Tag - mountain

Wales: Scaling Snowdon

We’d done Fuji together, and that’s 3000m! Snowdon was more than doable, a mere amble at 1000m – right Rob?

Never before, in any of adult life, have a better understood how fucking awesome Easter is.

It’s like Christmas for adults; devoid of any expectation and compulsory visits; the promise of good weather and friends – and two 4-day weeks!

The Adventure Begins

Setting off from Richmond, rather than home, saved an hour on our 4.5hr trip, and with four in the car, we were saving a killing on travel over the train – other than muggings here driving 3 non-drivers…

Arriving in Wales, we were soon(ish) hitched up in our AirBnB, waiting for the other two to arrived.

Turns out we hadn’t booked a house, but just the bedrooms! Still, with a fry up breakfast thrown in, and just a lil begging to be allowed the use the kitchen to make dinners, I think we had done pretty nicely for ourselves.

The big climb lay the day ahead of us.

Mounting the Mountain

We had been sent out packing list a couple weeks in advance – a gift.

It included all the essentials, down to spare laces – the curse – we needed huge sacks to carry everything!

They guys had decided which route to take to the summit – gift! Naturally we wouldn’t be taking the path, waaaaay to easy. Nope, we would be first scaling Crib Goch, en route to Snowdon’s summit – curse.

With it being Easter weekend, the area was packed with cars, filling the car parks and lining the sides of any roads they could. But the gang knew a car park a kilometre or two from the trailhead – gift.

Of course, we wouldn’t walk the road to the trailhead, waaaaay to easy. Nope we would climb over the car park wall, down the hill, across and river and back up the ravine to trailhead – curse.

I was already out of breath, sweaty and had redressed 3 times – from wearing all my gear, plus hat and gloves, down to my underlayer and cursing wearing my leggings under my shorts – at least I hadn’t put on the fleeced waterproof trousers!

We gathered our thoughts at the trailhead station, left behind a lil brown part of ourselves and we were off!

As soon as the girls got back from the toilet.

Scaling Snowdon

The busy trail consisted of large, flattish rocks that made up the footpath, the barrage of people forcing us to keep pace as we climbed higher and higher along the side of the valley. From the trailhead head station the road snaked out along the valley floor, the steep ‘v’s of hills jostling with each other to be better seen and in the distance, the massive lake we had driven past an hour before hinted at its own existence with a flickering golden luminance in the corner of the scene – how was it so small now?

Photo by Rob Fudge May

After maybe an hour or so, we reached the point that marked your hikers from your climbers; the division of the Pyg path – the relatively simple, consistently inclined path that snaked its way up the mountain – and the Crib Goch route, a fun trail up a 923m ‘knife-edge’ ridge, considered a scramble in summer and a climb in winter, on which numerous people have died from exposure – we of course took that one!

Which definitely paid off!

What could have only ended in death had I been alone, the experience of the other guys –  their ability to spot routes, remember directions based on landmarks and motivation to keep moving forwards – made it almost easy!

Well, that and the fact that going back down the rocks I had already seen was a lot less alluring that pushing forward, upwards into the unknown, even if Snowdon itself was a horseshoe of a mountain path away and hidden in the distance under a veil of mist and cloud.

Photo by Rob Fudge May

We had gotten super lucky with weather! At the lower elevation only a couple of layers were needed, sleeves rolled up after the physical exertion of climbing with both feet and hands up near vertical rock faces.

The lay of the rock made for plentiful hand and footholds, especially in the dry weather, and often formed natural (thought frequently very tall) steps. I dread to imagine the scramble in the snow or wet, or even going down (like one couple and their dog, in trainers!) but the only real challenge for most of it was scouting out the best path, especially nearer the top, and whilst scrambling along the ridge.

Climbing the ridge was the most exhilarating and nerve-wrecking part. Whilst scrambling, you had holds above for your arms, sure footing for your feet, and should one part slip, you still had multiple points of contact.

