Unplanned Trip To Metoki Village in 三戸青森県 (SanNohe Aomori Prefecture)

 

I greeted 2017 with the idea of exploring Iwate and other prefectures in the Tohoku region… actually, it is kind of 見学 (ken gaku)… travel and study (生活の勉強)。!

img_20170102_114742

Iwate Galaxy Railway…Line 3 is heading to Hachinohe city in Aomori Prefecture. Line 2 head s to Morioka City, the capital of Iwate Prefecture.

It was so  frustrating at  first  to  get lost  somewhere in  a village called 目時町 (metoki  town). It was unplanned. We had no idea where to explore. We just decided to stop by the first village in the border of Iwate and Aomori.

img_20170102_125540

Houses are unexpectedly bigger and spaces in between are wider than I thought. I  was also  a bit shocked  with the  kind of train  stations that some areas of Iwate  and Aomori Ken have.  Yung masasabi mong “mas mabuti pa yung istasyon ng tren sa pinas!” You won’t really believe it’s Japan . Para akong bumalik sa period ng mga samurais.

img_20170102_114628

Tickets to Metoki Station. The IGR system is the old fashion type compared to yokohama where I used to live. At IGR, you need to give back the tickets to the train pilot before moving out of the train. And press the “open button” on the door. It isn’t automatic.

20170101_115349

20170101_115159

The old Metoki station. Line 1 going to Hachinohe city

20170101_115317

The only public phone available near the station.

We arrived at Metoki station at around 1:17pm. The first thing that greeted us was a public phone surrounded with snowpowders. For how many years it stood there and still operational up to this day, I don’t know how long . But in cases like ours getting lost in the middle of nowhere, a public phone is somewhat the best friend you can rely on.

My partner and I waited at the station, trying to configure whether to go back or heading north instead. We were lucky enough that an old man came into the station. No choice but to speak Nihongo eh. According to the 時刻表 (jikokuhyou) or the timetable for the train’s schedule, next train heading to north which was 八戸市 (hachinohe city) was 2:32pm. We still had more than an hour to wait.

The old man (Mr.Sataro) offered to show us what his village looked like. So while walking through the snowy-filled road going to the old Metoki bridge, Sataro San shared to us a bit of the history of “Nohes ” in the prefectures of Iwate and  Aomori. 戸 (Nohe) is a kind of district where  in during  the era  of the samurais , they divided  the lands and formed a government in each district. Thus, 10 戸s   (Nohes) were born. Ichinohe  (1st  district), Ninohe (2nd district and where I currently live) ,  Kunohe  (9th district)  were all given to Iwate prefecture, while the rest of the  districts  went to Aomori prefecture.

We went to the honeybee farm. Entry is not allowed to avoid disturbing the bees as they may create a havoc to the entire village. Live wires surround the farm to keep the farm safe from strangers.

img_20170102_114513

The jungle of the wild pigs and bears.

One interesting area in Metoki was the forest filled with wild pigs and bears. Actually, there were footsteps of such animals at the entrance of the forest. Scary!

img_20170102_114455

Before we left Metoki, a hospitable villager invited us to taste a native fruit that looked like an apple, fresh from the tree. And we brought home with us some of his best harvested apples from his farm as well. Next time we might have a chance to go back to that village, we will surely bring him some of the best delicacies from Ninohe city.

img_20170102_114257

With a villager who owns an apple farm

At 2:32 pm, the train to Hachinohe City departed. From Hachinohe, we made a little research of the Shinkansen’s (bullet train) schedule and fare heading to Hakodate Hokkaido. Lucky enough that the price is affordable and a bit near to my place.

img_20170102_114139

At Hachinohe Station, Aomori Ken

There was not so interesting thing to do in Hachinohe. It is a typical city like Yokohama although the latter is more にぎやか (nigiyaka…. lively). So we just looked for the McDonalds store, had some snacks and a chit-chat. The store is somewhat  3 kilometers or more from Hachinohe station.

We went home with  a satisfied heart for the travel experiences and meeting kindhearted  Japanese along the way, and a satisfied stomach after more than a month of McDonalds fasting.

Next  in line…Okunakayama Kogen to try snowboarding.

Advertisements

Counting the Blessings of Northern RP Geography

1312_1095016313850031_4231370959282276437_n

Hi everyone! It’s been a while. I have stopped postcrossing for a while due to some hectic schedule in school. I’m currently learning Japanese language. It’s gonna be six long intoxicating months to pursue this goal. Anyways, thank you to my loving postcrossing friends who never forgot to send special wishes through their cards during the holidays. Very much appreciated guys! (With special mention to Sir Steve Fellerman)

Today, there are no cards to feature so let me just take you for a while to a place in my country called Ilocos region.

