Autumn and Winter 2009

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December 25th 2009
Published: January 3rd 2010
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the daikannon statue welcoming visitors to awaji
Westin Awaji
We booked a couple of nights at the Westin Awaji, part of Starwood - SPLURGE!!!!! Gotta say one of the nicest hotels I've stayed in, but that's not really saying much... Unfortunately I was a little late in booking it, so we ended up getting a smoking room, but we got used to it after a while. We got free entrance tickets to the plant museum in the adjoining complex, so I made Alex come with me and we had a nice walk through some nice shrubbery. Nice. At the exit, there was a wooden sleigh pulled by wooden reindeer. Cute. Back to the hotel - dinner at the restaurant there was JPY 4,000. So we decided to go to the complex for dindins, not that it was any better on price. But the room was nice. Did I mention the bathroom - Oh. My. God. I want a bathroom like that when we settle!! Impressive. And the bed - it was a beast!!!! We could've easily slept across-ways no problem. Humongous.

I made us get up at 05:30 so that we could leave at 06:00 - early bird n all that. It was still dark at

pretty red leaves!
that time, but as it took us a couple of hours to get to Kyoto, we ended up getting there around 8ish, only to find a loda of other people milling about town already. The temple I wanted to go to opened at 06:00, so shouldn't have been surprised. Alex doesn't really get the whole changing of the leaves business. I guess a lot of people don't. We stuck around Kiyomizu temple for a bit before heading to Kyoto Park, which was free to get into and nearly completely empty! We had a nice long walk before heading back to Awaji for the rest of the afternoon. If only parking in Kyoto wasn't so ridiculous, could've spent the whole day there. But being the cheapskates that we are, we didn't even have lunch in Kyoto... The drive back wasn't too bad, we stopped off at the Lawsons near the hotel to get lunch: cup noodles!

Christmas in Kochi
It really doesn't feel like Christmas. I've put a tree up with decorations, as well as the Christmas wreath and new year display I made at a flower arranging group, but the rest of the town is just normal. I even
Christmas cakeChristmas cakeChristmas cake

how cute are these Santas!
had to go to work on Christmas Eve. I was even scheduled to work on Christmas DAY!!! I had to take it off as annual leave - it just feels wrong to work on Jeezy McCreezy's birthday. Before I left school for the year, I got 2 presents - 1 each from the VP and an Arsenal-supporting social studies teacher. They were both accompanied by cards, which were TINY! I know Japan's supposed to be known for miniaturising everything, but this was rather unexpected. I mean, come on - I think it's just an excuse to save on paper or money. Or both. More likely money, as the government takes a chunky slice of everyone's paycheques... Alex has a theory that Japan's a pretty commie country. I'm starting to agree with him in some respects.

As we both had Christmas Day off with no oven to spend all day baking a Christmas dinner, along with the fact that it's a Friday this year, we decided to head to Tokushima for some boarding - woohoo! I wanted to leave at 08:30, but for various reasons we ended up departing around 09:27. I wanted to pop into the bank and
getting ready for Ikawagetting ready for Ikawagetting ready for Ikawa

ooooooh yeeeeeaaaaah....
post office first to try and get some money out and then change it into Korean Won, so I got some money out of the bank, but when I went to the PO, they told me they didn't change money there. Rubbish! I figure that as there are direct flights to Seoul from Takamatsu, surely they'll have a Bureau de Change there, n'est pas? So we finally made our way to Ikawa Ski Resort in Tokushima. We'd previously done a run to Mikawa Ski Resort in Ehime, but we'd never done Ikawa, so we totally relied on the ol' Garmin. It was mostly expressway until we hit the Ikawa Ikeda Interchange, after which it was normal/small roads to the mountain. It was a bit concerning being less than 15km from the resort and still seeing the sun glistening off bare roads - where's all the snow?!?! The drive was interesting. We were doing okay to begin with, but then we got onto the mountain road, which was not only single lane in a lot of places, but also had patches of ice. We skidded a couple of times before we pulled over and attempted to put the chains on. The
en route to Ikawa en route to Ikawa en route to Ikawa

oh the excitement!
box says you can put them on in 30 seconds. It took us about 5 minutes. But after that, it was pretty good driving all the way to the top. When we got to the top, there were a load of spaces for cars to park that were completely empty, which was a bit worrying, before we reached the main entrance. That's where all the other cars were! So we drove through and parked up and decided to take a walk to check it out before buying anything.

