6 athletes (5 from VIC and 1 from Qld.) Are currently in Sokcho, Korea for the 19th ARDF World Championships.
In the usual fashion competitors made their way to Korea all at different times.
Jenelle and Ewen were the first to arrive, enjoying a week long tour of Korea before the event.
Peter and Kristian met up with Jenelle and Ewen just a couple of days before the event. As a team we headed on a tour to the DMZ and individual members enjoyed some of the historic and cultural sights around Korea.
On the arrival day Jack and Nelly met up with the rest of the team in Sokcho.
The following day we had training with 3 seperate model events which were held in the area surrounding the accomodation.
During the model events all equipment was tested and working except for one of the 2m beams had a broken BNC connector, but luckily there was a spare. (however the spare PVC beam exhibited a design flaw so no doubt a fault report will be lodged with the manufacturer on our return.)
The first event was the fox-or which was held today.
For each age category a different map was produced with only the required Tx’s shown. There were a total of 10 Tx’s (10mW) plus the beacon (3W) but the longest course only covered 8 of the TX’s (map shown below for M21). Each Tx had its own morse identifier and were numbered 1-5 and 1F-5F.
The frequencies for the foxes were 3520 kHz (1,2,1F,2F), 3550 kHz (3,3F,4,4F) and 3580 kHZ (5, 5F) with the beacon being on 3600 kHz.
All Australian competitors completed the course within the allocated time.
Jenelle and Ewen both finished 7th in thier categories.
Kristian finished 24th in M21.
Nelly finished 27th in W21.
Peter missed 1 Tx.
Jack missed 2 Tx’s.Full results can be viewed for todays fox-or event here:
The long and winding road from Moldova through Transylvania to Walachia (north to south)
From our rural retreat in Maramures we headed east to Moldova crossing the Carpathians by the Borgo pass road enroute to Bucovina. Egg painting is a competition among the villages at Easter time.
Lunch today was Mici, a rectangular meat pattie cooked on a BBQ and served with mustard sauce.
Visited two painted monasteries (orthodox). The first was for the local community (Moldovita) and used as a refuge in times of siege. Note the wall and the strong wooden gate.
The second was for the clergy (Sucevita). The outside walls of the church was decorated, one illustrating the difficult path in getting into heaven. Inside, the frescoes showed various methods of torture and head lopping. Again a walled garden and plenty of room for the local community to shelter in times of siege.
Next highlight of the road was the animal reservation with animals native to the area. One sad and lonely bear, a small herd of buffalo and several different species of deer.
We drove through the Bicaz gorge (river running down the side). Sampled some green nut jam. Walnuts cooked in a syrup halfway between golden syrup and malt extract. An acquired taste.
Our route took us past Lake Rosu, really a dam and then onto Brasov.
Brasov is also fortified. City square with Lutheran church – aka Black Church due to a fire. Johannes Honterus was
responsible for setting up the Lutheran church and the building of the first school (directly across from the church). The original school was wooden but suffered the same fate as the church and was rebuilt in stone.
It has been particularly pleasant having an evening stroll through the many pedestrian malls in our travels.
Fort on the hill outside Brasov. Spectacular view of the surrounding country.
Bran castle – summer residence of Queen Mary of Romania. No vampires in site. Apparently Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) was have seen it on his way through. The most interesting artifact was the scales of justice. Based on a person’s size and height, if they weighed less than expected they were considered apprentices of Satan and torture would commence. Hopefully you can read the information in the photo.
The most elaborate building in Transylvania is Peles Castle. Unfortunately only outside views, but obviously prime real estate.
Our guest house at Maramures is located in a peaceful rural setting apart from the chainsaws, angle grinders and whipper snippers. Hospitality here is exceptionally good.
Dinner was in an open air setting
Entree meat balls, soft cheeses, pork fat and tomato with onion bread
The lightest, fluffiest and tastiest donuts ever with blackcurrant jam
All washed down with Palinka and black currant “cordial”
Needed a sleep in after last night!
Late start, headed for the local market, plenty of “stuff” to buy from clothing, shoes, manchester and tools. Too late for the animal market. Probably a good thing.
Checked out a modern monastery at Barsana, beautiful wooden buildings and gardens, church with pictorial stories.
Memorial to the opponents of the communist regime, very bleak place.
