Autumn Japan 2016 – [Day 3 & 4] Tateyama Alpine Route

Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 and 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 |


Tateyama Alpine Route 立山黒部アルペンルート

In this blog post, I wouldn’t give so much explanation on how the transport of getting there. For that, please see my previous entry on Tateyama Alpine Route here and here. Do note that timetables may change depending on when you visit, so there may be slight variations between early April as well as late November.

At 6:50am, we arrived at Toyama Station the next morning. Quickly ran off the bus, we made a beeline towards the station entrance (it was literally freezing). As per our itinerary, we quickly found a washroom to change and make up – we actually ended up changing underground (not literally stripping, just grabbing more layers to wear over). We knew that we had only 1 hour to clear quite a bit of administration before taking the 8:05am train up to Tateyama Station.

First thing we had to do was to ship our luggage. Luggage shipping bound for Murodo had to be done before 9am. We quickly sent our luggage away, and as per my itinerary we had prepared to split up. Sue headed off to quickly grab us both some breakfast, while I headed in the opposite direction to book the train tickets for our JR Pass. However, what I had overlooked was that I needed her passport (and mine, since she kept both of our passports with her). Instead, I had to wait for her while standing near an area with WIFI, hoping that she would turn it on and see the message I had left. Fortunately, she did, and we managed to book the tickets relatively quickly, while she ate her lunch.

We managed to get on the train as planned, and 1 hour later, arrived at Tateyama Station. Fortunately, I had already booked the tickets for the transfer to Bijodaira, and pretty soon we were heading up towards Bijodaira!

By 9:40am, we arrived at Bijodaira. Similarly to last year, we stuffed our items into a locker, and headed out to explore the area.


Bijodaira 美女平駅

DIRECTIONS:
9:40am to 9:47am | Tateyama to Bijodaira via Tateyama Cablecar

Bijodaira was as beautiful as the last time I remembered it, however, the seasons were completely different. The beautiful autumn leaves were gone, replaced by an equally beautiful pre-winter scene. Fortunately, again, we were the only ones on this trail as others opted to go ahead (probably had only 1 day to clear the entire route).

The route was beautifully clear, and we trudged on, watching out for the many steps and portholes along the way. It looked the same, yet completely different. I loved that I was back here, watching the same path change according to the seasons.

The entire pathway took slightly less than 2 hours of rigorous walking, and you would have to be very careful when walking along the winding road, as the buses would occasionally zoom past us (with drivers waving merrily as they did so). After about 2 hours, we arrived back at where we started, tired but ready to continue on to the next trial. The one thing Sue and I loved to do when we traveled together, was to take these long walks, especially when we were the only humans around.

Obligatory photo for arriving at Bijodaira LOL

We also decided to take a look at the observatory while we were here – I missed it the last time!

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The observatory was beautiful – bright blue clouds overlooking post-autumn mountain ranges. If only we could stay here forever…

But ahead we moved – so much more to see!


Midagahara 弥陀ヶ原

DIRECTIONS:
11:00am to 11:30am | Bijodaira to Midagahara via Tateyama Highland Bus

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The trails of Midagahara welcomed me back again, this time more beautiful than the last. Where the last time we were here we only saw brown ashy tones, strangely this time, we saw a myriad of brown, green, white and blue. It was definitely worth it coming back here again.

The various views of Midagahara was amazing – we were once again the only ones around. I loved the fact that we were able to explore the area without having anyone else around.

We continued walking on – continuing to enjoy the atmosphere, occasionally jumping over loose rocks and blue ponds. These were way more beautiful than the last time I had come, which I hadn’t thought was event possible.

We headed back to the Midagahara Hotel to get some food – ended up sharing almost the whole menu.Bought 2 teas, a cheesecake, a creme brulee, as well as a beef stew with bread. The food energized us, and the view even more so – Midagahara Hotel had glass walls which looked out unto plains. It was really nice to sit and eat while watching the nice scenery.

After which, we headed up to view the caldera. I had wanted to take this trail 1 year ago, but could not due to bear sightings. This year, I was happy enough to finally make it up! Standing at the top-most step, you could see the entire caldera, I could only imagine how beautiful it would be during summer.


Hotel Tateyama

URL: https://h-tateyama.alpen-route.co.jp/english/
Check In & Out: 31st October 2016 to 1st November 2016
Cost: Y45100 for 2 persons, Twin Room with Half Board
Rating: 39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline For Full Review, read here

Once again, we stayed at Hotel Tateyama.

Our luggage had already arrived, and we collected them quickly at the front desk. This time, we were given an even larger room, and one with a bath – the previous room only had a toilet and not a bath. The rooms were as clean as I remembered them, so Sue and I decided to take a break and rest in the hotel for the rest of the night rather than go out for more walks as we were both tired.

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The view from outside the hotel room was better than it was last year – and from our window we could see that the trails were empty as well. There was no one around! We waited and chilled in our room for around an hour, before we decided to head out for dinner.

The dinner spread was as delicious as I remembered the last time. We stuffed ourselves full of hot food, and decided to head to the onsen for a quick shower. The onsen, too, was deserted when we entered.

While Sue repacked our luggage (we had done some shopping after dinner), we waited for the sky to get dark. Finally it was dark enough! We turned off the lights and tried some night photography – by we I meant me. Sue just set in the dark waiting LOL.

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My first proper night shot – not counting the one I took in Perth

Finally, after half an hour of freezing calibrations – I had this beauty. Affirmed that we were on the right track, we bundled ourselves in all our clothes and headed out – hoping to grab more beautiful shots without the window frame being in the way.

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But by the time we had gone out, no stars were to be seen. The clouds had covered them all up completely. Disappointed (but hey at least we got 1 shot!) we headed back to our room to rest for the night, not realizing what a surprise will come tomorrow!


Murodo 室堂

Next morning, we woke up obliviously – got showered and changed, before I opened the window, and got the best surprise of my life.

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It snowed! We headed downstairs for breakfast, which included the same buffet as last year, and the bundled up to explore the snowy peak! Of course, we had asked the staff prior to leaving if it was safe to walk.

The snow was so thick that we could hardly see where we were going. We stumbled around the peak happy to see snow, but at the same time, the snow was hitting us in the face, and it was painful.

We ended up throwing snowballs at each other, sliding down the different paths. We had originally intended to go down to the caldera, but decided that the visibility was too poor. Our faces were getting snow-punctured, and we finally admitted defeat. It was however, fun to walk around the snow-laden area while screaming at each other from the top of our lungs to out-shout the wind in our ears!


