Kamuikotan (神居古潭) literally means God-village in the native Ainu language and is situated by the Ishikari River, about a half-hour drive out from the city of Asahikawa. We made a stop at Kamuikotan with a slight detour to the west en route to Furano, via Takikawa. It’s a short stop which you can cover in about 15 to 20 minutes.
The lush foliage changes with the seasons – with cherry blossoms in early May, to auburn in the fall. Being central to Ainu folklore, the first thing you’d notice is the mystic calm about this place – the quietness is touched by the sound of the rushing the river below, quick and yet surprisingly serene. Crossing the bridge to the other side of the river, you’d ascend short flights of steps to find the old kamuikotan station as well as a locomotive reminiscent of a time past.
We followed the signs featuring a little cartoon character holding pink moss up a hill. As we curved around the last bend and approached the carpark, the Takinoue Pink Moss Park revealed itself to us – an entire undulating sea of pink, spotted with the contrasting green of the trees – a sight to behold.
On closer inspection, the pink “moss” was not any sort of moss at all, but rather tiny flowers, layer upon layer of it in such density which lent the landscape a bold colour, coming in full force as if knowing that each of them couldn’t have evoked the same response on their own.
The Kamiyubetu Tulip Park is situated in Yubetsu town on the Northeast front of Hokkaido, facing the Okhotsk sea. We were driving in the area keeping our eyes peeled for the place, but really we didn’t have to- because it was a huge 7-hectare garden flooded in rows on rows of colours and windmill features- and that, is pretty darn hard to miss.
During Springtime, from May to early June, the garden is covered in over a million tulips of 120 varieties, and with flowers stretching to as far as the eyes can see, I wouldn’t say it’s all that hard to believe.
I opened the door and stepped out into the heat. Leaving my coat in the car, I started towards the beginning of the trail marked by a large standing wooden sign. The Shiretoko Goko-lakes (知床五湖), also known as the five lakes, are a collection of lakes which were formed when the area of Mt. Iwo blew and left dents on the land which filled with water; the first of which could be reached by an elevated wooden path and viewing decks, but the remaining four being only accessible by foot and with a guide.
The elevated wooden walkway was a work of Japanese genius – it left the scene virtually untouched, with visitors looking out from observation decks while ezo sika (Sika deer) graze peacefully below, their short little tails twitching time to time to address the tickle of the occasional summer fly. Little pools of water irrigated the landscape, funnelled underground from the Shiretoko mountain range which lined the horizon, still visibly snowcapped from the winter.
Jatujak Weekend Market is one of the world’s largest weekend markets, with 27 sections and more than 15,000 stalls. You can find anything and everything from household items, to fragrances, jewellery, food, clothes, and handicrafts (the one shown below is AMAZING). This was my first visit to Jatujak, and honestly, I found it to be overcrowded and touristy. Many shops sell similar things, so it’s challenging to discern between them and even if you wanted to go back, you might just get lost in the maze of shops! Nonetheless, it remains a must-see when in Bangkok, so here’s a little taste (:
Or Tor Kor Market is known for being one of the best markets in the world selling the region’s freshest ingredients. I was there, took some photos, and so here’s a quick peek around the market (:
After a long afternoon’s journey, there it stood. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: A white magnificence rising out of the ground in the glowing trail of the setting sun. We got lost a few times trying to find our way from Dubai, but when we saw its minarets standing tall against the blue sky, our long walk was made well worth it.
The curves of the domes, intricacy of the workmanship, the grain of the marble and mother of pearl carefully inlaid into the columns, and the endless carpet in the main prayer hall – Truly, a sight to behold and a must-see even for the ones wary of all things touristy.