February 27, 2020

Japan Endless Discovery : Shinhotaka Ropeway

Winter feeling so Imma blog about all things snow.

If you're staying in Takayama, other than the side trip to Shirakawago, do include Shinhotaka Ropeway in your itinerary. 

Got myself an Okuhida Marugoto Value Ticket at Takayama Bus Terminal.

It's a 3-days bus pass, which include Shinhotaka Ropeway return ticket, free entrance to Hirayu Onsen, drink and snack, at a discounted price of 5250 yen. It was a really good offer cos roundtrip ticket for the ropeway from the bottom to the upper station is 2900 yen. Then, roundtrip bus fare from Takayama Station costs 4320 yen. I also use it to go to Hirayu Onsen, skiing at Honokidaira and Hida Daishonyudo limestone cave so it was super worth it. Note: My visit was a year ago in February 2019 so the price might be different now.

The bus ride from Takayama took about 90 minutes. It's a long journey but trust me, the view is gonna blow you away.

Shinhotaka Ropeway is actually made up of two ropeways. The first leg of the ropeway is a short 200 meter climb from the bus stop to Nabedaira Kogen. There's a Visitor Center, restaurants, a public bath and a gift shop. You can stop here for a while or just continue to the second ropeway. I explored here on my way down and excited to find a free foot bath.

From Nabedaira Kogen, the second ropeway is a double decker ropeway (first of its kind in Japan!) and it climbs over 800 meter to the upper station at an altitude of around 2150 meters.

Go out to the observation deck and marvel at the beauty of the surrounding mountains.

Alhamdulillah the weather was great! The sky was clear blue and I had the best view over the Northern Japan Alps.

From the observation deck, you can go down to the hiking trail (in summer you can hike further into the mountains) and build a snowman. 


Access: Direct hourly bus from Takayama Station (90 minutes)
Operating hours: 8.30am ~ 4.45pm (April to November), 9am ~ 4.15pm (December to March)
Ropeway ticket price: 2900 roundtrip

February 10, 2020

Japan Endless Discovery : Shirakawago

One of my Japan's wish list checked. 

Shirakawago is a UNESCO world heritage site famous for their traditional gassho-zukkuri farmhouses. Gassho-zukkuri means 'constructed like hands in prayer', as the farmhouses' steep thatched roofs resemble the hands pressed together in prayer. The reason for this is to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow that falls in the region during winter. 

So naturally I wanted to visit this village in winter to see it covered with snow.

Myozenji temple

It's a fairly small village, you could probably see everything in 2-3 hours. 

But I've read news that winter in Japan is unusually warmer this year. Less snow even in Hokkaido. 

Which reminds me that I should appreciate all the good things I experienced. 

Also managed to see the village lit up in the evening.

So beautiful!

How to go there
During the trip, I stayed in Takayama for a few nights. Visited Shirakawago from Takayama with the Winter Illumination Tour by Nohi bus. Else, check here if you plan to come from Tokyo.

December 30, 2019

End of a Decade

Wawasan 2020
Satu pandangan jauh
Bukan impian malah kenyataan
Bersama kita jayakan

Still remember when I sang that song in early 90s, imagining in 2020 everything would be so futuristic with robots, flying cars and all, just like those in sci-fi movies. It's gonna be 2020 in a couple of days. Not much like what I imagined though.

And 2010 felt like just a few years ago. Woahhh... Time is running so fast it scares me mannnn cos I'm also getting old and reaching 40 soon.

Oh well... life goes on and we have to move forward. 
But before that, here's a recap of some memorable moments of my decade.

Ran my first Full Marathon. 42.195km! 

officially a marathoner

Did my Open Water scuba diving license in Tioman Island.

with my diving instructor, Jenny

Conquered Mount Kinabalu.

My first encounter with the snow. Learnt to ski and snowboard.

Went for umrah in Ramadhan. On my birthday!

I miss this place soo much!

Watched the Aurora Borealis.

Conquered the Everest Base Camp, and saw Mount Everest with my very own eyes.

Explored a lot of new places.

Learnt new things. 

Fell in love. Heartbroken. 

Had a scare and hard time when my dad fell sick. Alhamdulillah he is okay now.

Losses and gains.
I lost my mommy and my grandma and my cats.
Welcomed brother in laws, sister in law, nephews and nieces. And new cats. 

Happy times. Sad times.
On to the next decade! 

December 16, 2019

First time in Brunei

How often do you get a chance to selfie with the Head of country that you're visiting?

I guess I was lucky.

Visited Brunei in July (my first time in the country!) and coincidentally it was the birthday month of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

I was walking around the night market when I noticed some event preparations at the field in front of Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. Busybody mode on, I asked the workers what was it for. Turned out they were preparing for the Sultan's birthday celebration with the citizens that weekend.

So yeah... I crashed the celebration.

alamak Tuanku.. look at the camera 

 the Crown Prince and my big pimple. Gahhhhhh!!!!

must have one selfie with everybody's favorite prince 

Brunei itself is a small country so I just planned a short trip.

Here's some of the places that I managed to visit. Will write details of this trip when I have free time (when is that I don't know hahahah).

Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

You cannot visit Brunei and miss to see this mosque because it is located right in the center of the capital city.

The mosque's most recognizable feature, the main dome, is covered in pure gold.

inside the mosque

Jame' Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque

The largest mosque in the country, and also the grandest. The mosque was built as a wakaf of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. It has 29 golden domes, because the Sultan is the 29th ruler of Brunei.

main prayer hall

Kampong Ayer

One of the most interesting things to do in Brunei is wander along the Kampong Ayer bridges and paths. It is fascinating to see how the people live on stilts. There's a few homestays here, I might give it a try whenever I visit this country again.

mosque and fire station

Royal Regalia Museum

The museum mainly houses the regalia of the Sultan, as well as the gifts that Royals and Head of State have given him. Opened in 1992 by the Sultan himself, entrance to the museum is free. You will have to leave your belonging and camera at the entrance so no photos inside.

Proboscis monkey

I wish I could go nearer or have a long-focus lens to capture photos of the shy Proboscis monkey.

Tamu Pasar Besar Gadong night market

You must come here because everything is cheap and yummy!