Challenging Chokai

With autumn quickly spreading its chilly fingers over northern Japan, I’ve been anxious to spend every last minute outside that I can in a last ditch effort to get some quality vitamin D before winter turns me ghostly pale and I burrow under my kotatsu until April. A few weekends ago, five friends and I made the five-hour drive south to Yamagata prefecture, where we climbed Mount Chokai. Chokai, at 2226m, is the tallest peak in the Tohoku region and straddles the border between Akita and Yamagata prefectures.

The original six, ready and raring to go.
The original six, ready and raring to go.

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2013 Hirosaki Apple Marathon

Runner #5318, reporting in.
Runner #5318, reporting in.

I like to think that Coaches Patterson and Donovan, my junior high cross country coaches, would have be proud of me. As I mentioned in this post, it wasn’t until the past eighteen months or so that running became a regular part of my life. Six months ago, running even two miles without pause was beyond me, but during the first weekend of October, I successfully completed the 10K race in the annual Hirosaki Apple Marathon. When I’d originally signed up, I’d flirted with the idea of running the half marathon. While I probably could have done it, I likely would’ve kept up a steady inner monologue of choice expletives, so I’m pretty satisfied with having finished the 10K. Continue reading 2013 Hirosaki Apple Marathon

Kuta: Or, “It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Food Poisoning”

Kuta, a tiny town on the southeast coast of Lombok, was the last stop on my Indonesian getaway. Kuta’s famous as a surfer’s haven, and there are tons of tiny beaches whose beauty is matched only by their world-class reef breaks. Incidentally, there’s also a Kuta on Bali. It’s also famous for surfing, but the similarities stop there. Bali’s Kuta is overloaded with tourists. Lombok’s Kuta, by comparison, still retains the charm of a tiny seaside town where traditional life still reigns.

Standard Asian street food...fish on a stick.
Standard Asian street food…fish on a stick.

With my (total lack of) balance, surfing is definitely beyond my skill set, so I felt a bit left out among all the tanned surfers zooming around the town with boards strapped to racks on their motorbikes and SUVs. There was still plenty for me to enjoy, though. Continue reading Kuta: Or, “It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Food Poisoning”

Gili Meno: Unreal Views and Postcard Blues

Once my few days in Senggigi were up, I headed up north to Gili Meno, a tiny island off the western coast of Lombok. There are actually three Gilis: Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan. (Calling them the Gili Islands is technically a bit of a misnomer, since “Gili” means “island.”) Collectively, they’re famous for their amazingly white sand and crystal-clear blue water, but each also have a distinctly separate atmosphere. Air is the most traditional and least visited. Meno is the smallest, least populated, and arguably most beautiful. Trawangan is the party island, with tons of bars, parties, and clubs.

On the boat from Lombok to Gili Meno.
On the boat from Lombok to Gili Meno.

Continue reading Gili Meno: Unreal Views and Postcard Blues