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English

Tokyo by train

Life Where I’m From has a video of which he shot an entire day about travelling in trains in Tokyo (albeit, at times, he wandered to neighboring Kanagawa prefecture). I first watched this years before settling down in Greater Tokyo, but I can’t help but felt amazed about the convenience of the public transport in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

“Tokyo by Train” by Life Where I’m From. Turn on CC for English subtitles.

The train (and subway) networks are powered by JR East and other private railway companies (Toei, Keikyu, Tokyo Monorail, Keisei, etc.), making not only travelling around places in Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures easy, but also making travelling ahead of time almost unnecessary due to the frequency of trains per hour, where you can plan and travel in minutes interval. Try that with KTM Berhad‘s commuter (spoiler: almost impossible).

When I first settled down in a city located half an hour away from Shinjuku, I planned to jump on each station on every train line in Tokyo every weekend. The starting point of the train station hopping plan was Seibu Shinjuku‘s Hana-Koganei station. Although that plan didn’t get realized while I was living in Tokyo (of which I moved out to Chiba prefecture a few months later), it gradually happened in the summer of 2018. Tokyo metropolitan alone has a lot of train lines and train stations, and it’s impossible to visit every station without spending a lot of time (and money)!

Nevertheless, it is a lot of fun when one travels in Tokyo, especially when you live in Tokyo or are a tourist who likes to roam around. Hop on a random train line. Stop at a random train station. “Tap” out and explore the area, get lost. Fill up your stomach with a bowl of ramen or tonkatsu.

Just recently, I explored the Tokyo Sakura Tram (known also as Toden Arakawa Line) with a one-day pass, and spent half a day exploring the smaller areas in parts of Tokyo (the parts you don’t usually see if one travels by the normal trains). I might write about it someday.

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English

Hello, happy birthday.

How are you?

With times like these, where ever you are, I hope you are fine and well. Surrounded by supportive friends, families, and an important partner by your side, I believe you are doing spectacularly well in your studies.

Ever since it happened, I never stopped pointing at myself for the reality and as the role of the root cause. Times passed, yet the scar remained there, with blood sometimes seeping out from it, hinting by the fact that time passed do not heal itself; but rather acts as a stopping gap in order to prevent the blood from gushing out from the scar.

What caused the blood to resurface again from the scar? Was it due to a reminder? An unfulfilled dream? A bad aftertaste? An unconvincing reassurance? A painful reflection? I am not sure.

In a random day when I woke up, I dreamt of an unfulfilled dream set in an isolated world with a one-way exit, with no entrance in sight. It felt so vivid, even looking back at it again today.

Rewind to February 2019 to the day when I was heading back to my home in Japan. Queueing while boarding the plane, I have spotted you amongst the crowds, despite not establishing a direct eye contact. It felt like the times before, when it was simpler. Yet, the border was still there, in plain sight.

You had changed, in a good way.

With times like these, from afar, I wish you all the best.

Happy birthday.

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中文

报复性旅游

报复性。。。

今早起来看推特时,有人转了此推文。读了以后深深感到同感。

此文简单说明什么是“报复性熬夜” – 因为在白天无法自由控制自己的时间,而选择在晚上故意迟睡来弥补白天时所失去的自由时间。进行报复性熬夜的人一般都会在较晚的时间才甘愿入睡,那就是在“报复”完以后。读了此推文,我的脑海里立即浮现了另外个词。

报复性旅游。

报复性旅游

今年由于COVID-19的关系而无法在日本黄金周(4月底~5月头)和近几个月出国旅游(尤其是到台湾),再加上前几年来到日本时没有积极出去玩,而导致今年变得特别郁闷。在地方政府,邻县政府和中央政府呼吁人们尽可能减少不必要的外出之下,想玩都得三思而行。

然而,这个月在解除了日本的紧急状态以后,各地开始恢复了人潮的现象。这个可谓是好现象,但同时也让人觉得不安:在那大量人潮,尤其是挤电车,和朋友在餐厅用餐等情况之下,自己是否会感染上此病毒呢?口罩也渐渐等成为生活上,不,安全上的其中一个重要的东西(现在出门都不敢不戴口罩)。