Upon reaching the ridge, you became a gangly mountain goat.

Photo by Rob Fudge May

The angle along the ridge was so acute, literally just an upside down ‘V’, with kniggly, angle surfaces to step along. When the ridge was flat-ish, you had nom more than a 30cm width on which to balance, as the wind pelts you as it rushes over the mountain and you’re left standing your full height about the top of the mountain, which only steep, rocky slope either side of you.

Needless to say, much of the summit was spent hunched over on all fours, like a Quasimodo-Golem love child, and there was even one segment where I watched a woman crawl across on her hands and knees!

This being the point of ‘vertigo meltdown’, we saw a fair number of slow movers, dropping down the slope a tad to overtake them and head on way to the summit of Snowdon.

Photo by Rob Fudge May

Though between Crib Goch and Snowdon, there is another, all peak, as the cloud wrapped in around us, this felt rather like a non-adventure, shielded from the view, the plummet around us a few mere metres and a wide path left us with no troubles, and we marched hand in hand, the 6 of us, down the other side of Garnedd Ugain, pass the top off the Pyg path and onto the summit post, celebrating with Summit Booze!

The Return Home

Largely uneventful, we followed the Pyg path back down, our knees taking the brunt of our downwards descent, with the fittest and most mounty-climby of the group running a head to bring the car round from the car park, to spare the legs of the rest of us.

Despite the late hour, we managed to doodle back along the valley road, and were indoctrinated into the cult of ‘Pete’s Eats’ with a mountain of cream, marshmallows and hot chocolate.

We had climbed Snowdon and survived.

Where to next? Why, Ben Nevis of course!

Kuju: Climbing 久住山

Kota had the wonderful idea of meeting at 9am at his work office somewhere in Taketa – this off the back of a night in Mie trying to finish off all the alcohol in my apartment before moving out the next day!

By 8am we were off, checking in the Everyone konbini for some hiking snacks – like pot noodle and ramen! By 9am we had met, and at 1015 we were setting off up the mountain!

Ten minute later and we had stopped on the side of the tracks.

Rika and Kota had had the wonderful idea to use spikes on the boots – alas your poor narrator had no luck, nor the frivolous cash to expend on such luxuries a week before returning to the UK, and us such would spend most the mountain hike squattedly baby stepping his way up the mountain and especially on the way back down!

In all honesty, it didn’t make all that difference going up, and if anything, I was looking safer, especially after we cleared the made-made concrete paths and got out onto what I suspect was the frozen mud track.

Initially the walk set along easy going hillside, with a few ups and downs, before we hit the first peak of the day. The views of the mountains were intermittent at best, à cause de clouds and mists a passing overhead at such alarming speed, taking us from dull, scattered glow, to luminous sunlight in a just a few seconds, for perhaps only a few tens of seconds before becoming engulfed by the gentle greyness.

Climbing down the scraggity first peak, it gave hint of the fear that was in store later in the day coming back down from the peak, but fortunately the gods smiled favourably, and no accidents were had at this early stage!

The ground levelled out a few more times with only minor inclines, as our surroundings became incresingly white and wintery, snow sticking to the plans to create intricate white brains!


The plateau before the lunch hut

After a couple of hours, the ground leveled out and we hit a kind of plateau between the mountains, Mt. Kuju hidden in the distance by cloud cover. It felt almost as if we were hiking through a Scottish valley, or around Hogwarts, and I was almost disappointed not to see any sheep on the hills.

In the distance was a small, thick stoned building, with a flurry of hikers coming in and out of it – it was time to lunch!

Pulling out the kettle from my bag, Rika got the gas fired up and we were moments away from our cup noodles! Alas, we had to wait a further 3 minutes for the water to penetrate and make delicious our noodles, but oh boy were they satisfying after a long hike, sitting in the cool, white interior of the hut.

