Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Beast Collapsed, Yet It's Decedents Were Stronger Then Ever...

Netscape Blog | End of Support for Netscape web browsers

(Image from the Netscape Blog, splash screen of the last version of Netscape)
The AOL Netscape teem posted a notice that they are ending all development and support
for Netscape beginning Feb 1st, 2008. Sure is sad news, but somewhere back there, Netscape has been long dead, and the recent AOL Netscape team is mostly a skinning and modifying teem instead of a development team.

Netscape Navigator brings back a lot of fond memories that date way back to Netscape 1.0 on Windows 3.1. Yes, I do remember, as a child, sitting there watching the big N on that hill, with shooting stars flashing over the dark green sky, while the websites slowly load on the screen. I also remember when the big N changed to a ship navigation wheel, when they added the name "navigator" to the name of the browser part and added email and many other tools to the package. Then came the light house with 4.0. Yeah, as a kid, I don't remember much of the difference between versions but the icon differences. But those were days when Netscape underwent rapid development, and Dad would install the latest coolest version whenever it came out.

The exciting pioneer days of the web also saw the release of Real Player 1.0, introducing streaming audio, which was jumpy and crappy, but still made people back then excited. There were also Quicktime and Shockwave, which provided multimedia interactivity to webpages. A big Q stylized as a clock on a four colored square with the hand turning showed Quicktime loading; while Shockwave had gray vertical bars jumping on the screen (Shockwave later developed into Shockwave Flash, and then Flash).

I was stuck on Netscape when everyone started jumping ship to IE. I stuck with Netscape 4.7 enduring all the crashes just because I am biased against Microsoft. Killing Netscape by bundling IE with Windows was the one unethical act that turned me anti-MS. IE4 & IE5 also had an ugly tool bar, and the more modernized IE6 was at the time only available with Windows XP. I was happy and excited when Netscape 6 finally came out, brand new with new code and a new look. Yet it was even more unstable then 4.7. It took until 6.2 that it became usable and Netscape 7.1 was when it became truly stable. Yet, by then, most of my friends have no idea of the browser wars, and only know of "the big blue e" as the symbol of the web. Yet I was happy to use tabbed browsing and drag-n-drop bookmarking on Netscape 7 while others have no idea how great the non-IE world was.

I jumped from Netscape 7.2 to Firefox 0.7 because of the extensions and themes of Firefox are much easier to manage. It wasn't a painless jump, but as Firefox was developed from Netscape code, and the UI is in a similar logic, it was manageable. And Firefox started the exciting 2nd browser wars that we now know of.

Recent versions of Netscape are slightly modified versions of Firefox, thus there is not much difference. I still have Netscape installed just for nostalgic reasons. But Firefox is my main browser now. It is sad to see the "official end" of Netscape, yet starting from version 6, the main development was shifted to the open source Mozilla project, and the remaining development teem was dismissed after version 7.2. Thus Netscape is nothing left but a brand after version 7.2.

Netscape RIP, yet Firefox is getting better and better.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007




不過今年很有趣的,台灣也加入了令人羨慕的科技大國行列。感謝宏達電的hTc Touch手機跟華碩的Eee PC筆電在今年推出,讓台灣從以前的在幕後的代工國家一舉成為世界知名的消費電子研發大國。尤其Eee PC以低價電腦、不錯看的設計、第一個大規模搭配Linux等多項特色的絕佳組合,引起大家的關注。

台灣公司當然要愛國一下,重要產品在台灣先行上市,之後才逐漸在其他國家舖貨。在台灣剛開賣初期,我竟然在Engadget上看到有外國人因此留言說想當台灣人,羨慕台灣人可以搶先玩到Eee PC。之前只有聽過有人說為了科技產品想當日本人,這下變成有人想當台灣人了。不由得有種感動又驕傲的感覺。這幫台灣的宣傳真的很棒呢!雖然政府爛了,台灣民間還是有在成長的。比起那些只會喊「大陸市場很大」的台商,全球布局的台商才是真的有遠見啊!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Southern All Stars 當年的超紅名曲 TSUNAMI 是我高一時最喜歡的歌,當時還以不便宜的價格去買它單曲呢!