这个月头,在朋友的邀请之下,到邻县去爬山。星期六一早起来搭火车转好几个站到目的地,接着展开数个小时的爬山运动,让全身酸痛,可是很满足。能充分的让四肢活动起来,并且可以在不必戴口罩之下进行户外的特定活动和地方,这仿佛是对病毒打胜战了。然而,在回家的路上就已经完全打破了那个一时美好的现象。尽管如此,能在外活动,也重新调整了自己,也能看见新的景色和地方,可谓一石二鸟。

也许是被此事激发的关系,我也想要对旅游进行报复性的活动。

计划,计划,计划

过去几年没好好在日本国内旅游,自己也觉得很可惜。看着OneNote中的列单,除了台湾有详细计划,日本的本地旅游的计划都仍然处于草率的状态。笔记本页面只有在标题处写了某地方的名称,但是日期/时间等计划仍处于空白状态。我想,今年可以好好开始计划了。

二话不说,就在近期间,已经计划今年想去玩的地方,也开始看酒店,巴士的出发时间,对电车、新干线和飞机进行价钱比较等的典型的旅游计划活动。这顿时让自己更加期待和珍惜那短短的周末。在YouTube上,我也有看见特定在日本生活的外国人怎样在24小时以内攻略特定的大城市。看了好羡慕!于是,我也展开了类似计划来“攻下”日本各地的大小城市和乡村。

这几个星期的周末,我把时间花在爬山和四处走动。爬山中不仅认识了新朋友,同时也看得到去过的地方的风景(尤其是从山顶处和不同季节中看)。在四处走动的活动了,我也陆续实现了来到日本不久时所做的计划之一 – 乘坐东京的各种电车、地铁路线。

不安中进行“报复“

旅行中最大的不安是COVID-19病毒的传染。跨县旅游是无法避免,长途旅行中所乘搭的交通工具中更加无法避开此风险,尤其是乘搭较为便宜的长途巴士,或者是短时间内可以抵达目的地的飞机。东京在近期也出现更多的确诊人数(其他县也开始出现了此现象),为接下来的“报复性旅游“添增了不少变数。

巴士是否会暂停服务?国家/县政府是否会呼吁民众减少不必要的外出?会不会被禁止拜访目的地的旅游胜地或酒店?等等的疑问,也在计划中慢慢浮现。有时在想,健康比旅游在现在的情况之下更为重要,旅游被视为紧急度较低的活动,能的话应该被延迟。这些事情在风险管理中早就该被评估了吧。。。

日本现在是夏天,梅雨季节也为计划带来了相当大的影响力。倘若去游玩的当日下豪雨,该怎么办?等等的因素也不得不考虑在内。

无论如何,对于病毒的情况,我希望日本国内的情况能持续改善,也同时慢慢开放往外旅游。带着不安,警惕的进行“报复”。。。

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English

Birthday in 2020

Hectic, sick year

This year is a hectic year for everyone. Not only one has to balance between staying safe and continuing their studies/work, one also needs to put extra effort into ensuring things ongoing remain smooth and sound.

Due to COVID-19, I was unable to travel overseas, however, I could travel domestically, albeit with self restraint being practiced. There is a love-hate affair between people who move across prefectures and those who lived in the target prefectures.

“What is your plan?”

“How do you plan to celebrate / are you celebrating your birthday?”, I was asked. Year after year, despite the cliche, I hold only multitudes of gratitude in my heart towards almost everyone I know, for they directly or indirectly shaped me today.

I read a story many years ago about a child threw a tantrum because his parents did not hold a proper birthday party for him. As I read the story, I remembered that I once hold a grudge too for not having a birthday party (my friends had those parties, and even invited people over! Theirs were a grand one — PlayStation party, eat-all-you-can buffet, playing badminton at a friend’s house’s wide backyard, etc.), yet I quickly dismissed the persistence to hold one after that.

I might not have a grand party, but I do understand the meaning behind this day. Not all days have to be grand.