Where we were headed

Where we were headed

The final accent was a head of us, and as proven so far, snow spikes weren’t really necessary for climbing up! Following the scattered path of rocks dotted with yellow splodges, we were occasionally afforded the sight of the peak were climbing for a seconds at a time as the weather broke and a blue sky appeared.

Gonna bop, bop, bop, bop to the top!

Gonna bop, bop, bop, bop to the top!

A final ascent along the narrow, rocky ridge, the breaking mist showed the summit marker was in sight, as we raced to the top – we had done it!

Rather fortuitously, the weather took a rest from its grey mystery, and gave it near perfect views of the surrounding areas, and we even got some blue sky and blinded by sunlight as we posed for the obligatory photos at the 1786m sign. It had taken around 4 hours to get up to the top.

Kuju Peak

Reads – “Mt Kuju, 1786.5m”

Kuju peak pano

The old pano from the top

As quickly as the weather took to change, we were heading back down the mountain again, and so began the bit I was dreading; descending without spikes…

Things started off well, getting to the lunch-lodge with no real difficulties. Passing by and through rocky outcrops I had my first slips, landing squarely on my arse, but luckily on a fairly flat region of ground and so we continued, trekking through the relatively flat plains, the mists reducing visibility to only 15-20m forward and behind, with no sign of the clear blue skies we had seen at the peak.


The final descent into the car park

Much of the journey was uneventful, careful selection of footing, combined with reasonably gentle declines ensuring no more falls. Getting closer to the peak near the start of the trail, it’s sheer vertical face wasn’t too much of a difficult climb, with Rika supporting my arse in case I fell (any excuse), and the only major difficulty was the man-made concrete ramps for the final kilometre or so, it’s concrete/gravel mixture filled in with compacted snow and ice to create a slide of terror! A rather short sighted and stupid idea that ensures the most dangerous part of the whole climb is the first/last kilometer.

Having fallen on my arse a couple of times, and knowing I was soon leaving the country, I sacrificed my waterproof trousers to turn the terror in an amusing sledging run!

Why fall, when you can slide? - Photo by Rika

Why fall, when you can slide? – Rika Onishi Enomoto

All in all it was wonderful hike, with, at times, so really beautiful views! I would love to do it again in the summer, to see the views, the nearby mountain lakes and to finish with less bruises on my arse!

The final part of the day Kota threw a yakiniku party as his house for us! After securing meats from the nearby mini super market, he lit the coals outside before transferring them to his indoor fire pit!

BBQ at Kota's

Traditional fire pit built into the floor

We had to have the doors open in order to pull out the smoke from the meats, and it was really cold, but the meats and vegetables were so delicious, it didn’t even matter!

It was a lovely weekend to finish my time in Japan.

Fancy meeting Kota and having yakiniku? Check out his Air B&B listing here!

Taiwan: Hiking, hiking, HIKING!

Finally the summer vacation has arrived and so begins my first trip of the summer – Taiwan with fellow Brit and JET, Emma, who I met in London Orientation almost exactly a year ago!

Saturday 24th July: A quest to find a hotel

After an initial hiccough, wherein we discovered that the airport had 2 terminals. It had been nearly 10 months since I’d last saw Emma, but she hadn’t changed much, so she was easy to spot within in the sea of Taiwanese faces.

Coming into Taipei, we were presented with vast towering appartments, much like the scenes I’d seen of Chinese expansion in Eastern Africa in a Core77 article, shooting up from the earth in striking regularity.

Getting into the main station, I was struck by how wooden and grand, yet aged the building was, especially the main ticketing area with its grandiose hall and high ceiling, creating a cool environment, at contrast to the sticky heat outside.

Emma has the memory and route planning skills of an elephant, and so had us to the Sleepy Dragon hostel in no time. Their ingenious name was the sole reason we had book the hostel.

It was great place, that you could feel was really well considered and planned. The couple Satoru and Shelly bought a floor in the block, and renovated it so that it is (a large) part hostel and part house. The cinema screen, variety of beers and home-handmade breakfasts were all a treat!

