Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Back From Japan

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

It’s not really a good idea to go on vacation right before a book launch, but circumstances worked out that way so I spent the last week in Japan with Ron, my daughter Dallas, her husband Ed, and a new camera which I don’t know how to use. For most of the trip I had the camera inadvertently set on some kind of burst mode and I haven’t had time to figure out how to pull individual shots, so all but the first of the photos below are from the second to last day of our trip.

We started in Tokyo — my first visit to that city — then headed out to Nagano for a few days. From there we were able to visit Matsumoto Castle and attend a firefly festival in Tatsuno. This was the first time I ever saw fireflies! They are amazing and wondrous little creatures. I did not realize they are so bright.

We also took a long day trip, starting with the Shinkansen to Itoigawa. From there we transferred to a one-car train that headed into the mountains — the “Japanese Alps” — following a spectacular narrow gorge with a white-water river. We were heading for a nature preserve, so we left the train and took a bus up to a ski town, nearly empty in June. From there, a twenty minute gondola ride with more spectacular views, and then a five-minute tram. By this time it was late afternoon and we had only twenty minutes at the top where the nature preserve was located. We didn’t see the green meadow in the brochure though because there was still several feet of snow on the ground! The scenery was gorgeous all the same and well worth the adventure.

We returned to Tokyo and visited some sites around the city. Our first day was rainy, but a sunny day followed and we were able to visit the Meiji Shrine Inner Garden and the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Photos below.

Street of umbrellas. 😉


Home Again + Progress Report

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Road to Lassen NPHome again and happy to be here!

Oddly enough, the football season determined our travel schedule this year — the University of Hawaii’s football season, to be precise. Ron is an avid fan, so when he heard the UH team would be opening the 2016 season in Sydney, we decided that would be a fine time to revisit Australia. But we also wanted to visit family in the Pacific Northwest. The only time we could do that — without Ron missing any home games — was last week.

So we had two-and-a-half weeks between trips, with a friend visiting us in between — and that didn’t leave me much time to write!

What am I working on? Well, the same new novel that I’ve mentioned in recent progress reports, including that last, “final” report. (In this business, “final” is a relative term.)

At last report, I mentioned that I’d sent the manuscript to my agent. He read it while we were down under and gave it a very enthusiastic thumbs-up. But he also had a few suggestions that he thought would enhance the closing sequence. His ideas made sense to me, so I agreed to undertake one more round of revision — and I’m really pleased with the results so far.

I’ve got just a couple more items to address before I send the manuscript back. I’d best get on that.

More soon…

Flying out of Oakland

Japan Traveler’s Tips

Monday, April 25th, 2016

tree_and_bridgeI thought I’d post a few “travelers tips” in no particular order – just some thoughts and perspectives gleaned from the short time I’ve spent in Japan.

* Getting there and getting back
From Honolulu, the flight to Japan—on this most recent trip, our destination was Osaka—is around nine hours. The flight back is significantly shorter, maybe seven hours, a difference I blithely attribute to tailwinds and the direction of the Earth’s rotation.

* No one speaks English
Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but even at major hotels or at information desks that advertise English-speaking personnel, the amount of English-language help you can get is minimal. I find this very interesting because here in Hawaii, where we get many tourists from Japan, there are many guides and hotel staff who speak fluent Japanese.

Hikone_castleRon and I are lucky. While neither of us speaks Japanese, we always take along our daughter Dallas, who speaks a little and can read a lot more. We’d be lost without her.

* Some signs are in English
And that English is often very creative! The rail stations and trains post destinations in both kanji and in Roman characters, which is extremely helpful, and the Shinkansen has English-language announcements about upcoming destinations. Many restaurants have an English-language menu. If you’re not offered one, ask. People everywhere are very friendly and patient, and no one gets offended if you need to point and use gestures to get your meaning across.

* The JR Rail Pass
udonForeigners can purchase a pass that will let them ride the Japan Rail trains without the hassle of purchasing tickets for every ride. We bought seven-day passes that allowed us to ride any train in a large area around Osaka, including certain routes of the Shinkansen. Take only one smallish suitcase and pack light so you can easily lift your suitcase onto the luggage rack. (more…)

Japan Earthquakes

Monday, April 25th, 2016

This is Kumamoto Castle in spring 2013. The building and outer walls suffered extensive damage during the quakes.

This is Kumamoto Castle in spring 2013. The building and outer walls suffered extensive damage during the quakes.

Japan is an amazing, fascinating place to visit. My husband has been reconnecting with his relatives there, which has led to several visits over the past three years. Usually we go to Kumamoto, where his family lives. On this most recent trip we didn’t — and that turned out to be a very good thing as Kumamoto was struck by two serious earthquakes on the second and third nights that we were in the country.