似乎還沒有人轉po到youtube, 沒有ニコニコ動画帳號的先看剪接厚的歌詞好了:

完全に 雨♪

夢が ない
ガラスのような 人しか見えない
悲しみに耐えるのは あ!

見詰め合うと 怯えてる

めぐり逢えた 瞬間(トキ)から 死ぬまで 雨!




強忍悲痛 啊!

看著對方時 害怕

從遇見的瞬間開始 直到死去 都在下雨


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

北海道自転車旅行:7/15 女満別へ

July 15, we've went half way through our trip, and it was finally the day our 2 other friends: 宗霖 & his sister would fly in at Memanbetsu (女満別) to join us.

After days of cloud, fog and rain, it's finally a sunny day once again... once we got out of the valley of Lake Akan (阿寒湖), that is. With all that moisture gathered around the lake and closed in the surrounding mountains, it's still cloudy and cool in the valley, and we sure were happy to leave the valley and it's bad weather, though a little disappointed that we didn't had the chance to see the lake in it's full glory. After the short climb out, we were soon under clear blue skies, forcing us to promptly change from winter clothes to shorts and T-shirts. But sure we missed the sun shine a lot, and it was a long time since we last touched our sun screen bottles, which were once again needed.

After this sign, we were officially out of the Akan area, and starting a a whole day's worth of happy downhill rides. That's right, that's downhill all the way from 9:30am to 1:30pm, almost 50km on route 240, all the way to the city of Bihoro (美幌). Well, actually we made frequent stops and rests, so only half of the time was riding. I recall that although I didn't rode in the front all the way, I still got an average speed of 20km/hr on that downhill. Half way we made a stop at a 7-eleven. Somehow 7-elevens were rare in rural area of Hokkaido, but this one showed up right when we got hungry, with a very nice 100yen sell on all rice balls. Yum!

Route 240 was another route that cut through massive farms, so here comes the cows again.

Here's a scary curve. Scary not because you tend to enter the curve at downhill high speeds, but because there's word by word warning signs by the curve, that said "Death ... accident ... frequently ... happening ... section" (死・亡・事・故・多・発・路・段). A sign for each character, with the signs of "death" in front of the others, so you only see "death" (死亡) when you are entering the curve.
What are the Japanese government's traffic division thinking, that's scare the heck out of people!

Here's another tire guy with a seat belt. The Japanese government seems to like roadside jokes as safety campaigns...

Soon we arrived at Bihoro (美幌), and made a stop at the first Seicomart convenient store we saw along the road. We originally planned to get stuff and cook, but Seicomart's got their new bento (lunch rice in a box) out right on that day: a huge plate of curry rice with fried pork and shrimp (てんぷら丼かつカレー弁当), 毅軍 got lazy and bought it (it was so good!). So we all had microwaved convenient store lunch. We originally planned to stay in Bihoro, but after the amazing progress we made, it's still in the middle of the day. So after a lazy rest at the Seicomart reading comics (manga), maps and a short nap, we were back on the road toward Memanbetu(女満別) .

Yet less then 1 km later, still in Bihoro we stopped again at a Co-Op supermarket.

As we secured our luggages on our bikes in the bike parking area of the supermarket, a clerk walked out of the door toward. Assuming we might be in the way of other customers, we said sorry and prepared to move. Yet he just smiled and asked: "do you like coffee? or tea?" Huh? "Coffee's OK, but..." And he cut us off: "Just wait right here." Before we understood what the situation was he walked out again and handed each of us a can of iced coffee "These are for you!" It was then we noticed his badge on his apron: "Store Manager (店長)". And he left, walking into the store again. The coffee is the Georgia brand (one of Coca-Cola Japan's brands), with different Hokkaido scenic spot photos printed on each can. Just as we finished enjoying the free coffee, the manager was out again, this time giving us free oranges, and telling us to take care on the road (気をつけて!). How touching! Feeling somewhat in debt for all the gifts, we walked into the supermarket to see if there's anything needed. As the Co-Op chain of supermarkets always had the best deals, it's real nice to shop there anyways.