Reflecting last decade

Last year, I looked back how I was shaped today. Being a character who liked to look back in the past to understand how the current events unfolded, I never failed to be amazed the number of new facts emerged as I continuously looked back. However, with some history remain sealed, I could only speculate.

Although continuous reflection is important, spending too much time in it makes it tiring as a lot of efforts have to be spent on it, especially digging, connecting, and joining the puzzle of facts together through time. I might have spent too much time in it looking back the sealed histories.

Closing

For all the wishes in Facebook, instant messaging apps, and other platforms, I sincerely thank you. I hope all of you, especially you, dear reader, can get through this pandemic period safely and smoothly.

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English

Exploring Mt. Takao

A Keio train prepping for departure from Shinjuku station heading to Takaosanguchi (Mt. Takao)

A thought crossed my mind ever since the last mountain hiking and the monolog while transiting station, and it naturally was the idea of hiking Mt. Takao. Located in Hachioji City in Tokyo, neighboring Kanagawa prefecture, Mt. Takao is a perfect getaway spot from the metropolis’ hustle and bustle.

Woke up early in the morning and equipped with a light backpack, I headed to the train station with a hint of drizzle. Due to the plum rain season officially hitting the Kanto region (spanning Tokyo and Chiba prefecture), a quick check of the weather condition in both my area and Hachioji City showed that drizzle and rain showers were forecasted in the morning.

A paragraph written in a Japanese site dedicated to mountain hiking catering to novice and the alike encouraged hiking in the drizzle,

Even if it’s going to rain lightly, (please do) continue ahead in your hiking journey! It will serve as a learning journey and can allow you to gain experience on how it’s like hiking in the rain.

Armed with the tips given and a proper suit, I began the hiking journey near to 8 am, similar to the previous mountain hiking, from the station entrance.

Takaosanguchi Station entrance

The hiking experience was a pleasant one — visitors can choose from the several routes provided. I opted trail no. 6, which is one of the hiking route in the nature. It was a 3.3km route to the top of Mt. Takao, which is 599m tall.

The entrance of Mt. Takao’s hiking trail no. 6.

Compared to the previous hiking, Mt. Takao was lower and a shorter route, but this was a satisfying experience for a half-day trip. I took a shorter time to reach the top and bottom compared to the published estimated time taken, enabling me to complete the whole hike with time to spare before heading back home.

Part of the hiking path at trail no. 6 of Mount Takao covered in fog.
Due to drizzle and a low temperature (24 C), fogs covered the hiking path.
A selfie with the post indicating the top of Mount Takao.
Reached the top by 9:30 a.m, but due to the fog, views cannot be seen properly.

Before heading back to Takaosanguchi station to head home, I stopped by a shop selling local Japanese desserts (below, both costed a total of 290yen), yummy. The soba dango’s syrup (?) was thick and slightly salty, yet delicious. Best to enjoy with a hot beverage.

Soba dango and sake manju sold at a local Japanese dessert shop.

For the normal tourists who came here without the intention of hiking, trail no. 1 or the cable car would be a suitable route to enjoy the mountain. I shared this information with a friend, who said he can’t wait for the COVID-19 travel restriction be lifted and enjoy this mountain! Mt. Takao is beautiful at various seasons, including autumn. Perhaps the autumn foliage is a sight not to be missed.

I shall visit again someday, seeing you in a different sight.

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English

Priority in place: travel

While travelling, money spending is an important aspect not to be overlooked, lest the money being prematurely spent. Hence, careful planning is always recommended. A worksheet with formulas in place, a text file with your favorite calculator app, or the analog way – writing down on paper, all these methods work.

Most of my friends opted the conservative way of travel in terms of budgeting, as many of them saved as much as possible whenever possible. One method was to travel via a low cost carrier to Japan, the other one was to take the bus to travel to a destination instead of the shinkansen bullet train or a domestic flight whenever possible. A friend of mine told me that she don’t mind eating foods from the convenience store, a view I largely shared with.

While travelling to Taiwan, I went for the same route, with the exception when the local eatery is cheap or unique enough to spend some bucks to try it out.

I heard from another friend of mine that he spent the night in the Tokyo airport before departing to Mount Fuji the next day(!).