The consideration of use extended to the dorms too! With custom built bed units, each with its own curtain to shut it off from the room, and each bed with its own electrical outlet, lamp and fold down desk – hell it even had a cubby for shoes under the bed ! The place is a treat to return to after a day’s hiking.

With a storm looking like it was brewing, we wisely chose to drink beer for a couple of hours, before deciding it wasn’t going to down pour and went in search of the Grand Hotel.

Turns out, I’m now incredibly reliant on mobile internet to navigate, and that Grand Hotel isn’t its name in Chinese!

We first arrived at Shilin station and we had a little wander, figuring the hotel was nearby… We knew it was either north or south of the Shilin markets… We couldn’t see it. We gathered a few people together, they pointed in a direction and told us to take the metro south.

Popping out at Yuanshang, 2 stops down, we still couldn’t see it. We walked past the Expo centre, then further south, before making the call to swing round the stadium. This had an awesome bustling food scene, with little stalls in shipping containers and some big pub bistro restaurants – all very edgy.

After speaking to the Information Man, he pointed us in a direction, and in no time at all, we could see it!!! We made a beeline for it, only to discover the end of the park was fenced off, and we would have to retrace our steps through the park. Then to discover it was on the far side of a metric shit-ton of overpasses and ring roads – cry!

One cool feature we did come across was scooter/motorbike only lanes, running separate to the car roads, which was pretty cool!

The front of the hotel in sight, we could see no access, just concrete express ways rising and falling between us! So we followed the road round and found some steps. By this point we must have been 2 hours down, hungry and hot.

Wasn’t even worth it.

The hotel is a testament to olden architecture. Built in 20th century, it uses traditional Chinese construction methods and Chinese palace design. It was also the tallest building in Taipei at its conception. It does look awesome, if not a little like the building in the opening scenes of Inception!

But the real reason for our visit was the story of the slide. Set on a hill, the hotel has an emergency slide to allow dignitaries to escape.

Unfortunately for us, access for the public is prohibited :’(

Heading back down, we decided to head to the Shilin night market – it was not what I had expected.

Shilin Night Market

It reminded me of the tourist traps from sport-tour holidays in Spain. Narrow streets, with shops on each side selling the latest clothes or Nike trainers, whilst in the middle ran the floor sellers of bric-a-brac and fabrics, helping clog the already narrow streets and forcing people to a slow amble. Supplementing this scene were fruit and smoothies vendors on each corner, and along the edges of the area were the carnival type games; shooting the can, get ball in the milk jug, pop the balloons with the darts. It really had the feel of a travelling fairground, but combined with bright, vibrant shops.

The evening was getting on, and one of our highlights was to be the Cheese and Beer Social house. A little out of the way, we headed their, ordered our obscure beers and a grilled cheese sandwiches. The combined exhaustion of travel, hunger and thirst meant this place didn’t seem overly enjoyable, but had we perhaps arrived earlier, or on a different day, we may have had a more pleasurable experience.

Sunday: Stinkyhead Mountain – 臭頭山

Sunday was to be our first hiking day. We didn’t feel the need to rush, so we enjoyed the breakfast at the hostel, and then set off on the MRT to work our way out of the city. From the end of the line, we caught a bus through the rolling hills of East of Taipei to Pingxi.

To be honest, the view was much the same driving through Japan, with luscious green vegetation disrupted by low rise buildings that line the roads and speckle the distant hills.

Pingxi was far more developed than I imaged, I had images of small farm houses, mostly from the fact I was unable to find a hotel that had a website in the area. But it was very much a small town with shops along the main road, and naturally a couple of konbinis.

The hike was just a wee way down from the bus stop, and so we headed up the trail. Initially it seemed like a small, stoned path up to a temple or something, but it soon gave way to a well trodden path that in turn lead to paths and sections that required more careful footing, hand ropes and at one point a ladder!

