Oct 17, 2017


happy diwali everyone! it's deepawali tomorrow and i'd been moping around the whole night being completely indecisive about what i should do. should i read? should i bake matcha swiss rolls? should i paint? should i go to sleep at 9pm? should i go for a jog? should i play volleyball? should i  watch some japanese drama about magazines that siauli sent to me last week? 

at the end i had dinner, read a bit, sprayed some herbal lemongrass anti-cockroach spray all over the house, then decided to continue chronicling my trip to japan! ever since swee ping told me that they're shutting down blogspot i've been meaning to migrate the blog to wordpress, or maybe start writing on medium. maybe i'll do that on another public holiday eve, but for now, i'll just write more captions to my hakone photo pile. 

good morning! i took a couple of photos of the view from our airbnb - high school kids heading to school, this fuji supermarket, little dogs trotting after old ladies with shopping carts. 

hakone is cold. google said it might snow that day, so here's peggy all wrapped up and ready to go!
see even japan's train crossing signs look amazing lah.
hello train! this train's final destination is daiyuzan station, and on the way it stops where we went for onsen last night, and there's even a very exciting-sounding fujifilm-mae station. if it wasn't pitch dark last night i would've gotten off to see if there are some fujifilm shops i can explore.

but we wouldn't be taking this train. instead we preoccupied ourselves with taking photos while waiting for the train to odawara station. all the old ladies at the station must've been kinda perplexed with us.
some serious map studying going on. 

after a transit at odawara station and a lovely train ride through villages and streams sparkling in the early spring sunlight, we're at hakone! here's liz posing with the station master props.
i think we're at hakone yumoto. it's the entry town to the main attractions of hakone such as lake ashi (where you'll get views of mount fuji), temples and such. so we're technically here to take a bus. also, this view reminds me of tanah rata at cameron highland. 
while waiting for the bus, we spotted this camera-sensitive rickshaw runner.

it was a cloudy and gloomy day with the occasional burst of sunlight. here's one of the rare occasions!

it was so beautiful! we also spotted some ducks waddling about in the stream. 

one twisty bus ride later, here we are at Lake Ashi! 

another burst of sunlight! we basically wandered about the perimeter of the lake checking out attractions such as a torii gate at hakone shrine and an ancient cedar avenue that dates back to tokugawa ieyasu's era.

IT WAS A TERRIBLY COLD DAY AND I KEPT WONDERING IF THIS IS HOW IT FEELS TO HAVE FROSTBITE. i couldn't even feel my toes in my useless boots anymore.

i have a friend who would make fun of me for wearing chelsea boots at malaysia and said something like 'why are you wearing winter boots in kl?' HELLO ITS SPRING AT HAKONE AND THESE BOOTS CAN'T EVEN SAVE MY LIFE.
this hot red bean soup from the vending machine was a complete lifesaver. i kept cradling it in my coat pocket lol.
 doing my best levitation attempt despite frozen toes. 

said torii gate by the lake! the wind from the lake was adding on to our freezing misery, so we just took a few hurried snaps before running away to escape the cold.


then we bumbled around somemore. actually it's a huge lake and we're only at one small bay but google map's 15-minute walk turned into torture as we were facing the wind head-on and liz's runny nose was running outta control so she basically stuffed tissues into her nose and tried to hide that sight with a face mask.

that being said, it's all very picturesque lol. hakone is highly recommended.

after a couple of detours (wrong stop, then 7-11 to stock up on face masks and heat packs), we finally found the historical cedar avenue!
here's me being all artsy with some mottled maple leaf.

then we ambushed some poor traveller to take this photo for us. spot liz and her lifesaving face mask.

then we walked back to the town area to wait for a ship to take us to the next stop in our hakone tour. we had some time to kill before the next ship departs, so lunch it is! we were too broke to afford lunch at the fancier touristy joints, so we walked to a quieter street behind the main thoroughfare and found a family business selling ramen and rice bowls for a fraction of the fancy prices.
not the best photo, but i'm putting it here to remember how the warm sun felt on my frozen toes. may have been the heater in the restaurant, but it felt great all the same.
stalking fellow holiday-makers from the warmth of the restaurant.
liz's ramen is here!
alison bought this disposable camera for my trip! this reminds me. i need to get it processed. 
my oyako-don! another dish crossed off my food list.
peggy haz pork chop! 

after a satisfying lunch, it's time to brave the cold once more. 
hail captain peggy! this is a thoroughly dramatic ship that seems to have floated straight out of a japanese illustrator's idea of captain hook's circus. fun for photos though. 

we disembarked to get on the ropeway to owakudani. the main purpose of this boat ride is to get a nice view of mount fuji. however, the ticket attendants told us that it was too cloudy for fuji-san to make an appearance.

