October 22, 2018

Hiking at Bukit Dinding

I gained weight since raya. And FML, it is so hard to lose the fat and get back to my pre-raya weight T_T
Thus, I am adding hiking into my weekend plan in order to get rid of the damn fat, and also as a preparation for my upcoming adventure. #nervous

I'm too lazy to drive to Bukit Gasing, Bukit Kiara, Kota Damansara Community Forest etc.
I hiked Bukit Tabur behind my house once, but it is currently closed for hiking since there have been some fatal incidents.

Luckily, there's another hill nearby.

Hello Bukit Dinding.

Standing at 291m, it is among the highest hills in Kuala Lumpur. Located in Wangsa Maju, it is less than 10 minutes away from my house. I see it everyday on my way to work on the Middle Ring Road 2. But shamefully I never knew the hill's name, let alone knew that we could hike it. Until I saw my friends 'checking in' there for hiking.

It is easy to find the trail head. Just look for the coconut shake stall on the roadside. The trail head is just next to the stall.




I'm joining to check in.

The trail is rather easy cos you're actually hiking on a concrete and tarmac road all the way to the summit where two telecommunication towers are located. The road is very steep at the beginning but for most of the way, it is a steady climb.




The whole hill used to be a rubber plantation and there are trees still standing, all the way to the summit. You'll be surprised to see that the rubber trees are still being tapped on for the latex.


Views from the summit is blocked by trees and there's only telecommunication towers so there's nothing much to do up there.




Checking on my Garmin, total distance to the summit is almost 2.6km, and completing one loop (up and down) takes less than an hour for average pace. A good work out for beginners and intermediate hikers.






Coconut shake to quench my thirst after a good sweat.

In case it is too easy for you, there is a trail leading off from the road but I saw no one went for it (perhaps cos there's a notice that it is for mountain bike). I thought perhaps I could hike up by the road and go down through the trail but I couldn't find the trail on the summit though.





Found this map after my hike. Maybe I will try the trail someday.




Also, in case you're OK with up hill, down hill, and repeat for 12 hours.

October 18, 2018

Robot Restaurant @ Tokyo

Have you ever heard of the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo?


I first gotta know about it a few years ago from a blog. It's a cabaret-style show with flashy dancers, robots and monsters fighting and dancing together, multi-colored laser lights, and a whole lot of things that you will only find in Japan. 

Kabukicho is the perfect spot to check out Tokyo nightlife. It's the entertainment and red light district in Shinjuku. And home to the Robot Restaurant.

The entrance tickets are rather expensive. But I read reviews on numerous websites and most said it was fun. Ok la.. one day I must go and watch it. The only problem is that, I always travel solo so it is kinda sad la to watch it alone hahahaha. Thus, it was never in my priority of things to do whenever I visited the metropolis.

On my recent summer trip to climb Mount Fuji, my sister was with me so I used my authority as the self-appointed trip leader to include Robot Restaurant in our itinerary. She didn't have any idea what the show is about but I managed to convince her to go with me. I just told her, it's gonna be fun!

I bought our tickets in advance from Klook. Found cheaper deals on JAPANiCAN but the dates that I wanted was sold out. We chose the earliest show at 4pm as it was cheaper than the later shows.



After redeeming our online tickets at the restaurant reception counter (don't be fooled into thinking that it is a normal restaurant), we were ushered to the waiting hall.  

My jaw dropped to the floor. Look at this!


So fancy! Gold chairs and tables and colorful LED lights. Feels like I am in Vegas hahaha.

About 10 minutes later, we were ushered to the stage area. Even the path to the stage area was fascinating with colorful decorations and lights.

We got front row! Not sure whether I bought the tickets early or what, but I don't think so cos I just bought a couple of days before the show. I guess the third party helped secure the best seats for everyone.









So yes. There are flashy dancers, robot fighting and dancing together, multi-colored laser lights and many more.



There are intermissions between shows and during these times, you can buy snacks and drinks, although I think they are very pricey. 

