Autumn in Katsuoji

One of the many charms of Katsuoji is the view during Autumn.

After visiting it during Summer time, Miss S and I decided to see it during the Autumn season as well. This time we just took the train and then bus to get there.

How to get there from Osaka(Access)

We took Hankyu Line and got off at Kita Senri Station and took bus #29.

Let’s try to see how Autumn looks like arund Katsuoji.

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Somebody shaped the little guys into a heart.

Myanmar Adventure : Ngwe Saung Beach

Now that we are finish with famous Religious places and historical places around Yangon and Bagan, it’s time to head out to the beach and have a few days of relaxing time.

There are several beaches around Myanmar, but this time we decided to go to Ngwe Saung Beach.  A very laid back place with an amazing sunset.

Since we were coming from Bagan, we needed to take the night bus back to Yangon then transfer to another bus terminal bound for Ngwe Saung. We were not familiar with the bus terminal so we asked our bus driver if he can drop us off the nearest area where we can switch to Hlaing Thar Yar bus terminal (Dagon Bus Terminal).

From Yangon, it will take another 7-8 hours to Ngwe Saung but it will greatly depend on your bus driver. The bus ride itself is an adventure. Before reaching Ngwe Saung, it will need to pass over the mountain and the way is well paved but curvy without guard rails and it is also a two way road. If there are two buses coming in from both direction, one needs to stop and make way for the other. If you are planning to visit during the rainy season (May-October) make sure to check if the buses are operating.

We spent a couple of days in Ngwe Saung and it was very relaxing.

Untitled A panoramic view of the beach. Untitled
There are also horseback riding available.

Untitled Sunset Untitled
We walked all the way to the other side.

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The couple and the sunset.

Electricity is not 24/7 so sound big hotel have their own power generator.

Food is also good and affordable. The best time to go is during November – April , which is the dry season in the country.

Myamar Adventure : Mt. Popa

We had a whole before our bus to Yangon leaves so we decided to visit Mt. Popa.
Mt. Popa is a dormant volcano which is about 40-50 minutes by car from New Bagan.
Untitled The temple on top of Mt. Popa Untitled
Another one.

We paid about 22,000 Kyats ( $15-17) for 2 people. The taxi waited for us too so it was really a good deal.

Untitled A long and scenic climb. Just like any temple in Myanmar, shoes are not allowed. You need to walk at least 700 stairs before you can reach the top. There are no specific fee to enter but you are required to donate a specific amount 🙂 for maintenance. There are several locals constantly cleaning the stairs in specific area which is really great. There are monkeys roaming around also so be careful about bringing food. Untitled
Your friendly neighborhood monkey.

Untitled View from the top. Untitled

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One of the Pagoda on top.

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If you have a few hours left before leaving Bagan, I suggest to take a short detour to Mt. Popa.

Myanmar Adventure : Bagan 

Bagan was considered to be the heart of Myanmar over the centuries. It burts of spiritual creativity which lasted for two and half centuries , beginning in 1047 and ending in 1287 when Kublai Khan raided the city.

One the main attraction is the “Bagan Archaelogical Zone” which occupies an impressive 26-sq mile area.

Sunrise and Sunset is the best part of the day to view the temples/ pagodas.

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Getting inside Bagan is not free. We paid $15 per person to get into the city. Make sure you do not loose your entrance ticket for the duration of your stay.

We took a night bus from Yangon and arrived in Bagan around 4 am in the morning just in time for the sunrise and it was beautiful.
There are several ways to tour the site and we decided to rent a horse carriage for the day and it was a good idea indeed. Our driver and tour guide took us to a lovely place to watch the sunset.
Untitled Waiting for the Sunset at one of the temple. Untitled
Another Panoramic view of Old Bagan.

Untitled One of the many Pagodas you can around Old Bagan. I kept saying “Old Bagan”, since that is what most of the local refer to the archaeological site. New Bagan refers to where most of the local lives. Untitled

Our ride for the day. Very comfy and keep us out of the sun.

December is considered to be one of the Dry season and it can get hot in the day. There are barely any shades around till you get to the Pagoda.
Untitled Our very hardworking tour guide for the day. Untitled
You can also meet local selling this kind of art. They claim to be the one making it. Well technically they do paint it. It’s one of those do it yourself painting with already patterns on it and all you need to do is paint it. I got suckered into buying one and later found out that almost everyone is selling the same thing.

And in all pagodas, small or big, shoes are not allowed so it would be advisable to bring an extra pair of socks or wet wipes to use afterwards.

Bagan is an amazing place to visit. A place full of history. If not for invaders, I wonder how the city would have flourish. What kind of philosophies or philosophers or scholars have studied there.  If only those rocks, pagodas could talk, I wonder what kind of stories they would tell.

