One Night in Hong Kong

So we stopped  over for one night in Hong Kong. We got in quite late the previous night, so just checked in to our hotel near the airport and went to sleep. Today we had a midday check out and our flight left around 3pm, so we had the morning to enjoy. 

We had a buffet breakfast at the hotel. It was pretty good, but man it was so noisy and busy in there. Everyone scrambling for the food! Blainie enjoyed the crispy bacon the best.

  
We went for a wander to the nearby adjoins shopping mall, but none of the shops were open yet. We decided we didn’t want or need any of the items in any of the stores (which were mainly expensive hand bags) anyway, and headed back to the hotel for a swim. The pool was nice, but it was a bit cold.

   
   
And then we were off to the airport again. When we went to check in we were informed that the flight was over booked and there was no space for us. Our option was to catch a flight later that night (around 10pm) to Melbourne! Then on to Perth the next morning. There was no way we were going to do that! We got put on a standby list and given some vouchers to use at Starbucks (worst coffee ever) – and luckily in the end they fit us on to the flight. By that stage we were running late so we had to be escorted through the airport at brisk walking speed by staff. Bit of a bummer really, cos we had planned to just chill at the airport before our flight, have some lunch and look at some shops. But, we got on the flight and made it home tired but happy. 

  
And here’s our new tanuki together with our old tanuki.

  

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Onsen We’re Gonna Miss You

Our last day in Japan today. Our flight wasn’t until 6pm, so we packed up our stuff, had our regular set breakfast at Andon, stored our luggage and headed out.

   
 
We had discovered there was an onsen in close proximity to us. We got out of the train at Sugamo station, and had a bit of a wander trying to find a morning snack before heading to the onsen. We stumbled across a shopping street, and realised we had been here before on a previous trip, except last time we caught the cute little street car that runs from near Andon. We stopped in to a pickle shop for some pickled cucumbers as a snack. We got served them on little plates and sat on a small seat in the shop to eat them.

   
   
Then we headed for Sakura onsen and soaked our weary bodies. It was really nice there, and after our baths we decided to have lunch at their restaurant.

   
    
    
 
After lunch we wandered down the shopping street. Then we headed back to Andon (via the street car) to pick up our luggage and say our goodbyes.

   
 
Then it before we knew it we were on the Skyliner train headed for Narita airport.

   
   
See you next time Japan.

   
   
As we were flying in to Hong Kong, the view looked really cool and slightly eerie. You could just see the mountains in the darkness, and there were low lying clouds and the lights of Hong Kong, it all just looked awesome. The photo doesn’t really do it any justice.

  

Hipster-ing at Kawaguchiko 

It was cloudy, windy and rain was forecast for today. What better day we thought to ourselves, to hire bikes and ride around the lake. We hired two bikes from our accomdation, they were Fixies – the hipster’s bike of choice. Blainie hadn’t ridden a bike in like 30 years, and she thought her bike was a little to big for her, but she kind of got used to it after a while. 

First stop, the shopping centre up the road for some morning tea snacks. Then onwards to the lake to enjoy those snacks. A can of coffee and some Mister Donut donuts. It was really cold and windy at this point so we had to eat up quicker than we wanted. We think these rocks we are on might be lava rocks, but we are not sure. Oh, and we got little Street Fighter figurines with our coffees (M. Bison and Vega). 

   
    
 
Then we commenced our journey around the lake. Mt Fuji was visible for most of the trip, but had a lot of clouds over it. We saw lots of lovely scenery.

   
    
    
    
   
The dark rain clouds were looming so we probably went a bit quicker than we would’ve liked, but we did stop to take photos quite a bit. We stopped for lunch, and really enjoyed our meals. 

   
 
Then we found a cool temple.

   
   
Then we rode some more. It was raining by this stage, but not too heavily.

   
   
We eventually made it all the way round, and back to our accomdation. Over 20 km’s! We had a brief rest, then we rode to Fujiyama Onsen (where we went yesterday) as we felt our tired muscles could do with some onsen revitalisation. 

After leaving the onsen we rode back in to town, but we first we stopped at the combined store of Hard Off and Off House. Hilarious names, but great stores. Hard Off sells used musical euipment, stereos, video games, records and more all in immaculate condition. Off House sells used things for your house including clothes, kitchenware, rice cookers, snowboards, pretty much anything. It would be a great place to furnish your house if you lived in Japan. Other store in the ‘Off’ range include Hobby Off and Book Off. Excellent.

