Sunday, September 12, 2010

Backpacking Kawaguchi Lake: Finding Fuji San

2nd stop of Backpacking Japan with Travel Factor.

I thought long and hard whether to bring along a neck pillow on a backpacking trip, it's not an inflatable one but one like a bean bag which takes up a lot of baggage space hoping it will make me sleep better on overnight buses.  I have sleeping problems, I don't get to sleep anywhere, anytime.  So I did bring one with me.

We took the Kintetsu Highway Bus from Kyoto to Kawaguchiko Station; twas a nine hour overnight bus.  We were delighted to see that there was three rows (all aisle) of individual seats.  Unfortunately, the road was a lil bumpy and the bus was running no more than it's speed limit of 50kmph.  The aircon bus was warm, i guess the wool blanket, pashmina, and jacket were definitely useless.  We complained to the bus driver that it was warm and if he could switch off the light but to no avail.  At 2am, the lights were finally off and there goes an orchestra of snores on the bus and one blurted out, do you have something to kill a fly?  We had to burst into laughter, our tour leader snored a magnified version of a buzzing fly beating its wings.  At somepoint another snores in a different tune and an earphone falls off with disco music loud enough for us to hear. Well, well, well... i barely had sleep on that overnight bus ride.(more info on trips from Kyoto to Kawaguchiko here.)

We arrived Kawaguchiko Station a few minutes earlier than expected.  While waiting for our complimentary hostel transfers, we spotted Mt. Fuji from behind the station.  I took a snapshot by the window, and gladly I did because finding Fuji san the rest of day was difficult on a seemingly sunny but cloudy day.

Mt. Fuji on the background

After a while, my fellow travellers spotted a Filipino, from abs-cbn... ecstatic about seeing fellow Filipino (which is rare in Japan), he said he'll be back with his camera.  He came back with his camera and Ya-chang!  Remember Ya-chang?  He was discovered for being candid as a contestant in Wowowee; they were there filming for Bayaning Pilipino, to be shown sometime in December.  They caught a video of us with him at the station, hopefully we get our tv debut soon.  They invited us to join them on their tour to Oishi Park, unfortunately, we still have our luggage in tow... we ought to check-in at our hostel first.  Ya-chang insisted, that we can leave our luggage in the station, anyway it won't get lost... nothing gets lost in Japan.  Really?! (tourists like us do! haha)
abs-cbn camera man with Ya-chang!
K's House Mt. Fuji is about 5 minutes by car from Kawaguchiko Station or 15 minutes by foot.   The lobby, kitchen, living room was spacious, by far was the cleanest and most spacious hostel we've checked-in during the whole trip.  Six of us shared a room en suite a private comfort room but i preferred the common toilet and bath since it was clean and more spacious.  We slept on the floor like Japanese do; being the smallest, I had to tuck myself in a corner to fit six mattresses in the room.

Kawaguchi Lake is the jump-off point to see Mt. Fuji (from afar). The place is serene with lovely little towns best for rest and relaxation.  Travel Factor provided us with a ticket around Kawaguchiko on Retro Bus for 1000 yen. Later did we realize that with limited time, it is wiser to avail of a day tour like Mt. Fuji Bus Tour for about 4,900 yen (or a 70 minute open bus Kaba Sightseeing Bus for 1,200 yen also looked interesting). It gets you to see more places faster since the retro bus schedule is not too frequent.
town's specialty Hoton Noodles for lunch.
We were left on our own to wander around with the Retro Bus; most attractions close by 4 or 5 in the afternoon, with little time left, we narrowed down our choices to two:

Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway; no Mt. Fuji in sight, it was covered up with smog.
Oishi Park:  very few flowers bloom in the summer; but the corn on the cob & blueberry ice cream were sweet!

more info about Fuji Five Lakes / Kawaguchiko
 While browsing through some brochures in the hostel; there's more to see in the area:
Thomas the Train Bus to Fuji Q Highlands and so my nephew asked, "did you buy it?"
ecstatic knowing that there is Thomas Land in Fuji Q Highland; my nephews will love this!
Late in the afternoon, some of us did the laundry while 3 of us were tasked to buy food from the grocery for our dinner.  We had an inexpensive sumptuous dinner at the hostel with sashimi, gyoza, tempura, katsudon and more.   Mt. Fuji was standing high and mighty on our way to the grocery, of all times, I left my camera. *boo!*

We capped the day with a dip on a forty degree jacuzzi at the onsen to pamper those tired muscles.  There is proper etiquette to be observed at the onsen; but oops i came across this the morning after.

DIY post trip accounting: (1 yen = .53 pesos)
Y8000  bus fare from Kyoto to Kawaguchiko on Kintetsu Highway Bus
Y2700 1 night @ K's House 2,700 yen/person, 6pax sharing
Y1000 retro bus
Y1300 hoton noodles
Y800 dinner from the grocery
Y1700 bus fare from Kawaguchiko to Tokyo Station/Shinjuku Station


☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...

Awesome photos! I've been dreaming of going to Japan, and it might take a while before I'm able to afford it. Thanks for sharing your expenses :)

freeze said...

thanks for dropping by pinay travel junkie ;) there's more coming up, let me collect my thoughts first :D

tmas said...

great i know where to look for ideas of my next travel...thanks!

freeze said...

hi tmas, :) keep coming! i'll visit yours too :D

Gypsy said...

Wow, Freeze!
Awesome that you got to enjoy Japan! I was there for only about 5 days for meetings last year--I so wished it was longer. Would love to go back.

PS. Back blogging, hopefully will be more consistent..;)

freeze said...

hi gypsy! nice to hear from you again. :)

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