We passed the rental hut first, which was doing a deal for snowboard gear and 1 day lift pass for JPY 7,000. We walked on past the toilets and reached the runs. There was a big building on the right, which I'm assuming was a place to chillax and eat/drink. We never went in. We stood at the bottom of the run for a few minutes, just watching other people ski and board down. They were all so good!!! Clearly I was going to embarrass myself in front of all the people that were just sitting and watching at the bottom, great! We walked back to the rental hut and rented a couple of snowboard sets. Oh my God - everything's SOOOO much nicer than the equipment we rented in Andorra!!!! Which was surprising - I thought that as it was such a small place, they wouldn't be that good, but I totally underestimated them. My bad. The guy in there was really nice too - he was wearing a flu mask. We paid up and got the gear and went to the car to finish getting ready. When we were about to leave, I realised I didn't have my lift pass that we just bought! So I walked back to the rental hut, where the dude was like "Oh, thank goodness for that!" and gave me my lift pass. Bless him. I then walked back again to the car, and when we were well and truly ready, we trekked it to the lifts.

At first, I was so uncomfortable - I've only ever been once, and that was a couple of years ago. When we got to the lift, the dude was like "First time?" - I obviously reeked of newb! We made it onto the chairlift, after I got help from the guy, and spent the whole time
home timehome timehome time

after a good afternoon on the slopes :)
going up worrying about getting off. I remember in Andorra the first thing I did when I got up the top was board straight into someone else. Fantastic. Luckily it wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated, and we made it to the top of the green run unscathed. The rental guy gave me a regular board, which turned out to be rather uncomfortable for me, and I basically edged it the whole way down. I fell over numerous times and kept landing on my hand, which already felt bruised when we got to the bottom. It was obviously no good, so I went back to the rental hut and asked him to change it for me. I must remember in future - I'm goofy!!

So we went back up the lift, and did the green run again. This time I got completely lost (all I had to do was go straight, but I turned left - why??? I'd just done the same run a few mins ago!) and went down route D, which actually joined onto the red run. Oops. I edged myself down again and waited at the lifts that started in the middle. I was there for
war woundswar woundswar wounds

3 on the knee, 3 on the hand. corresponding bruises...
a while before Alex came down - he was worried about me because he didn't know where I'd gone - he thought I was stuck in a tree somewhere. But he found me safe and sound and we went up to the top again. This time, I tried turning. Managed to turn. Did not manage to link them. Up again and managed to link them on the less steep parts. Up again and getting a little more confident. I could even go up the chairlift on my own - woohoo! Alex decided he wanted to go on the red run, so I told him to do it while I practised more on the green run. Did that a few times before I finally felt confident enough to attempt the red run. But then we got to the top of the red run and I panicked a bit. So I edged it to the side until I was half way down the steep bit and then started boarding properly. After that it wasn't so bad, so we tried it again, but this time I caught an edge going down and tumbled I don't know which way first. I thought I was going to seriously hurt myself because my left buttock, both knees, and my right hand already caned from falling over previously. But although this was the biggest tumble I took, it was also the least painful - I didn't feel a thing! Must've got lucky... However, some skiier did fall over further down and nearly ploughed into me, but luckily he hit my boot and not my body. Thank f***! We did a few more runs, but it was soon time to go home, because we wanted to get back before dark. I have a feeling it's going to be pretty much the same when we go to Toyama and Niseko in terms of immense pain inflicted at the beginning of the day...

The drive back was better because we knew what to expect. However I was so bruised, I couldn't move! We had to stop halfway down the mountain to take our chains off, which muddied up both of our tops =( We were also pretty hungry, because we hadn't eaten since morning and it was 15:00. We stopped off at a Sunkus to get some snacks and then made our way back home via Marunaka to buy dindins. All in all a good day =D

When I got home, my knees, left buttock, and right hand felt really bruised. When I woke up the next morning, my toes, shins, calves, both buttocks, stomach, lower and upper arms, shoulders, and neck all caned!! Everything except my face and thighs. Ouch 😞


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