In a complete contrast we visited the Merry cemetery at Sapanta with colourful wooden headstones with pictures of deceased in their occupations and poems about them (all in Romanian of course)
Spent a leisurely afternoon in the outdoor area. We have eaten so well the last few days Ewen has survived since breakfast on only one jam pancake.
We could not escape Maramures without a ride on the Mocanita narrow gauge railway at Viseu de Sus very close to the Ukrainian border. For the more ardent train fans it was a 1930s vintage steam locomotive that was used to transport timber down the valley. Originally timber was floated down the river, but after a dam burst the train line was built. The 21km ride to the turn around point was supposed to take just over 2 hours. It became pretty evident early on that at the current speed something was amiss and it would be a lot longer (3 hours eventually). Repairs were needed along the way and after much banging and crashing a bearing was suitably adjusted and we continued on our way. Included in the tool set was a most impressive oil can.
The track followed the river most of the way. Still plenty of logging happening here with some unorthodox methods of transportation. A large tractor pulling 10 -15 m logs down the river and smaller pieces being drawn by horse driven carts.
At one point the river narrowed with steep cliffs and caves hidden behind bushes. It was here that the German army had a first aid centre and stored supplies. It was also the point when they planned to ambush the Red army. There was a small museum at the turn around point and a picnic ground.
The return trip took only 90 minutes which was a relief. Sufficiently rocked, rattled and shaken for the complete trip.
There are a few obstacles along the roads in Romania, this cart was one of the smaller ones.
PS Jenelle is having a love hate relationship with the formatting!!
Our trip began with a short 20 hour flight to Bucharest. The most impressive building in the city is the Parliament House, second largest building only to the Pentagon. Ceausescu thought he would leave his mark by commencing this build, fortunately for the people of Romania he didn’t live to see its completion. It is a magnificent building inside, very tastefully decorated with high ceilings, marble floors and beautiful rugs and chandeliers. (no photos unfortunately as did not have a camera pass)
Another beautiful building was the auditorium for musical concerts. We chanced upon workers changing a light globe, quite an art in itself.
We visited the old town and enjoyed a drop of the local ale.
Many old buildings in state of disrepair, including this ruin outside our hotel window. (more interesting than a carpark) Taken from our room as there was a sign outside indicating no photos to be taken (left over from communist regime)
From Bucharest we headed west to the church (in white limestone) where the Romanian kings were buried. Lavishly decorated inside. Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) lived in the building behind this church.
This is one of the fortifications that the Austrian Hungarian Emperor sent German people to build in 12-13th century. It has suffered due to earthquakes over time. Opted not to climb the 1460 steps. Chose to indulge in a Romanian donut instead!
There was a very large dam (about the size of Hoover Dam) that needed closer inspection. Traversed the Transfagarasan Road (of Jeremy Clarkson fame), (perfect for road testing a corvette or similar vehicle) and then took a cable car for a less exhilarating ride.
Please excuse the erratic formatting. Only get to practice this once a year. Jenelle
Thank you for Kristian and Bruce for writing the blog during the ARDF competition while Ewen was doing his team leader duties and waiting for Jenelle to be rescued from parts unknown. All six of us are all bringing home extra baggage in the form of medals.
Facilities at Sanyo Hotel exceeded our expectations
In our rooms chaos reigned
Photos from the closing celebrations
We left the competition area in fine weather and sunshine (compared to the cloudy wet conditions) to be dropped off at various locations. Jack left before the rest of us were up, Greg was settled in for the long ride back to Tokyo, Kristian joined us for the train trip to Takasaki and was last seen running upstairs with his bag to catch his connecting train in under 4 minutes. (a fair indication of his fitness level). Bruce, Ewen and I continued our adventure and finally arrived in Matsumoto.
We spent some time in the Time Piece museum
and then devised our own street-o to various sites including shrines, temples, gardens and the icecream shop.
Choosing dinner is always an interesting experience, our choices so far have been most acceptable.
Yesterdays trek was along the Nakasendo Way (built during Edo period) commencing after a 20 minute bus ride from Nakatsugawa, and continued through Magome to Tsumago. At this point (after 3 hr 30 min of walking and lots of up and downhill) Ewen and I opted for the bus to Nagiso station. Bruce continued on foot and arrived at the same time as the bus.
