Friday, November 29, 2013

Hong Kong part I

Started my Asia tour in Hong Kong, at a hostel in wan chai, near the business district. 

The hostel was on Hennessey Rd, which is a massive road filled with buses. The area is a little dirty but right next to the flashy business district of Central.

I was really tired the first day, because my flight was at 1am. I checked into my hostel, got some coffee, and went to the Peak because it was close. 

I took the tram up, and had to wait in a long line. It was cool though, the view from the top was nice.

Hong Kong is really smoggy.

Photo op where I had to do a selfie. People here don't offer to take your picture like in Japan! 

After that, I went to see the second Hunger Games movie. At the time I thought it was around the same price as a movie in Tokyo, but after I figured out the conversion it turned out to be only around 10 bucks. The theater sold wine at the concession stand, but I didn't get any because I was so tired and had no idea what it cost in real money. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mt Takao

Recently some friends and I went to Mt Takao, a small but pretty mountain in the south of Tokyo. Every summer it has a beer garden at the summit, so we wanted to go before it closed. I went twice last year and it was super fun, and this time was no different! 

We took the long route up, so it took us about an hour and a half to hike to the summit. There's a paved route to the top that takes about 45 min, but it's not as pretty! 

A stream

A mini shrine

A wood bridge

I'm working on my selfie skills, lol

Nice view

This guy is a tengu. Tengu are kind of like spirits who live in the woods. The shrine at the top of Takao has lots of tengu imagery.

This one had a dragonfly perched on the end of his sword.


Views and a successful selfie!

Anyway we had a great time hiking up, then we had a great time at the beer garden! It's a great beer garden, it's two hours all you can eat and drink, and you don't feel too guilty about it because you just hiked up a mountain to get there, haha. I'm glad we got a chance to go again before it closed!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Art Aquarium Tokyo

I went to an art exhibit in Nihonbashi today. It was the last day, so it was crazy crowded. We had to wait in line for 90 minutes! It was like Disneyland or something, but at the end of the line wasn't a ride but an exhibition of goldfish. It was really cool tho! 

Goldfish chilling on a pedestal. There were a bunch of these bowls, each with a different variety of goldfish inside.

All the tanks were lit with color changing lights.

Giant goldfish jewel tank.

Crazy eyes goldfish.

Black goldfish.

Goldfish art.

Awesome tank pyramid.

There were all these goldfish portholes in the walls.

There was a projection of Japanese scenery through the four seasons behind these tanks. All in all it was a pretty cool exhibition and I'm glad I got to see it, although I've learned my lesson about visiting on the last day! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mt Fuji

Last weekend I finally climbed Mt Fuji, Japan's tallest mountain! I've been wanting to do it since last summer, so I'm really glad I got the chance to before leaving Japan. Fuji recently became a World Heritage site, so I'd heard that we would have to pay ¥1000 to climb it, but actually we didn't have to. Maybe because we climbed outside of the official hiking season? Anyway, it was an amazing experience! 

At Kawaguchiko station, I picked up an extra liter of water for the trek, and I was glad I had on the way up. There are stations along the way up the mountain where you can buy supplies and even sleep for a few hours, but the prices steadily rise the further up you go. By the 8th station Snickers bars were ¥300, and 500ml of water was ¥500! 

Here I am at 3100 meters! By this point it was pretty cold so I had my down jacket on, but I had taken off my hat because the exertion was making me hot. By the 8th station it was crazy cold though, and my hand holding my walking stick was frozen.

When we finally summitted, it was about 4am and pitch black and freezing cold! We took refuge in a little restaurant/rest stop on the top and took a little nap.

At 5am we ventured outside to take a few pictures of the sunrise just beginning, then hustled it back inside because it was seriously freezing. I'm surprised I could even get a decent picture because I was shivering so hard!

Then when the sun started to come up it warmed up a little, but was still really cold. 

The sky got steadily brighter, although unfortunately the sun itself was coming up under a cloud! It was still an amazing sight, though! 

The clouds cleared away a bit, and we could properly see the sea of clouds below us. It was so surreal being above the cloud line not in an airplane!

The horizon cleared and the view was just breathtaking.

It's hard to believe these aren't photoshopped! Nope, that's me, standing at 3776 meters!

We made coffee in the bathroom with Nick's portable stove, because it was too windy outside to get it to light and the restaurant we'd been at kicked everyone not buying anything out after the sunrise. Then, after fortifying ourselves with coffee, we started the descent. 

The first few legs of the descent were incredible. It looked like we were standing on the edge of the world! But then it quickly got monotonous. The trail down is just unending switchbacks of dry, dusty scree that made you slip and slide and get rocks in your shoes. After we entered the cloud layer the trail got easier to walk on and some vegetation started to appear, and when we reached the tree line the walk became a lot more pleasant. 

We finally reached the 5th station where we could catch the bus, and we bought souvenirs before heading out. I got some Fuji cookies for my work, and this Fuji cider for myself. 

I actually got this little pin on the summit, where they engraved the date on it!

Overall, I had a great time and am really glad I did it!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Going to Fuji

Bought my round trip bus ticket to Mt. Fuji today! I'm going with 3 friends next Sunday. We're going to climb overnight and see the sunrise from the top. I'm excited and dreading it at the same time. It's an 8-hour steep hike to the top, but the view is incredible and worth it, according to friends who have already done it. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Niijima part II

Here's our tent at the campsite, and our rental bikes. The campsite was full of surfers, and surprisingly multicultural. There were Brazilians, Japanese, British, and Americans. Our bikes were rusty and hard to pedal up the many hills, but that seemed to be the case for every rental bike on the island. 

We biked around to the other side of the island, and found Maehama beach. The water here was just as turquoise and clear. Maehama doesn't get the big waves that Habushiura does, so this beach had more families relaxing on the white sand and playing in the water. Still nowhere near crowded, though!

This was about as crowded as it got. A refreshing change from Tokyo!

We took a stroll along this path running parallel to the beach. It was pretty but really, really hot. 

We found this secluded cove, and while it was nice and shady, getting there was a nightmare because the beach changed from soft white sand to little sharp rocks and pebbles. Plus it was burning hot, so we had to walk in the surf at a sloping angle. 

After that crazy walk, we went to relax in the free open air hot springs. It was mixed baths so you had to keep your bathing suit on, but it was really nice and relaxing. There were about 5 baths of varying temperatures, from scalding hot to lukewarm. The whole place had a great view of the coast.

That one up the staircase had the best view! It was designed to look like a Greek ruin, for some reason.

Niijima part 1

This is the view of Tokyo Bay as we departed on the overnight ferry!

And here's the sunrise from the ferry! That island in the distance is Oshima.

The first view of Niijima after getting off the ferry. Look at that blue water!

Niijima is full of these stone statues, called moyai in Japanese but actually spelled moai. Niijima gifted one of these to Tokyo, it's at Shibuya station.

This is the lifeguard station on Habushiura beach. Looks so Mediterranean, doesn't it?

Habushiura beach! This beach is famous for surfing, but when we were there the waves were small so we could swim. 

It wasn't crowded at all, either. The water was clear and beautiful and there were maybe three or four other people around. This was early morning though, in the afternoon a few more showed up.