 

Kurobe Gorge Adventure

Everytime I see this Japan adevertisement of a train running on a red track across the river with a beautiful nature all around, I feel like dropping everything and find that place.

For this summer, I decided to go to Toyama but I had no idea where to go. A few days before vacation starts , I searched for places to visit which does not cost a fortune.

I found Trini Traveller’s blog and I got the information and booked my train ticket to go to my next adventure 🙂

I prebooked my ticket for the train here (Sorry only Japanese). The round trip ticket costs : 3,420 yen.

The Kurobe Torokko Electric Train starts from Unazuki Station (宇奈月駅) and since I stayed in Toyama area, I need to take another train to Unazuki Onsen Station which is about 1 hour 30 minutes and cost 1840 yen , one way. From Unazuki Onsen Station, it’s about 3 minutes walk to Unazuki Station.

I totally forgot that tourist places like this always have some kind of free pass and  unfortunately I noticed it on my way back. The ticket cost 2,500 yen for Summer and 2,000 yen during Winter.

So let’s start the tour.
Unazuki Station. It was pouring when I got to the station.I arrived an hour before my scheduled train departs so that I can check out around the station and get some breakfast and maybe find a manhole cover. Train Schedule. You cannot just get  on the train.
Their is no assigned seats, so if you want a good one, you need to line up early. My train is next (10:03) so I`m lining up already. Once people go in, they would run to the train so make sure to move fast.

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From the second floor of the station, there is an observation area and you can see the Shin-Yamabiko (Moutain Echo Spirit) bridge where the train will cross it. It was called yamabiko by the fact that the sound of the train passing by echoes in the hot spring town.

Unazuki Dam Once we crossed Yamabiko bridge, we saw Unazuki Dam which is the newest dam in Kurobe Gorge area and was completed last 2001. Shin Yanagawara Hydro- Electric Power plant
Next we passed by a tower but actually a Hydro-Electric Power Plan (Shin Yanagawara)

Suspension bridge for Monkeys

Next is a Suspension Bridge hanging 15 meters over the lake and was specially made for monkeys to be able to traverse one shore to the other.

Hotokeishi (Stone Buddha) Hotokeishi (Stone Buddha). It not man-made but a natural rock formation that bears an uncanny resemblance to the stone Buddha. Another hanging bridge
Another hanging bridge, looks like it`s for human. It would cool and scary to be able to cross it.

to the tunnel we go Leaving Kuronagi Station and about to cross the last part of Atobiki Bridge before entering the tunnel. What is under the bridge ?
What`s under the bridge? Water 🙂 You can clearly see the bottom. The train is open so it`s exhilarating.

Dashidaira Dam We arrived in Daishidaira Dam. Untitled
Would love to stop the train and enjoy the beauty of the place.

We made a short stop and Dashidaira Station while the train going back to Unazaki arrives
Not out train :)

Misty River We passed by this lake with mist all around it. It feels like I`m in some kind of fantasy land. Approaching Kanetsuri Station
Approaching Kanetsuri Station. You can also stop at Kanetsuri Station, it is one stop before Keyakidaira(Last stop). I did not have time to explore and actually did not have much information on tickets so I stayed with my original plan and checkout Keyakidaira first.

Last stop : Keyakidaira Welcome to Keyakidaira. Now, before I boarded the train, their was an announcement that the rain is still pouring so having a rain coat is advisable, so I got one. As soon as my train left the station it stopped, so I did not need the rain coat at all. But as soon as I arrived in Keyakidaira, it poured again. My umbrella was enough though, but the raincoat helped protecting my bag 🙂 I have about 3 hours to explore the place before my return train. So let’s start exploring around Keyakidaira station. First stop is Okukane Bridge. It is 34-meters high above the river and has a really nice view of the river and the surrounding place. Like this : Keyakidaira Station from afar

Okukane Bridge Let’s cross the bridge. After crossing the bridge, you will reach Hitokui Cave Hitokui Iwa (People Eating Crag)

Some view while walking up
Untitled My next way is Sarutobi Gorge The route to Sarurobikyo (Monkey Jumping Gorge)
But before you can reach it , you need to walk into this tunnel.

View around Sarutobikyo Almost there.The kanji mean, Monkey Jump. I heard one of the maintenance worker explaining to a guest, that since a Monkey jump into the gorge, it has been called Monkey Jumping Gorge. It’s an observation platform with a great view. View around Sarutobikyo

View around Sarutobikyo

The rain started again and decided to grab some coffee and noticed that there is a free access to the rooftop and had an amazing view of the whole place
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On the way back, I was seating in the opposite side of the train and was able to see this aqueduct
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It was a nice adventure. I’m pretty sure this place will be very scenic during the autumn.
During the winter season, they close the railroad.
So if you are around Takayama area, I highly recommend visiting Kurobe Gorge and enjoy the view.

One more wish granted. 🙂