Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan stands at 3776 metres high. The dormant volcanic mountain soars from the ground, standing by its lonesome, daring the 400,000 people who attempt to climb each year to reach the summit to see the first rays of light, streak from the clouds to light up the day.Continue reading “Climbing Mount Fuji”
The main reason we traveled to Aomori prefecture wasn’t for Lake Towada, which we wrote about in our last post, but to hike the 14 kilometre track along the Oirase river. This is the only river draining Lake Towada and is the most popular tourist spot in the prefecture. Continue reading “A guide to hiking Oirase River.”
Hiking has always played apart in our travels, ever since Rei was capable of walking considerable distances we started taking him out on the local trails around Osaka. Osaka being an enormous city you wouldn’t imagine there being any hiking trails nearby but these three trails are within an easy thirty minutes from Osaka. Continue reading “Three Hiking trails in and around Osaka”
If you pointed to the middle of a map of Taiwan then your finger would point to the largest lake in Taiwan sitting 748 metres above sea level. The emerald green water is engulfed with mountains circling the east side of the lake which resembles the sun while the west side resembles a crescent shaped moon. Continue reading “5 things to do at Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan”
As we walked through the cobbled stone pavement, traditional wooden buildings flanked both sides selling souvenirs to the people who wandered the street, exhausted we slumped down on the bench and put our feet into the warm waters of the foot hot spring to help soothe our aching muscles, relieved that we had finally made it to the tranquil village of Arima one of the oldest hot spring towns in Japan.
Earlier we had scrambled up rocks, pulled on chains and climbed ladders as well as explored terrain that you are more likely to see on Mars with its red grainy sand that form the rock gardens as we hiked Mount Rokko, the mountain that separates Kobe and Arima. We did all this just to reach the town that we could very easily have taken a train or bus but what would be the fun in that
Arima came to prominence because of the myth surrounding the hot springs. Two gods descended to earth one day and saw three injured crows bathing in a puddle. Some days passed when the gods happened to come upon the three crows again. To their amazement the crows had been cured. Thinking this was remarkable they took a closer look at the puddle to discover a hot spring with a miraculous healing effect. From this day forward, the crows and two gods have been worshipped as guardian deities of Arima hot springs.
Now 1.6 million people visit annually to soak their bodies in the hot springs to help heal ailments. The water either a reddish-brown colour known in Japanese as Kinsen gets its colouring from the rich content of iron and sodium. The other is ginsen which is colourless and contains radium and carbonate.
In Arima there are a few options to take a bath either in a public hot spring or in a japanese hotel or ryokan. After a long hike we first took a bath in the public hotsprings soaking in scorching hot water of around 45 degrees. These baths are both indoors and very simple but it felt like heaven as we bathed in them. relaxing, eyes closed and the hike that we had just completed a distant memory.
Arima also has accommodation which has its own hot springs and even though very expensive we highly recommend to stay the night to not only experience the hot springs, a ryokan but also a traditional town.
We stayed at Kosenkaku, a large ryokan that also has log cabins which we stayed in. Together we relaxed played card games on the veranda, read books and soaked in the spa that was in our room.
Arima hot springs is where Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a famous samurai who unified Japan came to soak his body to heal after a long battle so if it was good enough for him, then its good enough for us and it’s definitely good enough for you. If you get a chance when you’re in the Kansai area to try a hot spring then get yourself to Arima whether you get there by train, bus or foot.
How to get there
There are three ways to get to Arima Onsen from Kobe or Osaka the cheapest way, the practical way, or the fun but expensive way.
The practical way is to take the Hanshin, Hankyu or Sanyo Line to Shinkaichi (新開地) just west of Kobe, then transfer to the Kobe Railway Arima Line to terminus Arima Onsen. (Note that express services terminate at Arimaguchi, so you’ll need to switch to a local train.) Alternatively, if you’re coming in on JR, get off at Kobe’s Sannomiya station, take the Kobe Subway to Tanigami (谷上), and connect there to the Kobe Arima Line. In either case, make sure to transfer at the Arimaguchi station onto the (one stop only) Arima Onsen line. The whole trip will cost around ¥900-1000 and take about half an hour.
The fun way is to take the Hankyu line to Rokko station and continue up Mt. Rokko on the cablecar (10 min, ¥570/1000 one-way/return). Connect with the bus loop line (10 min, ¥250) to the Rokko Arima Ropeway, then take the ropeway down to Arima Onsen (12 min, ¥980/1770 one-way/return). The Rokko Arima Katamichi Jōshaken (六甲有馬片道乗車券) combination ticket (¥1700 one way) works out marginally cheaper, and also lets you ride around the top of Mt. Rokko. This route is more scenic, but best avoided with heavy luggage.
The cheapest way is to take a bus from Sannomiya bus terminal that leaves several times a day (50 min, ¥720). The final destination of the bus is Arima Onsen, so it’s easy to find the bus in the timetable and no chance to skip the stop accidentally. You should pay the driver upon exiting, no need to get the ticket at the booth. The bus is rather small with no place for heavy luggage.
You have just spent the past few days soaking up the sun during the day and partying through the night and in between checked out the Theme parks that make the itinerary on any trip to the Gold Coast but it is now time to escape, you’re not in any mood to be amongst the crowds anymore, you have had enough of the morning hangovers. You just want peace and quiet but where can that place be. I’ll tell you just here.
