Back in February I decided to go visit Nagasaki because I had heard of the Chinese Lantern Festival which takes place during the Chinese New Year. Here, thousands of paper lanterns are placed all over Nagasaki’s Chinatown as well as many events taking place. I invited some friends and figured it was going to be another solo trip. How wrong I was! 3 people answered the call and we were on our way to Nagasaki.
There was only one problem though.
Stupid me was looking at last year’s Chinese New Year dates. These dates change every year. Needless to say, the days we were going to be there were not going to be the days the festival were taking place. This became the inside joke of the trip as I felt really bad for almost inviting everyone on false terms. Luckily no one really seemed to care, aside from the occasional ribbing on me screwing up.
Luckily the festival wasn’t the only reason I was going to Nagasaki. There were a couple of things I wanted to see. The two biggest sites were Gunkanjima and the night view from the top of Mt. Inasa. Whatever else happened was an added bonus.
Our first day started a little late so we decided to just grab some food, meet up with the rest of our crew and head to Mt. Inasa. Surprisingly enough, Mt. Inasa was probably my favorite part of the trip. It is said that the view from the top of the mountain is regarded as the top 3 most beautiful night views in the world. I can’t argue as I could’ve been on top of that mountain forever. It was winter though and I was with people so I tried not to linger on for too long. A friend made an excellent suggestion and said we should rest at the restaurant/bar that was at the top. I figured it was going to cost a fortune since we were at the top but oddly enough, the prices were fairly normal. This turned out to be a great thing as we just relaxed for a couple of hours, drank some booze with a view to kill.
Later on in the evening we met with one of Ben’s friends. Ben has a pretty big social connection since he’s a part of the Couch Surfing community and this only made our trip a lot more fun. His friend was a local and she showed us a couple of cool bars that we relaxed for until we had to crash. Solo trips are fun and all but when you have some friends along for the ride, they really make going to bars and restaurants a lot more fun.
The next day we woke up early to head to Gunkanjima. This was probably the thing I was looking most forward to. Gunkanjima was an inhabited island back in the day when gathering coal was essential to make everything work. Eventually, the need for it died down and so people slowly left the island. Nowadays it’s a complete ghost island except for the abandoned buildings that still stand today. It was also featured in Skyfall. Exploring abandoned buildings, taking awesome pictures, it was going to be awesome!
It started raining on the way there and it didn’t stop until we left. Umbrellas weren’t allowed because there were so many people in such a tiny little space so we had to wear cheap parkas. I took a few pictures on the way there.
The island itself was disappointing because we could only walk a small fraction of the island. When I say small, I mean really small. We probably walked for about five minutes until we had reached the end of the tour. It was really disheartening but I can sort of understand why they don’t want people wandering around these super old buildings; if someone got injured, the tour groups would be getting sued left and right! Still, the tour itself was expensive and not worth it at all. I heard there are non-touristy ways to get in and walk around but they are probably not legal.
We made up for the mediocre trip to Gunkanjima with hanging out with Ben’s friend again at a really nice restaurant. It was great to have a local show us all the hot spots because I definitely wouldn’t have found these on my own. We ate, drank and also sang into the late night. It was my favorite part of the day. It made me realize that this trip became more about camaraderie than sightseeing, which I was perfectly okay with.
While my trip to Nagasaki was less than perfect, thanks to my travel partners, I still had a lot of fun. I’m not sure if I’ll visit again but you never know.