The show is ridiculous but it was totally fun! To be honest, I didn't understand much of what I watched (there is a storyline but you won't understand it either haha) but one thing for sure, we were laughing throughout the show. It may be touristy but the show is really like no other, a unique out-of-this-world experience.

Next time you visit Tokyo and wanna have some fun, go watch it.


Show time : 4pm, 5.55pm, 7.50pm, 9.45pm
Entrance fee: 8000 yen per person
(book through third party such as Klook or JAPANiCAN or through their website to get discounted tickets)
Tel: +81-3-3200-5500
Access: About 8-10 minutes walk from Shinjuku Station


October 12, 2018

Guide to Climbing Mount Fuji

I successfully climbed Mount Fuji on 29 August 2018. Yeay!!!

If you wanna add climbing the highest mountain in Japan to your bucket list, here's some guides for you.

When to climb?
The official climbing season for Mount Fuji is from early July to mid September (specific dates depend on the year and trail). Other than this period, it is not advisable to climb as there are no mountain facilities, and there is no one to assist you in case anything happened. The mountain huts are also not operating.

The trails
There are 4 main trails leading up to the summit of Mount Fuji; the Yoshida, Subashiri, Gotemba and Fujinomiya trail. These trails are on different sides of the mountain and marked with colors; yellow for Yoshida, red for Subashiri, green for Gotemba and Blue for Fujinomiya.

all the four trails


close up on Yoshida trail

Each trail starts with the 1st Station at the foot of the mountain, and the 10th Station being the summit. Most climbers start their climb halfway up the mountain, from the 5th Station. Depending on the trail you choose, the climb could take between 5-10 hours. Note that some trails have different routes for climbing up and down.

For details on access to the trails, refer here.

There is another trail on the summit, Ohachimeguri Trail. Circle this trail to get to the actual peak of Mount Fuji, the Kengamine Peak (3,776m).


ohachimeguri trail

How much is the climbing fee?
There is no entrance fee to climb Mount Fuji. But you are encouraged to donate 1000 yen for the conservation fund (you will get an appreciation souvenir in return).

Other than that, the things you need to pay are: round-trip transportation to and from the 5th Station, overnight accommodation at one of the mountain huts, and optional fees such as the restrooms, buying snacks, getting the stamps etc.

Do I need a guide to climb?
Nahhhhh... you're good even if you're alone. There are many climbers on the trail and the trail itself is clearly marked.

What is the difficulty level of the climb?
The climb is pretty easy through the gravel path (but it can be very slippery during descend). Only at some points the terrain is rather steep and rocky.

Mountain hut reservation
I used Fuji Mountain Guides to book my accommodation. Using this platform, you can choose among the 3 mountain huts on Yoshida Trail and 1 mountain hut on Subashiri Trail. Easy to use but you have to pay 1000 yen reservation fees. But I think it's OK la cos it allowed me to change booking dates for free.

You can also make a direct booking at Goraikoukan. I only found out about this hut after I made my reservation with Fuji Mountain Guides. Not sure whether you have to pay any booking fee or need to pay in full upon booking. Goraikoukan is the highest mountain hut on Yoshida Trail at 3450m so it might fill up fast.

An overnight stay on the mountain hut cost from 5000 ~ 11000 yen per night based on the plan you choose - lodging only, lodging with dinner only or lodging with dinner and breakfast. Quite expensive but there's no other choice as you cannot open your own tent on the trail.

Climbing equipment
Even though you're climbing in the summer season, temperature at the summit can be below zero, and the strong winds make it even colder. Pack a rain gear, sweater, fleece or down jacket, a beanie and gloves.

Also don't forget your headlamp since you will most probably ascend to the summit in the dark.

Do bring a plastic bag and carry all your garbage down as there are no trash bins on the mountain.

Refreshments and meals
Everything on the mountain is expensive. The higher the elevation, the higher the price. Drinks that cost 120 yen at convenience stores, can cost 400 yen up there. Bring enough water (I brought 2 litres) and snacks before leaving for the adventure.