Daikanbo 大観峰 & Kurobedaira

12:15pm to 12:25pm | Murodo to Daikanbo via Tateyama Tunnel Trolley Bus

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We returned to Murodo Station, and then took the bus to Daikanbo. Since we had missed the sunrise, we headed up to the observatory to see the views. But upon reaching the observatory, we burst out laughing.

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We couldn’t see ANYTHING! The board which showed us what we were supposed to see stood there mocking us, reminding us that the snow also came with some side issues… which involved us mostly not being able to see where we were going!

DIRECTIONS:
1:00pm to 1:07pm | Daikanbo to Kurobedaira via Tateyama Ropeway

As we descended Daikanbo towards Kurobedaira, the snow cleared, and the views returned. At Kurobedaira, we could now see the mountains ahead of us, so we stopped by the observatory again for more views.

There was hardly anyone around even at Kurobedaira. We had managed to go through almost the entire stretch of the Alpine Route without encountering many people.


Kurobe Dam 黒部ダム

DIRECTIONS:
1:40pm to 1:45pm | Kurobedaira to Kurobe Dam via Kurobe Cablecar

Kurobe Dam once again marked the end of our journey. It was as beautiful as I remembered, and even colder. However, of course, Sue and I loved the cold, so we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves walking around the Dam, with the wind blowing at us.

The views here were still slightly post-autumn, but we managed to catch a rainbow appearing cheekily while we were waiting! It was an utter surprise, but a great one!

From Kurobedaira, we took the same route back as the last time back to Matsumoto. At Shinano Omachi, we collected our luggage – though we had to wait awhile as we were earlier than expected. After collecting our luggage, we than had to wait for our train to Matsumoto.


Matsumoto 松本 & Hotel Trend Matsumoto

We arrived in Matsumoto and headed straight to our hotel, Hotel Trend Matsumoto.

Check In & Out: 1st November 2016 to 2nd November 2016
Cost: SGD$88.96 for 2 persons, Twin Room
Rating: 39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline

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Hotel Trend Matsumoto was a small businesslike hotel, about 5 minutes away from Matsumoto Station. However, we were slightly disappointed by the room. Not because it was small, which was something we were accustomed to, but it was also one of the not-so-clean hotel rooms that we had been in for awhile. The carpet was dusty and somewhat grimy, so we were both quite glad to only stay here for a night.

Other than the cleanliness factor, the hotel was pretty okay – it catered to all our needs fairly well.

From our hotel, we decided to head out for some dinner! We roamed around to get our bearings for tomorrow, and ended up buying some bread for tomorrow’s breakfast! We were about to resort to fastfood for dinner, but Sue saw a small restaurant serving beef bowls, so we decided to try it out.

We also made friends with a nice lady who we ended up eating and chatting with, but quickly headed back to get some fruits, before returning back to our hotel for the rest of the night. We were tired!


Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 and 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 |

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Autumn Japan 2016 – [Day 2] Takaosan

Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 and 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 |


Takaosan 高尾山

DIRECTIONS:
9:00am to 9:36am | Shinjuku to Kitano via Keio Line Special Exp.  for KEIO-HACHIOJI
9:38am to 9:52am | Kitano to Takaosanguchi via Keio Takao Line  for TAKAOSANGUCHI

Cost: Y1380 including round trip + cablecar/chairlift ride

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The next morning, we departed Shinjuku Station for Takaosan. It was the first time I would be at Takaosan, and I was looking forward to it!

There were many shops along the streets on the way up to Takaosan, and we spent some time looking at the various produce and items on sale.

The Chairlift/Cablecar station stood at the end of one of the roads, and we opted for the chairlift option. The cablecar option had more people queuing, plus I really wanted to try the chairlift option LOL

We took the chairlift up (remembering to put our bag in front rather than behind so we won’t fall off the chairlift), and made our way slowly up. The ride up was pretty smooth, but getting off was quite scary. We were instructed (in Japanese), to wait until we saw the yellow line, and then quickly stand up, step 1 or 2 steps and quickly walk away from the chairlift. We ended up standing up and running off just so we don’t get knocked over!

On the middle point there was a shop selling our favourite! We queued for over 20 minutes just to get this (because they had just opened and the charcoal wasn’t really hot enough to sufficiently cook them quickly). It was DEFINITELY WORTH IT.

After a quick snack and a toilet break, we started our climb. The climb was pretty easy and not too steep, and an hour or so we finally reached the top. OMG there was a TON of people!

The trail I wanted to take was not open for that day (SADLY), so we ended up taking the most popular route up! The signs of hornets, bears and all the other animals were a bit daunting – you couldn’t really tell if they were warning you because someone recently ran into an undesirable animal, or just because it’s a generic warning?!

We had a light snack here (thankfully carried up the mountain as part of our breakfast) – and saw many children and adults alike that had made it up having picnics here as well.

On our way down, we treated ourselves with a blueberry icecream! And then it began the perilous DOWNHILL. Seriously I did not even IMAGINE that the downhill would be so bad? It was really steep and it did not help that we were both wearing boots (stupid me did not check the elevation when I was researching).

This was on average how steep the trail was. On one or more occasions I actually twisted my ankle pretty badly – fortunately the boots helped to keep the ankle in place so it wasn’t badly hurt. Every few hundred meters, I would have to stop for a rest as the slope was so steep I was using so much energy not to roll off and walk slowly. I think we did see a few people tripping.

I remember all I could think of was complaining to Sue on how bad this is, and also the occasional “Are we there yet?” that I kept asking her. When we finally reached ground level, I wanted to just sit on the ground for a moment – but resisted the urge. Instead, we headed off to the bus stop to wait for the bus that would bring us to our dinner destination.


Ukai Toriyama うかい

Access from Ukai Toriyama via a free shuttle service from Takao Station. More information here. Please note that reservations (not required but recommended) must be done via phone only. I made my reservation via phone from Singapore about 2 months in advance and already the “private rooms” were fully booked!

Do note that the staff don’t speak much English so you would need to speak Japanese to explain your reservation to them.

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Ukai Toriyama was the recommendation of one of my colleagues at work, and Sue and I were super intrigued by the menu that we had seen online, so we decided to splurge and give it a try!

We waited at this bus stop (above) for a few minutes before the bus arrived on schedule, and brought us straight to Ukai Toriyama. We were the only passengers, verified by the bus driver when we got on. Since we were early, we sat for awhile in the waiting area before one of the attendants brought us to our room.

