Hakuba log 2: Shining and snow monkeys

After we had one awesome Snowboard class with Joey from Hakuba Snow Sports School, we decided to have two more classes with him at 8am each morning, to learn more about the sport. Snowboarding feels so good, although my knees (and butt) say otherwise.

On our way to Hakuba Goryu, where our second lesson was held, we saw snow monkeys having fun in the snow. Snow monkeys are the only monkeys that knows how to  enjoy hot spring, they’re puffy fur balls with a semi-human face capable of making the most genuine expression: e.g. the “Hell-Yea!” expression when they got themselves another hot spring. They kind of remind me of the squirrels we had in Berkeley, both are rather cute and harmless from distance, but sly and “aggressive” when their “rights” of foods or hot spring are threatened. The squirrels literally robbed two packages of nuts from me during Final Week, how pathetic is that! I’ve also heard stories of snow monkeys neglecting human beings who have already occupied the hot spring; the monkeys simply walked straight ahead, stepped into the hot spring and acted as if they are among their own spices. I guess when human beings are around all the time, the animals simply get used to us as well.

The snow in the morning was pure and pristine. The hills just woke up and snow chasers from all around the world had not occupied the hills. We rented our gear and did several warm up rounds. One of the warm up games was to stand right across each other, drop our snowboards and catch the other person’s snowboard before it fell onto the ground. Surprisingly, this game really does the job. Before long, I was sitting on the Lift and nervous about getting off the lift on my snowboard.

Joey told us that normally when snowboarders got off the lift one of their feet were strapped in. I wasn’t confident enough to strap one of my feet in and just slide down the lift. I remembered falling at least 10-15 times before getting a slight hint about how to not embarrass myself in front of the lift officers. Eventually I could land with one foot strapped in, but I still didn’t get how to stop gracefully like Joey did after I slide for a while on the snow.

The same thing goes to my turns. By the end of our lessons, I could slide down and traverse on the hills both on heels and on toes. (which was more than surprising and satisfying to me. I could just slide down the hills like this all day long!) However, I couldn’t make the smooth turns like Joey did, especially on the heel-toe transition. I have to say, on the hills I saw many cool moves on the hills and a small part of me secretly think that I will be able to do them in like, 10, 20 years lol.

I GOT MYSELF A NEW BOARD!!! woohoo

unknown

(cat meme pc google lol)

My board is an 141 cm in length, camber bottom, pink-and-purple-mountainish pattern top, Burton board. Now, before I bought the board, I actually looked up online and saw that there were one Burton store on 4th street at Berkeley. I thought about getting the board after I got back to Berkeley, but then I also thought about the probability of visiting Beijing during my Winter break. Beijing has several nice snow parks and I’d be more than happy to try them out.

After I got my board, I finally decided that I really really needed to get my drivers’ license. Now, just between me and the other two readers of this blog (lol my “gang”) I also found Berkeley’s snowboarding club. Although, they seemed to party more than snowboarding. I will need to check them out next semester to see if really they are just party all night long under the disguise of a snow club.

During our stay at Hakuba, this tiny guy brought us ultimate joy:

images

images-2

7bb7a2c065ef7bfca6288e0259921807

(all pc to Google we forgot to take pics of him)

His name is Victorie Cheval Blanc MURAO III.

I can’t even pronounce the name correctly. It makes him some sort of a white horse prince, while actually it’s just some weird horse dude with a pair of fake wings on his back. Also, what’s wrong with the bang??? Are those cream or hair?

Aside from the name, Lulu said that it looked like Hakuba’s city mayor.

images (3).jpeg

I think so too.

We watched the Shining and I was so scared. However, I first realized that elements like background music, camera angles, lightnings, etc and etc could have such ambiguous yet profound impact on the viewers. We spent a lot of time talking about different theories on the Shining. My personal favorite is the one saying that little Danny was abused by his father Jack. Although I realized that many people probably wouldn’t agree with me, which is fine, because I got into this idea by a youtube video lol. It’s interesting how a two hour horror film can bring up so many discussions.

