Finally managed to get my hands on some internet to post my update. I tried using my Kindle’s free 3g internet (!) to hook into my laptop to update the blog but no go. Need more time at home to get it working. Anyway:
Checked out of the hostel. It was a relief to leave that place. The staff lady was so rude as well. We had to walk around for the whole day because our flight was in the afternoon. Wanted to get some nice shoes for Steph but she was approaching vomit/fainting levels of illness. Ate crab congee which was great.
Went to airport. Steph was at death’s door from illness so there were issues running through the gargantuan airport. Had to walk slowly and take breaths otherwise her lungs would seize up. We got there eventually though, luckily we
One day in Singapore. I took the opportunity to explore the city that pretty much everyone has visited or stopped by. Quite nice. Lots of department stores for high end brands. Very westernised though, and the Singaporeans really like their Japanese themed stuff. I met a new friend too, some kid who has the same phone as myself. We were probably one of the few people in the city who had the phone since its so new. He wanted to know where I got my phone’s case but he was disappointed when I told him it was from Hong Kong, not Singapore.
Dodgy stuff be happening in Singapore. People stare a lot more at others too. We ordered a meal in the morning for breakfast. We decided to change our order but the waitress decided to give us both of our orders! She didn’t cancel the first one! No doubt an evil money grubbing scheme. Not to mention the restaurant also required that you pay for your food when it arrives, and before you eat. Very annoying.
Stayed one night in Tokyo. The place was called Khaosan and it was quite nice. Since we arrived late and we ran into delays because we used pencil instead of pens for writing in our customs forms, we missed the final train into the city. Had to take a taxi for 10000 yen. Shared the cab with an American backpacker girl though so we managed to split the bill 3 ways. We were going to the same area too. She was quite interesting, lived in China for many months and then has been backpacking for a few weeks for the first time in India, Japan, Hong Kong and other countries. I’d like to do that sort of thing someday, before I get any dependents and stuff.
Stayed at a minshuku in Hakone called Shunkoso. Since we arrived in the afternoon instead of in the morning like we previously planned. This caused us big disappointment later in the evening. The Japanese railway system is so huge and complex that it took us way too long to just get from Asakusa stn. to Tokyo stn. in order to retrieve our JR Pass. We left Shunkoso at around 2:30pm to go to Mt. Owakudani – famous for it’s black eggs, steaming smelly yellow sulphur thingies and onsen. We walked back to Hakone-Yumoto stn to catch the train there. The walk itself was interesting. The Hakone area has lots of ryokan (Japanese style inns), and shops selling local delicacies. After buying some souvenir, the store clerk offered us some preserved dried fruit. It was tamarind. Was so sour and salty, we couldn’t even hide our expressions. I also made the mistake of sampling a coleslaw-looking thing… turned out to be fresh horseradish/ wasabi. Cleared my nose.
The trip to Owakudani was agonisingly slow. One must take a 45min train to Gora, transfer to a 20min cable-car to Sounzan, before finally taking a rope-way/ gondola to Owakudani. When you get there, one must of course climb the mountain. The last 2 would have been nice…. if we didn’t miss it -___-“ Upon arrival at Sounzan at 4:05pm, we discovered too late that the last rope-way ran at 4:15pm. We paid around 2000 yen to get to where we were already. I was pissed of course. We had to board the cable-car back down again, with all the other people returning from Owakudani. I can’t believe something that touristy closes so early! It was totally dark by 4:30 pm. Annoyingly strange.
I’m glad that Shunkoso Inn is really awesome in comparison. The room was very spacious: with tatami mats, wooden furniture, closets, in-suite bathroom, and tv. It is weird that there were only 5 guests staying in the Inn. Johnny’s last name was written on the board outside the Inn, along with 4 others, that’s how I know. I pretty much had the public onsen to myself as well. There was only 1 old lady. I didn’t feel threatened :p The onsen/ bathing pledace is HUGE. There was the tatami-mat changing room, toilet, washbasin, mirror etc, then the shower and indoor onsen, then the outdoor onsen. The indoor onsen was too hot for my liking, so I went to the outdoor one. It was really nice and relaxing. Definitely the highlight of my day.
Dinner was simple instant noodles (was damn good though!), self-made and eaten inside the room whilst watching anime on the TV. By then, the tables have all been magically put aside, and the futon was set on the floor. Johnny couldn’t sleep because it’s his turn to be sick, so I had to coin scrape him. Although I used a small beer glass instead. He looks like a freaky skeleton fish now.
The next morning, we were woken up by a staff. “OHAYOU GOZAIMAAAASU. SHOSHOKU WO TABETE KUDASAAAIII.” – or something (‘Good morning, please eat breakfast’). We head up to the 3rd floor for breakfast. It was impressive. Huge room once again, with 2 buffets – one traditional Japanese, the other Western continental. Of course i chose Japanese, and piled up everything there was onto my plates. We open-roasted the mackerel fish on table, and I tried eating natto with my rice. That stuff is so messy. Why do they have to ferment beans? It’s sticky and stinks like dead rat. Tastes ok though, surprisingly. Just super salty. So were the rest of the pickles. Japanese ppl like their salt and sour stuff.
We’ve actually been typing this up on the Shinkansen/bullet train since we got nothing better to do. We’re travelling to Kurashiki, a smaller city on the other side of the island. Due to the “other side of the island” bit we have been travelling since morning. The whole trip is like 5 hours or something. What is annoying is that we’re staying here for two nights and then moving back to Kyoto.