Day 6 of our week–long stay in Tokyo was spent going around Tokyo Tower (although we didn’t go up), dropping by Odaiba, and then passing by Shibuya. The rest of the time was spent packing up and buying last-minute souvenirs since we would be flying home the following day. But anyway, here’s the day in pictures:
After our Disney weekend was a trip to Shinjuku Gyoen and Asakusa. But first was a stop at Shinjuku Bus Terminal to inquire about tickets going to Oshino Hakkai.
We ought to have reserved beforehand because the schedule we wanted was no longer available. So no trip to see Mt. Fuji up close + a chance to see a world heritage site.
Anyway, we pushed on to Shinjuku Gyoen which was more or less nearby. My friends wanted to go back to the apartment and rest (because we averaged about 20,000 steps a day for the past four days haha^^; ) but when we finally got to the garden, it was just breathtaking and worth it:
From Shinjuku Gyoen, we headed on to Asakusa by cab. The ride took about half an hour long but the time went somewhat smoothly because it was a good way to go sightseeing still and I had occasional conversations with the driver. I think I used up my Japanese by the time we arrived at Asakusa but nevertheless the cab ride let us have a much-needed rest. Btw, most of the cab drivers in Tokyo are grandpas but this one was a Daniel Wu look-alike in his early 50s.
I’ve been to Asakusa before, but here are my spring edition photos:
My friends were able to buy souvenirs in Nakamise Doori and we enjoyed street food for dinner. Instead of ketchup, there’s lemon extract to pair with fried chicken.
Just two stops for day 5 but certainly satisfying.
Getting lost in Tokyo Sky Tree almost did though, tbh. I just couldn’t find where the bus stop was. Eventually we did and on to Disneyland we went.
We stayed at the souvenir shop near the entrance while waiting for the bus. The trip would take us back to Tokyo Sky Tree, and dinner was at a Mosburger we saw down the road.
We saved time by buying entrance tickets online. You can buy about two months before your intended schedule. As for transportation, the buses going to and from Tokyo Sky Tree were really convenient and not crowded at all.
Day 4 would be another trip to the resort, this time at Disney Sea.
So, Day 1 is a quick stop at Ueno Park; in the second day of our week-long trip, we went to Tsukiji Fish Market, Imperial Palace gardens, and had dinner at Akihabara.
We got to the fish market shortly before lunch. We did have lunch and coffee, but no, we did not have sushi. I failed to find the line of stalls selling sweets, too. Of course, Tsukiji Fish Market does smell like fish (duh!), but it’s still a lot cleaner than how I remember the wet markets we used to frequent when I was a kid.
Next stop is the Imperial Palace gardens. Whatever we had at Tsukiji we definitely burned on the way haha. Good thing we had a bag of strawberries to keep us fueled.
Our final stop was somewhere in Akihabara to meet our former officemates who also happened to be around the area. No pictures here because we were too hungry and we kinda looked haggard^^;
There was a lot of walking on this day but experiencing the places and feasting on the sights and sounds made all the walking worth it. Onwards to Day 3!
I joined my friends on their adventure to Tokyo April of last year because it would be their first time to travel DIY, and I tried getting a ticket for the 25th L’Anniversary, the weekend of which fell right smack in the middle of the schedule. I figured too that it would be my last chance to join them since I would migrate late last year. So, joining the party last, I made our itinerary and became the unofficial guide.
We landed at Narita Airport around lunch time so we had a meal first and then checked in to our house.
I had my friends go through an ordeal, and I really felt bad about it–the station we alighted from only had stairs on the exit we were supposed to take. We eventually made it to the house and after getting some much-needed rest, we headed to Ueno Park.
We didn’t really sit on the park and have a picnic; we couldn’t even if we wanted to; but the brief time there was fun nonetheless.
A lovely view of the Tokyo Tower from Zojoji.
No ATV rides, no sili ice cream, but it was still quite an experience.