A similar case happened to me when I chose to sleep on a bench in Kai Tak Airport (Hong Kong International Airport) midnight while waiting for my flight back to Penang in the early morning in 2018. Sleeping on a bench was not the most pleasant experience: I had to be on alert with potential pickpockets and not falling down from the bench. With the 5am alarm set on my phone, I fell into a short yet deep sleep as the faint sound of cleaning workers cleaning the area echoed throughout the building.

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, it is not easy to go around without taking precautionary steps. Yet, this does not hinder one to enjoy the most while travelling domestically. A friend recently shared her plans to travel outside the Tokyo metropolitan area to a few cities which spanned multiple prefectures. Her plans, in my opinion, sounded splendid indeed. The plan alone really made me excited to travel into further areas again.

Wrapping up in the thoughts of travelling, budget and time seem to be manoeuvring the entire plan. Achieving the optimum balance usually brings the most joy, excitement and satisfaction in the entire trip. With plum rain season officially hits Japan, and the summer vacation quietly approaching, I think it’s time to draw up a plan to hit the road.

Where shall I/we go next…

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English

Climbed to the top: Mt. Tanzawa

Last Saturday, my friend and I, on a somewhat spontaneous agreement, decided to climb Mt. Tanzawa to its top (elevation of 1567m), located outside Tokyo metropolitan in Kanagawa prefecture. As it was located far away from my place, I woke up early and took the first train headed to Tokyo.

I transferred at JR Ochanomizu station to head to JR Shinjuku to meet up with my friend, and took the express train on the Odakyu line to Shibusawa station. The jingle for this station is an excerpt of a famous 90s Japanese pop music – Makenaide by ZARD (see below). Just listening to it made me happy, probably because I knew this song. I think anyone who knew this song would be somewhat happy.

I last climbed a proper mountain 2 years ago — Mt. Fuji with another friend in early September. It was the last weekend for 2018 where they opened the public to climb, before closing the tracks until the following year (it was not safe to climb afterwards due to potential snowfall and unsafe tracks).

The mountain that my friend (let’s call her YY) and I climbed is located in somewhat middle of Kanagawa prefecture, neighboring Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. Hiking to the top would take about 4 to 5 hours, and completing the entire journey would last about 8 to 9 hours. We began climbing at some time after 8 a.m. from the Tanzawa Oyama Quasi National Park entrance.

The friend of mine continuing her journey uphill.
Continuing her journey uphill.

YY is an avid mountain hiker/climber, hence she proceeded more smoothly than I was throughout the journey. We reached the top about a quarter to 1 p.m. (probably around 12:50 p.m.) after a few breaks along the journey.

One of the plain paths full with greens as the sunshine warmly covered the area.

However, we couldn’t see any views below the mountain as it was a cloudy day — in fact, we were briefly covered by fogs that rose to the mountain top as we had our lunch (the weather turned cloudy after noon.). Luckily, it didn’t interfere with our mountain descent.

Mountain path turned foggy with YY ahead of me as we continued to the top.

We reached the entrance a quarter to 5 p.m., which was within our schedule. I think we reached earlier than we planned due to the shorter time it took to descend the mountain via the same route we took to ascend the mountain. However, we were worn out after that climb, yet satisfied.

We wrapped up the day with a (somewhat mediocre) dinner (YY seemed to agree with this) at a seafood izakaya near Shibusawa station, and parted our ways back home after arrived at Shinjuku station.

Glass of cold beer that we had at the izakaya. Cold beer after a long day sure is delicious!

I particularly enjoyed the entire journey — able to meet with various hikers with a casual konnichiwa as we passed by, a “ganbatte! You are almost there!” encouraging message from a random hiker as I rested a while to regain composure before reaching the top, shops in ‘checkpoints’ that were unique in each ways (I should’ve captured more photos of shops in each checkpoint!) — these truly shown the unique aspects of mountain hiking, especially with a companion.

A shop selling snacks and drinks at one of the checkpoints.