   
 
Then we rode to dinner at the same place we went last night, because it is awesome.

   
 
Then back to our accomodation Kagelow for some Whisky and a good rest.

  

I’m on a (Swan) Boat! 

I’m on a (Swan) Boat! 

Today we got up really early because we were planning to catch the bus to go see the Shibazakura Moss Phlox. Yes. Lots of (mostly) pink flowers that cover an entire park with Mt Fuji as the background. We know how much the Japanese and the visitors to Japan love a good flower festival, so we were all prepared for it to be crrraaaazzzy busy. So we decided to get up early and catch the first bus to the festival. When we we made it to the bus stop however, we were informed that the flowers were only 30% in bloom, so it wouldn’t be as awesome as we’d hoped and as such, it w pretty quiet on the bus. It was quite a scenic bus trip though. Here is what it is meant to look like –

  
Here is what it looked like in reality.

  
Mount Fuji is there somewhere. It was quite cold and windy there too, but there is always time for cake.

   
 
After a bit more of a wander around and some steamed buns and a grilled fish, we high tailed it out of there. Back on to a bus to the station to transfer to another bus to take us to another of the Fuji 5 Lakes – Yamanakako. We were headed there with one mission in mind – to ride the giant swan boat. But as our bus rounded a corner and the swan boat became visible in the distance, panic set in. What if it’s not operating today? What if it’s booked out? What if they just don’t like the the look of us and won’t let us on? Luckily, none of those thought ps became reality, and before we knew it we were cruising the lake on a giant swan boat. Dream achieved. 

   
    
    
    
   
Mount Fuji even emerged from behind the clouds part way in to the cruise. It was a Swan Lake miracle. 

  
After that, it was way past our lunch time, but food options were slim, so we got back on a bus, but got out at Fuji San station where Mos Burger saved our life.

  
Then we headed for Fujiyama onsen. We checked out Fuji Q Highland theme park from behind the fence. Their rollercoaster is huuuuuuge!

   
    
   
Then, best onsen ever.

  

Get Out Of the City!

We left Tokyo this morning bound for Kawaguchiko. One of the five lakes near the base of Mt Fuji. It was a lovely clear day, which bode well for our chances of seeing the elusive mountain. About half way in to our second train trip we spotted Mt Fuji from the train. As every one got up to take photos, we thought that the train might tip over from the weight of everyone on one side 🙂 

  
We made it to Kawaguchiko, and Mt Fuji was just there. Checked in to our accomodation – here’s the view from our window.

  
And our accomodation is awesome. Our room is super cool. It’s like a tiny house.

  
We were starving so we went and had lunch at a local place up the street. It was really good.

  
Then we headed to the lake and went up a mountain on a ropeway.

   
    
 
The view was spectacular.

   
    
    
 
Then we caught a bus to the other side of the lake where the views were even more spectacular.

   
    
    
    
   
Then we got some snacks and headed back to our accomdation for a drink.

   
 
Then Blainie hung out in the cubby house alcove like a weirdo.

  

Better than Nikko

We visited Yanaka today. The sun was shining and it was a lovely warm day. Last time we were in Yanaka it was freezing. We were so cold a lady on the street gave us free hot chestnuts to warm us up. We wandered around a bit, and we a bit disappointed to find most of the little galleries closed because it’s Monday, and that’s when galleries are closed apparently. Never mind, our favourite cafe Kayaba was open and not crazy busy so we went in for lunch. We even managed to get a spot upstairs. 

   
   
Then we wandered to the Ye olde shopping street and looked at things. It’s a popular place for cats to gather, but alas, there were no cats present today. Yanaka is a bit bonkers for cats. Luckily Blainie was wearing her cat cardigan so she fit right in.

   
   
Then we headed for Nezu Shrine. We had never been there before, but decided to go because we keep seeing on NHK. We thought it would be just small, but we we pleasantly surprised to find it was big and really quite cool. And there was an Azalea Flower festival on – which was pretty amazing.

   
    
 

   
   
  
Then we headed for Ueno, and walked through Ueno park. We hadn’t been to parts of the park since our first trip in 2005, so that was a bit weird. They seem to be doing a lot of work and sprucing things up a bit. We saw a cat in a tree.

   
    
 
It got cold and rainy in the evening, we had Dinner at a Yakitori place in Ueno and then headed home. Not before picking up some cute donuts first though.