Book Review : The Wish Granter

Author: C.J. Redwine

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.

Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.
So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.
But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.

Another version of a famous fairy tale which I love but I’m not going to tell which one it is. You need to read the book to find out.

Adventures, humor and some romance. I love Ari’s character and ejoyed her relentlessnes despite any situation.

Easy to read and easy to follow the storytelling. I had so much fun reading and following every antics Ari made.
A lovely read on a stormy day !!!

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
View of Okukane Bridge//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

On the way back, I was seating in the opposite side of the train and was able to see this aqueduct
Aqueduct//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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. 🙂

Hiking through Mt. Jubu

Early autumn Mr.R organized another fun hike from Ujitawara going through Mt. Jubu all the way to Kasagi. Well that was the plan, let’s find out if we made it all the way to Kasagi.

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Approaching the entrance to the mountain through this little temple.

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The name. Can you read it? Sorry I can’t.

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On our way to the summit of Mt. Jubu.

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The back of the “Golden Fetus Temple” based on our literal translation of the Kanji.

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A small pagoda, with Miss K 🙂

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These two were supposed to be my temple models. Can’t seem to get a good shot of them.

A few minutes later we got to the summit had our lunch and short rest.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbmcONnisEU Here is a short video taken by Mr.RB (outdoorholic) of Mt. Jubu’s summit

After lunch it was decided that we will take the “interesting” way down to the mountain. It was an exhilarating experience that made my knees weak and shaking.

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We ended up at the end of the trail and all I could see is this boulder of rock. Mr.R told us that the waterfall is just below this cliff but I could not find a way down until he pointed this ..

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This is the way down. As soon as I saw this, my first thought was “I’m too young to die.” Okay, I’m exaggerating but I was scared to hell but it do our turn around alone.

I could not take some decent picture of our decent as my hand were busy grabbing the roots and rock and holding out for my dear life 🙂 but as soon as I reach a more safer area, I was able to get a shaky picture of these two , having fun. Boys 🙂

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As soon as we reach the bottom , Mr. R lead us to this boulders of rocks and we are supposed to pass through it. Don’t worry I did not have any problem passing through it 🙂
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Of course Mr. R was there to lend a helping hand so nothing to worry about.

We finally reached the “Thousand Hands Waterfall”.

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At this point my knees were like jelly, I was really surprised I did not fall on my face. It took a lot of control and concentration to command each part of my body not to give up on me.

A little later, we reach Tea Planet again 🙂

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So the question now, did we reach Kasagi? Well, the 3 girls did not through walking but by train.

After we reached foot of the mountain, S had a big blister, P had to go back to Osaka for some other appointment. So the group decided to just walk to the bus stop passing through the tea plantation and catch the bus to Kamo Station.

On our way we took a short detour and admire this very old tree.

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Sorry I forgot the name of the tree or how old it was.

When we reach Kamo Station , the boys decided to call it a day and us girls decided to travel all the way to Kasagi and enjoy the onsen.

All in all, it was a really great adventurous day. Going back if we decided which route to take again, I definitely will still choose the route we took. Of course, it will depend upon the group but with this group, definitely.

Thank you guys for a great day and to Mr. R for organizing and help. 🙂

Till the next adventure.

Summer 2014 : A brief stop at Nagoya

For my summer escapade this year , Miss Y decided to join me in my crazy idea to used the 18 kippu all the way to Matsumoto City.

We met first in Kyobashi station and then catch the 6:14 am train from Osaka Station . 3 hours later we arrived at Nagoya Station. We decided to take a quick stroll around the city and get some much needed breakfast.

Miss Y found Gordo Cafe , an underground cafe near Fushimi Station (Subway). We got there a little before 10 unfortunately, breakfast was already over.
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We did not make it to their breakfast time.

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Underground Shopping District in Nagoya.

After walking a little bit, we found a little nice cafe run by an old couple. We had some coffee and sandwiches before heading out to Nagoya Castle.

We had a long nice walk to the castle but unfortunately, unlike Osaka Castle where you only pay when you get into the castle itself, you need to pay starting at the outer moat. I have been to Nagoya Castle and even though Miss Y has never been there, we decided to pass it this time. We walked around the parking area to find a nice view and we did albeit a little bit far.

Heading back to our train ride, Miss Y and I decided to get some of the infamous Nagoya’s friend chicken wings(手羽先)

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We grab some other fried chicken from other store, get into the train station found the spot at the end of the platform, ate our lunch while waiting for our train.

By the time the train finally arrived, Y and I were full and ready for our sleep 🙂

The Fugu Experience

Fugu is not really easily bought from supermarket or ordered in a restaurant and it’s not cheap too.

Fugu is best eaten during winter so T and I asked around where to try or eat the best Fugu in Japan. If in Osaka, we were told that Kuromon Market, would be the best place to try it. If we are willing to travel then Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Unfortunately we both decided to ignore it and joined a Fugu eating tour to Takamatsu Ctiy , Kagawa Prefecture Japan. It was a 90 minutes, eat all you can Fugu Karaage (Fried Fugu), Fugu Sushi, Fugu Sashimi, Fugu Nabe, and Fugu Chawanmushi.  It was good but not really something worth waking up so early in the morning and traveling 4 hours.

Fugu Sashimi
Fugu Sashimi

Fugu Tempura
Fugu Karaage

Fugu Sushi
Fugu Sushi

After our winter break, we both decided to listen to some of the recommendations and went to Kuromon Market. We though that there will be many restaurant serving Fugu dishes but we only found 3 decent ones. There were several stalls selling raw , clean Fugu fish for Nabe.

We decided to try Hamatou(浜藤), which according to the lady has been there serving Fugu for more than 35 years. We decided to try the Tecchiri Course Meal (てっちり) and it was very delish

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The Appetizer. Very very good. If I am not mistaken, this is the liver part.

Fugu Skin in Ponzo Sauce
Tecchiri or Boiled Fugu (Skin) in Ponzo Sauce.

Fugu Sashimi @ Kurumon Market Osaka
Fugu Sashimi. You can clearly differentiate the quality of the Sashimi.

We also got some Fugu karaage, Nabe with lots of fresh vegetables and after we finished the Nabe, they put some rice and eggs on it and turn it into a very tasty porridge.

T also tried some of their original sake
Hira-Zake
Hira-zake. A sake poured over roasted Fugu Fins. It smelled really weird and T tried to take a small bite of the roasted fin and he said it was awful. So if try it just enjoy the Sake but don’t take a bite of the roasted fin, or you can try but don’t say I did not warn you 🙂

Shirako-sake
Shirako-zake. Sake mixed with Shirako (Fish milt or fish roe). The smell was not so bad and it tasted more like ChawanMushi.

The best part of the day is that we were not rushed. We enjoyed every bite without the pressure of time. We were the only in that very nice Japanese style room. There was another family but on a separate room. Most of the customer were on the first floor.
We started our lunch around 1 Pm and we came out a little bit past 3 pm. I think that was the longest lunch I had so far.

It was definitely a great experience and I have T to thank for all of it.

If you ever get to Osaka and want to try Fugu Dishes, head to Kuromon Market specifically Hamitou Restaurant. I’m sure you will have a great dining experience.