“No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car.” ~ August Strindberg, Miss Julie
Not so much blogging this week, sorry. We have been flat out. And while we know it’s great to be getting back on track again, it also means 15 hour days to get things to all the clients. All working towards the Bridal Fair on July 12th – when all is complete we can collapse in our trains and bouquets. To get mentally ready for the onslaught ahead we are heading into the Japanese Alps today. A sayonara with friends. Kind of. I think they’re always with us. But we’ll be taking a photo sojourn through Kamikochi to kick off our K day today.
We also had a few emails wanting to know if Trace’s parents made it out of the outback alive. And yes. We did get confirmation that the city girl had an experience only usually seen in movies. And the bush will now never quite be the same.
So off we go to K today. If you’ve missed the first half of our alphabetically-arranged memoirs make sure to thoroughly get hopelessly lost by swinging by A, B, C, D E, F, G, H, I and most recently J.
So in re-visiting some of our favorite K places we realised that most of them are in the mountain of slides still waiting to be scanned. Kathmandu and our many Swami friends will have to wait. Next time round for sure. You’ll hear all about the tragic hashish stories, the dal-bhat food poisoning, roof top bus rides and taxis on fire that welcomed us into the magical kingdom.
Nagano, Japan. Kamikochi has been labeled as the gateway to the Northern Japan Alps. Full of natural beauty and stunning scenery, the area belongs to Chubu Sangaku National Park. Nestled in western Nagano, it’s the ultimate getaway from the insanity of Tokyo. Kamikochi is where the busy Tokyoites go for their ‘happy nature time’, dressed in their designer hiking outfits and numerous trekking goods. With limited English information and resources available to us, we do rely on the kindness of those who like to try their hand at a little translation. The most ‘informative’ page we’ve found on Kamikochi was from a staff member of the Miyojinkan Mauntain Resort. “Sorry of my bad english, if you serch different of english, whoud you please tell us…” We will. Our relaxing day at “Gateway to the Nature” was on a Friday, which I believe is lucky for us, as our friend from the Miyojinkan Mauntain Resort goes on to tell us, “Many people comes to the kamikochi,in the summer season, So if you have the vacation, please come here the spring, or automn, the days not saturday”. He elaborates with some expert mountain climbing advice… “If you want to climb mountans, summer season and automn saturday is very much clowded in the huts. But no need of sleeping bug.” Fabulous. Kamikochi is famous for it’s virgin Birch forests. From the cover of these lush woods we emerged riverside; the swift aqua tributary simply dazzling. Memories: many new hat-wearing friends, the mystical Myojin-ike pond, hiking the cool forest over stilt paths, weird wood ladders and streams bursting through mossy river rocks.
USA. The following are excerpts from Trace’s Tornado Chasing Tour. Really. For 2 weeks she raced up and down Tornado Alley in a May gone past with a small specialise tour group. New friends including Meg Ryan, the weather girl. “We stopped in Kansas to take a good look at a massive storm advancing. David called it a mezzo-structure convective complex. I just called it a very big storm. We kept driving a little ahead of it and we’d jump out for photos and then it would be on us again in a matter of minutes. We finally got far enough ahead for us to stop to eat in Dodge City. After eating we headed up to the National Weather Service Observatory on a high hill in Dodge City. It gave us spectacular views of the storm. David screamed at us to get in the van just as a bolt of lightening and a gust of wind almost lifted the van high in the air. “Let’s get the hell out of Dodge”. Nobody laughed. Memories: sunflowers, cows, farms, Wizard of Oz, tornado chasing, one of the most spectacular storms ever.”
Japan. Kyoto satisfies a Fuji-sized appetite for the classic Japanese aesthetic. I don’t know what to say about Kyoto except that it’s one of our favourite places on earth. We’ve visited in every season, trying to spend some time there every year. Kyoto, with its hundreds of temples and gardens, was the imperial capital between 794 and 1868, and remains the cultural centre of Japan. Its raked stone gardens, sensuously contoured temple roofs and mysterious Shinto shrines fulfill the Japanese fantasy of every Western cliché hunter. With an astonishing 1600 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines, a trio of palaces, and dozens of gardens and museums, Kyoto is Japan’s cultural treasure house. Seventeen of Kyoto’s ancient structures and gardens have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites. We’ve been here countess times and expect to come countless more. This is one of our favourite places in Japan, if not the world. Memories: chasing maiko, a hidden geisha, Gion, festivals, a different world, Pontocho, cherry blossoms, graceful gardens, teahouses, paper lanterns, the Starship Enterprise station, Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ju, light-up at Kiyomizu-dera, taxis, the Eiga Mura, 1000 buddhas, Inari shrine, the famous zen rock garden at Ryoan-ji, the autumn colours, Heian Shrine, Arashiyama, nightingale floors at Nijo-ji, the Imperial Palace, Path of Philosophy, mountain marathons, new discoveries daily.
Cambodia. April 17th, 1975 the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, took power in Phnom Penh. During their rule, it is estimated that 2-3 million Cambodians died by starvation, torture or execution. 2 million Cambodians represented approximately 30% of the Cambodian population during that time. The Killing Fields were a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried. The executed were buried inmass graves. In order to save ammunition, the convicted were often executed using hammers, axe handles, spades or sharpened bamboo sticks. The most infamous is Choeung Ek. Today, Choeung Ek is the site of a Buddhist memorial to the terror. We are not the same after visiting here. Memories: listening to firsthand accounts of how the KR banned all institutions, including stores, banks, hospitals, schools, religion and the family, everyone forced to work 12-14 hours a day, children separated from their parents to work as soldiers, people fed one watery bowl of soup with a few grains of rice, ten million landmines left in the ground – one for every person in Cambodia, seeing firsthand the country with the daunting task of healing physically, mentally and economically.
Arizona, USA. Just down the road from Monument Valley. We stopped at Kayenta for a very important reason – the Code Talkers Exhibit at Burger King. I kid you not… this is the biggest tribute the Navajos ever got for their important part in World War II. (Think Nicholas Cage in ‘Wind Talkers’). Their tribute is in a Burger King restaurant. The Navajos used their verbal skills to allow the Americans to send critical tactical battlefield information while preventing the Japanese from decoding these messages. All the Navajo got for their efforts was an exhibit in a fast food restaurant. It was very interesting all the same. We browsed important historical documents, saw signed letters and photos from President Regan and other important people – all while dining on Whoppers. Memories: the desert, the backstreets of Kayenta, rundown feel to the town, the surreal experience of this national tribute.
Have a kick-ass weekend, kids! D&T