We have sorted out our transport across the Kurobe – Tateyama Alpine Route and will head off today for the start.
Initial on land instructions, safety briefing, kitted out and out into the sea to practice paddling, and use of the rudder. Only one unscheduled swim from yours truly, unreal sensation. Paddled for about 2 hours to nearby cove (couldn’t call it a beach). Snorkelled, lucky enough to see some pretty little fish, a couple of larger ones that I tried to pursue but they could swim faster than me. Lunch on the rocks and headed back to starting point, Bruce, Kris and Ewen seemed to be quite proficient. As far as I was concerned steering the kayak was not second nature and invariably became unstuck at a critical moment. Arrived back at our starting point just as the afternoon storm broke. Almost didn’t need a shower to wash off the salt.
Transported back to Shimoda station, with just enough time to book tickets for the train to Tokyo. We journeyed together for part of the way. The last we saw of Bruce and Kris, was them scurrying along the platform to catch their connection in 4 minutes.
Our Friday in Tokyo, Ewen and Jenelle took a bike tour. Very exhilarating riding on the streets of Tokyo, not for the faint hearted.
Saturday trip to Mt Fuji
It took about 40 minutes longer than expected to get to Mt Fuji, bus travel is not the way to go in Japan. Passed an amazing fun park on the way.
Ewen, Mark and Jenelle joined Jack for a tour. We eventually got to Fuji 5th station (where the climb starts) about midday. The traffic was very heavy and crowds of people. Fuji was being coy, and only managed a fleeting glimpse as the fog rolled in.
Visited the lava forest, Shiraito Falls and Lakes and garden.
These activities seem quite tame after more recent events!!
From Kagoshima – Coordinating public transport is not without its dramas. Missed the only bus to the Samurai Village and had to take a taxi. Immaculately trimmed and maintained gardens, not likely to be replicated in Melbourne.
An attempt to visit the Kamekazi museum at Chiran was thwarted by heavy rain (big Queensland sized rain drops) and lack of time. We found a warm place (coffee & tea rooms to shelter) as we waited for a bus back to the train.
The second attempt to visit the Kamekazi museum was successful, but needed some fine timing to coordinate train-bus connection. Chiran was the site of the training airbase for young pilots. Old film footage of the servicemen working on aircraft brought mixed feelings (my dad having done the same in New Guinea).The photos of the families waving goodbye and the translations of the messages the pilots wrote to their families were quite moving. Proud young men doing what they thought was the right thing to do for their country and families at home.
The hot sand bath and hot springs were definitely worth a visit. Didn’t know the soles of the feet and heels were so sensitive to heat. It was rather embarrassing having a male voice calling CQ just outside the entrance of the women’s onsen.
We timed our return to Kagoshima perfectly and caught the Shinkansen to Hiroshima, speeds over 300 kph.
Day 1 in Hiroshima, began with a visit to the Peace Memorial Museum and Park.
Exhibits included diorama of the aftermath, remnants of clothing, building materials and household items.
The story of the paper cranes made by young girl in the hope that they would save her life.
Our attempts to fold paper cranes were pretty abysmal, and needed much help from the women to get the final result.
Entrance to Hiroshima castle (reconstructed)
Mid afternoon – visit to the Naka Incineration Plant, not your usual tour attraction, necessitated another run to catch the bus. It is well set up for viewing with a wide corridor down the centre, all behind glass of course, and scaled model explaining the layout. Apparently it is quite spectacular at night when it is all lit up.
Day 2 Hiroshima Today’s excursion to Miyajima Island went ahead despite some pretty ordinary weather. Arrived at high tide and the entrance to the Shrine was under water and not possible to walk to the Tori (gate). Opted to take the ropeway and climb to the top of Mt Misen. Unfortunately we only had a good view of the fog. Ewen and I checked out the waterfall route on the way down. Lots of granite steps and very slippery in parts. By the time we got back down the weather had fined up.
A visit to the aquarium. Penguin feeding (Humboldt penguins, saw none of these in Antartica), a sea lion show, colourful fish and various amphibious animals.
Glad to put our feet up at the end of the day. Dinner at a local bar. Very animated waiters. Lots of shouting and cheering. As my mother would have said, less of that and more concentrating on the job at hand. They forgot Bruce’s order.