Our table was faced just next to the window, so we had a good view of the bamboo groves that grew outside where we were eating. We quickly ordered (having already decided what we were having), and sat back to relax.

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The first thing we (more like Sue) ordered was this specialty sake, called Japanese Sake / Take Sake. On the menu it wrote that it was “is cold in a bamboo”. We were intrigued so we decided to go for it. Sue ended up drinking most of the bamboo HAHAHA!

The first 2 dishes! We ordered the “Charboiled Beef and Chicken Course”, which had to be ordered by everyone on the table. The first dish that came was Walnut Tofu, Sansho Pepper simmered Sweetfish, Taro, and Potato, and seasonal tempura (which in our case was mushroom). It was a very delicate dish that preceeded the 2nd dish – Fry simmered Taro and Chicken Meatball. I really liked the meatball, not so much the Taro. Not really a fan of Taro but it didn’t have a very strong taste so I managed to eat it.

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We also ordered Specialty Carp Sashimi, as we had not tried Carp Sashimi before. It was different from other types of Sashimi in that it was more textured and rough than the normal soft sashimi we normally would it, but was still delicious.

Next 2 dishes came, the mushroom soup, as well as Grilled Salted Fish. I loved both dishes though Sue had an initial confused moment about how to eat the salted fish on a stick. The mushroom soup was really flavorful compared to the more bland and fresh tasting first two dishes.

And then came the star of the night! The charboiled dishes! We had beef, chicken, as well as mushrooms and vegetables, which we happily grilled in front of us. I got to say though, I preferred the beef, as the chicken was a little harder to cook and we ended up tearing pieces of it to re-grill over the stove.

Next came the Saboro Rice, and miso soup, which was a really flavorful rice, but by this time we were stuffed and I think neither of us managed to finish the entire bowl! Dessert was Kurumi Mochi, which we both LOOOOVED – it reminded us of what we once at in Hakone, and we were still hoping to find something similar!

The whole set cost us Y8860 each, not including the sake and the carp sashimi. But without a doubt we both agreed it was completely worth it.

After resting for a loooooooong while (we were the last ones left in our public room), we headed off for the night. Catching some really nicely lit surroundings, we grabbed our bus and headed back down Takaosan.


Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu

URL: http://www.takaosan-onsen.jp/english/
Cost: Y1000 to Y1200, depending on season

takao.PNGPicture taken from the official website

We knew that tonight we were going to get on a night bus, so we opted to take a quick onsen dip in the nearby Takaosan Onsen Gorakuyu, which was a onsen facility near Takaosan station. It was a cold night, but a late evening onsen in the various cypress baths available made us both sleepy and happy, ready to tackle the night bus ahead! Also, nothing says onsen bath like a glass of cold milk afterwards – one of my favourite moments!


Night Bus to Toyama

URL: http://willerexpress.com/en/

top_splash.pngImage from Willer Express website

Willer Express is well known to be one of the night buses operating around Japan, and very English friendly. I have tried to take a night bus previously, but wasn’t able to do so because of the snow. This year, however, to save money, Sue and I opened our minds to trying it again.

We rushed back from Toyama to Shinjuku like mad people, and decided to try finding the Bus Terminal first (so we know how to drag our luggage rather than get lost later). We spent a good 10 minutes getting lost before realizing the Terminal was a huge building in front of us. And then we got lost trying to find our way from the Terminal to the Hotel. Once at the hotel we opened all the luggage, took out our “sleeping attire”, quickly changed, brushed our teeth and washed our faces, stuffed everything back in, snapped the luggage shut. AND THEN AGAIN got lost trying to find our way from the Hotel to the Terminal.

In general, it was a HUGE RUSH, but we made it in time. Dragging 1 luggage turned out to be a lifesaver here.

We got ourselves some water, Sue went to the toilet first, before we boarded the bus. Our luggage was stowed away at the bottom of the vehicle.

Fortunately, Sue and I reserved the better seats (3 in a row), instead of the 4 in a row seats which looked quite uncomfortable. Unfortunately, we did not think of where to put our smaller bags which ended up on our feet. I ended up resting my feet on my bags for most of the bus ride.

The bus ride was… let me put it this way, not meant for light sleepers. Sue and I hardly slept as the bus drove on through the night. It was OKAY for me in terms of comfort, but the bus noisily jiggling around the roads made me quite worried – it sounded as though the bus was falling apart (which of course it wasn’t).

We stopped for quite a few toilet breaks, but were FREEZING every time we stepped out of the bus. Finally when we reached Toyama at 5am, neither of us could be happier as we finally had the chance to stretch and get off the bus, despite how tired we were.

Would we do it again? Probably not, unless we were desperate. But I definitely was glad I finally tried it at least once.


Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 and 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 |

Autumn Japan 2016 – [Day 0 & 1] Departure, Arrival, Tokyo

Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 and 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 |


Early in the afternoon, I headed off to dye my hair – because what could be worse than going to Japan with unruly and ugly hair. Sat there for a good 5 hours to fix my hair. By the time I finished, it was nearing 6pm. My friend was due at my house at any minute – we had decided this trip would have to be slightly different because we could not lug 2 full sized luggage everywhere we went – it would cause a lot of issues sitting on the Shinkansen. (i.e. remember last year in Kyoto where our feet were squashed?!)

Instead, we decided that this time we would go with sharing our luggage – so one luggage would be shipped off to the middle ground, and the 2nd would come with us for the next few days. It was a logistical nightmare, but we managed it. Having travelled together helped – this time we knew what to look out for.

Sue came over and we quickly repacked both our luggage, putting what we needed immediately in hers, and spare clothes in mine. Mine would be the luggage that would then be shipped off to our middle ground in Shizuoka.


Flying to Tokyo and Tokyo Administrative

Airlines: SINGAPORE AIRLINES
Depart: Singapore Changi Airport, 11:55pm, 28 October 2016, Friday
Arrive: Tokyo Narita Airport, 8:00am, 29 October 2016, Saturday

By 10pm we were at the airport, luggage checked in and ready for departure. We headed inside to do some shopping – had some cosmetics to purchase, before we boarded our flight.

The flight arrived at 7:20am, earlier than airlines predicted, (but I was betting on as I had realized that this flight always seemed to arrive earlier than normal). Fortunately for us that meant that we could clear customs quicker! We knew we only had slightly less than 2 hours to settle all the basics – which included:

  • Changing Clothes (this is something we always do as we didn’t like to wear leggings and thick clothes for the entire flight
  • Collecting Luggage and Clearing Immigration
  • Shipping Our Luggage
  • Sending Gifts to Friends / Colleagues

Thanks to the extra time, we now had 30 minutes more buffer than original. We zoomed through the airport, changing our clothes first. 30 minutes later we were dressed and ready to clear customs. Customs in Japan was as smooth as always, and in another 30 minutes we were out. Our luggage was already sitting at the side of the collection area as they had already cleared the aisles for another airlines – efficient much. An airline staff was actually standing there waiting for us to collect our luggage – the large pink and blue suitcases that we could spot a mile away.

