Tag Archives: Patience

My Winter Playground in the Mountains

(I apologize. It has been a rough week the Universe has thrown at me recently and has prevented me from writing. On a happier note:  )

The winter air hugs my red cheeks and snow is gently falling all around. The sun is trying to shine but has been blocked with the pure white clouds full of snow in the sky. My body sways up in the

Happo One
Hakuba Ski, Japan

air…back and forth…back and forth…my left foot growing heavier than my right. I look across the world around me, as I feel that I am on top of it. The evergreen trees are decorated with white puffs and look almost jolly in the winter wonderland. I can faintly hear people laughing and yelling out to one another. The cold is not so bitter, and I want to feel it even more. I take off my glove and allow my free fingers to catch the big snowflakes out of the air. The cold air feels refreshing on my skin and there is hardly any wind.

I look around again and take a deep breath and relax. There is not much else you can do while riding a ski lift up a mountain. You are pretty much stuck in that spot for the entirety of the summit. As the end approaches a big ol’ butterfly starts to flutter around inside my torso. Just one…but one too many. I have never been known to be a

Happo One
Hakuba, Japan

coordinated person. The chair comes to a slower pace a we must hop off of it before we get stuck or it knocks us over. I plant my right foot on the middle of the board and start to slide down. I catch my balance and skid to a stop by the rest of the people.  Success.

The wind is whistling and all the people go shooting off down the mountain. Some at a faster speed than others. I strap myself in. This will be an interesting run. I start down and the snow feels smooth and soft under the board. I make it to just at the point where I cannot see the top anymore and fall on my face.  I get up and keep going. I am basically doing what boarders call “plowing” because I can go straight down with the snowboard or I lean on my back heels

Copper Mountain, Colorado
Rocky Mountains, Colorado

to stop and go down on the back that way. I fall three more times. On the third time, I stop to catch my breath and take  in the world around me. It is so peaceful. I listen to the snow gliding under the ski’s of people as they go past. The world has never seem so much more at peace and beautiful than in the white snow on top of a mountain.

74 days until Le Flaine!

To Rent a Car in Malaysia?

I visited Australia at the beginning of my Around the World trip. I knew a few Aussie’s at the time and they all told me to buy a beat up old car to get around Australia in. Not to bother to rent a car. First of all, I was alone and know nothing about cars. Odds were: I was going to breakdown in the middle of the outback without a cellphone

Birds Eye of Brisbane
Looking over Brisbane

signal and trapped. The intention was reasonable on their part. With a car, I could not pay for transportation, go wherever I pleased and whenever I wanted, and I could even use it as a place to sleep when I needed. It just was not an option that I saw beneficial for myself. After Australia, I flew into Malaysia.

Malaysia is quite small. It never occurred to me to even consider to rent a car or buy a car here. I even went to Singapore on an overnight train for 8 USD from KL! Can’t get much better. However. Let’s talk about public transportation in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur was fine. I had a better experience walking around the city than I did with the monorail though. Everyone jams onto it (like any Asian city I suppose), and you have to be very careful of your pockets. But to travel to beaches and outside of the city?

Kuala Lumpur
Back streets of KL

My English friend Martin, who had just spent a lot of time traveling around Asia (including Malaysia), kept insisting that I should take the time to go up to Penang and enjoy the town and neighboring fisherman villages there. He said it was beautiful and delicious, after all it is noted as the “food capital of Malaysia.” How could I not go?

After I figured out how to take a train outside of the city center to the bus depot area. The bus “station” was basically a massive dirt lot with a hundred buses. None of the buses were on and no one near them. I found out, after doing a couple of circles around the building structure, which bus was the one to Penang with only a few stops. They told me it was leaving in 15 minutes! Great! I paid and got on the bus. It was actually a nice interior and clean-ish. I sat there and waited. I wrote in my journal. Looked through my pictures on my camera. Read about Penang in my travel book. 40 minutes

Wild Atlantic Way
Rent a Car for Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland. Smart Choice

had passed. I inquired about the depart of the bus again. The man who looked like he was going to drive it said about 15 more minutes. Ok. Cool. I people watched out the window and read a little more of my book. 30 minutes later (about an hour after original departure time) I inquired again. I didn’t want to miss out on my day in Penang. He assured me “really” 10-15 minutes this time. OK. I was a little anxious at this point because I was missing out on my time up there. 35 more minutes later there were more people on the bus and no signs of leaving. This time I told them that I really couldn’t be waiting that much longer or else I would only be in Penang for 2 hours. They then told me that the buses will leave once they are full. Ohhhh!!! Ok so…2 hours of waiting later….now they tell me.

