After years of planning, cancellations, night-long research and weekend calls, finally, we embarked on our journey to the Land of Rising Sun. Two friends flew from Melbourne and we both from Singapore. Places got added in our itinerary based on everyone’s choices but not convenience. Our base was the ancient capital of Japan – Kyoto!
As the cherry blossom fades and the city awaits the arrival of fall, attention turns towards the vibrant soul of Kyoto – its people. If you follow the world war stories, you might know how the city escaped t atomic explosion. The war secretary Henry Stimson had been to Kyoto on his honeymoon and he was struck by the beauty and richness of its culture. Mainly, due to his effort Kyoto was removed from the target list.
It was fascinating to walk through the city and see how the old small-town charm is still abundant in the midst of all modern amenities.
In 3 days, we mostly covered the rustic alleys of Higashimaya, the mystic yet modern Gion district, Nishiki Market and Kyoto station area. As usual, if we liked a place, it ended up attracting us multiple times in a day, covering the golden and blue hour. Sharing some glimpses, as viewed through my lens.
Green tea seller at Nishiki market
We roamed on the streets with no plan, no itinerary, just feet on the pavement and eyes widely open. At back of my mind, I always had the wish of spotting a Geisha. It’s very rare. But I must have manifested this idea so strongly that a real Geisha actually emerged from the crowd, offering me a fleeting glance before she disappeared again in a dark, alley of Gion.
Hoping to get a sneak peak of the Mt. Kinabalu, a natural UNESCO world heritage site, I and Ujjal set off for Kotakinabalu, the capital of Sabah. There is no doubt that the mountain (4095 meters) has been the main attraction of this Malaysian city for all the tourists and explorers. But to our surprise this long narrow coastal stretch fascinated us with all its natural and cultural diversities as well as friendly people.
Here are some of the highlights of our trip.
The most important comes first:
Google shows one of the commonly asked questions about Kinabalu: “Is it a volcano?” The answer is ‘No’! But that certainly does not make it the safest mountain. This massive plutonic body was pushed up from the earth’s crust millions of years ago and it is still rising at the annual rate of 0.5 mm. Back in 2015 it was affected by a deadly earthquake. But all those who still go for the summit definitely seals a lifetime experience! And all those who witness its grandeur from the base also enjoy a breathtaking view!
They say, negative ions in the air are good for your body and its highest concentration is felt in clean air near mountain or forest. Its healing effect can be suddenly felt when you open the windows. Well, what could be a better place of feeling this than the Borneo rain forest! We switched off our car AC and rolled down the window! The chilly wind just refreshed our body, mind and soul as we crossed the beautiful hill town Kundasang!
Our next stop was ‘Desa Dairy Farm’. It is a high altitude grassland, also categorized as montane grasslands and is a an important part of Kinabalu ecosystem. We tasted the freshly made chocolate ice cream while enjoying the green meadows and cool wind.