sound of the wind was present.

I started wondering to myself….

Is this what the afterlife is like? It was very peaceful but very cold.

It was so cold, that after taking a few more shots, the battery in my DSLR froze……both of them. I had neglected to follow a rule of shooting in cold weather, keep those batteries warms. Something I was not accustomed to as this was my first time up a freezing mountain.

So putting away my DSLR, I then stuff both batts into my coat pocket to warm them up. I resorted to my Nikon Fm2n Camera.

Edible? I didn’t find out.

Soon it was time to head back to the bus as the day ended and would give way to the night shortly. I had no plans to stay over night at Takayama and made my way back.

Darkness had set by the time I got back to Takayama but it was still to early to catch the last train home so I decided to wonder about the town and the batteries finally warmed up enough to usable levels.

With that I boarded onto the train bound for Kyoto where I would rest for the night and prepare for the final location I intend to visit, Kanazawa.

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