A walk in the rain through three hamlets

September is a lovely month, more so because of its rain…
One weekend, I decided to see what is in store for my photo shoots…

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The above shot is the hamlet where I live…
My house is actually more to the right side of the shot, and out of range…
The island in the back is reputed to be owned by some famous personality…

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I source most of my bamboo, including the edible bamboo shoots from this bush…
Many bamboo-bush owners are too happy to see people cutting their bamboo as these plants are getting to be rather invasive…

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A little short of one kilometer away lies this picturesque hamlet…
I pass by this place each time I commute to work…
The islands at the back are uninhabited, and are favored fishing grounds for sport fishermen…

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Biologically, these are banana trees…
But not the kind found in Malaysia (my home country)…
Their fruits are really tiny, much like the size of the little finger of adults…
In Okinawa, I think the fiber is used to make clothes…

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Further deeper into the hills, the air is fresh…
Where wild animals and birds roam quite freely…

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Roads are well paved…
And up we go…

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On the downturn, was greeted by this misty scene…
This spot is about two kilometers from our place…

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A few steps forward, the view opened up to the Japan Inland Sea, shrouded in mist…

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And the house with the red roof comes into perspective…
This is the hamlet where I stay, shot from the hills above…

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There is one segment of the journey where fallen leaves are aplenty…

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And the Guardian Gods provide safety and comfort…

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Further down the path, Sumiyoshi Shrine awaits…

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The third hamlet comes into view, with patches of pumpkin and sunflowers…

Yangshou in March 2016

Had this urge to visit China in March 2016…
The aims were to look around, and to perhaps enroll in a language school to study Mandarin…
Decided on Yangshou, a small city nearby Guilin…
Ended up spending about two weeks there…
Mornings were for learning the basics of Tai Chi…
While in the afternoons, the language school beckoned…

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Rented a bicycle throughout the time there…
Cycled around the vicinity during much of my free time…
And was constantly awed by the beauty of the scenery…

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Was lucky to come across this man walking along the road…
Could only wonder what he was carrying as my Mandarin was and is still bad…

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I stayed at the Tai Chi School and had a room with a view of the village…
Jima Village is a small community with old houses inhibited by mainly farming families…

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Cycling along the Li River was a real joy…
Was able to see the villagers going about their daily lives…

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Took this shot of neighboring village…
The backdrop hills are a reason enough for me to think of a return trip in the future…

The man chops wood, and cooks too…

Once in a while, the lady of the house takes a few days off to travel…
Leaving the man of the house to fend for himself…

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Winter is quite a lovely season in Japan, except for the cold…🙂
Being a Malaysian born in the warm waters, my systems have yet to fully adapt to the cold…
Even after all these years of continuous residence…

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Anyway, winter season almost always equals ‘chopping wood’ season…
An activity that I cherish doing, as it ‘makes me feel like a man’ to be able to handle the chain saw and the chopping axe…🙂

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Can you believe it?
I set the camera, pushed the shutter, ran over, picked up the axe, and clicked it went…

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And yes, the man cooks too… albeit sometimes…
Here, I have used some vegetables from my garden…
Winged beans, pumpkin, tomato… on top of some conger eel and tofu…

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For seasoning, I had the opportunity to use the Thai sweet and mildly hot sauce given to me as a gift from a friend at Chiang Mai…
The taste? Not too bad…

The first Shakuhachi solo performance ever…

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I suppose some of you folks, my dear readers, may realize by now, how much I love playing the Shakuhachi flute…
Each night, after dinner, and before hitting the futon, I play the Shakuhachi for about 30 minutes to one hour…

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Fate had it that, one of my colleagues made me a proposal that I could not refuse or escape from…
He requested that I play the Shakuhachi, and introduce ‘Japanese culture’ to a group of professors from three Indonesian universities who came to our university for a seminar last September…

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I was really not sure if I was the right person to ‘introduce Japanese culture’ to others…
Surely, there must be a Japanese person who can do the job better than me, I thought…
And, of course, in the first place, I was not even sure if I could pull through the solo performance…
There will be over 80 people in the audience, and they included university presidents, professors, colleagues, and graduate students, etc…
I have played Shakuhachi on stage a few times before, but it was always with other players…

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On that fateful mid September evening, I managed to churn out three numbers, two Japanese autumn songs (Momiji and Sato no aki), and Bengawan Solo…
The party took off from that performance of mine…
First, a President of a Japanese university came to sit with me after my performance…
It turned out that he is also a Shakuhachi player, but had not touched the instrument for the last 20 years…

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The next minute, the MC announced that this university president was going up on stage, with my Shakuhachi on hand, to play a song…
And before we realized it, the president of an Indonesian university joined in to sing along on stage…
Shortly afterwards, a group of Indonesian students came to me to ask permission to go up on stage to sing Bengawan Solo ‘a cappella’…

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What an experience it turned out to be…
Technique-wise, perhaps 50 to 60 points out of 100?
But satisfaction-wise, may I say, close to 100%?