2015 Christmas break had given me the opportunity to revisit Ilocos after a year, but this time I was offered a lot of recreational activities. I have been to Vigan and other parts of Ilocos Sur, this time is a year-end break in its twin province, Ilocos Norte.

As we approached the province by bus, I was reminded of a song called “Pamulinawen”. It’s a song every Ilocano knows by heart. Eyes closed, I subconsciously sang the song. And all the memoirs of my first trip to Ilocos in 1996 went back.

The province improved a lot. Thanks to the Marcoses and other officials (whoever they are) for all the developments. I heard the provincial government will invest more for the windmills in Bangui. Good job! The windmills not just help the Ilocanos to avail cheap electric bills, but they also help the tourim industry in the region. Imagine thousands of people coming over to the place every month just to take a look of the huge windmills towering the municipality of Bangui?

Circumstances of physiography and climate had profoundly affected the socio-economic and cultural life of the people of Ilocos Norte. With a terrain which is uniformly rocky and rugged, with an interior rimmed by mountains, thereby limiting the availability of land for agriculture. But still, Ilocos is one of the provinces in the north that can contribute in the supply of agricultural products in the country. There are good harbors as well despite of its coastal location. This makes the province experience frequent occurrence of tropical cyclones.

Few have passed the way to Pagudpud at the northern tip of Ilocos Norte. Getting to Pagudpud means  counting the blessings of Northern RP geography. Too bad that my friends didn’t have a chance to set foot on the famous Patapat Bridge. It was raining a bit when we got there. We had an awesome lunch at Apo Idon Beach Hotel.

ilocos 2

Though we haven’t tried the other beach hotels, I could say Apo Idon is perfect. The location, the interior, the foods….just perfect for anyone who loves Mediterranean setting.

Below is a jump shot of my friends in front of the hotel. They had so much fun, aren’t they? 🙂

ilocos 1

1917142_1095016683849994_6839790705452799156_n

We also went to Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Bangui windmills and the famous Kapurpurawan.

Kpurpurawan means “white”. See the white rock in the background? One can fully understand the beauty of the Kapurpurawan rock when he gets right there. We didn’t push through with the plan because it was a bit far and we had to maximize our time for other places to visit.

Next stop was Hannah’s Beach Resort where we seemed to have entered Jurassic Park. There were huge statues of Jurassic animals.

ilocos 3

ilocos 4

1312_1095016313850031_4231370959282276437_n

If you don’t like the beach but craving for a swim, you can spend your sole moments here at the pool on top of a hill towering the beach resort. It was like a moment at the Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool in Singapore. Try it and see for yourself. Hannah’s Beach Resort has really evolved into having much appreciative facilities than before.

Of course, there’s more. I tried the zipline which is the world’s longest zipline crossing over the sea. I have a fear for heights but it seemed I had already overcome the phobia. Looking back, I kept asking for a life vest as I am not a good swimmer. The operator affirmed that the zipline was the safest (talaga lang ha!). Oh well, I was feeling shit when the operator pushed me down the line while shouting this:

“Ma’am, nagpaalam ka na po ba sa mga mahal mo sa buhay?” (Have you said goodbye to your love ones?)

Mind you, sorry that I kept shouting for curses to that operator. I felt like my tonsils were coming out of my mouth! It was raining. The wind was strong enough to make whistling blows to me while zip-lining. And I prayed,

“Lord, don’t let me die!”

hannahs

Can you see that house on top of the mountain at my  back? That was where I came from, moving on to the end where this photo was taken. Such a long ride, but worthwhile as well.

hannahs1

Yes, thumbs up! Finally, I did it! And I am willing to do it again when my husband comes home. Aja! God is really great for creating all these wonderful things in this world.

 

We also did not miss visiting the municipality of Paoay to take a glimpse of the Paoay church at night. That was a very enchanting night.

996778_1095015890516740_2455329907807764098_n

1511036_1095015903850072_5969692560662502861_n

 

The next day, we went back to Paoay to take a ride at the sand dunes. We rented a 4×4 car. I think we paid around 1,500 pesos. Some friends experienced sand boarding. I didn’t. I’m done with the zipline and that was enough. I would prefer zipline than the sand dunes adventure. Although it was so much fun riding in that deserted place, it’s  too risky than zip-lining. Areas with flag signs mean extreme rides. You may either go up or go down the deep sand dune ravines. Either of the two was like a way to hell. Never mind, I’m still alive and I had the chance to celebrate New Year 2016 with the fond memories of the adventure in Ilocos.

