Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Europe On Video

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

“Lights, camera, action”.

It’s not all about still photo’s when we travel.  Oh, no.  Go Pro, HDR Video camera, iPhones and DSLR camera are all used to capture some of the action on our holidays.  We have lots of fun editing and creating short movies after our trips and this “trailer” has been put together from some of the footage we took during our trip to Europe in September 2013.

Move over Angelina and Brad.  Roey and The Princess are ready to walk the red carpet.

Click Image For Video

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Winter Wonderland

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Yuzawa is a small town located in the mountainous prefecture of Niigita, Japan and it is a wonderful place to visit throughout the year.  Our first trip to Yuzawa was at the beginning of spring however, snow was still falling and the “Japanese Alps” (as they are known) were covered with deep, powdery snow – perfect for a 5 days skiing trip.

Whilst the township of Yuzawa is quite small and nondescript, it is nestled at the base of some spectacular mountains and home to four ski resorts.  The mountains in Niigita are not as high as the European Alps or the Canadian Rockies but what they lack in height the make up for in snow.  Japan is known for its high annual snowfalls and the “powder hound” runs.

Getting to Yuzawa from Tokyo is easy.  The Max Tanigawa bullet train leaves Tokyo station every 30 minutes and, after a comfortable 90 minute ride, it stops right under the Gala resort (the largest ski resort in the area) – incredible service.  This is one of the reasons why the area is so popular with Tokyo’ites.  Leave Tokyo around 0700, have breakfast on the train, arrive at the ski hill as it opens (0830) and be skiing by 0900.  After a day of skiing you can be back in Tokyo for dinner and a baseball game!  Perfect.

Given that we planned to ski for three of our five days, we opted to book into a hotel in the township.  This allowed us to be on the ski hills when the opened.  Our choice of lodging was the New NASPA Otani hotel.  Otani is located right at the base of Mount NASPA and you can literally walk from your room to the ski locker and then step outside to the ski lift.  After a long day of skiing you can relax in the hot spring fed baths that are a part of the complex.  The Japanese know how to live!

The following blogs capture some of our experiences in Yuzawa.  To see some what we experienced on the ski hills you can take a look at this video we made.  Enjoy

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Fields Of Rainbows

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Acres of brightly coloured flowers all perfectly aligned and following the contours of the land stretch out in front of us like a rainbow that has decided to lay itself across the landscape.  Bees, dragonflies and an assortment of opportunistic insects make the most of Hokkaido’s summer blooms and fill up on the delicacies offered up by the variety of plants.

We are in Furano, Hokkaido and we are allowing our eyes to feast on the beautifully prepared gardens that draw thousands of tourists to this area of Japan during Hokkaido’s brief but stunning summer.  Hills that entertain skiers in winter are full of lavender, sunflower and other beautiful plants.  Lower fields around Nakafurano and in Farm Tomita are covered with the many colors of Sage, Cosmos and the bright pink of the Cleome.  It is a gardener’s paradise and a photographer’s easel.

The cloudless blue sky overhead allows the full intensity of the sun to make the stunningly beautiful colours of nature even more vivid and we stand in awe of the display that is neatly arranged before us.  Mother Nature has put on a show that makes one appreciate how beautiful the simple things are when you take time to stop and smell the roses (or other types of flowers).

The region around Furano is also renown for being the “fruit bowl” of Hokkaido and many of the vegetables and fruits that adorn the masses of food halls in Japan are grown in this region.  Today, while our eyes savour the stunning display of flowers our palates soak up the taste of juicy cantaloupe – a seasonal delicacy grown right here in Furano.  Our personal favourite was the soft ice cream infused with the orange melon’s pulp.  Wow.

After several hours of roaming around the garden beds in the Furano region we board the opened carriage Norokko Flower Train and literally ride off into the sunset.  The spacious booth style seats in the train give us room to unload our backpacks and cameras and the large open windows provide an unobstructed view of the passing fields and towns.

We arrive in the city of Ashaikawa just as the sun is setting and just as our stomachs have emptied out enough to consume another steaming hot bowl of locally prepared ramen.

Another incredible day in Hokkaido!

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Art In The Park

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Obscured by the dangling branches of a weeping willow tree the local artists sits on the sloping banks of one of Nakajima Park’s beautiful ponds.  The large brimmed hat she is wearing fends off the midday sun and allows her eyes to remain shaded whilst she captures the summer scene before here.

Not far from the bridge we are standing on a gentleman is sitting on a park bench under the shade of a huge deciduous tree playing a pan flute.  The beautiful sound that he produces reaches to the far corners of the park.  He offers up his talents for no gain other than the enjoyment he gets from making the atmosphere here even more serene.

Young lovers in brightly coloured rowing boats court and laugh as their wooden vessels move across the shallow waters of the lake. The girls relax under wide brimmed hats while they allow their suitors to negotiate the overhanging willows that line the banks of the lake.

In a rose garden not far from the lake a young female model is rolling around on the lush clover filled lawn posing and smiling for three amature photographers.  She is obviously enjoying the beautiful warm sun and the view of the rose beds that surround her.

We follow the gently flowing waters of the stream that boarders the park and make our way to the Horohirabashi subway station for the next leg of our adventure.