I swore that this year, I’ll explore Philippines more, so one seat sale or so ago, I looked for a place to go to and decided on Albay. I want to see Mt. Mayon up close! But after this trip, I found gems, both in places and people. So enough with the narratives and on to the pictures!
Even if you end up sitting at the wrong side of the plane, you’ll still get a nice view of Mayon after the plane lands. One of the best runway views I’ve seen so far 🙂
Lignon Hill is just behind Legazpi Airport, so I hopped on to a tricycle right away. Manong was very helpful; he was actually teaching me where to go, how to go around and he practically got that I prefer experiencing the place like how locals do. He assured me that I, with no exercise at all and practically sits all day in the office, can reach Lignon Hill’s peak. He said he even jogs there in mornings. Okay then, I thought, I’m ready!
The road was paved, yes; you won’t get lost, yes; but it was steep. Not exaggerating here, but I was tempted to crawl up at some parts of the trek haha^^ I was that out of shape. Thankfully though, I was able to reach the peak and was rewarded with these views:
A lot of people were exercising there too and there was someone selling coconuts.
Lignon Hill has a minimal entrance fee after 9 am but it’s free in the mornings (and personally, considering how hot it can get later on in the day, mornings are the best time to go there).
After Lignon Hill, my next stop was Cagsawa Ruins. Two jeepney rides away from the foot of Lignon Hill, Cagsawa is hard to miss since there’s a sign pointing to the park. About half a kilometer’s walk and you’re already by the entrance. They charge a fee of 20 pesos and you’re free to stay there as long as you like.
There are plenty of souvenir shops and some restaurants inside, and I don’t really like to say this, but it’s a little too touristy for me. There are plenty of locals too offering to take pictures for visitors for a fee. What I appreciate about them is they just ask you once and then if you say no, they leave you alone. Here are shots of the bell tower, the church hall’s remnants and a rice field:
After about an hour, I headed back to Legazpi City to check out Starbucks in Ayala Mall Legazpi. I chose the seat with the best view of Mayon, but I wasn’t satisfied because a column was blocking the view. So no picture from there. After recharging, I headed to Embarcadero de Legazpi, but upon reaching the mall, I realized it’s not worth killing time here for the rest of the afternoon, so I did a quick research and stumbled upon Quitinday Hills. And I’m glad I chose to go to this place.
From Embarcadero, jeepneys going to Camalig pass by. So I got on one, and the jeepney driver guided me and had me alight at Sentro, where the tricycles are. The roundtrip fare costs PhP350 – 500 pesos, and the tricycle drivers will allow probably just 2 or even at most 3 per ride. It takes about half an hour before you reach the drop-off point. That half-hour though is through a grueling rough road, so as a tip, don’t eat too much before heading off to Quitinday, and make sure you don’t have stomach problems.
Quitinday is a relatively new attraction which boasts of two viewing points where you can see Mayon (and the rest of the hill formations as well). According to one of the locals, Quitinday is better than Chocolate Hills because you actually get to climb its hills, while with Chocolate Hills, you just get to see it from a viewing deck. From my trip, Quitinday is definitely my favorite stop. Why, you ask? Here’s why:
I wish I had time to check out Quitinday falls and Hoyop-hoyopan cave which was on the way, but I had to go back to Embarcadero to view the sunset and I had to be within Legazpi City so I won’t miss my flight back home. Still no luck seeing Mayon, and the sunset was on the other side of the port, but I still enjoyed the scenery.
After I had my fill of shots from the port, I had dinner at a local coffee shop then headed to the airport.
So, the itinerary:
6:00 am – land at Legazpi Airport
6:15 – 8:00 am – Lignon Hill
8:00 – 9:30 am Cagsawa Ruins
10 am – 12:00 nn Legazpi City center
1:00 – 4:00 pm Quitinday Hills
5:00 – 6:00 pm Embarcadero de Legazpi
6:00 – 7 pm Dinner at Artisan’s Specialty Coffee
7 pm – Head back to Legazpi Airport
Breakdown of expenses:
PhP 3400 : Roundtrip ticket (MNL – Legazpi)
PhP 40 : Entrance fees (20 pesos each for Cagsawa park and Quitinday)
PhP 500 transportation
Being Japan’s icon and rightfully so, seeing Mt. Fuji is definitely a must for me. There are so many ways and so many places to enjoy the view, but for my trip, I chose to see Mt. Fuji from three vantage points in two days from the Fuji Five Lakes region. I tried viewing Mt. Fuji from the Chureito Pagoda, Mt. Shakushi and Lake Kawaguchiko. So yeah, these are the more nature-leaning sightseeing spots for Mt. Fuji.
