Week 3, recap

Today I woke up at 7 am to the cheering for marathon runners who ran below my window.

Time keeps on flying, soon it will be summer and hot (can’t wait) and I will have to figure out just how much I love Hong Kong, what I want to do with my life, etc. small stuff. But, before that I can enjoy the few pictures I have remembered to take, and try to remember as much as possible of all the things I’ve seen, done, experienced and encountered here. It seems like there is so much I can’t even recall half of it all!

Flashy flush.
Flashy flush.

This week too was full of good stuff (other than the one pictured above)!

Out to after-work exercise!
Out to after-work exercise!

Being around athletes, I feel slightly pressured to be active. Which is a good thing, except that I get so much energy that I can’t sleep. Victoria park is nice and peaceful in the evenings, unlike during the weekends!

Fruit salad á la chaga and cocoa nibs
Fruit salad á la chaga and cocoa nibs

I started a habit of eating self-made fruit salad pretty much every day, pretty much from any fruit I happen to have. So far, so good. This week we also made maca pancakes. With a lot of honey they were pretty good!

Different view of Hong Kong
Different view of Hong Kong

I went hiking away from all the “action”, which was pretty relaxing. Dragon’s Back was rather crowded, but it was still pretty cool!

Dragon's Back, one of the most popular trails in HK
Dragon’s Back, one of the most popular trails in HK

There are interesting and challenging things coming my way, I can feel it. I hope I will be able to keep on going faster and faster, and to improve myself as much as needed. I can already tell that it is windy on the top!

Standing strong
Standing strong
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Take a hike

Rice fields forever

Apparently winter is coming, but at least last week it was still warm and sunny enough to take a walk down the mountain, to Kamegawa and downtown Beppu. This time I took a different route than usual: few surprises were on my way!

This worm seemed picture-worthy

Even though the walking directions here are rather limited, the scenery at least is variable. And there are many new things I encounter each time.

The second worm was a lot longer than the first one

You never know what comes around the corner.

Oddly enough, this hebi (snake) was just sun-bathing on its’ back

It takes roughly two hours to walk to downtown Beppu. I prefer the route along the habitation, since there are nice plantations where people grow their vegetables (no wonder, since they’re so expensive in the stores!), beautiful small gardens, architecture and interesting encounters.

Lady selling fish from her cart, I’m guessing this is local entrepreneurship at its’ best!

My next goal is to walk to the nearest onsen, on the other side of the mountain. It is easy to go down, but I would never walk up here (to “Hogwarts”).

Not even nearly there!

Secret paradises

Some more traditional Japan!

Fields like in the middle of Europe

Rough bare stone terrain, traditional bamboo forest, pine tree forest, fields and various different vegetation was passed during a hike to the secret onsen. After hiking in the sun for almost an hour, the reward was tremendous.

 

Steaming hot mineral water

 

Beppu is known for its’ hot springs, onsen. There are several onsens around the city, most of which are spa-like and run by entrepreneurs. My first onsen experience here was different – these onsens were in the mountains, completely in the natural state, and free of charge.

We decided to pretend we don’t understand the several warning signs

A girl was killed in the onsen where we went a year ago, thus there was several sign warning about going to the onsens a)alone, b)with only women and c)during night time. In addition to that, there was another sign regarding proper code of conduct.

 

Beware of suspicious man and car!

 

After the first two onsens (one pictured above, plus a mud onsen next to it) we continued to a third one even higher up the mountain. The last onsen we went to was apparently rather popular among Japanese men, so as to respect their privacy (and private parts), I don’t have many pictures.

Steaming hot water, next to streaming cold water

The onsens would be perfect during night time, to watch the stars. Also in the winter I can imagine that sitting in the hot bath would be spectacular – getting out would not be so pleasant. The road to the onsens was very poor, so in the winter time it might be tricky to drive there by car. Walking in the dark would definitely not be an option, either. We had a chance to boil some eggs in a hole that had boiling water – next time we were thinking about having a picnic with more food to boil and steam. What a better way to spend a day, than hiking, and then chilling in the hot bath and eating food prepared in the nature.

 

Nature at its’ best

Gym class hero

After attending the gym guidance few weeks ago, I received my gym membership card and thus am eligible to use the APU gym. As long as I have my gym card, student ID card and a towel with me, and I wear my brand new 200yen indoors sneakers, I am good to go.

Check in before you go. There are several rules and guidelines to remember

When entering the gym, one must sign in and give their cards to the security officer. After that, you receive a locker key.

Nice pink style on the machines

The gym is equipped with some basic machines: few treadmills and bikes, some machines for arms and legs, plus free weights. There is also two mats for stretching, ab/back workout or practicing sumo steps.

Even though I don’t understand the different features of the bike, the main point is clear (on the scale)

I have to admit, that I do feel rather big in the gym, too. Back home, I felt like an insect compared to all those pumped up bodybuilders, but here the biggest guys are hardly my height.

Best thing about the gym: Japanese music from a boombox in the corner!

Confession: I have been to the gym only twice, even though in theory I would have the time to go there every day. I am in desperate need of a reasonable workout programme.

Last days in Tampere

I don’t know if this week has gone by too fast, or too slow. However, today is the Big Day: after breakfast, it’s time to cry and hug my mom and brother goodbye (the dog is in Helsinki, I am extremely sad that I did not get to say goodbye to her!), and go sit on the bus to Helsinki. At 6 pm I will take off to Beijing, and continue to Fukuoka from there tomorrow morning.

But, about this week. On Monday I did somersaults for the first time in years, in Aikido class! I wanted to try the sport, since it might be something I want to practice in Japan. Maybe taekwondo or karate, instead.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were not eventful, therefore my anxiety to leave grew a bit. On Friday, I went to the Pyynikki swimming hall for the first time since elementary school, when we used to swim there in PE (hello, trauma!). The place has been renovated for several years, and now it looks almost brand new. I blame my company for swimming only 15 minutes and then heading off to the sauna, but I have to admit that I was pretty bored with the monotony and the chilly water, too.
Later on Friday, movies with a friend (Magic Mike, rather entertaining!), and the rainy day finished off with a fancy-ish self made dinner, mussels in white wine sauce.

On Saturday, I went to do all my last minute shopping, even to Ideapark in Lempäälä. I had a schedule to say goodbye to my best friends, and I managed to go try CrossFit, too! Whoa, that’s a good reality check for those, who want to realize how bad shape they’re in. The CrossFit intro was just 30 minutes, and I did not push myself enough to vomit, but my neck is very sore today.
In the evening, we went to the fastest dinner ever (2 course meal plus ice cream afterwards in 1 hour!), and at home I finished packing while watching a movie so bad and embarrassing I won’t even tell which one it was. I also had my last sauna before bed.

So, here I am now, with all the Japanese Yen I could exchange from Tampere (someone else had ordered Yen, so they did not have as much as I wanted), eating my stomach full of rye bread. 3 hours, and then I am off. Surreal.

This is what I am leaving from.

Finnish style, August 2012

My brother took me to the Pyynikki tower to have the last glance of my home town.

View from Pyynikki tower