Nakajima Park is not a large park however it offers visitors many visual and aural gems.  Make sure you put it on your list of places to visit when you are in Sapporo.

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Roam’n For Ramen

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

We are sitting at the “bar” of a tiny restaurant in Ramen Alley watching the proud owner/chef prepare our chosen feast of ramen noodles.  While we wait we sip our cold, crisp Hokkaido beer and watch Japan’s favourite sport (baseball) on a tiny TV mounted in the corner. Outside, the busy alleyway is full of prospective diners and gawking tourists – this little area of Sapporo is a must see/must eat at place.

Ramen noodles are made from fresh wheat and they are usually served in a steaming bowl of broth and topped with a variety of tasty toppings.  The broth can be salt based (shio), soy based (shouyu) and even pork bone (tonkotsu).  Hokkaido’s miso-based broth is unique to the island and it can be described as hearty, garlicky and slightly nutty – perfect in the harsh Hokkaido winters.

Our smiling chef hands over the huge bowls of hot ramen and we thank him in our best Japanese (“Doumo arigatou“).  We wait a while for the temperature of the broth to drop before we start savouring this chef’s unique dish – it seems that every chef has his own secret blend.

The history of ramen in Sapporo dates back to the 1920′s.  Apparently “lo mein” noodles were served at a Chinese cafe located in front of the Hokkaido University.  After World War II more and more ramen shops opened up around Sapporo as Japanese troops familiar with Chinese cuisine returned from the war.

Ramen is now a Japanese cultural icon and many of them win international awards.  However, if you ask around town which ramen shop is the best you will get hundreds of different answers – each person has their favourite.

Tonight, we think we have picked the best ramen restaurant in town.  The noodles and Japanese dumplings are outstanding and the locally brewed ale compliments the servings perfectly.

After finishing our noodles we compliment the chef with: “totomo oishi” (very good), bow our heads in thanks and slip between the flapping linen door covers out into the mid-summer evening air.  Like two sated ducks we waddle off in the direction of our hotel, licking our lips as we go.

Thanks to Suzanne Yonesaka (Hokkai-Gakuen University) for some of content of this article.  Suzanne’s excellent article appeared in a JR Hokkaido publication we read whilst travelling around Hokkaido.

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Vancouver – Running and Kayaking

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Despite an “extended” evening of King Crab and red wine (superbly prepared by Gary and Leah), I woke up this morning quite early (at least for Vancouver residents it appeared) and went for a 10k run around White Rock.  A very “foggy” Gary gave me instructions on how to negotiate the roads and footpaths en route and I set off in search of the Semihoo Forest

I ran up to the urban forest (a part of the Semiahoo Trail) and ran around the “Chickadee Trail”.  What a beautiful place to in.  The small forest is full of wildlife and I stopped at one point to watch a woodpecker working hard to make a dent in a tree. This was my first “up close and personal” with this fascinating little bird and I was most impressed.  He spotted me watching him and seemed to get embarrassed so he moved around to the back of the tree after stopping and looking at me. It was quite funny.

After becoming “geographically confused” toward the end of my run, I arrived back at Gary’s place only to find the place empty.  Gary (or Cory as I call him), had taken Leah to work and was stuck in traffic – it reminded me of one of the joys of living in Hong Kong (no car!).  I took time to cool down before settling into a nice coffee and some breakfast.

After Cory returned he suggested that we load up the kayak and head for some paddling around Crescent Beach.  Not one to argue, I lathered up with some sun block, donned some paddling gear and headed downstairs to load the Delta Kayak on to Cory’s “fully fitted with Thule gear” Ford truck.

After a short drive we arrived at the beach and unloaded the boat.  I donned the lifejacket, slipped into the seat and set off in search of some wildlife.  The water was smooth and the temperature (air temperature) was warm so it made for perfect paddling conditions.  The boat paddles very nicely and it was a lot of fun skimming over the waters of Mud Bay.  Gory and I took turns with the boat and enjoyed a few paddles around the pier area.  At one point Gory was able to get up close to a baby seal that appeared to have lost its mum – very cool.  I compiled this video of the “adventure” for you to take a look at.

After a morning of exercise I was ready for a nice lunch so we dropped the kayak off back at Cory’s place and drove down to White Rock for some lunch at the “Charlie Don’t Surf” restaurant located on Marine Drive.  We started off eating out in the sun but it was a very warm day so we “retired” to the shade.  The food and service was great and it was nice to stop for a while and enjoy the afternoon warmth.

After a morning of activity and a lunch in the sun I was ready for an afternoon nap so we went back to Cory’s place and I enjoyed an LLD (little lie down) for about an hour.  In reality it was a “Time Zone Change” morphing session.

On rising from my nap my body needed a caffeine injection so I convinced Cory to walk with me to the nearest Starbucks (not so near) and get some fresh air.  We also took the opportunity to purchase some red wine for supper.  I bought some wine from Canada’s BC wine region – nothing like supporting the country’s coffers!

Given that we had eaten a rather large lunch (and quite a late one) we opted for a light supper to accompany the wine.  We kicked back on the couch and shared our day’s adventures with Leah and spent what seemed like (it was – a 0200 finish) quite a while talking about philosophy.  The BC wine must have been more potent than the label suggested!

A great day of activity, food and friendship.  Gotta love Vancouver at Cory’s place.

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