Restrooms
All climbers are required to pay a small fee of 200 yen to use the restrooms. But sorryyy I didn't pay it when I used the restroom at the 7th Station during my descend cos I didn't have small change. I donated to the conservation fund so win-win la ye.

October 8, 2018

I climbed Mount Fuji !

Next time I visit Japan and see Mount Fuji, I can proudly say, hey I've been to the top!



At 3,776m, Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan and climbing it has been in my bucket list ever since I fell in love with the country many years ago.

Planned to climb alone but then my sister and my high school friend Lisa crashed this trip so I wasn't #foreveralone yeayy!

Like most climbers, we started the ascend from the 5th station. Felt like cheating cos it's already halfway of the trail but we didn't have the time. Starting from the base at Sengen Shrine to the 5th station would add on another 5-6 hours climbing time, which means we need to start our climb right after dawn to reach the mountain hut before dusk. Well actually we had time but I had other things lined up in my things to do :p

We took highway bus from Fujisan Station (as we stayed at Fujiyoshida town) to Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station, where Yoshida Trail is. This trail is the most crowded as it is the easiest to access from Tokyo, its 5th station is the most developed with shops, restaurants, lockers, post office etc, there are more than a dozen mountain huts on this trail, and the sunrise takes place on this side of the mountain. So it is the choice of most climbers. If you want to get away from the crowd, try the other trails.

We reached there slightly past 10am. The 5th Station is located at 2,305m above sea level. It's already quite high altitude so we spent an hour to acclimatize to avoid altitude sickness. Checked out the shops, went to the toilet and took the obligatory photos with Fuji background.


Mount Fuji as photographed from the 5th station

At 11am, we were ready to ascend. Paid 1000 yen at Mount Fuji Management Office just outside the trail cos we were nice people I wanted this souvenir. This climbing fee is optional. The money raised is used toward conservation efforts on the mountain.


souvenir from Fuji

Took some photos here and there.




Izumigataki crossroads

Finally we set off at around 11.30am from the Izumigataki junction. There's two path at this junction, a downward slope and an upward slope. Both also head to the summit. The downward slope will lead you to the trail's 5th station if you're climbing from the base.

Not wanting to waste time, we took the upward slope on the right. We walked through the forest just a short while before coming out to the barren area. It was cloudy but ok la cos it would make the climb much cooler.

Within half an hour, we already reached the 6th Station at 2,390m. There's Mount Fuji Safety Guidance Center, police box as well as toilet facilities here.

safety guidance center


toilets




tour groups

We continued the climb through the zigzag gravel path for about an hour before reaching the first of the many mountain huts on the 7th Station, at altitude 2,700m. Lost Lisa here cos she was wayyy to fast but it's not a problem. I already told her I would take my own sweet time taking photos while climbing and she could wait anywhere on the route if she wanted to. Climbing a mountain, you just have to follow your own pace cos ascending too quickly to a higher elevation would risk you getting the altitude sickness. I just had to make sure my sister was with me cos we're each other's photographer hahahaha.


can you see all the mountain huts?



Rocky ground begins just before the 7th Station. Finally, some real climbing.

We stopped at each mountain huts, taking a breather while stamping our souvenir board. The stamps are unique to each mountain hut and cost 200 yen or 300 yen. Oh the board cost 1000 yen. Many climbers buy the climbing stick (1500 yen) and stamp on it but I wasn't sure how to carry it back to Malaysia so I just bought the board. Quite expensive but for memories sake, I closed one eye and just paid. We got almost all the stamps except a few ones that we thought 'macam tak cantik je' haha.




one of the mountain hut and its unique stamp shown together with the price

Drinks, noodles, snacks, climbing sticks, oxygen cans and some other climbing essentials are sold at these mountain huts. Just bring a lot of cash as they don't accept credit card and the prices go up the higher the altitude.




colorful climbers



Two and a half hours later, we reached Taishikan. Reaching this mountain hut meant that we're now at 3,100m, the 8th Station. Being above 3000m gave me some kinda motivation cos you know, the number 3 in front made it felt nearer to the summit as compared to 2 hahaha

But the thinning air slowed me down. One hut to another seemed like forever although they're actually 50 meters apart. These marking were not accurate, rightttt?? To make it worse, it started drizzling. Oh no. I had to speed up so as not to get wet and cold. But luckily it only lasted for a few minutes. Penat je keluarkan and wore the raincoat.