Within the first minute or two I was immensely relieved that I had purchased and bought with me a 3L camelbak, so that I could frequently sip at my water. Within no time at all I had drench my tee shirt with sweat.


The view from Xiaozishan – 孝子山

After scaling the initial peak, Xiaozishan – 孝子山, we descended down the other side, heading towards the next peak. Only when the gentlemen we had met at the top of the first peak started heading back towards us did we realise this wasn’t a circular path, and were walking back towards the road.

Not being able to understand the maps and signposts was to be a common occurrence throughout the holiday!

We made friends with these two guys, and scaled up and down the trail a little, eventually deciding to tackle Zhongyangshan together, then pausing part way down for lunch, and to ring out my shirt and shorts – I was soaking!

Then we split up with Emma and I heading after Stinkyhead Mountain. Everything seemed to be going well, and we followed directions to the grasslands mentioned on the hiking blog we’d read. Then we continued through the grasslands… And this was our mistake… Another 30 minutes down the track, no longer seeing trail flags, no other people, nor any more maps, we concluded we may had gone the wrong way…

Back the Way we Came

A considerable time later we were back at the point near where we’d stopped for lunch, and took the only remaining, unexplored fork left in the path. And not a moment too soon! Thunder rolled over us, and lightning flashed behind us, egging us on to go that bit faster.

After a considerably longer walk than anticipated, we started approaching civilisation and were soon back in Pingxi, drinks in hand, sat on a step.

But we still had to get to Jiufen! It was gone 4 o’clock! Looking for a bus, we decided instead to take the train, allowing us to walk around the old street and purchase one of the weirdest treats I’ve ever had – a multi-flavoured icecream, sprinkled with peanut brittle shavings, and coriander, wrapped up in a rice paper, a bit like a spring roll. It made a delightful treat after all the hiking!

The train was pretty cramped, and we got to Ruifang a little before dusk, and followed directions to the bus stop. By the time we were on the bus, it was dark, and got chatting to a man on the bus.

Jiufen Old Street

We hit up the Old Street, whilst looking for our hostel – turned out I was taking us to the wrong star on my map, and we had to ask a lady in a shop for help. She eventually drew us a map and sent us on our way. After asking a few more people, we had found the hotel, and checked into our cramp little room.

Wary of the hour, I went off for food whilst Emma showered, and after trying some spicy fish balls, settled for stinky tofu in a side restaurant.

It reminded me of Uganda food; plain/weird/not so nice taste, with a foreign texture – best not to sniff it either!

Later, Emma joined me, and I tried palming it off on her – she tried a little, but we had to leave a half filled bowl :/

Back at the hostel, we got chatting to one of the other lads, and with him, went for a night-time explore, wherein we took some drinks in an old tea house, over looking the hillside town and sea, discussing China and travels.

Monday: Sandiaoling Trail 三貂嶺

I finally got through to my bank and I had money!

We took the bus back to Ruifang, then found the bus stop to the cat village. Naturally the bus was covered with cats!

The Cat Village

The cat village was small but nice, a series of ‘streets’ stacked on the hill side, wherein it seemed everybody had decided to own a cat. It wasn’t exactly over running with the fuzz balls, but every shop had things cat related, and so we stroked some cats and grabbed a snack in a cafe, bought some postcards and then took the train a few more stops.

Emma had heard about a waterfall hike we could take, and it began by having us walk along the railroad tracks! Under the exposed sun, it was tough going, but soon we turned off it and began uphill under the shade of the trees.

It was a pretty quiet hike for the most part. Early on we saw a waterfall from a distance, crossed a number of rope bridges and by lunchtime climbed down past the “do not climb down” sign and were paddling in the shallow waters – some fellow hikers even offered me some boil in the bag rice which I gratefully scoffed down!

Then we were at the top of a waterfall, overlooking the valley, and climb various terrains; from some metal stairs to a rope and log ladder.

