Looking out into Another World

If I were to design a character building programme, it would involve solo hikes starting with a wild abandonment ... leaving the unsuspecting participant at a foggy trailhead with the company of a huge sign that warns of bear sightings. I would also intentionally forget to provide a bear bell.

Some film captures from my solo travels in Japan last October. I am not one to shoot film, but I picked a disposable cam up anyway just so that if I were to get lost in the forest or fall off a mountain there might be some form of documentation of my folly.

Looking through these photos brought me right back to the moments when I faced an adventure far bigger than myself. 

Traveling solo is not a new thing to me. I embrace the idea and I do oddly, crave for it. This short trip to the countryside in Japan redefined what it really means to be alone. From boarding an hour-long bus ride where I was the only passenger, to alighting the bus in total darkness. I found myself in a remote part of the countryside where roads were not exactly pedestrian-friendly. With one hand dragging my bag, and the other frantically waving my phone (which doubled as a safety light) at passing cars, I made my way to the hostel in hopes that Google maps would not fail me. Arriving at the hostel was another story, where I was put through a crash course on Entomology. I spent the next few days negotiating my comfort zone with these winged and multi-legged life forms.

I'm still waiting for my certificate till this day.

Koya Backpackers

2147-500 Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun 389-0111, Nagano Prefecture
 

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The day starts early at 6 a.m. at the hostel. This is my favourite view that refreshes me as I brush my teeth

  Saying goodbye to the hostel while it closes for Autumn break, and the owner goes on a 3-day hike in the mountains

Saying goodbye to the hostel while it closes for Autumn break, and the owner goes on a 3-day hike in the mountains

  Yusuke-san, owner of Koya Backpackers, striking a pose for my camera before he packed me off and sent me on my way to the train station   It made me laugh when I saw this photo, partly because I forgot that I took it. Also because I could almost hear Yusuke-san's jugdmental remarks about my huge four wheeled luggage bag.

Yusuke-san, owner of Koya Backpackers, striking a pose for my camera before he packed me off and sent me on my way to the train station

It made me laugh when I saw this photo, partly because I forgot that I took it. Also because I could almost hear Yusuke-san's jugdmental remarks about my huge four wheeled luggage bag.

  Taking a local train to Matsumoto, embarking on another part of my adventure to the Japanese Alps

Taking a local train to Matsumoto, embarking on another part of my adventure to the Japanese Alps

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  I found a make-shift studio near the entrance of the camp sites.

I found a make-shift studio near the entrance of the camp sites.

  At Kappa Bridge with the magnificent Japanese alps towering over me

At Kappa Bridge with the magnificent Japanese alps towering over me

  Taisho Pond

Taisho Pond

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These amazing colours captured on film

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  I discovered that acrophobia and strong winds don't quite go together

I discovered that acrophobia and strong winds don't quite go together

  Scaling Mt Fujimidake

Scaling Mt Fujimidake

  Atop Mount Fujimidake, I walked on clouds

Atop Mount Fujimidake, I walked on clouds

It would be exaggerating to say that I have been completely transformed due to a single experience. But I definitely departed a braver soul than when I first embarked on the trip. Perhaps one day, I will be able to put this into a good use to pack three sets of clothes for a month-long travel.

(vignettes of my adventure on Instagram  one, two, three, four, five)