The route between Bihoro(美幌) and Memanbetsu(女満別) is yet another peaceful road cutting between great green plains. There were road signs with beautiful cartoon style drawings of a plane and a lake, showing that we are in the direction of the Memanbetsu International Airport and Abashiri Lake (網走湖). The Airport is where our friends will land, and Abashiri Lake is a large lake extending from Memanbetsu into near by Abashiri, which then connects to the sea via Abashiri river (網走川).

Welcome to the world of green rice paddies and great blue skies.

When we got close to the airport, it was still quite early in the afternoon. our friends were scheduled to arrive later in the night, with a 2 hour delay due to a Typhoon close to Tokyo, so it's still several hours before they land. Yet, as I liked little Japanese airports, which are still built to high quality standards, yet not as crowed, and may have a observation area on the roof, I still suggested we have a tour of the airport.

So here we are, at the Memanbetsu Airport (女満別空港), which, with the small building and large parking lot, looks more like a shopping mall from up front.

Another thing that I like about small airports is that I get to be very close to the planes.

The first floor is the normal check-in and arrival area, 2nd floor's the waiting area for flights and gift shops. Airport gift shops here seems like a compact version of all the gift shops around Hokkaido, so almost all the gifts were familiar to us after half a month's tour. We could even hold up each merchandise and know if it's a good one, or where we could find a similar one of better quality. But to my surprise, the price here is the same as outside, how rare. Most airport shops sell at rip-off prices. Sure enough, there was a free observation deck on the roof. There were ticket taking gates, now disabled. Seems that they once charged for getting up there, but with less then 10 flights daily, it's just common sense that people won't be willing to pay for getting up there. View's sure superb, with the runway, tarmac, surround rice paddies, and even the mountains far away all in clear sight.

And I always like to play with photos of direct sun light.


Plane watching...

I said: "After the tow tractor detaches from the plane, the ground workers are all done with their job, and would wave goodbye to the pilot and passengers before the pilot leaves for the runway." And here it is, seems to be the single most interesting part of airport work that shows a sign of humanity.

And here's the plane's steps to take off...

They had a tiny exhibition showing how large and thick plane tires are.

And it's finally time to leave

The route that leads us out of the airport into the city, goes along side the runway.

Memanbetsu is another peaceful little town with beautiful roads and buildings.

Interestingly relating to the nearby airport, Memanbetsu (女満別) and the surroundings are called The town of Oozora (大空町), and here's a dentist office with a banner featuring a drawing of blue skies and a plane.

We made a brief stop at the Memanbetsu station of the road (女満別道の駅), before going to the Lakeside camping area of Memanbetsu (女満別湖畔キャンプ場).

We had to cross the railroad to get to the lake side, and we took the bicycle friendly overpass that's part of the Memanbetsu train station-library complex, which it self is also very pretty.

Notice that we could already see the beautiful lake from the railway overpass.

And we are finally at Abashiri lake (網走湖). With this sparking beauty, the camping area is very crowded, with campers and people having barbecue. The toll post was closed early, but fear not; the moment we started to set up our tents, the fee collecting guy showed up. Somehow we hoped the guy wasn't that hard working... but the fee was OK.

And there goes my shutter happy finger once again. I love Abashiri lake!

That's a happy crow couple. Interesting how the birds seemed deeply in love.

I love the sunlight on the lake water.

And the sunset, makes it even more gorgeous!

Long after dinner, and after I used up nearly half of my camera's battery juice on the lake, our friends finally landed and called. So off again, to the airport. Good thing the airport was just under 5km from our camping site. What better place could we find for our friends tired from a day's flight?

The runway guiding lights were flashing in different colors, forming a beautiful sight in the night.

And the main terminal shows a different look at night, no longer your neighborhood shopping mall.

The gate at night, empty, it's plane companion long gone.

And here we are assembling two more bikes at the airport. Not making a scene this time, as most people have left, and the airport is closing doors and shutting lights just as we finished.

