Samstag, 18. Januar 2014


As the last two posts were about our trip to Hokkaido during the National Holiday week, and the next trip to the Phillipines during Spring Festival is coming up in a couple of days, and this here is not supposed to be mainly a travel blog, it's time to actually post something about Shenyang (or at least China) again.

Last week this year's local Shenyang Ice Festival was opened - I haven't been there yet this time, but was last year in February, so here's some stuff from my photo archive. As winters are reliably long and cold in Northeast China, almost every town has its own festival, the biggest by far being the one in Harbin. (pictures from 2012)

complilation of ice towers - the guy in the front is selling "tanghulu" 糖葫芦,candy fruits on a stick.
The Shenyang Festival has basically two areas - one with (up to building-high) ice and snow sculptures:

all in one - the "大政" Dazheng government pavilion from Shenyang's Imperial palace in the front,
back right the Greek Akropolis, back left Beijing's Temple of Heaven.
and even some Great Wall to the left.
a chapel made of snow
And a bunch of other sculptures....

Additionally one can have fun with all modes of transportation imaginable (and beyond) to get ahead on and over snow and ice.

Be it....

big trikes for grownups
small trikes for the little ones
whatever that is called
bumper cars

more bumper car-tube-things
dog sleds
or even tiny tanks.

Or you could paraglide over the whole area:

And skid down a slide made of ice with your butt in a raffia basket:

Together with a gazillion kebap stalls, fun for the whole family....

Sonntag, 12. Januar 2014

Big in Japan - Well, Hokkaido that is. Part 2

Part 2 of our National Holiday trip to Hokkaido October 2013.

Day 2 in Daisetzuzan National Park - this day we didn't go up to the mountain plateau, but had a stroll along a small highway passing the beautifully autumn-coloured Sounkyo Valley:

After about an hour of walking we reached a tourist hot spot with souvenir shops and a big parking spot for coaches, bringing heaps of mainly Chinese and Japanese tourists to a place with a couple of waterfalls - they just love them:

Day 3 - we wanted to go up the mountain plateau again, hiking up some more tops, but unfortunately winds were too strong and the ropeway, only direct channel to the plateau, was closed for security reasons.

So we did only some minor hiking and stayed some more time at the hotel and enjoyed the hot springs.

As you went in there naked, I of course didn't take my camera there :-) and as almost everywhere in East Asia in such cases, men and women had separate areas. So far nothing new for us.

What we were a little anxious about were the Japanese washing rituals we heard so much about. Well, actually we heard nothing about them, really, just that they take a long time, are complicated and Japanese are sensitive when it comes to their rituals/traditions, so we were a little afraid to do something wrong the first time.

So for that I waited in the dressing room for a Japanese to appear so I could go in shortly behind him to watch and copy his every move - "monkey see, monkey do".

There was a washing area right next to the hot spring pool, with abot a dozen little plastic stools to sit on, a mirror, a towel, half a dozen different soaps and shampoos and a hand shower.

Although the Japanese took their time washing themselves before going in the pool, I couldn't recognize a particular order or system for washing or choosing soaps or something. They did it just thoroughly. So I just washed myself about a minute longer than the Japanese guy I came in with to be on the safe side, then off in the hot springs pool I went.

The next day I could also witness that nobody in the spa really cared when 5 guys from Shanghai jumped right into the pool without washing anything first. Although one could see some "not so happy with what you just did" - glances....

Another thing were the traditionally Japanese dinners - the first evening we went there with our street clothes to find everybody else having shown up in their kimonos - so from then on we did the same:

And the dinners were.... well, interesting. The whole table was covered with little bowls and cups with bite-size portions of different foods in it to discover. A little bit like an Advent calendar. Unfortunately, most of it tasted fishy and salty, not so much my favorite taste and style. But fun nonetheless.

Day 4 - Mt. Midoridake

The last hike was a little bit rougher, as basically the weather still was that day. Windy, cloudy and it even snowed (in the first week of October....) On 2/3 on the way to the top the wind got too strong, and the path too slippery, so we had to go back again. Still, it was another beautiful day of hiking in a breathtaking scenery:

And what would be a post about Japan without a picture of a Japenese toilet's dashboard.....