Hang Ten, Then Duck! Hang-gliding in Shiga

If you don’t like heights, maybe this post isn’t for you.

Personally, when it comes to standing on a mountaintop, flying in an airplane, or crossing a bridge, I have no issue with high places. I love going into observation towers and seeing how far out I can look.

But when it comes to roller coasters? Skydiving? Bungee jumping? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Last winter, a friend was trying to work out what to do for his birthday, and invited me and a few others to try a 1-day hang-gliding course in Shiga Prefecture. My instinctive reaction was, “No!” (Only, y’know, ruder.) However, rather than follow my knee-jerk reaction, what I said instead was, “Do you have a link to the website?”

You see, just because I can’t handle these things doesn’t mean I’m not curious about them.

So on the website I went, investigating this group that was willing to instruct people in hang-gliding in English. Reassured that it claimed you wouldn’t go that high or that far, meaning I was less likely to die, I agreed to go with my friend.

The things I do for my buddies’ birthdays.

Anyway, let me share a few things that happened with you that day.

Continue reading “Hang Ten, Then Duck! Hang-gliding in Shiga”

Misty Mountains and Hobbit Holes: Hobbiton!

When I was seven years old, I got a basket for Easter from my grandmother. I remember it was pink, with a chocolate bunny, a couple of jelly beans… and my own paperback copies of The Hobbit, as well as the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I read through Bilbo’s adventure, but couldn’t commit to Frodo’s (“Where the heck is Bilbo? I want more of him!” I thought sullenly) until I was a bit older. Even so, J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories have stuck with me. Am I a hardcore fan? Hahaha no, I’ve never read the Silmarillion and if you ask me to compare the minutiae between the recent movies and the books, you’ll get a quizzical smile from me at best.

But fantasy as a genre is something I grew up loving, and when I learned we could take a day tour to Hobbiton from Auckland, I was completely on board.

We signed up, not through the Hobbiton website, but through a separate tour company. It was a package deal where we could also see the Waitomo Caves in the afternoon, but you and I both know that’s not what you’re here to read about. Or look at.

So let’s go.

Continue reading “Misty Mountains and Hobbit Holes: Hobbiton!”