woensdag 23 december 2009

My last night in Tokyo - Tomorrow is the big day

All pictures can be found here: http://picasaweb.google.com/f6.popkorn

I haven't been sitting still for the last few weeks. Since I will be walking 30 kilometers a day from tomorrow on, I have done quite some preperation to get myself ready for the next few months. First there was the necessary preperation to get all the equipment that I will need on my trek. So I got myself a huge backpack with which I can probably steal at least 10 babies if I wanted to. (IF i wanted to, just to be clear, this is just a metaphor)
Got myself good walking shoes, a tent that hopefully won't rip apart the first night I use it, a very warm sleeping bag, a basic gas stove to make myself some food during the hungry hours, and much much more, enough to fill up the space of the 10 babies. I opted for quality stuff that hopefully won't get me in trouble.

Another piece of the preparation was to get my physique ready for walking these vast distances. I went hiking around the hot-spring region of Hakone, followed by a stay at an awesome Japanese style ryokan, hot-spring included. On this trip, I was honored by the company of my 2 year long friend Sachiko.
Another piece of preparation was walking the tour of Tokyo, passing through every station of the Yamanote trainloop. This is the major trainloop in Tokyo that passes most important places in Tokyo. That was mostly a flat walk, and I did this one alone, but it was nevertheless enjoyable. I took a picture at most waypoints, the Yamanote line stations.

The most serious and most challenging walk I've done was about two weeks ago. I planned to climb the Kumotori-yama. This is the highest mountain in the provinces around Tokyo, reaching slightly higher than 2000m. The starting point of the hike I planned was at a height of 1000m above sealevel, and obviously this was not a single-day trip. (the original plan was 1 day going up, one day going back down, following a different trail)
The main purpose of it was giving all my equipment a test in the field, and also checking out where my stamina was at.

This little hike actually proved to be one of the biggest adventures of my short life up until now. On departure day, the weather was looking great, and the weather forecast for the next day, the day that I was planning to arrive at the final destination (back down), was looking good too. I arrived at Owa, 320m height, at about 1pm. I was one hour later than planned because I had underestimated the journey getting there. In my guidebook where I found out about this hike, there was written about a cablecar ropeway going from this place to the starting point of my hike at 1090m, called . I got out of the bus at Owa, and practically found myself in a ghosttown. All buildings looked like they could implode at any second, and there was no living soul to be seen. There was also no ropeway to be seen, although I could find a direction sign pointing to the destination of the ropeway, Mitsumine Shrine. After a few minutes I found a guy of about 70 years old. 'Where is the ropeway?', I asked him. 'Nowhere. It broke down a while ago.' The weather was looking good, and I was in a good mood, so I decided to just walk my way up there, adding a 770m climb to the plan. I quickly came upon this sign:

In short, it said that this is bearcountry, and that you shouldn`t walk alone here, and that you better talk in a loud voice to let the bears know that you`re coming. I kept on going, and it was 3:30pm when I was past the shrine and at the point that was actually my planned starting point of the hike. I wouldnt be able to get to the checkpoint that I was planning on getting to on day 1, because it was already getting dark at 5pm. The original destination for the day, was a mountain hut with a camping ground, and where I could buy some food. But since I wouldnt be able to get there I bought some kiwi`s at the shrine, the only food that they were selling there. Then I started walking. I brought a flashlight, so I was prepared to walk a little bit when it was getting dark, so I could look for a fitting place to put my tent down or spend the night. It got dark earlier than I expected, because it was getting cloudy, and I was walking in a forest that didn`t allow a lot of sunshine anyway, and so, I was walking in a dark forest, with possibly bears that were nocturnal, on my own, with a backpack and a flashlight. I don`t usually get scared easily, although this situation did creep me out quite a bit. I was whistling now and then to scare away animals on the trail, and at some point I whistled, and somewhere in the direction in front of me I heard a whistle back. I thought there was someone else coming from the direction in front of me, so I whistled again. Then I heard the noise again, that I before thought was a whistle... It was an animal, I have no idea what exactly it was, but it was moving through the bushes near me, not really moving further or closer but just moving around, making that weird whistle-like sound now and then. It moved away after a while, but it sure had been creepy. I`m still not sure what it was, a boar or maybe a deer. Although situations like these are not that enjoyable at that time, it does make you stronger, and more able to make the right decisions when you get yourself into situations that are scary and might be dangerous.