And soon we were back at the lakeside setting up a 3rd tent of 宗霖 & his sister's. Also, thank goodness they brought us replacement tent polls. Although the length didn't fit well, and the tent is still floppy, it's great that me and 毅軍 are no longer restricted to camping under trees.

Soon, we went off to a near by onsen bath. 宗霖's sister was like "What? I don't want to be all naked in front of others!" Well, we told her that all Japanese places even hotels are like that, unless the most expensive western style hotels. And guys and girls are seperated. But anyway, she resisted going for the night, and said that she wouldn't even have a single bath for the next 2 weeks if it's all public baths. (We thought, "we'll see about that...")

This night's public bath is the best, largest, most luxurious hot spring onsen we've ever seen; yet the admission at 390yen, it's dirt cheep. A part of the hotel 湯元ホテル山水, the bath part is called 美肌の湯 (bath of skin beauty). It had an indoor shower area nearly the size of two fullsize basketball courts, an icy cold pool the size of two home bathtubs, a warm & a hot pool that each could almost be a small swimming pool. And there were 2 water jet massages seats in the hot pool. A sauna (hot steam bath) room the size of a small 7-eleven. And then there's the out door areas, a warm & a hot pool, with Japanese garden style stone & plant decorations all around. Next, imagine two of all the areas mentioned above, one set for men and the other for woman. It was simply humongous. The whole building seems to be much bigger then the terminal building of the Memanbetsu airport! Despite the sheer size, it was as crowded as Disneyland. And all the different pools and gimmicks kept us in there enjoying it for hours! Ahhhhh, maybe it was the best bath we ever had. (Too bad someone didn't come...)

July 14th 阿寒湖 << | >> July 16th 網走

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


nico nico douga


首先說明一下名稱吧!「ニコ」(念niko) 在日文是「微笑」的意思,而「動画」則不只是動畫而是「影片」的意思。所以有些人翻譯成「微笑微笑影片」網站XD 應該就是要很歡樂的看影片吧!

簡單來說,它是日本最大的影片分享網站,性質跟 Youtube 很像。不過它的特色在於觀看者可以「即時留言」。例如說你看一部影片看到某個情節,忽然有話想說,就留個言。若你在 Youtube 的話,留言跟影片是分離的,你的留言如果不是總結感想的話,就必須很辛苦的先解釋你的感言是針對哪一段情節;而在ニコ上,你可以即時留言,你的留言馬上就以跑馬燈的方式出現在當下你看到的那個地方,之後,別人在看同一部影片時,就會在同一個時間點上看到你的留言。ニコニコ動画的設計者在某個說明影片中說到,這是個「半同步」的網路交談模式。介於「非同步」的email跟「同步」的即時傳訊(如MSN之類的IM系統)。比如說你其實是在「早上10點」留的言,但對其它觀賞者而言你是在「影片時間軸上5分17秒」留的言,造成觀賞者有「同步交談」的感覺。我第一次嚐試留言的時候真的是嚇到。以跑馬燈的方式即時留言是個再簡單不過的概念,但在ニコ出現之前,誰想過呢?能夠以這種方式讓觀眾之間能有所互動真的是個很厲害的作法,ニコ還因此拿到2007年的日本G-mark Good Design Award呢。




ニコニコ動画還有一個我覺得很厲害的地方在於它在影片觀賞網頁下方設置了「ニコニコ市場」。例如,當你在看某一部動畫的時候,下方就會有那一部動畫的DVD、主題曲CD、甚至動畫主題曲手機鈴聲的網路商店連結。有時還有搞笑的連結,像上面新聞報導中報到的那個帶著馬頭套吃蛋的影片,印象中我去看的時候,下方竟然就是那個「馬頭套」的購買連結。原來買這種東西也這麼方便啊!除此之外,還有付費會員,似乎可以看某些有版權的合法影片呢!當然,跟Youtube相同提供給媒體業者付費po廣告也是有的。人家 Youtube 到現在都沒有合理的收入管道,ニコニコ光一年就這麼多明顯而合理的收入來源了。


(The above logo, "NICO NICO Douga", and "ニコニコ動画" are trademarks of Niwango, Inc.)

