The year abroad adventures of a Scottish otaku in the North of Japan

Tag Archives: praying mantis

The next leg of my New Year trip was across to Jakarta – I was up bright and early (6.30am) in order to get the bus over to Narita airport, nice and quick due to the very sparse New Year traffic. Then my flight at 12.00 to Jakarta. I was fortunate enough to see Mt Fuji on the way out, as well as some of what I assumed was Malaysia, but in that general direction!

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When I landed at Soekarno-Hakatta Aiport, it was night time, humid and about 29 degrees. My only issue getting through the airport was having to wait almost half an hour for my suitcase – my fault for getting to the airport early I guess….I also went out the wrong doors of the airport, so had to double back to find Lizzy (who I was staying with). We took a taxi back into central Jakarta and I got to catch up with people I hadn’t seen for at least a year! I also got to make up for the lack of fireworks since I saw loads on the drive. Apparently they have fireworks almost every week!

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On my first real day in Jakarta, we just bummed around – taking the car to be fixed and building a stupidly complex Lego windmill (with a very active 6 year old and 4 year old).

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However, the real adventure started on the next day. We were all booked to go (via a speedboat) to stay on one of the thousand islands for 2 days. It did mean we had to get up at ridiculous o’clock to get the boat over, but that was cancelled out because I was able to sit on the outside, watching all the islands go by. I also got to count the ridiculously high number of flip-flops randomly floating by…..

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This is the name of the island – Tiger Island (although there were 2 cats, the island was sadly lacking in Tigers…)

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The best thing we could do on the island was go snorkelling in the nearby coral reef – there were some wonderful fish (one of which bit my finger), coral and even some sea-urchins! I also saw some of the weirdest coloured crabs – purple and green with really hairy legs….

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This also meant we had some of the freshest fish I’ve ever had, for dinner!

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I did kind of get munched on by mosquitoes (my eye swelled up at one point) but I got a decent amount of relaxing done, got to watch a storm rolling in and watched a beautiful sunset from the beach.

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I also got to meet this guy, who seemed determined to sit in my hair….

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Unfortunately, we had to leave on the afternoon of the second day. This boat trip was a lot worse than the first one – the sea was ridiculously rough (so we were constantly splashed with sea water on the inside) and the air con inside the boat was broken (so it was about 40 degrees in there). I felt horribly seasick so I opted for sitting outside and not throwing up on everyone…I had a layer of salt all over my arms by the end of the trip!

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The day after we got back was Sunday, which meant the main roads were closed for a few hours to cars and all the daft people who wanted to go jogging in 35 degree heat, were able to do so. It also meant there were a lot of bikes about, so the kids took their bikes and we went to the shopping centre.

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The best thing about the shopping centre was the fact that there was an ENORMOUS slide going from the 4th floor to the 1st floor. It wasn’t open when I was there, but only adults could use it and had to wear a crash-helmet!

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In the afternoon, Lizzy, Maggie and I went to have a crème bath – this is where you get some creamy stuff massaged into your hair and then it sits for 30 mins (it smelt like Tiger Balm….). We also got a mani-pedi which was very enjoyable!

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On my last day, we chilled out a bit and in the evening went to a Japanese restaurant. It was hilarious – they tried to do the whole ‘Irasshaimase~’ thing and got the shock of their life when I thanked them at the end in Japanese. I had great fun!!

Sadly, it was soon time to leave (my flight wasn’t until 23.40 so I had loads of time to kill at the airport), so I had to get the taxi to the airport. The airport itself was stupidly stressful: the check-in guy thought my visa was out of date, he charged me airport tax I thought was included in the air fare and then had to go through the stupidly complex security procedure (which they blatantly didn’t give two hoots about). However, I got back eventually…..

So, I finally managed to get this post up…sorry about the lateness! Next time will be the excitement of ice-skating and a whole lot of fire – so until then またね!


For one, I might actually get a blog post out on time! Get to the shelters, the world might just be ending….

This weekend, it was time for our other big ‘school trip’ – to the Oga Peninsula (up in the North of Akita Prefecture). Oga is definitely where the agriculture nature of Akita becomes fishing – we passed numerous docks with little fishing boats and fields where fishing nets were being untangled. Although our final destination was Oga, we actually took several stops through the journey:

1. Tenno Greenland

2. Mount Kanpu

3. Cape Nyudozaki

4. Oga City Concert Hall (for a special traditional performance)

What I liked about this trip, is that the organisers learnt from the last trip (e.g. giving us a 9am leave time on the posters, but on the itinerary 9.30). We also had a lot more driving between destinations, so had to make do with staring at the lovely scenery instead!

So, after an early start (we had to meet at the buses at 8.40), we were on our way with our first stop being Tenno Greenland. This is basically a large park/road stop that includes a stone age village (rebuilt near where it was actually excavated).

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As much as I enjoyed stretching my legs at the park, seeing the tour groups full of old biddies and seeing all the local produce (you have no idea how tempted I was to just go ahead and buy a mini chilli plant), there was something else that caught my attention even more! We saw a huge spider just casually sitting on the biggest spider web I’ve ever seen. I spent about 10 minutes just trying to get a decent photograph….it was definitely worth it, just for the look on my friend’s face when I showed her the picture!

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After not long, it was time to get on the road again and head towards Mount Kanpu. As we drove along the country roads, coastal scenery started to appear and it felt very like home. We had coast, big mountains and grey weather – it was definitely like a homecoming. As we got closer, I could see what I thought would be the hill, with a little viewing station at the top, and I was hoping that we would be taken to the top rather than having to trek up it. I was granted my wish when we started to make our way up the steep roads and saw the emerging coastal scenery (on both sides)! It was super windy at the top of the hill (again, reminiscent of home) and we were faced with a number of model plane fliers AND a man paragliding from the top of the hill to the bottom. I don’t think he expected a bunch of foreigners to crowd round him and then cheer when he got to the bottom.

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A great number of pictures were taken of the spectacular panoramic view of the little fishing villages and the mountains sitting faintly on the other side of the bay. I may have also had a go at rolling down the hill – I certainly acted my shoe size, not my age, but it was ridiculously fun.
We also had a lot of fun in the little omiyage (souvenir) shop, where the women who ran it gave us free snacks and tried to tells us everything in English. All I can say is bless them! It was adorable.

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After that, it was down the other side of the hill and on to Cape Nyudozaki (imagine me pulling a superman pose)! This is the point of the Oga Peninsula and, coincidentally, on the 40th Parallel. At the site, it has several stones lined up on the parallel and a lovely monument, just to let you know.

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We had our lunch at the edge of a cliff, scrambled down it to explore the rock pools and only then discovered there were stairs. It felt like a day at the beach – I had my boots off and was scrambling over the rock pools, I did some paddling (the sea was surprisingly warm) and we even saw what we thought was a sea hawk, just perching on the cliff. It was heaven (if only the weather was a little better).

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The high point, apart from the sea eagle, of course, was almost standing on (and thereby discovering) a praying mantis, just chilling in the grass. I’ve never seen one of these in the wild before, so it was certainly something to see!

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At this point, I shall suspend my story, as I have a lot of videos from the main event in Oga city! So for now, またね!



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