After this I was pretty lucky. I got to a mountaintop of a mountain called Kirimogamine, at about 1500m height, 6pm, and there was a small building where they usually sell drinks in the hiking season. It was closed off, but I found a way in, and spent the night there. As you can see in the pics, in the morning I was in for another surprise. It had been snowing for a few hours, and it was still snowing steadily. The snow was not that deep (initially :D), and I was equipped for snowy walks, so I ate some of the kiwi`s I bought as breakfast, and started walking at about 6.30am towards Kumotori-yama. It was probably the toughest hike I`ve ever done. Not so much the snow, but the combination of the heavy backpack with the steepness of the trail was very hard on the stamina. When I was nearing the top of the mountain, I got so exhausted sometimes that I just dropped myself in the snow for a few minutes to rest, that had gotten pretty damn deep by now. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable for the most part, and the snowy scenery was amazingly beautiful. Near the top of the mountain, there was the mountain hut. I was extremely hungry, and got in to have some food and regain some stamina. There was an old lady. `Can I have a meal here?` `No, we got nothing`
I felt pretty fucked. `But we got some cup noodles if you want any...`
That was good enough for me, and I asked another one after I finished the first one.
I had gotten there around 11am, and I continued towards the top about 30 minutes later. The hardest part was over, and I didn`t waste much time at the top, because it was snowing to hard to enjoy any view at all. My guidebook told me that it was still about 7 hours to the finish, a village with a train station, in the valley.
It was 5 hours until it would get dark again, but I was thinking of maybe going all the way to the finish anyway, if I had the energy for it.

From there on, it was just an enjoyable hike, because going downhill though deep snow isn`t very tiring and it felt pretty safe. At 3pm, I got to what`s called an emergency hut. A hut at a waypoint where people can spend the night if they find themselves stuck during a hike. I took a look inside, and there was a guy there. I thought maybe he was keeping this place open, so I asked him if he sold any food, because the noodles that I had 4 hours ago were already well used up. He told me that he had food, and I quickly understood that he was another hiker, and not someone that managed this place as I had thought. He told me that the village was still pretty far away, and that it would be a good idea to stay. He was offering me food, so I decided to agree to stay there for the night. He was one of those Japanese veteran hikers that had hiked most of the European Alps, and even the Himalaya. He had his own cooking equipment, giving me good idea`s of what stuff to get myself when I would start my big trek. He first gave me another cup of noodles, and then made rice&curry for both of us later on. There was another guy in a tent near the hut, although he was more of a loner. Akiya, the guy I stayed with in the hut, told me that both he and the guy in the tent stayed here the whole day, because they thought the weather was too tough to hike in. Apparently there had been only one idiot crazy enough to go through this weather :P.

The next morning Akiya and me hiked together downhill towards the village. The weather was perfect, offering great views of the surrounding mountains, giving me the opportunity to see Mount Fuji for the first time in my life in its full glory. Definitely check those pics out. We found bear tracks in the snow at some point, walking on the same trail as we were walking. I took a picture of it. We didn`t see any bears though.

All in all, it had been a great hike, with a lot of new experience, making me feel completely ready for the real adventure to come.

vrijdag 4 december 2009

Life Beyond Boundaries: Introduction

After a long period of inactivity, I thought it was time to blow some new life into this weblog. This is going to be a new start, because the main subject is going to change from sleeping to something more active. When I think about it, I realize that I've never explained here what the real idea behind this blog is. As you might have noticed, the big title at the top of the page reads 'Life Beyond Boundaries', 'The only limit is your imagination'. It are lines that sound like they come from The Matrix, or some other fantasy or science-fiction stories. I think, however, that for many of us, if not for everyone, there's a strong unconscious inner drive that wants us to go beyond all limiting boundaries, not only in our dreams or fantasy stories, but in the 'real' world. For me, at this moment, it's not an unconscious drive, it's a conscious one. During the past four-ish years of my life, it's been a very powerful motto for me, that's been supporting me in everything I do. When I look back at it, I've come a far way, but I'm definitely still on the road.

The reason why I made this blog, is not (only :P) to seek attention. There are several reasons. When I look at the experiences I've had in my life, and the things that are my reality right now, physically, mentally and spiritually, I feel like I have a lot of material that I can share, to be an inspiration to others that are on a similar path than I am, consciously or unconsciously. This path can be called many different ways. I've called it the path beyond all boundaries, but it can also be called the path to unlimited happiness, the path to unlimited fulfillment, the path to God etc...
This path is not a path that only has a goal inside dreams and illusions, in my experience. I feel myself getting closer to it every day. I've had a piece of the pie, and I'm very determined to have the whole pie. (it might be unclear for some people how happiness and freedom are connected, and maybe in the reality of some people they aren't connected. I'll explain later in my reality how they are connected very directly.)