Fri Dec 23 10:11

I’m back at Shenzhen now. Slept pretty well last night, got waken up by music from the primary school (which was my primary school) nearby. Had tons of breakfast. Now heading to my high school to meet my friends. I guess this blog wrap up my trip in Hakuba. I really enjoyed it and hopefully I will be back next year.

Hakuba log 1: I am loving Snowboarding!

Mon Dec 19 20:12

We (Lulu and I) finally arrived in Japan yesterday! Now I am writing this log in a ryokan in Hakuba Happo (a city near Happo One, the best snow resort in Japan; it also hosted skiing related events for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano). Our journey from Berkeley to this warm and comfy room in Japan took more than 20 hours. But I have to say, in general, we were hella lucky.

First of all, when we got to the airport on the 17th of December, for some reasons SFO was stuffed with people. The lines were absurdly long and seven out of the eight self-service check-in machine were not functioning correctly. Then, just like God was really watching over us (cause our flight was leaving in 1.5 hours and we were still at #100000000000 in line) a woman was asking if anyone on UA875 (our flight to Tokyo) was still trying to get themselves checked in. We were then helped to get our check-in sorted out and passed the security checkpoint.

Our flight to Tokyo was ok. It was like one of the many (sadly) long flights from Hong Kong to SF. We talked a bit on the plane but most of the time Lulu was working on her lab report. I finished watching two mediocre Hollywood movies and started to think about the meaning of long flights: the flights were so long that they nearly killed my excitement and interest towards my destination. What’s the point then, to fly long hours to get to a place whose mysteries were beaten by the tiredness in the middle of the Pacific ocean?

After we arrived at Tokyo, we took one single-track railway, one underground railway, then a two-hour Shinkansen (bullet train) then one-hour Bus drive to get to our clean and soft tatami, and most importantly, open-air hot spring!!

I can’t stress enough my obsession with hot springs. The only reason (at first) that I wanted to come to a ski trip in Japan with Lulu was because Lulu told me there would be hot spring. Especially in winter, the deep blue coldness creeps into my body silently but keenly through my limbs. When I stepped into that hot spring, and the warmness quickly fills my body, I was finally satisfied and consoled. All the brutal harm I have taken academically in Berkeley this semester was not in vain.

Our last skiing trip to Tahoe was awesome, in a spiritual way, because I didn’t even ski for like 10 minutes. I was falling down, tripping over, dropping my ass into pieces, then all over again. But all that was before I discovered Snowboard today. The excitement soon drove me to ride snowboards until my legs cramped and didn’t notice that my fingers were cut by sharp ice. I have to say, I might never be a natural at snowboarding, but I really like it. I did have to force stop several times by sitting into the snow (which was like sitting onto a marble floor instantly and my butt is the only buffer I got). Once I fell forward and rolled several seconds down the hill. I was a bad lift rider. The officers had to stop the lift to wait for me to get down.  I was ashamed by my shameless actions causing jokes and troubles, but at the same time I wanted to get onto another lift, snowboard one more time down the hill.

We had a private lesson on snowboarding today and our instructor was awesome. (@Hakuba Snow Sports School, highly recommended for newbies like me). Now my back hurts, my legs scream, but my spirit happy and grateful.

(tl;dr Hot spring and snowboarding cure a broken bear’s soul.)

Btw, food wise our breakfast was shitting on Stanfurd per usual. We had a yummy and full dinner at an Indian cuisine (weird, the chief is really Indian). Since we are both over 20 yrs old, we ordered two beer, one sake (with soda lol) and we both discovered that sake (with soda…) was our favorite. Beer just tasted bad. like, really bad. I also believe that beer in general tastes bad. I’ve given it several chances, by trying out beer from China, Japan, South Korea, America, Germany and came to the conclusion that beer, or alcohol in general, tastes bad internationally.

“I don’t understand, why do people drink beer? If they’re looking for the bubbles, why can’t they just drink soda?” –Lulu

Well said.