After clearing immigration, we quickly shipped my luggage and the gifts at the various locations – fortunately we had looked up the locations prior to arrival so we knew approximately which way they were.

By 9:40am, we had booked our NEX transport to Shinjuku, purchased some gum and drinks for the trip on the way! With 5 minutes to spare!

DIRECTIONS:
Narita Airport to Shinjuku Station
9:45am to 11:10am > Ltd Exp Narita Express 10 – Y3190

This time, I remembered to book a front-facing seat, which meant more space for our luggage – thankfully we only had 1. Having 2 would not have fit in the space alloted in front of our feet!


 Shinjuku 新宿

At Shinjuku, the first thing we did was to leave the remaining 1 luggage at our Hotel for the night. We made our way quickly through the roads to our hotel, though we got slightly lost as we did not exit the station in the correct side and I could not find the marker I had thought I would be able to see from afar.

After 10 minutes or so, we managed to reach our stop, dropped our luggage, and headed out! Our administrative had officially ended and our trip had begun!


Nabezo Shinjuku 鍋ぞう 新宿

DIRECTIONS:
Next to Shinjuku Nishiguchi Station, Prince Building is along the same stretch as the building with the large JUMBO signage
DETAILS:
URL: http://nabe-zo.com/

Address: 7F Prince Bldg., 1-4-1 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Note: Reservations possible only via Japanese website, I kept having issues reserving on the english version

Our first stop was Nabezo Shinjuku, a sukiyaki shop that we missed out last year! We were lucky enough to arrive on a weekend, so lunch option was available. Because we didn’t have much food on the flight (we had opted for fruits), turned out to be a good choice. 100 minutes free flow cost us each slightly below Y3000, but for the amount of vegetables and meat that we had taken, definitely justified the price. On top of that, we also chose 2 soup bases – the tounyu collagen as well as the shio tonkatsu base. I personally preferred the shio tonkatsu base, but I think Sue preferred the tounyu collagen instead. I think it also depends on what you are eating – the vegetables did taste better with the tounyu collagen base, whereas the meats seemed to taste better with the shio tonkatsu.


Asakusa Kibi Dango Azuma

DIRECTIONS:
From Asakusa Station, walk towards Nakamise Shopping Centre. Look out for the rabbit logo near the middle lane

DETAILS:
URL: http://aduma.tokyo/kibidango/
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 19:00
Location: 〒111-0032 18-1 Asakusa 1-chome Taito-ku Tokyo

Sue had found this place in an article she read on Facebook (read it here) and was intrigued in trying it. So after our already full lunch at Shinjuku, we headed off to look for this supposedly special dango.

Azuma started off its business as a tea and sweet house, but it’s main branch no longer sells Japanese sweets, though it’s Nakamise sister branch still continues to do. So it was Asakusa we had to go! It is famous for it’s Kibi Dango, and being lovers of Dango, we definitely could not miss this!

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We finally found it after a short search – the queue was not long but finding a place to eat was a little tricky. As the article above mentioned, food purchased cannot be eaten as we walked, but rather had to be eaten within the premises. They sold a few items, including the famous Kibi Dango Sweet Dumplings. as well as hot rice sake during the cold months, and cold sweet green tea during the summer months. We were lucky to go between both months so we had both!


Tokyo DisneySea 東京ディズニーシー

DIRECTIONS:
Take the train to Maihama, and then transfer via Resort Gateway Station to Tokyo DisneySEA

DETAILS:
Cost: Starlight Passport Y4700 (entrance from 3pm)

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Our next stop was Tokyo DisneySEA! I’ve been before (2014), but one of the main reasons why we wanted to come this time was because IT WAS HALLOWEEN. We’ve always known Japanese are famously enthusiastic about Halloween, so we came to enjoy the atmosphere!

It was definitely crowded, and more so because of the special day it was. Men and women of all ages were crowding along the roads. Many dressed as different disney princesses, villians, and some even quite realistic! We spotted a crowd of Jack Sparrows that looked authentic, considering they were Japanese cosplayers.

Of course, there were also many dressed normally, but the atmosphere was definitely very happy.

We spent some time looking around the area, at the various themed buildings and just walking around to admire the different buildings. Neither Sue nor I were really amusement ride kind of girls, and on top of that the queue being so crazy, we opted to just enjoy the atmosphere instead.

We watched the water parade from a far, a cute little production called It’s a Villian’s World. Sue particularly enjoyed Ursula who danced enthusiastically with the music, compared to all the other villians who were just waving happily at the crowd.

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From afar, we watched light grey clouds looming over the artificial volcano, which is the landmark of Tokyo DisneySEA, and the location for the ride Journey to the End of the Earth.

Raging Spirits belonged to part of the Lost River Delta area. It was a beautiful area to walk through especially when the sun was setting, because of the many colors that would reflect n the water display, along with the fire display.

The Arabian Coast was also beautiful during dusk, and the grey clouds loomed even further. We were also unused to our new cameras for the night environment, so pictured degraded from there.

The rain began to pour, so we decided to call it an early night and leave DisneySEA. I wanted to wait up for the fireworks, but at this rate it wasn’t going to happen, so I bit a sigh of resentment (knowing that I’ve missed it AGAIN) and we headed back to Shinjuku.


IBIS Hotel Shinjuku

Date: 2nd to 5th April 2015
Cost: SGD253.90, 1 Twin Room, Non-Smoking
Rating: 39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline

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We checked in for the night, and as the hotel had upgraded us to a triple room instead, leaving us the luxury of putting 1 luggage on the remaining bed – it wasn’t much of a difference from the original room otherwise.

The room was clean and fairly big considering it is a hotel within the Shinjuku area – I’ve lived in smaller ones for the same cost. The hotel was really clean and quiet, which was something we really appreciated.

Sue spent majority of the night repacking her/our luggage, taking out what we would need for the next day, while I decided where we would go since it was still an early night. We decided to head out to the nearby conbini for some food (and water, as usual), and also head to the nearby malls for some night shopping.


Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 and 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 |

Autumn Japan 2015 – [Day 8 & 9] Nikko

Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8+


If there’s one thing I hate about holidays, is having to wake up early – who else do I have to blame for such a hectic itinerary? ME of course. Mostly because Japan has nothing to do at night, the morning hours are crucial.

Today, we were going to head off to Nikko – known for the beautiful foilage. I had also read that the crowd would jam up the roads, so we had to get an early start.

As usual, we dragged ourselves up at around 8am. My parents, who were used to waking up at 6am, had already gotten dressed, and even had time to grab some breakfast at the hotel. Me? I decided the extra hour of sleep was more important than the food. So instead, I grabbed a sandwich on the way to Asakusa, to grabbed our already booked tickets.

Note: If you are intending to hit the first train to Nikko, you would need to collect your tickets the day before, as the office distributing the tickets would not be open until after the first train departs.


Travelling to Nikko via SPACIA

For more information: http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/en/using/spacia/

We boarded the train just in time.

I had pre-booked the compartments and the tourism agency at Asakusa gladly helped me make the reservation. There is a lot of talk about whether this is an additional cost from the SPACIA tickets – Yes it is. You would have to pay the basic fare (if you have purchased the Nikko passes, you wouldn’t then have to pay for this additionally), on top of that, SPACIA express fee, and on top of that the compartment fee. The compartment fee is decided per compartment, irregardless of how many people are inside.

Arriving at Nikko Station 1-2hours later, we boarded a bus to Chuzenji. Prior to the trip, we were told by many websites and the tourist agency themselves – during autumn period the buses would be very packed, and on top of that, the road up to Lake Chuzenji would be delayed as it is a peak period for Nikko. While planning, I had already catered a lot of spare time, but was still concerned – so when we arrived I quickly headed off to queue for the bus. This worry was without premise as the bus was really empty, and went smoothly up the mountain without much delay. We arrived at Lake Chuzenji slightly before lunch.


Lake Chuzenji 中禅寺湖

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The cold air of Chuzenjiko hit us in the face. The town was fairly empty, which was different from what I originally expected. Deciding that we needed to warm up, my parents headed for a small little food store nearby.

Whilst they were ordering, I took the opportunity to get some nice shots around Chuzenjiko. Tha lake was deserted, except for a few fishermen wading their small boats through the calm waters.

Lunch was served a short while later – the restaurant offered both soba and don options, so everyone managed to get something they really wanted. My sister and mother opted for soba, whereas dad reverted to his staple tempura don, and i went for a oyakodon. The food was really good and really hot which satisfied especially my parents’ need for hot food.

After lunch, we headed back out, and got a shock of our lives – a thick fog had literally covered the entire lake area. We tried to head out to view Kegon Waterfall, but in the fog it was impossible.

However, next to Kegon Waterfall there was a few stalls going on selling interesting food, so we stopped by to try some of the food and take a look at some of the stores. After eating our fill (because there was nothing we could do), we decided to head back to the hotel to enjoy the amenities instead.

We spent the rest of the day at Nikko Lakeside Hotel, just relaxing in bed and hanging out. Later at night, we ventured out again to the onsen for a bath, and retired for that day.

By next morning, the sky had cleared and we were finally able to see what Lake Chuzenji looked it. It was a really nice and beautiful morning, though fairly cold.

We spent the morning walking around Lake Chuzenji, admiring the autumn foilage, before we decided to head back down to Nikko.


Kirifuri Falls 霧降の滝

My dad suggested to head to Kirifuri Falls – no idea till date where he figured out the route or how he found out about this place. But it was one of the best decisions of our lives.

The 30minute bus ride brought us to the front of the trail, where we walked in. Kirifuri Falls stood about 20minutes from the bustop, and suddenly we realized the crowd had appeared. There were tons of tourists vying to take a picture with the waterfall, of the waterfall, or just trying to get the best spots.

We managed to get a few good shots, and decided that there were too many people to continue staying there for too long.


Yamano Restaurant 山のレストラン

1546 Tokorono, Nikko 321-1421, Tochigi Prefecture
http://www.meiji-yakata.com/kirifuri/index.html

Instead, we headed back for some food. We had chanced upon a beautiful restaurant near Kirifuri Falls, aptly named Yamano Restaurant, which basically translated as Restaurant in the Mountains. The beautiful restaurant offered outside seatings, where one could sit and watch the scenery. With a heater next to us, we braved the weather.

The food was more of a french fusion style, but it was delicious nonetheless. I ordered a set which came with dessert, starters and a main course. Everything was beautifully displayed and tasted great. I would definitely go back again for this view, and the food. Definitely recommended.


Heading Back to Asakusa

After a hearty meal, we braced ourselves for the long journey back to Asakusa via SPACIA again. My sister headed off to meet her friends, while my parents and I decided to head to Asakusa. We explored Nakamise Shopping Street again, as well as had some sushi for dinner at a restaurant I had previously been before here. The last day was spent in Tokyo, visiting Tsukiji Fish Market, shopping at Shibuya etc. Having been to these places so often, I didn’t even bring my camera, opting to just chill and enjoy for the last day.

It was a fruitful trip, definitely exciting. We fought, we laughed, everything a family should do. It was the first time we had gone overseas together, and although I don’t think I would want to do it again so soon (the planning was KILLER!), but it was definitely a good experience.


Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8+

Autumn Japan 2015 – [Day 7] Tateyama Alpine Route Descend

Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8+


Sunrise at Daikanbo

Offered by Hotel Tateyama
Cost: Y2100
Reservations required at front desk

One of the available activities hosted by Hotel Tateyama is the sunrise tour, where the hotel sends you to Daikanbo to watch the sunrise as it rose over one of the nearby mountain ranges. Hotel staff would provide an alarm service to wake you should the sunrise tour be available that day – based on the astronomer’s forecast, they would predict how clear the sunrise would be before waking guests up.

That morning, the alarm rang at 5:20am. Sleepily wrapping ourselves in the warmest clothes we had (which were stone cold because we left them out on the sofa the night before), we gathered at the lobby along with about 20 other guests. The hotel then ferried us to Daikanbo viewpoint, where we stood and waited.

Around 7am, the sun rose, somewhat covered by the clouds. It was not the perfect view, but it was quite amazing nonetheless – 20 odd people standing on an observatory, to view the day’s first sunrise. By 7:30am, we were frozen cold, and the hotel staff guided us back for breakfast.


