Thursday, 18 April 2013

Japan Day 2 - Hakone

This is a continuation from the first night at the airport. I woke Cs up at around 4:45am. FYI the airport is not quiet at all. There were flights arriving at 2am, 3 am, 4am etc. Lights were on and generally still quite a lot going on. Our eyes were closed but we could hear everything. When we went to freshen up by about 5 am, it seemed like 7 am already. People waking up, eating breakfast, sipping coffee and the general hustle bustle of it all.

We bought PASMO cards each (similar to Oyster Cards in London, Easy Card/YouYou Card in Taiwan, and Octopus Card in Hong Kong), where you top up the money inside and can take most trains and buses. Definitely time savers for tourists. You can use the card in convenience stores too which saves time as well. We bought Y,3000 each, of which Y500 were for deposits. Should be refundable but we didn't refund. We're planning to come back! :) The cards expire in 10 years.

Convenience store is on level 1 btw. We slept in level 2 (probably the noisiest level due to all the arrivals). No choice cos most seats were all taken by the time we arrived. Best place to sleep should be level 5. Lights are dimmed and there are huge windows where you can look out to the observation deck.

Off on our journey!

Btw it was raining when we arrived that night. We had to take a bus from the airport to the international terminal building. We literally stepped off the plane and into the bus. Very convenient. No need to get wet at all.

We took the train to Shinagawa then changed to Shinkansen (bullet train - I die die must try once at least) to Hakone Odawara then changed trains (Tozan line) to Hakone Yumoto..

We arrived at Hakone Yumoto really early in the morning. Deserted.

Hakone is actually just a small mountainous area. We chose to go there to try the hot spring baths, and Owakudani (active volcanic area), and catch the views of Mount Fuji. All in one trip.

Did I mention that we love the vending machines? :)

 Anyway, they day is just getting started. We had our luggage with us, and we initially planned on leaving them in the lockers (but we saw that they were too small), so thought that we had to bring the luggage to the hotel ourselves.

But luckily, we saw the luggage service! Basically we pay an amount of money (I forgot how much but not expensive and so worth it), and they will send our luggage directly to our hotel. Awesome eh? It opens at 8:30 am btw. For future reference. We waited about 15 mins for them to open (very punctual).

It was so so cold and windy then. In hindsight, we should have known. Nasty weather - how to go sightseeing? But we were so psyched (and so smart) that we went along anyway.

So now, we are free of our luggage, we went out to the bus stop. Oh wait, we bought the Hakone Free Pass. It costs Y3,900 (if I'm not mistaken from Odawara). This is basically a pass that allows you to catch most trains, buses, ropeway, cable car, pirate ship, and gets you discounts at the typical tourist spots. Most tourists opt for this pass. They are available in 2 days or 3 days. We got the 2 days one. Best decision ever. Just show the free pass and no hassle at all.

Beautiful views.

About the best photo Cs could come up with. Haha too windy.

When we arrived at the bus stop, and were busy studying the bus schedule, some guys (working there) came and offered help. And directed us to the proper bus stop. It wasn't hard. There are English words, and if you read Chinese, its a plus. Everything is very organized and efficient and people are willing to help if you ask.

 We went to Moto Hakone supposing to start our Hakone loop.

It started raining..

But we were still happy.

I planned everything right down to what bus to take, and everything. But I forgot about the weather. It was so fucking cold that 5 minutes (I kid u not) out, I had a splitting headache. It was so bad that I literally could not do anything. Besides, everything was closed.

We took the 35 mins bus all the way there to find out that most services were suspended due to the weather.

Look at the weather! On a clear day, we should be able to see Mount Fuji.
We were walking to Hakone Shrine when my head hurt so bad, I just wanted to fook it and go indoors.

He brought me indoors. I wrapped the scarf around my head after that. Because of the weather, most of what we planned were closed. We had no choice but to go back to the hotel by 12 pm.

Next day we learnt that there was a hailstorm the day before and floods. No wonder.

Hot green tea was soo welcome by then.

Curry rice! Yum..

Cs' beef set thingy was good too.

They initially provided the Japanese menu for us but when I was struggling to find something to eat, she brought over an English one. But most places do not have English menu. You just pick and choose, or drag the owner out of the shop to point at the displays. Hahah.

Ok. Continue about the rest of the day next time.


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