Fleeting visit to Himeji to see the castle. Wedding cake castle. Seat of power here from 1400s. Castle has undergone several restorations over the years. Huge timber supports. Not a lift up window seat, but a defence mechanism for dropping of stones, pouring boiling oil & water on the enemy. Good view from top. (Photos in my next blog)
Getting expert at changing trains mid journey, successful at one connection, next trip has 3 connections.Let’s see how we go. Very successfully. Arrived at station, shuttle bus appeared, hotel on the coast, brilliant view, superb dinner, onsen, what more could you ask for.
Well, you’ve followed the excitement of JWOC, then the WOC, and the adventures of those in Scotland at the WMOC, then the magnificent gold in the WMTBO at the sprint by Angus R, and possibly even the Icelandic bike trek by Greg A and Gavin’s mountainous ramblings on the way to the WRC, so surely that’s it ? All over for the year ?
Well NO!! because there’s just one more, and we’ve of course saved the best till last !
The Region 3 Radio Orienteering championships being held in Japan.
I’m getting waaaay ahead of myself though, because we aren’t actually at the champs yet, just on the way. Some of us have actually made it to Japan though, so this blog entry will just recap the last few days.
[Those following/on Facebook may have already seen some of the photos, but I make no apologies, because they are some of the best, and we can`t have the blog missing out on those !]
We’re on the Southern Island of Japan at present. Not as far south as Yakoshima Island (refer Glaspoles), but nearly.
I’m writing this blog entry on the train b ask from Ibusuki, but let’s go back to the beginning :
First day, a bit out of it after all the flying etc, was a visit to Kumomoto castle.
The next day we hired a car. The excitement for the day was one of our number misplaced a handbag. I don’t have one and pretty sure Ewen doesn’t either! Luckily, being Japan, it was handed in to the police. However, since we only discovered the lack of said accoutrement on returning the hire car, two of our party stayed behind in Kumamoto to travel back to Aso police for the bag, whilst I headed on down to Kagoshima. I managed to convince the hotel in Kagoshima to not charge them a cancellation for the night though.
Had a slightly abbreviated walk at Takachiho Gorge, due to cyclone damage, and an even more abbreviated visit to Mt Aso volcano, where the cable car (ropeway) had been closed down temporarily, due to a level 2 volcano activity risk just declared by Japan BOM, up from level 1.
A bit rainy the next morning, but it slowed a bit later in the morning so I sent fit a walk around.
E & T arrive, so it’s off to the Samurai gardens <pictures may follow later>, and the next day the Peace museum south of Kagoshima.
Had to visit the Ibusuki hot baths, despite the humidity, on multiple recommendations.
It was an early morning departure for today’s adventure, the start of a 4 day trip around the National Parks to the east of Almaty almost to the border with China. The weather – some cloud and light and not too cold – just perfect for a long drive. Our vehicle, a six seater Land Cruiser, complete with roof rack and water proof bags on top. It was a neat fit inside, with limited luggage space and minimal leg room for those in the back seat.
Our driver Sergey soon had us leaving the peak hour traffic behind as we headed north from Almaty. The Kazak government is committed to infrastructure building and this is evident with all the road works, dams and power lines. It would seem they like to replace the roads in long stretches at a time. They still use train to transport freight and it is not unusual to see very long freight trains especially coming from China. We also came across ‘Las Vegas’ of Kazakhstan quite in the middle of nowhere. Apparently the local in Almaty has decreed there are to be no casinos in the Almaty city.
We turned off the main highway and headed to the Altyn Emel National Park, (approx 5200ha and 200 km long, running between a mountain range to the north and a reservoir to the south}. We also noticed several military installations along the way. (border security) We spotted a small group of wild horses and also some gazelles. The gazelles appeared in the distance on the southern side of the road and then proceeded to sprint right across the road in front of us. According to Greg the gravel roads are good, at this stage he was not sitting in the back seat and being bounced up and down and sideways. Another feature of note was the lines of small earth mounds that appeared. On closer observation they were they were the contents of a fairly deep channel about 1 metre wide and deep – the Kazak version of fences in National Park.
There were the official entrances to parts of the park, and if there were no response to the beeping of the horn it was simply a matter of driving around the small fenced area and out the other side.