10264_1095015250516804_7522883109712450398_n

10414540_1095015463850116_844938318895120872_n

10421972_1095015257183470_3023351656239759496_n

 

Today, the livelihood of the people of Ilocos Norte improved, although not as tremendously as compared to other provinces—Ilocos Norte can stand alone. I love the city of Laoag more than my own city. Traffic is not as worst as Tuguegarao City. In my place, it seems I can smell the farts of satan during traffic jams, but spare Laoag City. It’s really more fun in Ilocos.

So no matter how impossible circumstances may be, the Ilocanos have proven their worth. For together as a people, they have raced through time just to be where they are now. For without its people, Ilocos Norte will never be what it is today.

I will surely visit the place again.

Special Mention:

Thank you Jessa, entrepreneur of Glomy’s Emapanada….You’ve really got the best empanada in town plus the “longganisa”. Thanks to newly-found friends as well (Matley and Vany). Thanks for the ride. Love love love

 

 

 

 

 

Received: May 25th, 2015

From: INDONESIA

The famous hanging tomb cave of Tana Toraja.

c-8

Teacher Rena says:

c-9

From: CHINA

c-2

Dong Ming says:

c-10

Below is the english translation as translated by a friend:

Maybe I will arrive at your country earlier than the arrival of this postcard. Because I love diving, I fly to Philipphines once or twice every year. I love it there so much, the way the sun shines. the vast blue ocean. I especially love the friendliness of the wonderful people there. I have been to (he includes the names in english) and on 5/22 to 31 I will be going to (names of places included in english). I read the books, travel the roads. and see the world.

From: NETHERLANDS

Three of Amsterdam’s most famous churches.

c-11

Angelique says:

c-12

Received: May 23rd, 2015

From: PARIS FRANCE

The card represents a father with his grandchild. The father is reading a tibetan ascetic biography. And there is an artist that illustrates this biography.

c-8

Lydia says:

c-9

From: HOLLAND

c-10

Poli says:

c-11

From: INDONESIA

This is a map card of Indonesia from an  anesthesiologist named Andrea. The card was safely put inside a plastic. Now I have an idea on how to do my next outgoing cards.

c-12

Andrea says:

c-13

Received: May 22nd, 2015

 From: MALAYSIA

Designed by British Architect A.C. Norman, Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia festures a 41-metre clock tower with a copper dome.

c-8

Serene says:

c-9

From: RUSSIA

c-4

Lola says:

c-10

From: PARIS FRANCE

Shipyard cemetery in the area of Brittany

(You should check Louise’s blog at http://www.dropsofeverything.wordpress.com. She has an awesome blog.)

c-11

Louise says:

c-12

Received: May 16th, 2015

INDIA

Khajuraho:

In the temple architecture of India, the Khajuraho complex remains unique. One thousand years ago, under the generous and artistic patronage of the Chandela kings of Central India, 85 temples, magnificent in form and richly carved, came up on one site. Today, of the original 85, only 22 have survived the ravages of time. The temples are famous for their erotic sculptures. The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is the western complex of Khajuraho group is the largest and the most ornate Hindu temple in Khajuraho. The entire complex is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

20150526_195913-1

20150526_195928-1

Maitreya Buddha, Nubra Valley:

Nubra VAlley is 150 kms from Leh town across the Khardung La Pass in the northern Jammu and Kashmir state of India. Like the rest of Tibetan plateau, Nubra is a high altitude cold desert with rare precipitation and scant vegetation except along river beds. The average altitude of the valley is 10,000 feet. Majority of the inhabitants are Buddhists. To the west end of Nubra Valley near the Indo-park border, the inhabitants speak Balti and are Shia Muslims. In the picture is the 35 meter statue of Maitreya Buddha facing down the Shyok River towards Pakistan.

20150526_195830-1

20150526_195940-1

And of course, Vishwanath is very generous to send an Indian banknote which will be added to my banknote collection. I sent him a Philippine banknote as well (20-peso bill), but it was a used banknote. His was a new one. So I am thinking of sending him another. This time, it would be fresh from the bank and unused.

C360_2015-05-27-11-04-59-176