Fortunately for us, we were far north and didn’t even feel the quakes. There was, of course, extensive coverage of the damage on the evening news—and we were very relieved when Ron’s family checked in on Facebook, reporting that they were well.

Many others, of course, lost homes and loved ones. There is little that is helpful to say in the face of such a tragedy, beyond that our best wishes go out to all those affected. May the recovery be swift.

Belated Worldcon Post

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

And on Saturday, the sky turned lovely.Sasquan, the World Science Fiction convention of 2015, was held a couple of weeks ago — August 19 to 23 — in Spokane, Washington. Other than the Nebula awards weekend last year, this was the first SF convention I attended since the 1990s, and it was a lot of fun!

The convention ran Thursday through Sunday, though all of my scheduled events were on Thursday and Friday. I sat on two self-publishing panels, and had much to say on both. I was also on the military science fiction panel where I had less to say, as the focus was firmly on the past, with lots of discussion on early works in the field.

Then there was the Ditch Diggers Live Podcast! I was invited to participate in this only a couple of days before the convention, and I’m very happy I agreed to it, because it was a lot of fun. Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace officiated, with Kate Elliott, Aliette de Bodard, Fonda Lee, and myself on the panel. We discussed ways to deal with some difficult and demoralizing situations that writers can face, involving publishers, payments, and such…but we did it in a role-playing-game format. I have no idea who, if anyone, heard the podcast, but people in the audience seemed to be having a good time.

My Schedule at Sasquan (Worldcon 2015)

Monday, July 27th, 2015

I’m planning to attend this year’s World Science Fiction convention, aka Sasquan, in Spokane, Washington. If you’re going to be there too, do say hello! All my official activities are on Thursday or Friday. Here’s my schedule:


Panel: Self-publishing — How To Do It
11:00 – 11:45, Conference Theater 110 (CC)
Once your book is written, what next? Successful self-published authors explain how to go from manuscript to completed book, or ebook. (This panel discusses the sources, processes and procedures. Marketing and promotion are covered in a separate panel.)
Panelists: Stu Segal (M), Doug Farren, Nick Mamatas, Linda Nagata, H.M. Jones

Panel: From Starship Troopers to Honor Harrington and Beyond: The Past, Present, and Future of Military SF
13:00 – 13:45, Bays 111A (CC)
Military SF has had its heyday. Is the topic done? Where do we go from here?
Panelists: Greg Bear, William Dietz, Linda Nagata, Toni Weisskopf

Kaffe Klatche
14:00 – 14:45, 202A-KK1 (CC)
Join a panelist and up to 9 other fans for a small discussion. Coffee and snacks available for sale on the 2nd floor.
(I’ve never done a “Kaffe Klatche” before. Come talk to me!)

With Paolo Bacigalupi, Ellen Datlow, Molly Gloss, Frog Jones, and Louise Marley
16:00 – 16:45, Exhibit Hall B (CC)


Panel: Self-publishing — When to do it, When to Publish Traditionally
11:00 – 11:45, 401C (CC)
A discussion of the whys and whens of self-publishing versus traditional publishing. Timing, royalties, promotion and more. Panel will consist of successful self-published authors, self-published authors who have been picked up by major publishers, and publishing industry professionals.
Panelists: Stephen Segal (M), Taiyo Fujii, H.M. Jones, Linda Nagata

Friday 15:30 – 16:00, 301 (CC)
(Come to my reading! And by the way, what should I read?)

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Last New Zealand post!

Tiritiri Matangi Island is an amazingly successful ecological restoration project. The island itself is one of the Hauraki Gulf Islands off of Auckland. It used to be farmed, but beginning in 1984, rodents on the island were killed off and replanting was begun — the beginning of an immense volunteer project. Today the island’s vegetation is mostly native, and is home to many native bird species that thrive in the absence of introduced pest and predators.

Both Ron and I are interested in conservation, and we were told multiple times that we must visit the island — but we almost didn’t go. The weather during our last few days in Auckland was cold, windy, and wet, and a visit to an offshore island where we would need to remain for most of the day was not all that appealing. But we gathered our courage, and went anyway on our last full day in the city. And we were so glad we did!

The western side of the island, where we docked, was cold, a bit wet, and very windy as expected, but once we left the shore and entered the shelter of the bush, the weather wasn’t bad at all.

The island itself is beautiful, again with those amazingly well-kept New Zealand trails! The walks are guided by volunteers, which is wonderful for learning about the island’s history and having help sighting the native birds, which were very active during our visit. So yes! If you’re ever in Auckland, consider a visit. This is a wonderful conservation project, a great way to spend a day, and the hiking is easy.

