1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon.
2. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax - Liz Jensen.
A friend of mine finally obtained her Japanese Driver's License after a few attempts. And she offered to drive us to Odai-ga-hara, in the south-eastern of Nara prefecture during the holidays. We drove along roads that wind along the crest of the mountains and pass through some twenty tunnels. We listened to Natalie Imbruglia's Counting Down The Days and other CDs that we had brought along. The mountain roads were steep, long and winding and I should've seen for myself as 'a little bit of a warning sign' (honk honk). It turned out to be a classic one. I didn't see it coming. I started reading, already having it set in my mind I wasn't gonna get car sick. Thirty minutes later, I felt dizzy and I got sick to my stomach. It was a horrible journey - my heart was beating really fast. The girls continued chatting but I stayed quiet.
After three or four hours, after going in wrong direction a few times, we finally arrived at Odai-ga-hara. I felt awful inside the car although there was no real urge to vomit. The lemon drop that I bought slightly after arrival really helped me alot with the nausea, and in no time, I became ready to explore the mountain.
Well, I have never climbed a mountain or jungle trekked with my dad. I don't think he could climb a mountain neither if he is interested to explore one. He likes fishing. The farthest I could recall, the first hill I conquered was the one near my university - Bukit Jambul. It was a hiking that took probably 15 minutes to reach its peak.
Why do you go hiking ? In our hectic, modern lives it is easy to get lost, to lose a sense of who we really are and why we are here. It is easy to get so busy doing so many things that we loose track of why we are doing them.
Hiking gives us a break from our ordinary routine and a chance to reconnect with the natural world and ourselves. Hiking can be a time to let your mind soar and contemplate the most difficult problems and abstract ideas. Hiking gives us a chance to leave our mechanized way of life behind for awhile.
As one of Japan's rainiest spots, the high alpine plateau of Odai-ga-hara is famous for its mossy forests, composed of a wealth of different species.
On all sides of the plateau, mountain walls drop away into deep gorges. The Odai-ga-hara to Osuni-dani Track starts from the peak of the moss-covered mountaintop and works its way down through a deep gorge and past a procession of waterfalls.
Time required : 2 - 3 days
Distance : 29.1 km
Standard : Medium-Hard
We were quite surprised to see so many people up on the hiking trail. Our main objective was to reach the top of Mount Hidegatake. It was an easy hike, which took us about 1 - 2 hours.
At the mountain top - the best place for lunch where one can enjoy the majestic view of numerous mountain peaks.
But we didn't bring lunch. Just oreos and some peanuts. As we are all bloggers, we were more concerned if we have packed our cameras (plus extra batteries) into our bags. Next time, we need to make a checklist - 'What to bring on a hiking trip ?'
Just before heading back to the parking area, a sharp right turn leads to the Moss Trail. But time constraints did not permit us to explore this part of the forest.
Nevertheless, throughout our hiking adventure, we could still notice beautiful moss-covered trees and rocks - like a dense and green fuzzy carpet.
What are mosses ? Mosses are part of a group of primitive plants called bryophytes. Mosses do not have real roots. Instead they have structures called rhizoids that may be only one cell thick, about as thick as a piece of thread.
Mosses also do not have a system to transport water up their stems like other plants do (therefore they are called non-vascular plant). So mosses are usually small and low to the ground. They do have stems and leaves.
After a late lunch, we rested for a good 15 minutes before heading to the car. We needed to head home early in order to avoid dark mountain roads. But I hesitated to get inside the car.
Inside the car, my nausea resurfaced slightly and was wending its way through my system again. I took double dose of my lemon drops. I felt a greasy sensation in my digestive system.
On our way heading back to Kyoto, a dip in the natural hotsprings didn't help at all. My nausea began to get more and more intense and was in full force. My head was spinning as the road started winding upwards and downwards. I wanted to get out of the car but there wasn't any copter to send me home. I thought I was going to die in the car - The girls were laughing because the 'tiger' has become a 'sick cat' but later, I guessed they started to worry about my condition. My face has probably turned blue - I sucked in as much oxygen as I could to minimize brain damage. But my nose was blocked and I have to breathe through my mouth. I felt like there was a balloon in my heart, getting bigger and bigger - about to burst just anytime. Phew, at the end, I am glad I survived. It was really a tough journey to the mountains. Odai-ga-hara - although beautiful, I will never want to go there again, not by car.
"We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend." -- Robert Stevenson