Monday, May 22, 2006

urasa dam - 30 april 2006

We went on a road trip to Urasa one fine morning end of last month. The Malaysian students from Niigata University drove down southeast to meet their counterparts from the International University of Japan. Syakir & co. led the way with his black Altezza, while Saiful drove the rest of us in Syakir’s 2nd car.

It took us about 2 hours before we could see the snow-capped mountains that this “snow country” was famous for. That meant Urasa was just around the corner, I was told. We paid Y2550 at the toll plaza. For that amount, we got a toothy grin from the tollkeeper, who was most sporting when he found out we wanted to take his picture.

We stopped by to pick up Aidil & Marina, the only Malaysian IUJ couple who stayed off campus. Their apartment was very near the ski slopes. We also saw a dented car which was apparently crushed by the heavy layer of snow the previous winter. I shudder to imagine what would happen should an avalanche hit them. But that’s just my imagination.

We arrived at Urasa dam to see beautiful koi streamers (koi nobori) hanging across the water. The decoration for the recent Children’s Day (kodomo no hi) was still up, giving the otherwise serene area a festive look.

I bet this will be one of the places I’m gonna visit often when I’m studying in Urasa. Without the streamers, this will make a good place for quiet contemplation. That is, if I get to have any free time to venture out of my room in the first place. I hear the E-biz students have the most packed schedule because the course is condensed into 1 year.

It’s not an exaggeration when we say that whenever there are Malaysians, there will be food. Each of us prepared something for the little picnic by the dam. We must’ve scared off the couple next to us with our gregariousness and excited chatter.

After the yummy lunch, we took a stroll around the area. The koi fishes here must be really well-breed. They’re bigger than the ones I’ve seen back home. But then again, Niigata is also well known for their prize-winning koi’s. One of them was as sporting as the tollkeeper. It blew a kiss back at me seeing that I was aiming for the cutest fish around.

Can you imagine if there is still snow in Urasa at this time of the year, how much snow there would be during winter? The seniors told us snow can go up to as high as 5m. I can already imagine myself looking like a walking Michelin mascot, all covered with layers and layers of winter clothing and looking all snuggly and warm.

I’ve heard of overseas students eating ice-cream during winter. I think it’s a universal thing, coz they do it here in Japan as well. At first I thought they must be nuts, but after trying it out for myself, maybe not. Perhaps it’s becoz the ice-cream don’t melt as fast. We had some gelato-like ice-cream at this little dessert shop called Yummy. That little treat capped off the Urasa road trip quite nicely.

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