So…I had to get off. It just wasn’t the best means for me to go. I should have found another way, but it would not have been a good use of my time. I then asked for my money back and they refused. They told me that I was a “stupid girl,” and that it was my fault for giving them money. Over and over again they told me to get out and “go away.” I told them that I would appreciate my money back and I wasn’t leaving without out it. A group of drivers stood around me laughing at me. They kept on calling me “stupid.” I was so embarrassed, but the more they kept on, the more stubborn I was to get my money back.

The man with the cash box tried to walk away and I followed him. He was getting annoyed. Finally they gave in. A couple of them followed me to the entrance of the bus depot shouting at me. Who knew that my morning/day would’ve ended so terribly. I was in tears from the whole ordeal, because it was just a lot to experience and very high tensioned.

Fate
Later than stressful day, I met Rebecca and knew I wasn’t meant to get on that bus!

I never made it to Penang on this trip. Never went to any beaches or small fishing villages like I wanted to. But I would still like to go back again and see all of Malaysia. Next time I will rent a car for certain, without any hesitation. The waiting is just not worth it.

Japan Trip in a Nutshell

I think that there may be a couple of things I need to wrap up about my trip to Japan. Let’s all get the first thing straight about Japanese people (from my own observations and experience), everyone we met wanted so much to help us and advise us as best as they could. Most times when we would be at a loss and asking for help, the locals

Wayne and Japan
Wayne and Japan

that we would be asking would go out of their way to look it up and try their best to explain it (but in Japanese). The culture of the Japanese seems to be very polite and happy and inclusive. It was just that the language barrier was so in your face, I couldn’t help my frustration getting the best of me. There were many situations where we would ask for help and the person would fully understand us but be incapable of answering. Much of the literature I had read about traveling to Japan said that English was quite present, people I talked to who had visited before had said that English was very common, Wayne’s friends agreed and said the same thing….lies. Not true. I just wasn’t prepared. Especially when doing the research and being completely side swiped by the shock of it.

Also, we were very rushed in Tokyo. I don’t think you could ever prepare to be in Tokyo

Imperial Palace grounds
Imperial Palace grounds

and be rushed. There is just so much to see and do there. There are so many places that claim to have the best food of Tokyo, and dozens of beautiful parks and so many neighborhoods. If you have limited time and are headed to Tokyo, do NOT…I’ll repeat…please Do Not ask people of the “must see” places there. I made that mistake. I had it in my head that I knew all the places we “had” to check out. Well while I am sure that the garden in Shinjuku is absolutely incredible in full bloom, it however is NOT a must see on a cold and slightly rainy March afternoon. I think (if you were to listen to my advice) if I were to do it over again, I would lay out each neighborhood and commit to one. There are a million things to see Tokyo. There is a ton of history there, and you will never run out of things to do or places to eat. If you try and hop all over Tokyo in one day, you will be almost guaranteed to spend ¾ of your day in the underground system.

Shrine in Hakuba
Shrine in Hakuba

Best parts of my trip to Japan (because I hate to give off the impression to my friends and family that it was a terrible trip, when it just -> Didn’t Go As Planned) were:

Three girls in the park with sign that read “Free Hugs” and just about peed their pants when I hugged each of them

The amazing guys in the black van outside of the train station who saved me and Wayne from sleeping on the streets of Tokyo

Tokyo restaurants and how everyone working at them had our backs, and literally ran to get us the menu in English

The Meiji Shrine. Incredible. Serene. A true escape to one of the most peaceful corners of the world in the middle of a big city

2012-03-07 11.50.33Hakuba. Best little/big town in the middle of the Alps. The skiing is so accessible, and there are secret shrines and temples, and countless places to eat. If I were to go back to Japan, it would definitely be to this BEAUTIFUL  town.

Keido (aka Shannon)the Australian who helped Wayne and I with so much in Hakuba.

The history that is very present in the sites around Japan whether they are shrines, sculptures, temples, geishas, or food.

I am so happy I had the opportunity to go to Japan. I am disappointed on how the last few days turned out and I am definitely working on getting a control on my frustrations, but I do not want to dismiss Japan. The best advice I could say about going ANYWHERE in Japan…do your research.