Oct 6, 2015

Hokkaido: Asahiyama Zoo, The Northernmost & The Most Innovative Zoo in Japan

Source: http://good-hokkaido.info/en/asahiyama-zoo/
At first, I didn't set any high expectation to a trip to the zoo. My mind has told me, this could be just like a cliche sightseeing. To witness displayed animals as caged objects, not living beings much like an art museum.

Until I saw penguins walked in front of my eyes, experienced being close to polar bear as their prey, intrigued by "flying" (swimming) penguin gorgeously above head, and startled to see a snow leopard passing above my head. The concept of "behavioral enrichment" of Asahiyama Zoo core's philosophy had forced me to pull my own words.

Aug 27, 2015

Hokkaido: See How Japan Introduces Its Freezing World

Sounkyo Hyobaku Matsuri from high
*Scratch, scratch...*

A scratching sound continuously comes from the right side of the van. There is no life for mosquitoes in here, obviously... The sound comes from me scratching a dewy window pane. Wait, do you think what the hell am I doing?!
Yes, I was too busy to wipe the haze away from the inside of window.

The warm temperature inside the van creates moisture on windows. It wasn't just normal moisture like usual, anyway (surely for Indonesian). Condensed vapor turned into thin ice layer, since the weather were so freezing outside. What a thing!

It's been about 4 hours since we left the last city, Abashiri. And now, we were heading to next destination, a small town or likely I can call it a resort village of Sounkyo in Daisetsuzan National Park. There was no sign of our destination until the sun had hidden itself. Well, nothing could be more fun than doing such ridiculous thing of scratching frosty windows!

*Scratch, scratch...*

Jul 9, 2015

Hokkaido: The Famous Small Station of the North

Facade of Kitahama Station
I really didn't comprehend and a bit confused at first. Why this small building which similar to a security post could become a highly sought-after destination for some tourists, as said by our local guide, Yoshie-san. The facade looked quite old but pretty decent, stands adjacent to the Sea of Okhotsk. A rusty blue signpost above the entrance door described a name, 北浜駅 Kitahama-eki (Kitahama Station).

This station was not always crowded as that day. Some travel vans parked at the front yard indicated there were group of tourists who already inside the building. Actually, it was just an ordinary small train station. There are some similar building like this along the coastline. But, Kitahama station is the most in demand by the tourists for some reason.

We entered into a tiny main room (waiting room) of the station with its size, maybe about 5x5 meters. And we found something peculiar with our sight.....

Jun 3, 2015

Hokkaido: Cruising the Sea of Okhotsk on the Icebreaker Ship

Aurora II has left the Abashiri Port
North wind gusted and it felt freezing cold as the ship sped up. The observation deck had been teemed by tourists, especially at the edges of ship balcony. We were stunned by the endless panorama of the Sea of Okhotsk. The horizon separate off the sea and sky as I gazed toward to the north. Seagulls squawked while they were soaring up on the air. Some tourists were seen enjoying themselves by taking selfie with the sea landscape and also with floating drift ice. At the time, I was able to conclude that this would be the best moment during my trip in Abashiri.


Apr 30, 2015

[Road Less Traveled] Hokkaido: Soup of Freedom and the Prison Break of Japan

Abashiri Prison Museum aerial view in summer
Hokkaido, the northernmost major island in Japan, was nearly a no-man's-land over decades ago. At the northeast of the island, lies a dark history of Japan development.

Truthfully, I didn't know a lot about the city of Abashiri. But I believed this port city has some things interesting to offer, until I found myself stood in front of enormous arched red-brick gate. That historic-looking architecture with 2 posts guarding at both sides is the main entrance to the Abashiri Prison Museum. With the curiosity calling me to know more about Japan's hidden history, it would be best to dig up some stories from the Meiji period here. Surely, Abashiri was able to provide a unique experience of visiting the jail museum.

Mar 30, 2015

[Road Less Traveled] Hokkaido: Cute Little Monster and Drift Ice from Abashiri

Frozen Lake Abashiri
Suddenly the staff (guide) handed over a warm blue wet towel for us after she explained briefly about the drift ice. I didn't know what she talked about since it's in Japanese, until she told us to see a digital thermometer before the museum tour began. I was sure it showed the temperature inside the room right before our eyes which the temperature was in -16°C. At first, I thought she gave the towel to keep our hands warm inside the simulation room. Then, she asked us to perform a little experiment. We swung the towel continuously in the air and within seconds it became like a cracker chip. Hory shitto!

A few hours earlier.....

After a night stay at a resort beside the scenic beauty of frozen Lake Akan, that morning we headed to Abashiri. This city is located far enough to the north at the Sea of Okhotsk coastline which took about 2,5 hours car driving. Just like in Kushiro, since it's winter, the well-known Hokkaido farmland turned into a vast white land. With just a few cars passed by and no one seen along the trip, the roads seemed deserted. From left to right the roads looked similar. For some reason I confused about the direction and wondered if we only traveled in a circle. Even our driver, Kihirato-san followed a guidance from smartphone maps.

Mar 2, 2015

[VIDEO] Hokkaido Trip: Let's Report Japan!!

Visit Japan is one of my biggest dream since I was a child. I remember when I used to know Japan only for modern country and as the king of world's technology; land of video game; land of anime and comic; even Doraemon's home. However, following the major development of information about this cherry blossom's country tourism via every media. Now everyone know if Japan is a country with such abundant cultures and local traditions. Where the traditional culture can get along well and balanced with its modern culture.

