Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oze National Park

There was another trip for the international students in my college over a couple of weekends ago to Oze National Park in Fukushima prefecture, located to the south of Niigata prefecture where I am currently studying. Despite the fact that we have so many national parks in Malaysia, I have yet to step my foot on any of them yet until this day. On the contrary, this trip made it a second national park that I have visited in Japan. My first thought was we were going for a hiking there, have our lunch and be back by late afternoon. We later found out that however, it was totally different from what I first thought. The journey would take us nearly four hours, just to get to the national park.
So the journey begins.
We took a few stops along the way to the national park and one of the stop was at a dam. It spotted a great similarity to the Okutadami Dam we went last autumn when the area was covered with breathtaking autumn foliage.
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This is the dam at one of the stop we made. Engineers will always be engineers. When I saw this dam, the thing that went through my brain instantly was how much force is acted upon the wall of the damn from the water pressure. Well, it involves some calculations, depending on the depth and density of the water which I won't be explaining them here.
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Next to the dam is of course a huge man-made lake. We didn't stop long here, as there was a sudden downpour with strong winds blowing away. The weather was not that good that day as it was cloudy almost the whole day and several times of downpour throughout the day. That also explain why most of the picture taken that day was nothing spectacular.
One more thing about our journey is that we went through lots of tunnel along the way. When I said lots, I really mean it. I had already lost my count on the numbers of tunnels we went through when the figure reached double digits. The tunnels however, looked rather different from what we usually see because the majority of them were not built through mountain without requiring any drilling. They were mainly built to protect vehicles passing by the area from the water flowing down from the mountain through the road, besides serving as a protection from falling rocks.
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One of the many tunnels we went through.
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Well, perhaps they are not considered tunnels after all.
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But I was too lazy to find the right word for it. So, I will continue refer them as tunnels. There are also familiar ones like this. The entrance of the tunnel is the same circular shape but built outside as an extension of the main tunnel.
At another stop-over, while waiting for the others who went for their toilet breaks, I saw this huge piece of snow being preserved on the slopes of a ski resort. The snow were covered using a few large aluminum foil-like material and will be used during the mid-summer festival next month. What is amazing about this is that the snow have not melted even though it is already early summer now.
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One more thing is, imagine how many bowls of
ais kacang can be made from the amount of ice there.
We soon almost reached Oze National Park but our journey was halted because a bus was in front of us and we had to tail that bus for some time. The road was so narrow, so it would be dangerous to overtake the bus under that circumstances and so, we had no choice but to tail behind the bus.
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A snail was in front of us.
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Lucky thing that the bus driver was wise enough to slow down and signaled us to over-take him. At least we could save some time there.
We finally reached the location at noon and later found out that we would have to fork out 800yen (RM26) for the shuttle bus to the starting point of the hiking trail. So as usual, cheapskates like us was whining over it because usually we don't have to pay by ourselves when we follow such trips. Too bad this time as we didn't get any sponsorship, so what else but to pay for the ticket unwillingly since we had made it so far there.

So after some twenty minutes bus ride, we got to the location and started our hiking. We were fortunate that the sun came out and at least we did not have to walk in a muddy and wet condition. After hiking along the trail for about ten minutes going up the hill, down the slopes, then up again, and down again, wtf like roller coaster only; this is what we saw.
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Saw the lake in the middle of the picture. Yes, that is where we were suppose to head to and that is like super the far, right? Since the elderly sensei who tagged along us looked so energetic, we did not dare to show our tiredness or otherwise we were sure to lose our face.
One thing I have to mention here is that the Japanese passing by were very friendly. They will greet you with "Konnichiwa" while giving you that smiling friendly face. Yes, I know this is kind of ironice when I just ranted so badly about the Japanese not so long ago, but like I said, there are nice Japanese too, of course. Back to this "Konnichiwa" thing, it would be rude if we do not reply them, isn't it? That is why we repeated the same thing so many times until our throat got dry. So I suggested that why not we try to mix things up by saying something different, say "Good morning", for instance?
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Time like this when we will go "Konnichiwaaaaa~~~"
To make things more interesting, one of my friend came out with the line, "Aku cuak" which sounds almost the same as "Konnichiwa". I tried it and some actually replied me, although there were also some who just ignored me. Haha, they must be wondering where I studied my Japanese to get that so wrong.
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Here is the grassy field we saw from the top before that.
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Perhaps we had went there a tad too early because most of the flowers have yet to fully bloom.
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Here is an exception.
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That is why much part of the area is covered with just green grass.
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We continue walking and came to a signboard which state the name of the place. I should have got myself more sleep a night before because my eyes resembles a pair of panda eyes so much.
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More greens surrounding a lake.
I like this one very much.
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And finally a group picture we took with the lake as the background.
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There is a mountain there, in which its peak was covered with thick clouds that day.
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The weather was not too bad, although it was not a perfect sunny day.
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You must be thinking is it really worth it to travel so far just to see such scenery, don't you?
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At least we got to see something different. A group of duckling swimming behind their mother duck, who was at quite a distance ahead of them.
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At some parts of the lake, the water was crystal clear and there was a school of fishes who came so close to the river bank. Please don't ask me what kind of fishes are those 'coz I only know two types of fishes and that would be ikan bilis and ikan masin. We would have caught some and barbecued them for our lunch if we had the right equipment that time.
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This picture is interesting. Three different actions in one picture. There is one girl on the left emoing trying to take pictures of the scenery by the lake, a pair of boys who were competing on who could throw the stone furthest in the middle, and a pair of couples on the right who was, well, I don't think I need to explain what they were doing there, right?
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A shot I took before we head back. It was about five and although it have not got dark yet, the moon was already visible. Anyway, it is not something amazing as the moon is always there in the sky all the time.
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While on our way back, we stopped several times for toilet breaks and at one of those stops, there was a lake.
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With two boats and floating trunks on the water.
The winding road we took on the journey back was a long one. We went through narrow roads around the mountainous area for at least nearly thirty kilometers non-stop. I tired to keep myself awake but in the end, I couldn't stand it anymore and went to my dreamland. It was a good thing that it wasn't raining or it would be dangerous to drive along the road, especially when there are high cliffs just next to the road, which most of them are as deep as a few hundred meters. The car in front made a sudden stop at one point and we thought there was some problem, only to find out that the sensei saw some remaining snow and wanted to let the new juniors, who had never seen snow before, have some taste of how snow looks like.
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That marked the end of our trip this time and thank you for reading.


Pike-chan said...

nice vacation pics u got there... really enjoyed looking at it, keke.. thanks for sharing.

calvin said...

@ pikey:
thanks and glad you like them :)

Anonymous said...

the view is very nice, I need to plan my self to be there too... must snap enough picture only come back :P

calvin said...

@ icalvyn:
yes, it is :)