Hotel Tateyama

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Back at the hotel, we made a beeline straight for the buffet. The wide-selection provided was definitely a surprise – we didn’t expect much from a mountain top hotel. Fruits, western and japanese breakfast were all available, along with a choice selection of hot and cold drinks. Note, however, that this is only available when the entire route is running. Should you choose to stay here after the route is either partially closed or when it is only partially opened, a bento will be provided. You can also opt to take a pack of food away instead of eating at the hotel.

After our full breakfast, we packed our luggages, and got ready to head down the mountain.


Daikanbo 大観峰

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Taking the Tunnel Trolley Bus, we arrived back at Daikanbo. This time, as we looked out upon the same observation deck, we realized that the clouds were gone, and the mountains were clearly visible. We walked around Daikanbo for awhile, before taking the ropeway (you can somewhat see the ropeway in the picture above), down to Kurobedaira.

This ropeway is almost 1.7meters long, and operates with 0 support – unlike any other ropeway I’ve ever seen before. It is known as Japan’s longest one-span ropeway, taking approximately 7 minutes to traverse from 1 end to the other. During peak seasons, I have read that this tends to be the bottleneck, but when we went there was hardly anyone travelling this route, so we managed to smoothly make our way to Midagahara without much queuing.


Kurobedaira

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Once at Kurobedaira, we started to feel fairly warm – of course, we had just descended half the mountain and the cold misty air was gone. In fact, autumn had just left Kurobedaira, as some trees were still in their last shades of autumn. From Kurobedaira observation deck, you can view the magnificent mountains as far as the eyes can see. I would imaging that if we had arrived earlier, this would have been a sight to behold.

From Daikanbo and Kurobedaira were much smaller stops than Midagahara and Bijodaira earlier, so we didn’t stay long and continued our way down to Kurobe Dam via the Tateyama Cablecar (similar to the cablecar we took from Tateyama to Bijodaira).


Kurobe Dam 黒部ダム

Kurobe Dam marked the end of our journey of the Tateyama Alpine Route – at least to me. Owned by Kansai Electric Power Company, Kurobe Dam is one of the must-see stops along Tateyama Alpine Route. Earlier in the year, you can watch as tons of water gets expelled from the Dam, often creating a rainbow spectrum as water gushes through the Dam. Towards the end of the season, however, this sight is not available for viewing.

Still, we caught a lot of spectacular scenery as we walked across Kurobe Dam. At the end of the Dam, there is a small shop selling snacks and soft serve icecream. We tried the raspberry flavored one – which did not disappoint at all. Sitting along the dam with not many people around (as compared to certain places which would be packed with tourists), I was happy I decided to come here in this season. It wasn’t the peak season, without it’s snow walls and raging autumn colors, but on it’s own, it was still a marvelous time to be there.

From Kurobe Dam, it was then a long journey to Ogizawa, before an even longer train ride back to Tokyo.


Ninja Akasaka

DIRECTIONS:
Ninja Akasaka is located near Akasaka Mitsuke Station in Tokyo ward. Part of the experience is finding the location 🙂 Have fun!

Reservations Required: http://www.ninjaakasaka.com/
English: Staff are able to speak english, but you have to specify you need English at the time of reservation for them to cater.

Ninja Akasaka is one of my favorite theme restaurants to bring new companions. I’ve gone there at least 3 times (see Spring 2015 for another time that I went, unfortunately I think the pictures then may not have been as well photographed considering the dark lighting of the restaurant =x). It’s a different experience each time – I’ve seen the funny ninja, the “newly trained” ninja, and even the expert ninja. This time was equally amazing.

As usual, a Ninja – this time a newly trained ninja, brought us to our seats. My mum had a “fainting spell” halfway throughout, and the ninja kind of lost the mood. She only told us afterwards that it was fake so we could go to our seats earlier. WTF – note, never bring parents to this kind of theme restaurants. They won’t really enjoy it.

Of course, I ordered the signature course again (YAMATO SPIRIT COURSE – recommended for all first timers), just so that we could see most of the effects – that’s part of the enjoyment after all.

The first dish arrived, to the intrigue of my parents. Shuriken star-blades Grissini (手裏剣グリッシーニ), biscuit shaped like shuriken. Our newly-trained ninja reminded us that the plant was not edible.

The second dish came shortly after – Special of the Day (お楽しみ). This was like a tomato based soup with croutons. Not bad tasting considering how much I don’t really like tomato soup.

Next dish, possibly my favorite, were what they called Turban Shell Bombs with Garlic Butter (サザエ爆弾焼き エスカルゴもどき). Basically escargot that is in a bomb design. Watch while the ninja sets the bombs on fire. Our newly trained ninja failed at her justsu, and instead lit it with a lighter, while apologising profusely. Quite hilarious!

Afterwards came the Mystery Dish (幻の…) – Which turned out to be a risotto on a red bean paste. Not bad, but not my favorite, especially after eating it multiple times already. Just not a fan of risotto I guess.

After the mystery dish came the Vegetable Cocktail of the Season Topped with Whipped Japanese Stock (季節の和え物 泡仕立て). This was the perfect thing to eat as a snack – the stock was surprisingly nice, and I’ll always remember my friend who refused all kinds of vegetable, actually willingly ate this.

The Special stone-boiled soup – Japanese bouillabaisse (名物 灼熱投石鍋 葉隠之術 – 和風ブイヤベース) was next – a vegetable soup boiled with a hot stone. My mum was quite intrigued by this. A hot stone was dropped into the soup pot, and later fished out before the soup was served. Vegetables and ingredients were thrown in uncooked in front of us as the Ninja cooked our soup expertly.

After that, a Ninja-style Cream Puff (忍びの衆(シュー)) was served. This black cream puff is another of my favorites. Don’t be fooled by the black cream puff – it is worth a try.

Sherbet Candy (季節のアイスキャンディ) was served next as a palate cleanser. I’ve had these at multiple occasions, and the flavors were always different. During sakura, it is infused with sakura. In autumn however, it was yuzu-flavored. Yumz.

And then the main courses arrived. For the first time, I had the chance to see all the different options available on the table. This came in either meat or seafood specialty of the day.

And although we thought it was over, came the Special Sushi and Sushi Rolls (特選握り寿司とロール寿司). This came in a row of 4 or 5 sushi. By this time, we were filled to the brim, and were thankful when the dessert came, of course, in the usual shape of a Frog Cheesecake.

The whole course cost approximately Y6999, and it was my treat to the family for this special occasion on going on holiday today after so many years. Truly not disappointing.

A fully belly and 2 hours later, we headed back to the hotel for the rest of the night.


Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8+

Autumn Japan 2015 – [Day 6] Tateyama Alpine Route Ascend

Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8+


Tateyama Alpine Route 立山黒部アルペンルート

For more information about the routes, please visit: http://www.alpen-route.com/en/ You can also find out more information on the transport schedules, weather forecasts as well as any information you will need to know for this trip.

Early the next morning, we left Toyama Station and took the Dentetsu line up to Tateyama Station. Opened only half a year between April and November, it is one of the most beautiful places I have been to, and I don’t regret the amount of effort it takes to plan the traverse.

Tateyama Alpine Route is best accessed from either Toyama or Nagano, though the schedules of the transports seem to favour the Toyama starting point. To access the Tateyama Alpine Route, one had to take about 7 modes of transport to traverse the full route. A pass can be bought online and although it doesn’t save much cost-wise, it provides a quicker transition rather than queuing at each stop for a new ticket.

While it is possible to make it from 1 end to the other in 1 day, along the various stops, there are various trails to be explored, so it is advised that staying 1 day at either Midagahara or Murodo would be the best, as it provides ample time for exploration.

Image from: japan-guide.com

Upon arrival at Tateyama Station, the cold wind was a clear reminder that we were no longer on sea-level, but on an elevation higher up. With our pre-booked passes in hand, we collected our first ticket for the cablecar. This is the only ticket you will be able to pre-book prior to arrival.

The cablecar then brings you up to Bijodaira, where the trails begin.


Bijodaira 美女平駅

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Our first stop on our ascend is Bijodaira. We had arrived at Bijodaira during the full peak of autumn – the trees were in a majestic fiery red. The family decided to take a short walk along the Bijodaira Short Loop.

The walk itself took approximately 1 hour, and was breathtaking. However, good shoes are definitely required for this – as the roads can get slippery and the beginning portion of the hike is quite hectic as it is a steep downslope on rocky terrain. I am glad, however, that we had gone at a low peak period as it allowed us to have access to the area all to ourselves.

The 1 hour walk was definitely worth it – the views were amazing and the weather was crisp and fresh. Although it was cold, but the walk soon made it comfortable enough to walk around without our jacket.

At the end of the stretch, we walked along the road back to our main station. The road was virtually empty except for the few buses going up to Midagahara, lined with fiery red autumn leaves. It was indeed a beautiful sight and a very comfortable walk back to Bijodaira Station.

Upon arrival at Bijodaira Station, we headed off for the next station, Midagahara Station.

Tip: There are lockers available at Bijodaira Station that you can put your heavy belongings in while making this walk. This was a lifesaver for us as we did not have to carry around our tripods and clothing, which was relatively heavy.


Midagahara 弥陀ヶ原

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Autumn had long since passed in Midagahara by the time we arrived. The autumn colors had long since passed here, but left behind was a peaceful scenery. Upon getting off the bus at Midagahara, we booked our bus leaving Midagahara to Murodo at 2pm.

Note: you would be required to make this reservation first, in order to ensure that you would have a connecting bus later on, and not be stranded at Midagahara.

Before exploring, we decided to have a quick lunch first at Midagahara Hotel.

The hotel offered a good variety of food, and prices weren’t too expensive either. The view of the hotel, which had glass walls to allow full access to the outside, was beautiful, and we had a hearty lunch before continuing our walk exploration.

Note: there is no other option for food other than Midagahara Hotel and Hotel Tateyama, so if you have no intention of eating hotel food, please bring your own

Midagahara plain loop, which took around a 2 hour walk, was a very breathtaking view. The steps, however, proved to be a bit tricky, as my mum tripped over one of the steps and fell down. It is a relatively dangerous walk that should not be taken for granted, and steps have to be watched carefully as the paths are not even.


Although the walk was fairly long, it was still beautiful to see all the post-autumn flowers as they awaited the harsh winter to arrive. It was also very refreshing to see the mountains surrounding us, clouds whirring past and chilling winds.

Of course, we were also lucky – shortly after we finished the small loop, a thick fog appeared which reduced visibility, making clear views of the surroundings impossible.

We also wanted to take a walk at the Caldera loop, but due to bear sightings, that route was closed for the day.

Note: Lockers are also available here


Murodo 室堂

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Murodo was our stop for the day, as we had a night booked at Hotel Tateyama. Upon arrival at Murodo, we saw remnants of snow. Murodo begins to snow between end of October to early November.

Upon arriving, we left our items in the hotel and headed out to explore the paths at Murodo.

The Mikurigaike Loop took about 2 hours. Around the loop, we were able to see Mikurigaike lake. The blue lake contrasted against the white mountains, making it really a beautiful sight – I could only imagine how beautiful it would be in spring.

At the mid-point of the loop sits a small little shop that sold berry ice-cream. There were seats available both inside and outside to cater to customers who preferred the warm, or customers who wanted to sit where there was an unobstructed view.

We continued our exploration as the temperature slowly decreased, as a cloud covered the mountain peak. The temperature was getting too cold to bear, and so we headed back to the hotel to check in.


Hotel Tateyama

URL: https://h-tateyama.alpen-route.co.jp/english/
Check In & Out: 20th October 2015 to 21st October 2015
Cost: Y45100 for 2 persons, Twin Room with Half Board
Rating: 39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline39159_large_light_blue_glitter_star_with_silver_outline

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Hotel Tateyama, recognised as the closest resort to the stars, sits at 2450m above sea level. It is the best hotel to be at along the Tateyama Alpine Route, located right in the middle at Murodo Station.

The rooms were pretty spacious, although a bathroom was not available in the twin rooms. A private bathroom could be booked in accordance to availability, and a public bath was also available. The view from our room also allowed us to see the trails we had just earlier walked.

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A full Kaiseki dinner was also provided for all hotel guests, which was quite scrumptious.

All in all, the hotel was outstanding on all fronts, of course taking into consideration of the location.

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At night, stargazing is also possible on the observation deck. It was a beautiful, clear night when we went, and we were lucky to have a star-filled sky that night. Despite the cold as temperatures dropped below 0C, we trudged on to take photos of the star-studded night. After about 1 hour, we turned in for the night.


Trip Posts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8+

 

Day 4 | Denmark We Go

Perth Trip Itinerary: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4


Leaving Margaret River

With our Margaret River leg of the journey almost over, we decided to stop by the city center prior to leaving. Looking for a place for a quiet breakfast, we chanced upon a little cafe that was open.

The quaint little cafe stood in the middle of the city center, and we decided to stop by for some real food before heading off.