Lammington National Park is just over an hours drive from Surfers Paradise, the heart of the Gold Coast. Once arriving the contrasts will hit you instead of the thumping of the DJ’s music you will hear the chirping of the birds. Instead of being surrounded by built up skyscrapers you will be surrounded by the sub tropical rain forests that has been listed as a world heritage site since 1994.
On the plateau of Lammington National park lies O’Reilly’s Guest house which is the only accommodation in the park. O’Reilly’s have been offering guests a place to stay for nearly 100 hundred years. It now features 66 rainforest retreat rooms free of television and telephones and 48 self contained Eco lodges.
O’Reilly’s may have been isolated from the rest of Australia with the National park surrounding it however Bernard O’Reilly became an Australian hero in February 1937 when he found the crash site of a Stinson airplane. He helped rescue two survivors John Proud and Joe Binstead, four other men died in the crash.
Lammington National Park may not be the oldest park in Queensland but it is one of the most significant often being referred to as Queensland’s National Park. If you’re a fan of hiking and waterfalls then you have come to the right place with the park consisting of 160 kilometers in trails and over 500 waterfalls.
We stayed two nights at O’Reilly’s and while the rooms were clean and well maintained you are definitely paying for the convenience of being able to sleep in the National Park, close to the trails.From the room we looked out over the open fields where early in the morning and at dusk you could look out and see the pademelon, a rabbit sized marsupial which has similar features to a kangaroo grazing on the lawn.
At the time our son, Rei was quite young so we couldn’t venture out on the long tracks we however filled the days on shorter trails but still very rewarding. One morning,we ventured out to Moran Falls where the water gushed, plummeting eighty metres to the bottom. The sunlight bounced off the water forming rainbows, we stood and watched as we lost our thought to the rhythmic flow of the water. Another we made our way to The Wishing Tree, which is the tallest tree in the park, we crossed a suspension bridge that crossed over a fern gully, we scrambled up Mick’s Tower a lookout that the rangers use to check for signs of bush fires that Australia is well-known for.
The view from Mick’s lookout
The wishing tree
The most popular in terms of people due to its convenience is the Tree-Top walk which are made up of nine suspension bridges hovering fifteen metres above the ground. We have done a few of these walks in Northern Queensland and Malaysia but never seem to see anything extra even though you are supposed to be closer to the wildlife so we were left a little disappointed.
Tree top walk
During the down time we relaxed in our rooms, soaked in the jacuzzi and spent enjoyable time feeding the rosellas that fly in everyday looking for food.At night with no TV and being in the middle of the forest you may wonder what we were left to do. However O’Reilly’s show documentaries filmed in the park and have tours to the glow worms that really do look like stars twinkling in the sky.
How to get to O’Reilly’s
Unfortunately if you don’t have a car then getting there takes a little organization and becomes a little expensive if you are more than one. There is no public transportation to the park so one must organize with a company that makes day tours to the park to drive you and pick you up when you would like to return to civilization.
The desert, an arid, dry, rocky land that expands across the horizon as far as the eye can see stretches across the Southern part of California surrounding the city of Palm Springs where the rather unknown Indians Canyons are formed which we only discovered due to the jeep tours for our family out to the more famous Joshua Tree National Park costing over $500.
The Indian Canyons would only cost us the taxi ride out and another $20 in entrance fees,this time there would be no jeep and the exploring would have to be done on foot. The Cahuilla, native Americans roamed the canyons for hundreds of years on the southwest edge of the Coachella Valley. It was perfect for them, hunting was made easy when the prey would come down for a drink by the streams flowing from the San Jacinto mountains. Oasis were formed with pockets of green fan palm trees, where native Americans made their homes. Food and water was in abundance.
In 1876 the Federal government divided the valley into a checkerboard. The Southern Pacific railway received odd numbered sections, while the even numbered sections were given to the Agua Caliente as their reservation. But boundaries were not established until 1940`s and by then much of the native american land had been built on.
What is amazing about the canyons are the contrasts in landscape from the rocky arid dry land with rocky cliffs and various cactai growing, to the canyon floor where there is a lush green oasis with fan palm trees and stream flowing along with thorny plants, here by the water you see a variety of birds flying around, a nice spot for the avid bird watcher.
The rocky cliffs are home to the big horn sheep and if you arrive early you can see the tracks that the animals have left when they have come down for a drink overnight. Hawks and other birds of prey soared overhead as we made the climb up the highest section of the hike.
There are various hiking trails for the public to enjoy, the more well known trails are the Murray Canyon,Andreas Canyon and the 15 mile Palm Canyons trail. We hlked along the Palm Canyon trail for about 2 miles, then switched to another trail that led up through the rocky cliffs offering you a chance to be exposed to both environments. The hike also led to the highest point of the cliff with splendid views of the Oasis floor down below and overlooking the city of Palm Springs. The track up through the cliffs loops back to the start of the trail where we witnessed three beautiful hummingbirds having a feed.
If its too costly for you to take a day tour to Joshua Tree National Park then the Indian Canyons make a fine alternative but don’t forget to bring your hiking shoes as jeeps don’t take you around this park.
Have you been to the Indian canyons near Palm Springs? We would love to hear what you thought of them.