Friday, September 11, 2015

Japan Trip Day 5: Hakone, Gotemba

Today is another disappointing day as I failed to see Mt Fuji. The weather forecast of sunny with 20% chance of being cloudy was accurate. Despite it being much better than the weather for the past few days, it was not good enough to see Mt Fuji. Sad :(

About the journey itself, my friend gave me 2 options: by Shinkansen or by JR which are not exactly 2 different options since from Ikebukuro, the total journey time with both options would be similar. Both options also end up at Odawara where we have to change to Hakone Tozan Railway. The platform for Hakone Tozan Railway was amazing: it was really huge and open. I could feel the cooling mountain breeze and I thought I was underdressed today. Lol.. I was wearing berms as the forecast for today was sunny with 20% chance of being cloudy and hence I thought it would be rather warm.

We went 3 stations away and then we changed to a bus. I could not remember the station where we stopped. I really enjoyed the journey. The sound of the train and the mountain breeze were really relaxing and I fell asleep. I would love to walk about and take pictures at where we were supposed to change for the bus but the bus arrived in less than 5 minutes after we reached there so I did not have the chance. Bleah..

We took the bus all the way up to Hakone-machi and the journey was not exactly very nice. The roads in Japan are typically narrow and just nice for 1 vehicle per lane. Coupled that with the winding road, I got somewhat giddy with the journey and I don't normally get any motion sickness. The sights along the way was not as good as expected. I always thought Hakone is a popular tourist attraction and I was expecting great sights along the way. So where were those beautiful pictures of Hakone sia??

Surprisingly, it was less cold and breezy at Hakone-machi than at the train station at Odawara earlier. Mt Fuji was nowhere to be seen and after a few pictures around Lake Ashi, I started to feel bored and disappointed. While waiting for the sightseeing cruise, I finally managed to figure out what wrong with my camera setting. I fixed one problem and I found another problem with the battery. Sigh.. The screen showed battery was full but after taking 1 picture, the battery would just drop. But when I turned off and on the camera again, the battery status was full again. Rinse and repeat. Grraaaah!! What did my sister do to the camera sia!!!
So cloudy that Mt Fuji was nowhere to be seen
Our destination was to Togendai and the cruise made a brief stop at Moto-Hakone. Mt Fuji was really nowhere to be seen. Huhuhu... I regret I did not disembark at Moto-Hakone. I thought Hakone Shrine (I am sure you have seen the famous torii facing the lake which I always thought as facing the sea) is not accessible on foot! Bleah.. I would love to take a picture at the torii. There was nothing special at Togendai. I initially wanted to take the cable car but it was closed due to some volcanic activity in the area. Sad.. At Togendai, we waited for about 40 minutes until the next bus which will bring us to Gotemba JR station.
That famous torii by the lake...
Even trees are interesting when I had to kill the time when waiting for the bus
There is a free shuttle bus to Gotemba Premium Outlets every half an hour. Gotemba Premium Outlets is the where the pictures of a street lined up with shops and Mt Fuji stands tall at the background are taken. Weather was too cloudy to see any shadow of Mt Fuji. Haiz.. If you like branded goods, you will enjoy shopping here. I am not a fan so I was not too excited.
Gotemba Premium Outlets
We decided to return to Tokyo from JR Gotemba. We reached the station when the train just departed. Gotemba is like a village far in a mountain and the train frequency is like once every 45 minutes. Great! We had to stone for 45 minutes at the station. Call me crazy but I ended up camwhoring at an empty train station to kill time. Haha... I think we were somewhere that was not meant for tourists as there was no English display on the train but there was English announcement. The train was stuffy (where is the mountain breeze when I needed them?!) and I saw scenes of villages/small towns in mountains. It was pretty but not as pretty as the lady who sat opposite me. Haha.. When she alighted, her umbrella fell towards my knees and she apologised. Kyaaa... I am so sorry I could not reply you that it was okay.

We took Shinkansen from Odawara back to Tokyo and we waited for close half an hour for the Shinkansen. In Shinagawa and in Kyoto, all trains stopped to pick up passengers. That is not the case for Odawara as some trains just blazed past the stations and there only I appreciate how fast and how ear piercing the noise when a bullet train passes by. Ziiing...

We ate ramen on our journey back to hotel and I really think the Japanese ramen standard in Singapore is pretty good that I find the ramen here normal. I bought more potato chips and drinks from 7-11. I really want to find a special or exotic Japanese tea drinks but so far I really never find one. In Singapore, I enjoy Ayataka green tea which has 0 sugar and I hate those sweetened tea. In Japan, most of the bottle tea has no sugar that makes me crave for a sweetened tea which I can't seem to find.

Aaah.. time really flies.. It is already Saturday tomorrow :(

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