As was becoming usual, we were a little lost, but came across some handmade signs for Shuifen, which was home to a recommended waterfall – ideal! This way our path became more following the roads, and maybe an hour later my thirst was being quenched by a sweet nectar from the shop next to the waterfall.

The waterfall was kind of anticlimactic. It was essentially a building site, with noisey builders working on  making new viewing platforms from which to see the falls, along with a number of tourist posing for photos – far from idyllic!

Shifen Old Street

By now we were getting hangry, so continued into Shifen, a small town that, like Pingxi attracted tourists based on the premise of customising and releasing paper lanterns into the sky from the train tracks, between trains arriving and departing.


The tracks at Shifen

It was mostly a single street that lead down to rows of shops on either side of the tracks, with old ladies sat on benches outside houses presumably discussing the world and maybe us.

It was getting dark, and a storm was rolling in, so we looked to find a restaurant we could eat in – no luck for my veggie friend!

We spent a little time looking for a bus, and drinking a few beers as it began to round and we found the bus stop and waited. Exhausted, the weather miserable, we sat on the bus and road back into Taipei.

Sunset over Taipei

Reaching Taipei, the weather had cleared, and so we took a gamble on climbing Elephant mountain to watch the sunset over Taipei and behind Taipei 101, picking up a delicious bagel and beers en route, before having to race up the slopes to catch the sunset. We were sweaty, but happy.


Photographers love dusk on Elephant mountain

Without the excitement of the sunset, the way down was dark and tiring, but not long after we were settled back into the hostel, drink in hand, watching a film on the projector screen.

Tuesday: Wuliaojian – 五寮尖

Determined to make the most of our final full day, and not be left hiking into early evening, we set off at 6am for our hike South West of the city in Wuliaojian, travelling to the end of the MRT, then catching a taxi to the beginning of the hike.

After setting off a few dogs as we passed, we began the long ascent up the incredibly steep road, it must have been nearly 50° incline at points.

Finding a map near the end of the road was were the initial confusion began. We attempted to go right, the more direct path to the peak, but found workers, cranes and vans blocking our path, and they seemed to gesture that we couldn’t take this path.

We double backed, spotting some hiking tags up a small path, and set about following this, only to find the path disappeared and we lost confidence in this ‘path’.

So in the end, we took the only other path available to us.

Even still, it wasn’t the path we had expected, and soon found ourselves passing through a man-made bamboo forest, and heading out much further west than anticipated – it was going to be a long day!

After getting some directions from a man, we knew where we were on the map, and began the longing loop path up the mountain, climbing near vertically at points! After a few more crossroads, where at we rung out our shirts and snacked, and a few more ups and downs, we began the rockier sections of the mountain. Exposed to the sun, relying on ropes to guide us up, it was a real adventurous hiking style!

Ah… Shit…

Without the trees obstructing the view, we could see all around us, and spotted a peak much more similar to the ones we’d seen in photographs…

Which may explain why we never reached a huge exposed ridge with ropes and guides – oh hey ho!

The final peak was a vertical climb assisted by ropes – on the way down we took the rickety old ladder and wooden-rope ladder – much faster but a little hairier!

Not ones to back track, we continued our circular path, rather than return they way we had come – in the end, this turned out to be quite a flat, slippery, tree lined route, which I was glad we hadn’t traversed at the beginning for boredom!

After a time, we spotted some vans and work men in the distance – we’d looped all the way round and come from behind the men that had told us to go back earlier in the morning!

By the time we got back to the main road, it was only a bit past 12! The early rising had done its job! We asked a shopkeeper if they could book a taxi, and soon were we riding in a swish black car to the station, and back into central Taipei.

Visiting Longshan Temple and its market

Arriving back at the hostel and showering, we decided to have a bit of tête-à-tête time, discussing life, the universe and everything, then setting out for the Longshan Temple and its market.