In the past, when I was in the first half of my teens, I used to be a quiet, socially frightened, addicted, bullied, nerdy, spiritually hollow kid. In short, I was not very happy. I was resisting so many things that were reality, and seeking shelter in illusions and dreams. Nevertheless, I was rarely hopeless or depressed, because unconsciously I've always had a very strong drive to find that thing that would make me happy, one day. I was looking for it in the wrong places though. Even though I had a strong obsessive drive for the things that I was doing, there was a lot of suffering and frustration as a result of looking where I couldn't find it. The happiness that I was chasing after never came closer. I thought that in the world, there were happy people, and there were unhappy people, and it was impossible to make the change from unhappy to happy without reaching that 'thing' that I never really thought about, but I was sure was very hard to reach.

As a contrast, in the present, unhappy moments rarely happen. What made me happy are not the things that I thought in the past would. It's not that now the sun is always shining every day. I still have to cook my own food, there's no one cleaning my house, I don't know what the future will be, and I'm not having sex with a different sexy girl every single night.
In my experience, the thing that's important for being happy and fulfilled, is not your reality itself, but how you experience that reality.
I am thankful to countless people that inspired me on this path, either by reading their material or hearing from them. They put me on fire, or rather showed me how to put myself on fire, and with this blog I want to spread the flame.

Now, what's this blog going to become, concretely? I'm going to continue pretty much like the intro (polyphasic sleeping) has started a few months ago. I'm going to talk about weird transformative experiences that were important for me in becoming a more happy person. I'm going to try to make it enjoyable to read, while keeping it real and not going to fantasy-land. I'm going to talk about the past, and about the future. In the past, apart from sleeping 2 hours/day for a month, I've been a poker-semiprofessional, I've meditated for 140 hours in 10 days time, I was a Dungeon Master 8-), I've tried to master giving any girl I sexed with squirting orgasms, I've lived in Japan for a year, I had the chance to experience many kinds of drugs, I have fasted for a whole week on only water, (I've stolen my sister's cremekoek, sorry Tine...), I became a Pick-up Artist, I've learned energy healing, etc... In the very near future, from the 24th of december and for the 5/6-ish months after that, I will be walking the whole length of Japan, about 3000 kilometers from southwest to northeast, 100% by foot. I will be posting about my experiences. (and I'll upload pictures, to offer something to the eye as well.) As you can see in this post, pictures/images are not necessarily related to the subject, and are sometimes just placed for the lolz/to make stuff more colorful and easier to read.

In the past before I encountered any of this stuff, I would have labeled many of these things as good or bad, bullshit or interesting, and probably as a reader you do too. The reason that I'm going to write about my experiences, is not because I want to convince anyone that certain things are good or bad, or that I'm awesome or a douche-bag. I don't think all the things that I have done and going to write about are good in particular. I think what you do is not necessarily important, but rather how you do it, the reasoning behind it and the thought going around in your head before, while and after you do it. Also, by writing about the more unusual experiences, I want to show you that there is an infinite world outside the box that society and even your own mind wants you to think and experience only inside of, but mainly I want to inspire you to find your own happiness and fulfillment by showing how these experiences led me further on the way to having a happy and fulfilling life.

I want to warn you for something already. At some points, this blog might get personal, maybe so much that you'll feel awkward in my place. I don't particularly kick on sharing my awkwardnesses, but on the other side I couldn't care less if the whole world would think that I have sex with sheep or other critters every now and then. (this is just an example of course! Or maybe not?) Getting over the awkwardnesses in my life was a big and important step for me, so I'm not going to avoid them if they're part of the story. I also think lots of people have very similar uncertainties in life, and talking about them openly might do some good overall. I'm not writing this blog anonymously, and many people I know/knew in real life might be reading this blog, and might get surprised now and then.

You might think that after reading this post, I will be telling you the truth about life and happiness that I discovered. This is not really what I have in mind, however. I think everyone's path to happiness is different, and there is no universal truth about it. I simply hope that I can inspire you to find your own path towards happiness and fulfillment. If I'm not able to do that, I hope to offer you an enjoyable read anyway.