We spent some time in one of the gorges viewing the petroglyphs (pictures etched in the rocks), mainly camels, deer and goats. There were also remains of buildings from the bronze age & some more recent finds. Then more bouncing up and down, we arrived at some burial mounds.
These were from the iron age, and set out in a precise manner. National park authority has built an example of inside the burial mound, wooden log construction (no nails) and reed roof. Apparently the real burial mounds have been plundered for their treasures long ago, so that all that remains is a large hole in the top.
Picnic at nature (provided by tour leader) was indoors because of the wind. Excellent food.
At this point, seating arrangements changed & a much smoother ride to the Singing Dunes ensued. Alas no singing today as the earlier rain had left the sand too damp. This turned out to be a blessing, so instead of one step forward followed by a step back, we could actually manage 2 steps forward to one step back. It was of the order of 150 metre high, but took quite some time to climb. The wind was fairly howling, and particularly unnerving as it affected your balance the closer you got to the top. No need for a facial here, plenty of microdermabrasion from the fine sand. The view was spectacular and well worth the climb. Once at the top the only way down was to toboggan. Good fun and lots of laughter. The only downside was having to empty 1/2 kg sand from each shoe and shake out the socks.
We eventually arrived at our accommodation for the next 2 night at the Altyn Emel Hotel – the only accommodation in town for tourists. A very spacious room with a spectacular view of the sunset.
Note: After dinner at the restaurant next door to the hotel, we had planned to have an early night. We discovered there was a wedding to be held the next day. Three of the hotel guests (2 dressed in police uniform) were socialising in the open area between our room and the bathroom. We spent some time trying to converse with them and had to find Dina our interpreter only to discover that we had been invited to celebrate / toast this important event. Only two vodkas later did we escape. Bruce conveniently was downstairs and missed the action and Greg declined an additional drink graciously.
Saturday 20 September
A relaxed start to today. Left the village at about 10 am and headed east towards the Chinese border. The road was sealed for a small distance and then we were back to our “good” gravel road. It was flat nothingness either side of the road with a mountain range to our left. We turned off the main road and headed for the Katutau Mountains (which translates as severe mountains in Kazak).
Definite red tinge to the mountains and as we entered further in it vaguely reminiscent of the Flinders Ranges. (Sedimentary rock with some volcanic extrusions). We spent considerable time climbing to the highest points and trying to capture the scenery with our cameras with limited success. We spotted a herd of fast moving goats in the distance, too fast to get a picture.
From here we headed to the Aktau Mountains, so called as “ak” in Kazak means white topped. We followed a small canyon / water course into the mountains, and proceeded to explore. Mountain tops to climb, and slide down. In parts it looked like sand but really sandstone. There appeared mud dried in bubbles, crusty on top and soft as we broke through the crust. Very difficult to describe all the features, best to look at the photos.
We staved off hunger pains with a banana at 3pm and eventually arrived at the lunch place at 4pm. Very idyllic setting with lake and large trees. Supposedly a 700 year old willow tree, the buttress approximately 1 metre in diameter. (I could be corrected on this). Obviously, it had succumbed to aging and needed some support. Supersized lunch of roast chicken pieces and rice, the usual tomato and cucumber, bread, biscuits and chai.
Arrived back in Altyn Emel about 5.30pm. Dinner was held in a small room in the hotel as the large dining room was being used for the wedding. As fortune would have it, it was too cold for them outside so their music was contained and had little impact on sleep. They partied long into the night.
This is Bruce’s 4th blog, but the staggering 14th overall. Hope you’ve all managed to stay with us so far, despite the amount of stuff landing in your inbox/facebook ! Actually, it’d be nice to know who is still with us, so make an effort to “Like” the facebook post or leave a blog comment or email. Sometimes it feels a bit like we’re sending all this off into the void 🙂
I’ll let the pictures mostly tell the story. This takes us out of the Altyn-Emel national park and eventually back to Almaty via the south east corner of Kazakhstan.
Here is also some random bits of >>video<< of various treks, including the singing dune, and Sergey’s shortcut through the mountains.
Here’s the rocket >>video<< again as many seemed to have missed it.
This is likely my last blog from this trip. We have one more day in Almaty faffing around, then Greg heads back to Melbourne, and 3 of us head to Perth for the Australian Orienteering Championships (& Sprints, & MTBO). It’s been fun !