Equipped with the excitement I had in casual hiking of the mountains, I look forward to conquer another mountain, someday in the future. Perhaps a future target would be Mt. Takao. Maybe another mountain in the Saitama prefecture. Or perhaps, one that is far away from the metropolitan area…

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English

Monolog: The faraway target

While changing a line from JR Sobu to JR Chuo to head to Shinjuku, I looked up at the platform indicator. To Takao, it indicated. As I was heading to Shinjuku to meet up with a friend before proceeding to head to our destination, I had a feeling that I should head to that place instead.

Going to Takao is on one of my to-do list, among other to-do lists. Famous for one of the hiking spots in Tokyo, its iconic Mt. Takao has a lot of faces according to different seasons. As it is summer currently, the lush greens decorate the visitor center and its surrounding buildings, forming a view direly needed for someone to temporarily escape from the concrete jungle.

Embed from Getty Images

Going to Mt. Takao is as easy as hopping on the upcoming train which heads to Takao and simply hop off there, however, this day was not the schedule for Mt. Takao. Perhaps someday.

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English

Road ~Taiwan Express~

Road ~Taiwan Express~ (路~台湾エキスプレス~/路~台灣EXPRESS~) is a drama produced with collaboration with two countries’ public broadcaster – Japan’s NHK and Taiwan’s PTS, themed around Taiwan’s High Speed Rail (HSR), and its accompanying love story between a Taiwanese and a Japanese. (A comprehensive information can be found at J Drama.)

This mini-drama, which lasts for 3 episodes, is broadcasted until the end of this month. Apart from watching the story regarding the birth of Taiwan’s HSR, its love and human drama that transcends national border, it also showed the awesome sceneries of Japan and Taiwan, especially the HSR.

The Taoyuan HSR station board. (2019/12/27)

Due to COVID-19, plans for Taiwan for this year had to be postponed. However, that doesn’t hinder the feelings and urge to travel to there! I have fond memories riding on the HSR to travel north-south in the island. Definitely comparable to that of Japan’s shinkansen bullet train.

Cannot wait for the last episode scheduled to be broadcasted this Saturday. Of course, I cannot wait to go to Taiwan again!

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中文

上班/放空记

最近的上班日子都在家里度过,导致生活次序变得有点乱。然而,时间久了,我也渐渐习惯了在家上班的日子。在上班的时间前,我会开启工作用笔电,向上司做个简略的报告后,就开始工作。

那是我理想中的流程。然而,多的时候都是在报告之后享用简单的早餐,或者是稍微放空之后才真正进入状态。也许是因为前晚睡得不是很好的关系吧。

在那小小的卧室兼工作室里,阳光早已从小小的玻璃窗照射进来。打开窗帘的那刹那,屋外的风景变得不一样了。和周末的早上不一样,在平日的早上,停车场都是空的。路上也不太能见人影。也许是因为COVID-19的关系吧。

其实,我能在家上班,也是因为COVID-19的关系。

东京和近邻的县都在近期发布了极少的确诊人数。

也许这意味着回到公司上班,早起出勤的日子也快要恢复了吧。

在卧室内放空,看着那白色或深灰色的墙壁发呆,虽然看不了什么东西,但是我仿佛从笼中被释放出来一样,感到自由自在。尽管以现在的情况不能自由去玩,但是能呆室内做公私事,这仿佛回到中学,大学的日子去了。

看着手机的日历,来到日本已经有好几年,但是我仿佛才刚来不久。稍微做些非日常的事情的时候都能激起内里的好奇心和那把火。网上存着的那旅游计划文件也一直处于草稿的状态。今年所预购的机票会成为怎样,我也不知道。

今年4月尾的黄金周(Golden Week)和往年不一样,我不仅没踏出日本,更没有踏进离家不远的火车站。在家里看着重播的各种旅游节目,再加上天气超好的那个黄金周,我不禁羡慕起在Instagram和Facebook上放着各种旅游相关的照片。(你们是认真的去玩了吗?)

放空。

听着被设置为循环的手机音乐,我默默的敲起工作的笔电继续工作。12个小时候,我再重复相关的行动,但是,这换用自己的电脑了。

盯着屏幕中的“你在想些什么?”。不禁写道,“有好多。数不清。”