The temple was surprisingly busy, though a strange mix of worshippers/practitioners and people taking selfies, but with the flurry of incense, and rich woods and golds, it was enough to create a longing to belong and accept the falsities of religion.

Next to the markets!

Maybe we went to the wrong areas, maybe we were too early, but the night markets weren’t much of a sight to behold. Though totally different to Shilin market of the first night, it was more just empty, with small wooden stalls and metal frames, and I remember a lot of offle…

Grabbing some free internet at 7-Eleven, we looked for the famous toilet themed restaurant – Modern Toilet.

Having spent the best part of an hour finding it, we arrived a bit after nine to some bad news – it had stopped serving food – but at least we had the photos!

A craving for western food, combined with the guarantee of vegetarian food, lead us to TGI Friday, taking me back to the memories of spending many a meal and session drinking cocktails in such a place with an ex-girlfriend!

Whilst you can take the JETs out of Japan, you can’t take the Japan out of the JETs and we googled for a karaoke place; we were in luck!

“Storming through the party like my name was El Niño…” Karaoke

We soon discovered Chinese karaoke isn’t exactly the same as Japanese karaoke…

We booked in for a hour, with the price seeming a little high, but we wanted a laugh! As it turned out, part of the cost was a drinks order, so had credits with which to buy beverages – 6 honey beers it was then!

The other major difference is the paper book from which we had to choose songs, and the limited number of Western songs. Japan had spoilt us with the latest hits, new songs every month and a full back catalogue of classics. We have maybe a 100 songs to choose from here!

Thinking about it, this wasn’t so surprising.

Chinese/Mandarin/Cantonese don’t have phonetic alphabets. Each character has a sound, and a meaning, but you have to know them. Japanese and English both have phonetic alphabets. In Japan, western lyrics can be approximated by the phonetic scripture. It’s meaningless, but you can read and sing.

But in Chinese, you would have to choose characters purely for their sound. This would make nonsensical sentences, since each sound and character within itself is a word. Then you’d have to decide which of the same-sound-character you would use, and then expect people to be able to sing this nonsense.

The other alternative would be to translate the song and set it to the music – hard work, expensive – so why bother?

That god I’m in Japan!

After buying a second hour, we had nearly exhausted the playlist, and so set out for a cab back to the hostel.

Wednesday – Home Time

Another delightful breakfast at the Sleep Dragon preceded us checking out and heading to Taipei 101.

Taipei 101 had, at one point, been the tallest building in the world, and was based aesthetically (and probably philosophically) on bamboo!

We’d heard about the Starbucks inside the main business tower and wanted to check it out. Alas, this Starbucks required you to make a reservation! The plan scuppered, we created a new plan of checking out some museums in the Expo park area we had walked around on our first night.

After the first few were shut, we ended up the at the Art Museum. One thing I like about Emma, is she doesn’t dilly-dally, so we could hit the works at quite a pace! It showed a real variety of old to modern Taiwanese art, through to modern pieces that explored the effects of climate change and our advancing society and the consequences of it.

It being lunch time, we headed to the stalls around Expo park to munch on some delicious food.

Shortly after that we parted ways. Quick and without ceremony, it was weird to think that we may never see each other again. Between geography, and some personality clashes it seems likely to be the case, but equally it would be a shame not to spend time with somebody with strong conviction, and unafraid to speak their mind.

Arriving at the main station, I felt a lil like a meerkat as I popped out of a number of underground exits from the station and I looked for the bus stop. Then I was on the bus, phone charging, rushing through row upon row of highrise flats, listening to a bleak podcast on the life of a man who’d been sentenced for murder and 17 years old, and was now in his 40s in prison.

Getting back to Japan, I had overlooked the times, and would be arriving too late in Oita to get the final train back to my town. Thankfully, the JET network is expansive, and I was able to find somewhere to lay my head, before having to depart at 6am, and go to straight to school from the train!

Another exhausting, but enjoyable holiday! Bring on Hong Kong!!!