Here’s our transportation, docked at Tiritiri Matangi Island.

The western shore, a photo that does not communicate the fierce wind that was blowing and an imminent, if passing, shower!

An oystercatcher nesting on the beach. This is my only semi-decent bird photo, and only because the subject was considerate enough to hold still!

Taranaki Lookout

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

The walk to Taranaki Lookout was our second New Zealand hike. This one was much, much shorter than the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, but very different and fascinating. We did this one the day after Tongariro… well, actually, in the last half of the afternoon. It was only about 6.5 kilometers total, round trip.

This one was a rainforest hike. We walked from the hotel, through the little village of National Park, to a gravel road in a forest reserve. Just walking on the road was fascinating. The tree below is, I believe, a native cypress. Note the epiphytic ferns where the trunk begins to divide.

And this is what the road looks like… on our walk we saw only one other person on the road, a young woman on a bicycle who happened to work at our hotel.

We were following a map that was part of a brochure given to us by the hotel. Here’s the map. Note the distance through the town. Note the distance on the road and then the trail. As it turns out, this was not to scale. I admit I did not actually read the brochure…so before long as we were walking on the road I started to wonder aloud, “Did we miss the trail? We must have missed it. It’s not nearly this far on the map!” As it turns out, the brochure clearly states it’s two kilometers to the beginning of the trail, but the map makes the distance look much, much shorter!

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Background: Ron and I arrived in Auckland on a cold spring day, when the sun was dueling with rain squalls that swept across the city at frequent intervals. I had a bad feeling about our upcoming hike. We were planning to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 12-mile day hike in Tongariro National Park. It’s one of the most popular day hikes in New Zealand, and described as “among the top ten single-day treks in the world.” But it wasn’t going to be a lot of fun if it involved constant rain, wind, or even snow. And in fact, snow fell the day before we arrived. But in an immense stroke of luck, the weather turned in our favor and we had an absolutely perfect day for hiking.

Logistics: we did not rent a car in New Zealand, for which, I believe, most Kiwis were grateful: American tourists unaccustomed to driving on the left side of the road evidently cause a lot of serious accidents. So we took a train — Kiwi Rail’s Northern Explorer — from Auckland to a little village called National Park, that’s just outside Tongariro National Park. We stayed at The Park Hotel at Ruapehu, which offered a hiking package. They picked us up at the train station and dropped us off at the trailhead early the next morning, along with a packed lunch. At the end of the day, they picked us up at the opposite end of the trail.

Geography: There are three active volcanoes in the center of Tongariro National Park. They are Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro. The Crossing passes between Ngauruhoe and Tongariro over mostly volcanic terrain. The highest elevation is just over 6,000-feet. Here’s a map of the track.

Here’s Mount Ngauruhoe on the day we arrived. How’s that for a classic volcano profile? Summit elevation is 7,516 feet. I call this shot “The Road to Mount Doom” since Ngauruhoe served as Mount Doom in the LOTR movies.

And this is Mount Ruapehu on the same day, a much larger and taller mountain, standing at 9,177 feet.


How Not To Plan A Trip

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Ngauruhoe_early_morning_500pxRon and I returned from a ten-day trip to New Zealand today — our first visit to Aotearoa. The trip was a little ironic for me because I’ve been wanting to visit New Zealand for thirty years — but despite all that potential prep time this was a very last-minute affair.

Here’s the guilty admission: we’ve found that the only way we ever get it together to plan a trip is to buy the airline tickets first. Since the tickets are nonrefundable, we are then forced to sit down and plan things to do, or all the money spent on the tickets will go to waste. So several months ago we decided that we were going to fly to Auckland. Hawaiian Airlines has good rates and the flight from Honolulu only takes eight to eight and a half hours. The other advantage for us is that Hawaii and New Zealand time zones differ by only one hour — oh, and one day! Kiwis are nearly the first to greet a new day, and here in Hawaii we are nearly the last.

So we purchased our tickets and then…did no planning, nothing at all, for weeks. And weeks.

What can I say? We both get caught up in our day-to-day work, and we’ve both been extremely busy, but suddenly we had only about three weeks left before the trip. It was time to get serious. So we patched together a fairly simple itinerary, staying on North Island and splitting our time between Auckland and Tongariro National Park.

As those of you who visit my blog regularly know, I love to hike, and we did three truly amazing hikes while in NZ. I want to write about those over the next few days. We are thinking of visiting South Island next year, so if you have great hikes to recommend in that region please let me know!

More soon…