Friday, December 07, 2007

DNA storage kit?

Engadget | DNA Direct shrink wraps DNA for future forensics

This caught my eye on Engadget. So some company is selling a DNA "storage kit". I really don't get the point of this, is there a market?

Quoting the DNA Direct company press release, they said that stored DNA can help you "understand your medical history, inherited characteristics, and family tree", saving it for use when newer technologies come in the future. OK, so what's the difference between the DNA you sampled now and stored, and the DNA you sample from yourself right at the time needed? Well, you could say that our genes get old and decay with time, but I don't think DNA in our body would decay any faster then the sample you stored. So, put simply, unless you hope your DNA sample would be available long after you are dead, there is no need to store your own DNA. Then why save it after your dead? You are long gone by then, so what if anything comes out of your DNA? I would not like the idea of my kids going to court over some stupid investigation on my DNA after I am long gone.

Now, to the process. You are supposed to mail in a swabbed sample of your cheek cells back to the company. Let's just assume that the cells are intact when arriving at the lab, and the delivery didn't take too long. Well, the cells better be intact, or the DNA might not survive the shipment. So how would the company do it? The straight forward way (though pure speculation) would be to break the cells in a solvent, pass it through a miniprep DNA purification kit. Next, spin dry the DNA into dry powder, and add that "special protective resin" the company was advertising about (I have no idea what it is, and it must be a business secret). Put it in a centrifuge tube, then in a metal box (thus, UV protective), and send it back to you.

Is there an amplification process in there? If there isn't, so much DNA might be lost in the purification process that it's not of good use. If there is, how do they do it? PCR is the most common and fast way to do it, but if they go cheep and use Taq polymerase, well hello high mutation rate; if they use a better enzyme, like Pfu, the mutation rate is lower, but it's still there. And I am not sure the $175 could afford the use of Pfu.

Of course, there must be some people who are willing to pay for this service, but for the majority of us, I see no motivation to do it, and also see no proof of yield and mutation reliability for serious usability.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

北海道自転車旅行:7/14 阿寒湖

The main reason I was dissing the B&B at Lake Akan (阿寒湖), was what started our morning this day. We were woke up by the host at (if my memory was correct) 8AM in the morning, saying that we should check out at 8. What? He never told us anything about an early checkout time the day before, and no relevant posting or handout in sight. Besides, I never ever known a lodging place kicking out guests this early, most are either 10 or 10:30. But this dude woke us up early in the morning and gave us only 30 minutes' grace time to get out of the place. It's not like we liked that crappy shack, but hay, we payed to have a good night's sleep, and this is how we were rewarded.

The plan of the day was to walk around the area for the day, and spend another night at Lake Akan, this time camping at the camping ground. We also considered a near by rider's house, which turned out to be another wooden shack, that we couldn't find the host, and there was only fiercely barking dogs "greeting" us.

So we set up camp at the Lake Akan camping ground, and left our luggage in our tents. In Japan, it's so safe that we could leave our bags by the road and no one would steal it. Well, it's then, I asked 毅軍:"Where's our tent's polls?" After a long search in vain, we figured that he left it back at the Ashyoro (足寄) camping place, where he camped alone 2 days ago. I had a list of sporting goods shops around Hokkaido, but all are far away, after all Lake Akan is a national park. And even if they had tent polls, you never knew if it would fit our tent. 毅軍 even considered taking a bus to the next big city by himself to find the polls, but the bus schedule didn't work out; and I really don't like the idea of splitting our group up too far with no cell phones to communicate. What a bad way to start a day! We decided to forget about the polls for the day, as we were there to have fun, not to worry about problems.

It's another day we split ways. Candy's plan of taking the lake tour boat, and then riding around the area, sounded nice, so I tagged along.

