How much you are willing to spend for a lifetime experience?
Last Saturday, 21 Malaysian Students from Muroran Institute of Technology (MIT) went for a one-day trip to the famous Lake Toya. It was a fine day, and the weather was clear. Arrived at the lake after almost an hour journey from Muroran. On some parts of the bank of the lake, there were some locals doing some business, Lake Toya tour packages with speedboats or paddle-boats. For lovers, a kayak ride or a swan-shape paddle boat would be a perfect choice. 4 people can board the paddle boat at a time. It was very tired to paddle the boat around. I panted a lot !
Speedboat, Mount Usu and Lake Toya
For those who loves some speed and thrill, a 30 minutes ride of a speedboat is worthy. up to almost 14 people can ride it at a time. The maximum speed....70km/h. The ride costs 1500 yen per person, thanks to our status as a foreign student, we paid 1000 yen only. That's the price you'll get when you come in group and most importantly, you can speak their language.
The next stop is a site of a rural village situated on the foothills of Mount Usu. The site overlooks the Lake Toya. Some of the ruins can still be seen today. Mount Usu is the most well-known and made the headlines as recently as 2000, when it erupted and destroyed roads and buildings. Careful scientific monitoring of the region meant that everybody was evacuated long before anything too serious happened. There's an off-limit area for visitors visiting that place. Eager to feel how hot the steam at the volcanic site which can be seen blowing out of from some parts of ground there, I went in to take a closer look. Indeed it is hot ! Almost the same feeling when you opened a pressurized cooker and feel the steam with your bare hands. Even the ground around the steam chamber is warm.
The volcanic hot steam coming out from the ground.
After spending almost an hour and a half there, the trip was resumed. This time, a hunt for a famous Hokkaido-style ice-cream shop near the Lake Toya. Fresh milk processed into variety of cheeses and other dairy products. Unfortunately, I can't show you how the ice-cream looks. Next time maybe. Around the shop is an open area with a mini zoo. There's a rabbit cage with lots of rabbits inside and a small stable with two ponies. At the same area, slightly away from the shop is a landing pad for a hot air balloon. I was so excited upon seeing the balloon. It was so huge and that was my first time watching it live. We then had a deal with the operator. A normal fare for a 30 minutes ride is 1500 yen. The moment we say we are from Malaysia, and studying in MIT, she gave us a better deal. 1000 yen per person. That's a good thing when you know how to speak their language. We took turn and two of my friends and I took the first ride. The gondola or wicker basket which carries the pilot and passengers can only takes a total of five adult men.
The hot air balloon we rode, it's not me up there.
The day was slightly windy. The take-off part is the most difficult part as the pilot needs to maintain the balance of the balloon in a windy day. After 5 minutes, finally the balloon floated safely and we began to 'fly' further from the ground. The pilot brought us 30 meters high and we enjoyed spectacular view from above. At the same time I felt relieved. My patience finally paid. Actually when I was in Turkey, I was thinking to take the famous hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. But when I was told the ride would cost me 120 Euros, I had to forget about it. Too costly for a student I think. Eventually, I ride the balloon but with cheaper price. Although it's a 30 minutes ride, it really worth the price. For me, it's a lifetime experience I would say. So when you're still young, go explore the world and gain as many as possible experience you can. There are many things to learn from the world outside.
Of course, the balloon and the unforgettable ride itself was perfect for my camera lens. Perhaps, if I have a chance, a ride in a helicopter will be next, though my real dream is to sit on a Weapon Systems Officer of a real fighter aircraft......still not giving up on my dream yet !