I’ve read that Mt. Fuji’s visibility is somewhat unpredictable, so choosing the date to see Mt. Fuji (which I set practically four months in advance) was a gamble for me. But as you’ll see, it did pay off 🙂
Access to Fuji Five Lakes Region Coming from Tokyo
Let me start though by sharing how to get to the Fuji Five Lakes region. If you’re coming from Tokyo, the cheapest and fastest way to get to Fuji Five Lakes is via bus from the Shinjuku Bus Terminal. The trip roughly takes 2 hours and it costs JPY 1750 up to Kawaguchiko. You may purchase in advance and just approach the counter so you can get your ticket and have your seat assignment, or just purchase upfront. This is a hard lesson learned for me: to make the most of your trip, check the timetable and be at the bus terminal at least half an hour early so you can purchase your ticket.
I was originally going to alight at Kawaguchiko Station, but the bus would stop at Shimoyoshida first, where Chureito Pagoda is, so alight at Shimoyoshida station I did. And then I wish I didn’t, because I felt I was in the middle of nowhere. Don’t get me wrong; the town was quiet and lovely, but save from a couple other passengers–a lady and a man–who got off, there was no one else around because the town was covered in snow. And there were no signage near the bus stop that tells you how far Chureito Pagoda is, or which direction you need to head. So I mustered up my courage and asked one of the other passengers. She started telling me that I had to walk, and when I asked how far, she was hesitating. That got me nervous, for sure, until the other passenger spoke up and told me that he’ll show me the way. So we kept walking for at least 10 minutes until he spoke up and pointed at the mountain on the other side of the road. And boy, he did point way up to the mountain’s summit. For the second time that day, first being the moment I got off the bus, I thought of giving up. But I didn’t want to waste the gentleman’s kindness so I kept on. He pointed the way to the train station, i.e., my save point, and then he gave me instructions on how to get to the shrine entrance. I walked on, but didn’t find the way, so I retraced my steps. I came across another couple and this time, they took me right at the steps to Arakura Shengen shrine (where Chureito Pagoda is). So here it is, in pictures:
For a second, I wanted to cry after my phone shut down. I haven’t texted my host yet to pick me up, and it was about to get dark in the next 10 minutes or so. But I steeled myself and focused on getting to the train station. Thankfully, I was able to charge my phone when I got to Shimoyoshida station, texted my host, and then waited at Fujisan station. I then spent the night at Peace & One resort which I wrote about here.
Mt. Shakushi’s summit is one of the underrated viewing spots for Mt. Fuji, but when you conquer the two-hour hike, it’s said to be worth it. Note that I wrote “said to be” because it was too cold for me and I didn’t have enough time. But the trail is beautiful, too:
Following my failed quests to reach Chureito Pagoda and Mt. Shakushi’s summit, I had to ask my host several times if Lake Kawaguchiko is at sea level or not. The lake is one of the most scenic spots to view Mt. Fuji and this spot is the most accessible of the three, and is actually within the busy town. The lake is just a 5 – 10 minute walk from Kawaguchiko bus station and there are plenty of signs to guide the way. I was running on a tight schedule so I just managed to take a few shots of Lake Kawaguchiko:
This time, Mt. Fuji wasn’t completely visible at all (or maybe I was just looking at the wrong direction^^;;) In any case, it was still worth checking out Lake Kawaguchiko, mostly because I’d lose sleep for days in regret if I didn’t! Haha!
Two days, three spots, priceless encounters with places and people.
One morning in El Nido.