but since we already have the hakone freepass, might as well go to all the attractions available right?

here's the view from the ropeway! look at that lovely lake glittering in the evening sun. we were in a tram with two visitors from hong kong, a young japanese family with impossibly chic parents and two photogenic kids, then us, three disheveled shivering malaysians.

we were chatting in the tram, enjoying the amazing view, when all of a sudden, the japanese kid exclaimed, 'fuji-san!'
cue commotion as all of us in the tram repositioned ourselves and ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the majestic mountain rising right before us.
it is a ridiculously photogenic volcano.

when the mountain disappeared from our sight, the kid said sadly 'bye bye fuji-san', and we got off the tram to owakudani, it of active volcano zone, sulfurous fumes and blackened eggs fame. we didn't get a chance to explore the place as the final bus from owakudani departs in five minutes!
got on the last leg of the journey -- hakone tozan cable car -- a funicular railway that slowly descends from hakone yumoto to gora. the train creaks through dense woodland, and apparently it's most beautiful at july, when hydrangeas on both sides of the track bloom in unison.

we were all a bit disappointed that the sun was setting so quickly so we moved on to the next destination - hakone gora park. but that was closed as well!
we missed it by one minute. here's liz looking disappointed while i forced her to take a photo to prove that at least we tried. LOL
blooming cabbages at the park entrance. sed.
it's time to walk back to the station and take the train to hakone! while waiting for the train, more ways to amuse ourselves: dorami stamps!
souvenir shop stalking! it's all onsen-themed stuff here. it's amazing. this photo was taken so i can show melissa later.
fuji-themed goodies.

i remembered trying to stalk a fat cat that kept disappearing, then saw some adorable shibas, contemplated buying expensive hakone-themed omiyage, etc.

by the time we returned to our stay for the night, we were all too exhausted to take photos. i don't quite remember what we had for dinner though. ok i vaguely remember liz going home to rest, while we headed to fuji mart to explore the local supermarket scene and being all excited about sakura-themed stuff.

i remember trying to read a copy of 'The Japanese Salaryman' i found at the airbnb. it's this hilarious guidebook to the japanese salaryman, 'the force behind the japanese economic miracle', published by the japan travel bureau. it had all these illustrations of what a salaryman looks like (down to the calculator and three pens in his front pocket), how he spends his holidays, why he hangs out late at night, his wife's tea gatherings at the employee accommodation, company team-buildings such as sitting under a waterfall and more.

i think there was an electricity outage too and peggy came to the rescue again. i'm just super grateful for my travel mates lah hahahahah. if i were alone i might have shivered in the dark then cried to sleep lololol.

DAY 5!

i'm going to cheat and dump all my hakone photos in one go so the next post can be all about tokyo again.

today we'll be checking out of our lovely airbnb and head back to tokyo!

but first, some proper photos of our stay. it's a definite highlight for all three of us.

some tiny figurines displayed all over the house. tadah!
LOOK AT THESE VCRS. the owner also had a functioning vcr player in a corner. i think this is his tuition room.
tiny pots and pans. if you're an enid blyton fan you'd probably imagine all the fairies and elves helping themselves to these miniature crockery.
here's a quarter of our room. look at all those books (and liz's flu medication on the table).
here's the other side of the room. i imagine this is where the airbnb owner gives english lessons and stuff. it's where we have our meals.
and then this is the other side of the airbnb. we stayed on the second floor, and it's pretty impressive how the owner managed to stuff so many beds in the place. lol. MORE BOOKS. I LIKE.
then you can get a peek of the kitchen behind the cabinet. also this guy had tons of books about japan, all in english. i was so tempted to email him if these books were for sale.
MORE BOOKS. shelves upon shelves above the entry way. hahahhaa.
as you can see i'm a useless travel mate. while i was wandering around taking photos, liz and peggy were busy preparing breakfast. look at that beautiful golden brown raisin toast :')
another view of our quarters. beyond this dining room is the entrance and the bathroom. the only thing i didn't quite like about the place is the cold toilet lol. but the rest of it is so cosy and amazing and comfortable it more than made up for that minor discomfort.
liz the toast master.
peggy the egg master.
me the japanese paper coffee brew master.
ok now with additional hands and sliced cake. itadakimasu!
decided to take a final photo in this lovely place before checking out :(
one final group photo with my camera perched precariously on the street sign on timer mode lol.

goodbye merry lue iwahara! we're so, so glad we stayed here. thank you for an amazing experience!


ok the diwali fireworks are going off. time for bed. thanks for reading till the end and stay posted for our next tokyo adventure!