Writing this around 2:00 in the morning (Japan time) while eating Y70 worth of potato chips, my favorite junkfood. I normally sleep around 12 midnight, but my Internet connection is faster during the wee hours of the day/morning and my Nihonggo class scheduled at 10:00 am later was postponed for next Saturday. In short, I have some free time.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I signed up for a Snowboarding trip to Nagano from January 4 to 9. Initially, I had no intention to join the trip because I would rather spend the Y35,000 (which all participants had to pay for the hotel, meals and rental of equipment) to buy a new digital camera. But I went anyway and I am glad I did.
One reason was the SNOW. You may ask, is it not snowing in Kobe? Well, in areas near Mt. Rokko, it did snowed, like twice. According to reports, Kobe is currently experiencing a warm Winter. At almost 9 degrees centigrade, I guess that is pretty warm. But I am not complaining, honest.
I had a splitting headache when we first arrived at the hotel in Nagano. Mainly because we traveled by bus therefore I did not get any sleep. The breakfast wasn't any help because it was cold (in fairness, we always look forward to dinner time). But when we settled in our rooms, I was able to catch some ZZZZZZ's. It was short but sweet, plus the room was comfortably warm as opposed to the chilly air outside. I was bunked with five other students: 2 Chinese, 1 Mongolian and 2 (South) Koreans. They're nice young ladies, but I was the odd-man-out: they all speak good Japanese. *Sigh*, even on vacation, I am still thinking about grammer and vocabulary. Eh-hum
Shortly after my power nap, we set out to the snowy hills for snowboarding 101. Wearing layers of clothing for warmth (the temperature was between -8 and -10 degrees centigrade) plus a pair of heavy boots made quite difficult to walk to our first spot. Moreover, we each had to carry our boards through the slippery and soft snow. When we got to our spot, we did some stretching exercises and the lesson commenced. It was chaotic.
First lesson was distributing your weight on the board, then putting pressure on your toes for movement, then on your heels to stop. Stretch out your arms for balance and keep your eyes forward. You can also use your shoulders as guide to make a turn. It sounds simple enough, but it was a challenge, especially for beginners. Everytime I get on the board, I fell down flat on the ground. Thank goodness the snow wasn't like concrete. And then there's the ski lift. Tried it only once, it was scary as hell. I was tempted not to get off the lift when it reached the top. I couldn't feel the ground at the end so I jumped with disastrous (and a little bit funny) results: I fell flat on my face and had to be pulled out immediately so not to get hit by the revolving seats and other skiers/snowboarders who will get off. Because of that, I was more than happy to give my ski lift points to my Mongolian roommate (and impromtu Japanese tutor), Hana-san.
Judging from how many times they would walk to a good spot then go down a hill, most of students were bent on mastering the sport (particularly those from Europe and the US). As for me, I was there to enjoy myself and (try) to forget that I have some papers to write and assignments waiting for me back in Kobe. Part of the experience was admiring the falling snowflakes and the trees covered in snow; it was, like in the song, walking (or snowboarding) in a winter wonderland. Two of my friends, a fellow Pinay and an Indonesian, even made a snow, uh, person...TWICE. I recorded them while doing it and the end product was a short instructional video on how to make a snowman, Filipino and Indonesian style. It was pretty funny.
We left Nagano at 7:30 pm. Though it was brief, and we were not exactly ready to go back to school, the scenery and the snowboarding provided a much needed break for us hardworking students. As it turns out, Japanese winter is not so bad afterall.
And now, some pictures.
Me, one of the (crazy) ski instructors and Titiek-san. Hmmmm, it just occured to me that we forgot his name...hehehe, bad.
Snow queens: Me, Titiek-san, Hana-san (holding snowboard) and Adelle-san (seated)
A self-portait: Me in winter/snowboarding clothing.
Work of art: the Snowperson with candy for nose and candy wrappers for eyes and mouth. And a hat...heheh.
*Notice that my number is 27. Its quite a significant number for me, especially since its 2007. Eh-hum