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wanderlust . travel colourfully .  gypsylife

love . live . breathe it all in 

 

Shiratani Unsuikyo

leanne yew

the Earth speaks to all of us... and if we listen... we can understand
— Hayao Miyazaki

The beauty of Yakushima is truly breathtaking - it's natural landscape inspired famed Japanese Anime Director Hayao Miyazaki in some of his earlier works Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind & Mononoke-Hime.

Being a Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli fan - I've always wanted to visit this beautiful place Shiratani Unsuikyo to see if photos I had seen truly gave it justice. Honestly no photos can - this place is unbelievably magical and mystical.

A lot of people visit Yakushima for the hiking, to see the wonderful nature and especially the magnificent Jomon-Sugi Cedars.

The most famous hike to see the oldest Jomon-Sugi tree requires you to wake up at 5am in the morning and is a roughly an 8-10hour trek and actually you can only see the tree from a distance due to new preservation rules.

If you're not up for such a long trek Shiratani Unsuikyo is a perfect alternative (where you have options of various hiking trail times - yet even the shortest one allows you to see their most famous Cedar) and it is this area which famously inspired Miyazaki for Mononoke Hime especially the Ravine.

With this breathtaking scenery - I couldn't help but of course take some pretty photos of my Tokyo Kaleidoscope pieces - teehee - a perfect backdrop for my new two piece designs ^^

A perfect complement after hiking Shiratani is to drive down to see Yakusugi Land (oddly named like a theme park but is anything but). It's a lovely scenic area of forest that was logged in Edo times and is now home to a fine number of Yaku Sugi specimens with a number of easily accessible hiking trails with a variety of durations.

Both Yakusugi Land and Shiratani Unsuikyo have a small entrance fee of 300Yen to help with maintenance and you'll find many individuals (especially the Japanese) hike with proper hiking shoes, waterproof coats, hiking poles etc.

We visited in October and I was quite comfortable hiking in plastic jelly shoes & my husband in his trainers. We tend to be quite simplistic when we hike (even when we hiked Macchu Picchu - we were rather low maintenance compared to other hikers - I wore trainers the whole time) - no long heat smart leggings or waterproof onezies  etc. However I would recommend some type of light raincoat/parka for even if it;s a sunny day as you hike further into the forest - there's guaranteed to be some form of moisture. 


in all things of nature...there is something of the marvelous
— Aristotle

Yakushima

leanne yew

i love places that make you realize how tiny you and your problems are
— unknown

We managed to take a few days and visit the gorgeous island of Yakushima. One of the Ryukyu (Osumi) chain of islands in the Kagoshima prefecture - Yakushima is a designated UNESCO world heritage site due to its unique remnant of of warm/temperate ancient forest.

It is also the island from which Hayao Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli fame) drew inspiration from the beautiful natural surroundings for the animation of Princess Mononoke & Nausicaa.

(separate post to follow on the beautiful Shiratani Ravine & the giant Yakusugi)

You can drive around the island in a 4-5 hours (probably quicker if there wasn't as much wildlife crossing the roads - though thats the appeal). One side of the island you are actually driving through the UNESCO world heritage forest (photos above) where there are just countless monkeys, deers and beautiful waterfalls at every turn.

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Yakushima - one of the most famous is Ohko-no-Taki Waterfall - the twin waterfalls! The scenery is epic and it is very accessible from the road and doesn't require an intense hike at all.

Yakushima is known for its natural onsens - you can visit many that are in the ryokans/hotels (without having to stay there) which we did on our first day where it was a torrential downpour! 

One of the most famous ones which is a local onsen, is the Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen - a natural onsen in the ocean which you can only go to by checking the tidal times. The locals use the onsen traditionally - so you have to be comfortable with getting naked and seeing people go about their everyday routine.

The pools are lovely and relaxing - there's three small onsen pools and 2 smaller foot baths. We noticed some foreigners going for a swim in the greater ocean, but I would say only go if you're strong swimmer and comfortable finding your steps amongst the rocks. A lot of them came back with some deep cuts along their arms and feet (the rocks are very rough and jagged).

It is best to explore Yakushima by car, I highly recommend to hire a rental car ( you will need a Japanese licence or an international licence) so you can explore the island's hidden delights (plus the local public transportation is a bit sporadic at best) and obviously have freedom of movement.

We had some delightfully sunny hot days and took full advantage, driving around and finding beautiful pockets of ocean with almost mini lagoons. The colour of the sea was so wonderfully tranquil and clear - it made this Aussie girl very happy! Going in October also meant there were few tourists so we could explore to our hearts content.

If you're fan of mother nature and love exploring the untouched and magical - do try and find the time to visit this gem of an island, I think you will fall in love...


the earth has its music for those who listen
— john muir

Permai Rainforest Resort

leanne yew

home is behind you - the world is ahead
— tolkien

The end of our Kuching trip was spent in this little gem of a paradise. We had to attend a wedding on our last full day in Kuching and this sweet place was one of the darling recommendations given to us.

Permai Rainforest Resort lies on the shore of the South China Sea, at the foot of Mount Santubong. It is a charming eco resort with accommodation ranging from basic cabins to delightful rustic treehouses. I of course decided to stay in the Treehouse!! It's a treehouse! As if I'm not going to choose them! hahaha

Simple, rustic home charm awaits you as you climb the steps up to your treehouse. Clean and with a delightfully powerful hot shower (I was prepared for a trickle). We stayed in Treehouse #1 (out of 10) - I think Treehouse #3 has the best unobstructed view of the ocean - we had quite a bit of foliage blocking us.

However as a result - the first thing we saw when we went out on the balcony was some of the local residents - a monkey and her baby just happily chilling on the branches (no photo, as I was too entranced with watching them and then they climbed higher) and a squirrel/tree mouse? scampering around.

If you're more used to a five star resort - this may not be the place for you - but I thought it was charming and with such gorgeous nature surrounding it.

Note: only the treehouses have Air Conditioning Units in them!

Arriving at high tide, we were treated to this beautiful scene of the turquoise ocean lapping at the beach, reaching the small wooden bridge (first photo posted above). Absolute, pure bliss and with the water at a wonderfully warm temperature - this little slice of paradise was a perfect haven for the next few nights.

Words cannot describe how absolutely picturesque this sweet stretch of paradise was - so instead enjoy my attempts to capture a glorious sunset below.

Food at the Rainforest was simple and pleasant fare - with yummy roti and surprisingly some rather delicious fish and chips - though be forewarned the flies can be quite aggressive and ruin the fun of eating outside at lunchtime. I'd advise order it take away and just enjoy eating it in your treehouse with AC.

As the name suggests, Permai is located in the Rainforest and as you walk amongst the grounds, you are surrounded by towering ancient trees, other curious little locals - hidden paths leading to another little beach or adventurous hiking trails to take you up and around Mount Santubong.

Low tide at Beach #1 was breathtaking in the expanse of uncovered sand bars and patterns of little and gigantic rocks so of course off I went exploring! It was indeed a bit of a scramble to get atop of the giant rock in the centre which at full tide you would never know was so majestic. Like a throne in the sea. I also love the fact I got to give my wedding maxi skirt a bit of a showcase! hopefully get another excuse to wear it again!


everytime i slip into the ocean... it’s like going home
— sylvia earle