The terrain changed several times, from rocky ground to gravel to rocky again and back to gravel zigzag path.




mountain hut at 3,250m

Finally, we arrived at our mountain hut, Fujisan Hotel at 3,400m at around 5.30pm. Yeayy!! Half made it!


Fujisan Hotel


common room and dining area


our beds

Quickly performed solat at the changing room and we went out to enjoy the view before the sunset at 6.17pm.



Beautiful!

Had an early dinner while checking out our social medias. Forgot to tell you, the network coverage was good all the way up here. Also there's free Fujisan WiFi at some of the mountain huts.

Suited up in my heat tech and fleece, we went to bed around 8pm. The dorm was warm enough but I changed in advance so that when I woke up later, I could just grab my backpack and went off. The staff told everyone they would wake us up at 2.15am for the summit attack.

2.15am, wake up call. We got up and got out of the hut. It was dark and cold and the wind was very strong. We started the climb and past Goraiko-kan, which is the 8.5th Station at 3,450m and the highest mountain hut on the trail, the crowd became bigger.





Before long, we got stuck behind other climbers. There's not enough space to overtake those in front of us so yeah.. we just climbed slowly following the lines.



This is Fuji guys! There's human traffic jam on the mountain. But actually ok la cos you got to rest while waiting for the line to move. I went on a weekday and nearing the end of the season. The traffic during weekend and Japan's Obon holiday is much more insane.


Mukaekusushi Shrine torii gate at the 9th Station



9th Station at 3,600m. Almost there!!



Just a little more push and the famous Toriiohashi came into view. A few more steps to go!



Once we climbed past the stone guardian dogs and the torii gate, it's mission accomplished! We've reached the summit! Woohoo!!




Kusushi Shrine

We reached the summit at 4.40am. Still had time before the sunrise at 5.12am. Found an empty spot in front of the shrine, and we took turn guarding each other to perform Subuh prayer there. Done with it, we went to get our summit stamps at the shrine and later joined the crowd to catch the sun appeared on the horizon.





Sadly it wasn't as beautiful as I imagined it to be cos it was foggy and cloudy. The sun emerged through the clouds, and that was it. Sun is up, morning has started.









But don't celebrate just yet. Because this is not the actual peak of Mount Fuji. Many people reached the top, wait for the sunrise and then descend. Sooo rugi! Japan's highest point is located immediately next to the weather station on the opposite side from where the Yoshida Trail reaches the peak. You have to walk around the volcano crater about half an hour to reach this point, the Kengamine Peak.


the highest point in Japan, Kengamine Peak




Mount Fuji's crater

Done circling the crater and back to Kusushi Shrine, it was time to start our descend.

Yoshida trail has separate ascend and descend paths. The descend path is a zigzag route on slippery gravel and sandy volcanic ash, all the way down to Mount Fuji Safety Guidance Center at the 6th Station. If you're daredevil enough, you can slide down through the path.



An hour into descending, I got rid of my fleece and heat tech. It's becoming hotter. Took a quick stop at 7th Station to rest and go to the toilet. Halfway to go. My toes hurt from braking to slow down myself. Confirm I'm getting the black toenails -_-

It took us less than 4 hours to reach the starting point at the 5th Station. Exhausted, sunburned, covered in dust and in pain. But it's all worth it. I have climbed Mount Fuji yo!

ice cream after the descend was heavenly

Will I climb again? Yes! I wanna climb from the base, or do another trail. But there's a saying,

" A wise man climbs Fuji once. Only a fool climbs it twice."

Hahaha.

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[ Guide to Climbing Mount Fuji ]