Amongst the spread, what really tempted us despite the cold weather was an apple crumble. The staff seemed almost perplexed and confused that 2 asian girls decided to order an icecream dessert on what was a cold winter morning. Several of the staff came to joke with us on our choice of food, but it turned out to be an awesome choice. The hot apple crumbled mixed with the cold icecream balanced perfectly – I don’t regret eating almost the whole slice of it.

With our stomach full and happy, we drove off towards Denmark. The city was pretty much still asleep when we embarked on our next journey. But the quietness was a good welcome from not having to worry about road conditions or other drivers.


Pemberton

About 2 hours later, we found ourselves driving into the little city that was Pemberton. With virtually almost no cars on the road, we stopped for a quick break, and was sorely awoken by a freezing cold chill blowing past the town. Spotting a tourist information booth close by, we decided to get some directions on what we could possibly visit while we were here – not that we had any plans anyway.

The kind lady there directed us to some nearby attractions – so we decided to take a look before moving on.


 The Cascades

https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/cascades
The Cascades, Collins WA 6260, Australia

Our first stop was The Cascades. A beautiful walk around the area with small rapids made us feel at peace while we spent some time exploring the beautiful cascades. It was still fairly early in the morning, and there were probably less than 5 tourists in the area. A perfectly serene and quiet spot to just relax after a long drive.

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The Cascades reminded me somewhat of Japan for some strange reason – sitting by the river and drinking sweet Japanese tea. Funny how that turns out I guess?


Lavender and Berry Farm

http://www.lavenderandberryfarm.com.au/
The Lavender & Berry Farm, Lot 65 Browns Road, Pemberton, WA, 6260

Our next stop was a few minutes drive away, to the Lavender and Berry Farm.

An on and off rain greeted us upon arrival, despite the sunlight. We headed in quickly, the sweet smell of lavender welcoming us as we trotted in.

At the back of the farm was a small cafe where we (or I) decided to try some of their famous pancakes. There was another 2 visitors there at that time, who, upon seeing the size of the unfinished pancakes at the other tables, joked with us about how there was no way we could finish the pancakes. Turns out, we could!

We also bought back some souvenirs from this farm, including soaps, tea, and various hand made items. We didn’t realize at that point, but there is actually available rooms for staying here, which I think would have been beautiful.


Greens Pool @ Williams Bay National Park

William Bay National Park, Denmark WA 6333, Australia

Our last stop for the day was Greens Pool at Williams Bay National Park. Initially we had wanted to visit the dunes, but after driving for what seemed like forever, we gave up and made our way to Greens Pool instead. By the time we had arrived, it was around 4pm – we had driven almost 4 hours by then.

But every moment was worth it. Greens Pool was by far the most beautiful scenery we had seen so far.

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The blue sky, green sea, and the amazing sunset made it all the best time to visit. FURTHERMORE, there was literally no one around! Which gave us the freedom to do a lot of stupid things.

We stood here for a good long time, admiring the amazing sunset, before rushing off.


Elephant Rocks @ Williams Bay National Park

Next to Greens Pool, stood the equally famous Elephant Rocks.

Huge large rocks that stood jutting out of the tides, contrasting against the blue skies that I had grown to love in Australia, it offered a wide view of the ocean, where we could smell the salt in our hair and the freshness of the breeze.

Getting there was as easy as following the signs, but even the mountains seemed to tell a tale – I wished we could have taken more time to walk around and explore on foot, but unfortunately time was not on our side.

Fortunately though, we did get some SERIOUSLY amazing views – that made me really glad I took my new camera out on this virgin trip.

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With this final beauty, we closed the chapter on Williams Bay, and made our way to our next accomodation. We had an airbnb booked for that night – this would be my first airbnb experience, and we had to arrive there by 5pm.


RiverzRest Tranquil Denmark Studio

https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/6769298

Situated in a really nice quiet neighbourhood, RiverzRest Studio stood by, as its namesake, just by the river. The studio apartment, which stood below the owner’s actual house, was accessible by their own private entry, which gave views of the garden and the river sitting just a few steps away from it.

The apartment itself was wonderfully neat and tidy, with an ensuite bathroom and a large space for us to relax and admire our surroundings. Margaret, our host, was a real private host – which I liked. She left us mostly to ourselves, coming out only to welcome us and lead us to the rooms. She had also prepared some hand made bread for us by the kitchenette for the next day. Her handwritten notes also made the experience quite welcoming.

We found ourselves relaxing here for about an hour, before finally deciding what we should eat. Fortunately, our host Margaret, was really thoughtful. She had a little booklet of nearby eateries and other recommendations that we could browse through. Feeling like having fried fish that day, we headed off to one of the places whose menu was provided in her booklet.

We each ordered a different type of set, along with a bottle of juice (side note, I have never seen so many flavors of Bundaberg in my life – the only one I have ever seen was the root beer version that we pretended was Butterbeer during a Harry Potter themed birthday).

The fish was pretty well prepared, but the meal was too large for us to finish. It became apparent that we could never finish an Australian meal normally.

We returned back to our apartment, which by then was pitch black. Fortunately, the dinner stop was just a road away.

Later that night, we had realized that there were really jaw-dropping stars just outside of our window, and so we waited… for all the lights to go off so we could take some night shots. This was also the first time I would be trying with my camera.

By 11pm, all lights were out, and we quietly made our way to the porch. Setting up the tripod and getting ready, wrapped warmly in our winter jackets, we started to attempt. It was slightly tricky, because some of the lights on the outside turned themselves on and off automatically, which meant that I could not move too far or too much without switching one of the lights on and ruining the shot.

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After 2 attempts, we got this beauty – the very first starry shot I have ever taken in my life. Not perfect, but it was something. It drove us to continue, but at this point, we heard some sound from the river, of what sounded like an animal dropping into the lake.

I asked my friend (somewhat fearfully) if she thought it could be an alligator. Both scared, we decided to run in. We have never ran into a room, locked the door, and hid so quickly in our lives. Hindsight, next morning we figured it probably was nothing but a fish, but at the time, in the middle of the night, we were too afraid to continue. We thought of waiting it out, but our imaginations continued to get the best of us, as we started to imagine other animals appearing in our window. So, we called it a night.

My verdict on airbnbs? I still don’t fancy it. Not to say that Margaret was a bad host – she was amazing in many ways and her style suited my type of travel. I just wasn’t comfortable being in someone else’s home. The amount of noise we could not make, the considerations we had to take for others. It was something I felt uncomfortable doing, and something I was completely unaccustomed to. There was also a level of insecurities I faced. But hey, that’s just my opinion.


Perth Trip Itinerary: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4