PS: All photos taken by my colleagues…
I thank them very much as these are the only photos we have of the performance…

Underwater life at Pulau Weh, Indonesia…

Made a trip to Pulau Weh (off Sumatra Island) many moons ago, with my ‘sweeto-haato’ aka dive buddy…
This location is known for the tsunami that happened in December 2015…
Incidentally, we were there during the 10th anniversary of the disaster..
Locals refer to Pulau Weh as ‘Sabang’, which is actually the name of the biggest town in the island…
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The weather was horrendous throughout the whole time we were there…
Strong gales, heavy rains, choppy seas, huge surges, you name it…
Still, we tried our best to enjoy the trip although I almost threw out in one of the outings…
My missus was smiling away while I agonized…

This anemone fish is a lovely specimen no doubt, but I was more attracted to those ‘nipples’ that house the fish…

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This rose-like specimen is the egg of the nudibranch…
I have seen this on numerous occasions and I still marvel at how pretty some eggs can look like…

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A very friendly Emperor Angelfish… Size was about 40 centimeters…

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Could this be a Golden Damselfish?
They are small but are quite aggressive towards ‘intruders’ coming into their territory…

PC230613aThis Coral Grouper caught my eye as it was moving about, looking for some crevice to hide…
This is a very popular table fish in seafood restaurants in Asia…

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Am not so sure, but I think this is a Squat Lobster…
It was hiding comfortably in some kind of barrel coral…
Not too big… perhaps twenty centimeters?

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Collared Butterfly-fish are often seen in pairs, and sometimes in large groups…
They feed on coral polyps…

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This starfish looked like a stuffed pillow to me…
Not too often that I came across such a specimen…

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Arc-eyed Hawkfish perched on top of a coral head…
They like to dart around, but I think they are very photogenic subjects…

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Freckled Hawkfish looking very pretty…
They feed on small fishes or shrimps…

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I believe this might be a Red-cheek Anthias…
They congregate in large schools, swimming against the current…
They are one of my favorite fishes to photograph…

Lovely blog award…

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Wooh, how time flies…

Before I realize it, it has been too many moons since I last made a post…

And while I was lazing away blissfully, a dear blogger-friend, Connie, emailed me with a proposal… would I accept the Lovely Blog award?

It would be ok if I were to break the rules, said she…

And, a few more moons would pass by me before I could actually get out from my lazy state of mind to put up a post…

First, I would like to offer my gratitude to Connie for thinking so highly of my blogging initiatives…

Next, I would like to say ‘gomen nasai’ as I am going to respond through this blog rather than the other blog (Potager Y @ Japan) that was nominated…

Thirdly, I apologize with my body bent at 90 degrees, in that I am unable to nominate any blogs for the award…

As for the seven ‘secret-secret’ things about myself…

1. I am, or was, a certified a commercial pilot with instrument rating. Yeap, that was way back in 1981, when I managed to scrap through the training and was awarded the license. Was due to fly commercially for a major airline but, fate is fate… and one thing led to another and before I knew it, I found myself slipping out of the airline industry, and subsequently parachuting onto the world of academics…

2. And yeap, I am a certified Rescue Diver although I would not say that I am capable of rescuing anyone in the water…

3. And yeap too, I play the Shakuhachi, just for fun. I play this Japanese bamboo flute almost every night before hitting the sack, and I love it… In fact, my normal blogging time slot (after dinner) has been taken over by Shakuhachi time…

4. I am running barefoot these days, and I am training myself to run the half marathon barefoot hopefully within a year or two. If all goes well, I plan to further train myself to run the full marathon barefoot in the future… Too ambitous?

5. Continuing from Point 1, I never dreamed to be an academician in a university. Not that I am complaining… For many years now, I have been teaching in English and Japanese, to both Japanese students and non-Japanese students. It is fun…

6. I should be learning the Mandarin language soon. Been telling myself for decades now, but I have yet to find my marbles to get on with it. But I know, one day, I will do it.

7. Finally, ever heard of a ‘meat-eating herbivore’? You are looking at one…

Oh, the picture above? I shot it a few mornings ago, from the deck on our second floor…

We are lucky to be able to enjoy the sunrise views from our home…

I have grown to adore the beauty of the Japan Inland Sea very much…

Re-discovering the joys of running…

Yes, my dear friends and readers, you are looking right at a man who is about to celebrate his 57th year this July…
Body weight in the morning, 62 kilos; in the evening after dinner: 64 kilos… body fat ranges from 8 to 10 percent…
And yes, that is the outfit that he is using to do his runs lately…

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Well, we can say that, I sort of, re-discovered the joys of running… sometimes with shoes, other times, barefoot…
My ‘suweeto haato’ had decided to pick up running about a year and half ago…
In that one year, she has ran in several ‘little’ and half-marathons, culminating in her first full marathon last March at Tokushima, a prefecture adjacent to Kagawa…
I was impressed that she finished the full marathon at 4 hours 38 minutes…

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And so, I was kind of like, ‘influenced’ by her running…
See that picture above?
I captured it after one of my fun runs last weekend when I did an 11 kilometer run right inside those woods, amongst the blooming wild sakura trees…
The feeling was, super refreshing, with a temperature hovering around 17 degrees…

Oh yes, that tank-top I was wearing…
I bought it as a gesture of support for a running project of a new friend I made (through my missus’ Barefoot Running Club)…
Known to his friends as simply, ‘K’, Atsuyuki Katsuyama is a runner, a vegan, and a resident of Bangkok…
He is planning to run on Route 66, across the USA, starting from Santa Monica, via Chicago, and all the way to New York…

He intends to complete the 5,200 kilometers run in 80 days, starting from 25th April, and ending on 13th July.
Readers may look up for more information here https://krunusa.wordpress.com
It will certainly be adventure of a lifetime, and quite a feat if he can successfully complete the run…

I wish him the very best of luck, and stamina to pull through…

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