After parting ways after lunch at Lawsons' (real great, mentioned in my last post), me and Candy went to take the tour boat: The Marimo (まりも丸). Well, the boat it self was okay, it was an old boat, and the comfort level of the over all ride, I'd say it's well, kind of like the old city buses, nothing special; in comparison though, it was worse then the experience I had at either Kobe (神戸) , Kagoshima (鹿児島), or even the boat to little Liucheu island (小琉球). There was a gift&snack bar on the boat, empty and closed. They had a recording introducing Lake Akan playing on the boat, but I can't understand most of it. And it was a cloudy, windy, foggy and cold day with occasional drizzles, so looking outside was not fun, either.

Candy seemed to enjoy it, though.

We got off the boat on a tiny island in the middle of the lake, which had a "Marimo tourist center" on it, with exhibitions and aquariums of the marimo seaweed balls.

So the "Marimo center" turned out to be a two story building, each story the size of a 7-eleven. We were like, that's it?

Well, at least we get to see marimo...

Outside was a tiny park for tourists to walk around and take pictures.

And as with every major tourist site in Japan, there will be a sign with the site's name for people to take pictures next to it, proving that they have came.

And that concludes it, back to the boat.

On the way back, the fog got even worse, and it was a world of white outside the window, so much for the boat tour... The attendant started selling marimo merchandise, more souvenirs and a picture book. And they were playing a hilarious "song of the marimo" in the old, slow Japanese enka (演歌) fashion.


Well, that kept me laughing...

And that was that, for our not so interesting lake tour. We did see stuff we didn't see before, but just wasn't as amusing as we thought, most parts of the tour left us thinking "that's all?", and the fog made it even worse.

We next went to a walking route aside the lake yet apart from the shopping strip, to see a less commercialized part of the area. We first came to "Benkei's hotspring foot bath" (弁慶の足湯), where 毅軍 previously said he would be, writing postcards.

It was a free little pool for people to warm up their feet while enjoying the scenery. Although 毅軍 was not there when we got there, it's just what we needed to warm up our cold feet.

And sitting here, we share the same great view of the expensive hotels.

We then continued along the scenic path along the lakeside.

Oh, yet another photo spot sign.

And oh my god, here's the lyrics of that "song of marimo" (マリモの唄) we hard on the boat...

As the lake is surrounded by volcanoes, it's a place of active earth energy release. Other then the previously mentioned hot springs, here's a mud volcano, which the native Ainu people called "Pokke".

The native name sure does sound like the sprouting bubbles. Interestingly, even standing at a distance, we could feet that the ground around it is warm.

There goes the bubbles!

Actually, the mud volcano not only warmed up the surrounding ground, even the lake water close by was warm. And there were signs that said this higher ground temperature also allowed plants of warmer climates, such as ferns, to grow in the area.

The path next lead to the Akan Lakeside Eco-Museum Center (阿寒湖畔エコミュージアムセンター), a government owned museum full of information of the nature, geography, and ecology of the surrounding area. It's admission free, and the shear amount of information and exhibits in there makes it a must stop for nature lovers, like me. Best of all, the marimo there looks much healthier, greener, beautiful, and bigger then those on the island in the lake. There is sufficient introduction to the whole volcano system around the area to feed my curiosity, and also specimen or models of the local wildlife. And the floor of the whole exhibition area is a huge satellite photo of Lake Akan national park. It sure was nice to trace the roads we rode in, and the roads we planned on riding out of the area.

This stuffed bear specimen, is the best of all, the size really gave us a shock. No matter how big you believe a bear could be, you'd still be shocked by the real size. Yet, even this one is not full grown before it's death.

Compare the bear with the chair next to it!

Here's also a specimen of a little dear.

I then decided it's shopping time, parted with Candy, and went back into the shopping strip. As mentioned in my previous post, most of the shops sell wood craft of the local Ainu people. All are similar, key chains, cellphone lanyards, pendents, cups, ornaments, and all kinds of stuff in the form of the local wildlife, such as owls and foxes. Yet, if you look close enough (thank Mai-Yu for pointing that out for me, sure got the eyes of a trained artist), the foxes and owls of each store were slightly different, taking a quality and spirit of it's own, showing the level of craftsmanship. Even in the same shop, duplicates of each craft might have slight differences. As I was choosing cute little "fox-in-a-log" key chains, I noticed that some had their eyes slightly smaller, some had mouths tilting a different way. All signs of it's handmade nature. Some shops sell factory made stuff (the same as in airports), and looking at the eyes of the foxes' eyes, the factory made ones seem to lack a feel of spirit. Of all the crafts shop, I liked a shop called "Ezorisu" (えぞりす) the best.