One thing that makes me want to visit Japan is the nature. Because for me personally, nature travel always provides better experience than just travel in the big cities. Especially if you can witness and feel something that doesn't exist in your home country. It's cool, isn't it? Therefore, since back then I always intended to visit Hokkaido. Anyway if I get chance to go to Japan, it has to be Hokkaido first :)

Feb 22, 2015

[Road Less Traveled] Hokkaido: Everything All White in Kushiro

"Window View"
In just moment we will be landed in a small town in southeast of Hokkaido island, Kushiro. I couldn't wait to land soon after I saw a sublime panorama of the snow mountain range through the plane window. There was nothing in sight around Kushiro Airport that afternoon, except for those bald trees and white snowfields. But by just looking at the scenery alone we suddenly got fired up. Yes, because this would be our first encounter to see and to touch the snow.

The reporters greeted by local guide and the other staffs after we arrived. This time, we rode on a travel bus to get to some interesting places in Hokkaido. And today's main destination is Akan Lake which is famous for the local tribes village, the Ainu people. However, of course we didn't get into the car immediately, because we were too busy to take some pictures with those pile of snows in front of airport main entrance. Cold weather didn't seem take so much effect on our energy.

Sesaat lagi kami akan mendarat di sebuah kota kecil di tenggara pulau Hokkaido, yaitu Kushiro. Tak sabar rasanya untuk segera mendarat setelah saya melihat pemandangan sangat indah rangkaian pegunungan salju lewat jendela pesawat. Pemandangan di sekitar bandara Kushiro siang itu memang tidak ada apa-apa selain pepohonan yang rontok dan hamparan salju putih. Namun dengan melihat pemandangan itu saja kami tiba-tiba langsung bersemangat. Ya, karena ini bakal jadi pengalaman pertama kami untuk melihat dan memegang salju.

Para reporter langsung disambut oleh local guide dan staff lainnya begitu tiba. Perjalanan kami kali ini menggunakan travel bus untuk mencapai beberapa wisata menarik di Hokkaido. Dan tujuan utama hari ini adalah daerah wisata Danau Akan yang terkenal dengan pedesaan suku lokalnya, yaitu suku Ainu. Namun, tentu saja kami nggak langsung segera masuk ke mobil. Kami malah berfoto-foto ria sama tumpukan salju di depan pintu masuk bandara. Udara dingin nampaknya tidak terlalu mempengaruhi semangat kami.

Feb 6, 2015

Mission From Japan: WakuWaku Reporter 2015 (Hokkaido)

Balcony view from our room in Abashirikoso Hotel (Abashiri)
Damn! Unfortunately, one of my biggest dream since 2 years ago to explore South China has been canceled. Some preparations have completed, including itinerary, how to.. , and also flight tickets. It was kinda sad that I had to give that up (only for this time obviously). But, what could I do about it...

Even though I couldn't make it, I was still happy because there's another surprise is waiting for me. Actually, my Lord Jesus had designed another plan even more amazing for me. I just couldn't believe, my biggest dream since my childhood to visit Japan has now become reality! And it also for free!

Sial! Sayang sekali rasanya, salah satu impian terbesar saya sejak 2 tahun lalu untuk menjelajah China selatan terlanjur dibatalkan. Segala macam persiapan juga sudah beres, termasuk rencana perjalanan, bagaimana caranya.. , dan bahkan tiket pesawat untuk kepergian. Agak sedih juga bila saya harus merelakannya begitu saja (tentunya cuma untuk kali ini aja). Tapi, yah... apa boleh buat...

Meskipun saya nggak bisa menggapai impian tersebut, saya masih tetap gembira karena ada kejutan lain yang sedang menunggu. Ternyata, Tuhan Yesus telah merancang rencana lain yang menakjubkan bagi saya. Saya benar-benar nggak habis pikir, impian terbesar saya sejak kecil untuk mengunjungi Jepang kini menjadi kenyataan! Dan gratis pula!

Jan 7, 2015

[Road Less Traveled] Kabil, Eksplorasi di Ujung Timur Batam

Tampak keren rusun kami di Kabil (©Christian Daryanto Limas)

Sebelumnya saya pernah bercerita tentang pengalaman bagaimana kehidupan di "Papua-nya Batam". Kali ini akan menceritakan tentang eksplorasi keadaan daerah sekitar Kabil. Lalu bagaimana kami sebagai anak-anak pinggiran pulau untuk mencapai peradaban.

Saya memang sudah terbiasa hidup sebagai suburban ibu kota, di mana segala sesuatu terasa lebih ekstrim. Butuh perjuangan ekstra bila ingin mencapai peradaban. Selain karena jaraknya yang cukup jauh ke pusat kota, macet tentu saja selalu menjadi kendala utama para penghuni Jakarta dan sekitarnya.

Yah, intinya saya sudah cukup elus dada dengan hal-hal seperti itu. Jadi secara mental dan kesabaran, saya sudah siap untuk tinggal di pulau Batam yang saya pikir tidak tertinggal jauh dari ibu kota negara.

Namun bagaimana kalau ternyata hidupnya bukan di pinggiran kota, tapi malah di pinggiran pulau? Saya sama sekali tidak menyangka sebelumnya kalau daerah Kabil yang bakal saya tinggali selama 5 bulan ke depan ini adalah kawasan industri, yang tampak wajahnya saja sudah seperti planet Mars.

Jarang sekali ada pengunjung luar kota yang berkunjung ke Kabil, kecuali mereka yang benar-benar punya kepentingan, seperti para pekerja pabrik dan para warga yang memiliki hunian di sekitar sini. Namun, itupun sangat-sangat jarang sekali. Seperti salah satu teman kampus saya yang sejak kecil hingga SMA hidup di Batam, tapi dia tidak pernah ke Kabil sama sekali.

Saya maklumi saja. Bukan karena dia tidak gaul, namun memang di Kabil ini tidak ada apa-apa, kecuali perbukitan dengan beberapa lahannya yang diselimuti pepohonan yang tidak jauh dari pantai.