Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chasing Autumn Leaves

             When my plan to go to Myanmar this year did not push through I decided to travel to Japan instead. I knew Japan's an expensive destination so I made sure there'd be something worth seeing. Spring was over so seeing the cherry blossoms was out of the question (at least this year). Mount Fuji isn't the Great Wall so I wasn't so interested in seeing it. Anime?, I couldn't care less about it.There was only one other thing that Japan is also famous for, (that I was interested to see) it's "koyo" or the time when leaves change to bright colors during autumn. My dilemma was the phenomenon was not gonna start until six months later. That's a very long wait for my itchy feet. I just wanted to travel abroad ASAP but I had to make a decision.If I go somewhere else before November , my Japan trip will have to take a back seat for the next few years since I only allow myself one trip abroad each year (or maybe it's my pocket that is saying that).I thought I couldn't do it next year because my passport is about to expire so if I didn't go to Japan this time I would have a new passport by next year. Presenting  a new passport with no stamps yet to the Japanese consul is not a good idea. No passport stamps means no travel history. I knew travel history was one major factor that would be considered if a visa would be granted. I knew it would take a while before I could get more stamps again so I decided to do it this year or else I have to wait for few more years(Actually I'm not sure about the whole process. I'm not sure if one could actually present an old passport along with the new one when applying for a visa to a certain country).
               Long story short I booked a trip to the land of the rising sun,the anime, the geishas, the bullet train, etc.Six months of waiting was tough but I managed. I researched for the best time to see the autumn leaves and one site mentioned mid November was the peak. WRONG! What it failed to mention was that it could actually vary with location and in Kansai where I was going the peak is actually during the third week of November.I was worried because I booked a flight a week earlier. If I didn't see those beautiful colors the trip would be pointless. I was checking forecasts (yes, it's like the weather, they have reports of these things from time to time) and the history of koyo in the past few years. I learned that the trees in higher elevations would peak earlier so I thought if I couldn't catch it in central Kyoto I would travel to the outskirts of the city.
              In the morning of my first day in Japan the first thing I saw as I got out of the airport was the street lined with trees that have turned red and I knew that I was getting what I came for.

First stop was Osaka Castle...
On my way to Osaka castle
Saw this tree within the Osaka Castle grounds

A couple had a pictorial and I stopped them for this photo which irritated their photographer
View from Osaka Castle

Next stop was Kyoto...
Even the rain couldn't stop me from my quest for the Autumn leaves
Came across this garden while getting lost in Kyoto
At the veranda of the Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto. Colors could have been more vibrant if not for the rain. Thank you rain.

I also traveled all the way to Arashiyama for this view
Tenryuji's garden in Arashiyama

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kanpai Kansai! : My Pinoy Passport Gets Stamped in Japan

                      I just came back from a trip to Osaka and Kyoto which are both part of the Kansai region.Aside from being the cultural and historical center of Japan there was something else that I wanted to see and experience in those cities,actually it was the main reason why I decided to go there. I waited for so long for the autumn season to see the leaves change to bright colors. All I can say is it's worth the long wait.I will write about my experiences in Japan. In the meantime I'm just so excited to share some of the photos taken during my recent trip,photos that are commonly associated with Japan.

Autumn Hues at a Japanese Garden

Bullet Train

Geisha? I doubt.
A popular Japanese TV station,NHK
Torii Gates

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Aptly Named Tinuy-an Falls

                We made the right decision of visiting Enchanted River first before going to Tinuy-an Falls.I realized it after our day trip to Surigao del Sur. We didn't expect that it would take so long to get to Tinuy-an falls in Bislig City from Hinatuan where the Enchanted River is located. After lunch at the river we drove to the famous falls. The travel time from Hinatuan to the city center of Bislig only took less than an hour but it was the trip to the falls from the city that we had to endure and took longer than expected. The road from the highway to the falls was dusty and full of sharp rocks which didn't please my dad at all who was the designated driver. It's worse than the road going to Enchanted River. The local officials of these places should do something about it because these places have so much potential . I realized then why the falls is called Tinuy-an.In Cebuano "tinuyuan" means "intentional" and despite its location and the road conditions people still have the intention to visit the place.
Road to Bislig                                       
                    Since we'd gone that far there was no turning back but even before we could reach the place my dad was already calculating how much time was left for our trip back. By the time we reached the falls at 2:30 PM my dad just wanted us to have our picture taken and leave.He kept rushing us. Had we visited the falls first, we would not have enough time left to enjoy the clearer and bluer water of Enchanted River which would have been a huge disappointment because though the falls look majestic (said to be the widest in the Philippines) the water in its base is not so inviting.It kind'a looks green. But still, seeing the gushing water from the falls so unusually wide mesmerized me and was worth all the trouble.

TIP: To those who plan to visit the falls you may try going there in the morning around 9AM to noon if you wanna see a rainbow over the falls.