There were also other stores that sell other kinds of stuff. There were the Marimo related stuff shop (which did not interest me), and parody based Hokkaido theme store, selling stuff related to places all around Hokkaido, such as Abashiri (網走) prison handcuffs, GingisKan BBQ flavored caramel, and the Puma brand look-a-like "Kuma" (bear) series stuff. There is even T-shirts with mock claw marks on them, with the words "bear kick", "bear hit", or "bear throw"; very cool, too bad I couldn't afford them. I also liked a shop that specialized in "Beware of bear" (熊出沒注意) products, from cups and clothing to even foods, all baring the "Beware of bear" mark. I especially like a badge with a suction cup that you are supposed to put on your car window, which said "Bear riding in this car!" (クマ乗っている), but again, too expensive.
Yet, I once saw a Japanese cycler with his bike full of stickers from the places he's been to, signifying how much places he and his bike had traveled to together, and I really liked the feeling. So I bit the bullet and bought one of those "Beware of bear" stickers to put on my bike.

We gathered at the camping site that afternoon, and it was one of the most crowed camping sites that we saw on the trip. There was another hotspring foot bath (足湯) at the site, a roofed area with a central table and seat, while the hot water flows under the table warming your feet (with the table there, seems to me, like a place to have foot bath, and beer at the same time). We sat there talking about what we saw and bought during the day. And there were also other campers sitting there chatting. Two half drunk Japanese guys asked us about our trip, and told us that the girls are more beautiful in southern Hokkaido. I replied, we were on our way north, though. Well, they continued on, saying that the girls are "strongly recommended!" (おすすめ!) They also asked us where we were from, and their response to "Taiwan" was: "wasn't there a idol group called F4?" We replied, "err, yeah", secretly hating the group. And then they got real excited say that they heard that fireworks in Taiwan go rapidly "boom, boom, boom, boom!" Well, guess Taiwan's got a weird yet interesting image in Japan.

After dinner, we were back at the hotspring foot bath (足湯) table, this time with 2 families sitting there. Again, other campers were always interested in people on bikes, and so another chat on our trip. We said we were from Taiwan, and their little girl replied instantly: "Taiwan banana!" (台湾バナナ!) So, Taiwan is famous for it's banana exports? How cute! Sometime later, their other kids came running all around the camping site, chasing a fox! I saw this slender furry thing run by very fast disappearing in a split second, with a huge fluffy tail pointing upward. And the next thing I see, a whole group of at least 5 kids chasing it nosily. Minutes after the comical scene, the kids came to their parents and shouted "Saw a fox, Saw a fox!" (狐見た!狐見た!), and another kid followed excitedly "2 of them! 2 of them!" (二つ!二つ!), and then "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!", and all went chasing the pour fox again.

As for the parents of the 2 families, they seem to have a lot of fun, with huge bottles of beer on the table, and laughing louder and louder. I felt kind of lonely next to them, and we were relatively quite. So I went to the local convenient store and got some drinks and salted soy beens (枝豆). I intended to get beer, but being poor and cheep, I went for the cheapest alcohol containing sparkling fruit juice cocktail. More of a drink then liquor, it really didn't did much, even falled to make me warm, but oh well, it was nice. Mean while, one of the moms of the families sitting next to us was clearly drunk, face all red and walking unstable, shouting meaning less words, while the others were forced to "carry" her back to their tent. Wow, a drunk Japanese mom, really seems like something in anime, and I never realized the anime were that realistic!

That night we guys slept in the slouchy poll-less tent, under a tree, with the top hung from a branch. Looks more like a piece of tarp for the homeless then a tent, but as soon as we are asleep, it doesn't matter any more. As for the polls, Candy called our friends back at Taiwan who would be coming over to join us soon, and told them to bring us the polls.

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