Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Trip: Day Four, Hagone->Mt. Fuji->Tokyo

I woke up before the alarm, again, and decided I should made the most of my time by hit the bath again :) It felt quite exquitsite to take some leisure time first thing in the morning. Alone in the male section to enjoy the bath alone. Of which I did a little swimming in the of the bath too ^^.

Then when I went back to my room I notice that the sky has open and we have a clear view of Mt. Fuji. I reluctant a bit but decided to go back to the bath again enjoy the the view of the famous mountain.

The breakfast was... ediable to say the least... Although the grill salted salmon was very good, the egg was cooked in a pot with heat on paper so it looks like fried egg but no fat, which does not taste good :P

After the meal we have a few moments to take the picture of Mt. Fuji before actually going up the mountain :) Our guide had warned us that it will be very cold up in the mountain (which was up two thirds of the height) so I wore my longjohn bottom just to be cautious and I was not disappointed.

I think I slept a bit on the way up to the tourist stops on the fifth level. When we arrive it wasn't just cold, it was chilly and quite windy. There was snow everywhere as well as tourists :P My younger bros. spot a white couple in ski suits, carries ski boards walk pass by. There were about three to four shops around there as well as a small shrine. Our guide said once we got off the bus we will receive a ticket for a blessed small bell from one of the shop (which appearantly the busiest shop too).

Only one shop seems to have the toilet and it smell Really Really bad. We learned afterward that this is because there was no plumbing up there and it would be too costly to buy water just for the toilet use. The guide mention that they use some sort of bubbly substance to clean it instead.

What surprise me is that the shopkeeper (or perhaps the owner) who hands out the bells as well as the few salespeople in the shop can speak Thai. After walking around between shops as well as looking for my family. I could not stay outside for too long due to the wind plus the chill made my earlope hurt (it would be nice if I have a tall man to kiss my ear warm later *sigh*). I walk into the big shop again and then I heard a loud yelling by a Thai guy accusing the shopkeeper of cheating on the changes, it sounds pretty bad so I hastily leave the shop. Before leaving I finally bought a blue tea cup with Mt. Fuji print on it. The funny thing is that when I hand it over to the cashier he pull out the one that's already boxed and wrapped from under the counter (which implied that this might be a mildly popular items or it's a common policy of the shop the save the time of both the buyer and seller).

After we're all back on the bus, the tourguides talked a bit about the *side show* we witnessed. First, they say that the Japaneses are trustworty regarding moneys. They said you can hand them the coins and bills and they will always pick out the correct amount for your purchase, adding that of all their 10 and 20 years of working as toursguide they never saw, heard, or been cheated in Japan. When the shouting match erupts they said they were all scramble defuse the situation as well as calling other guides to see whose group was the troublemaker belongs too. They also said that it is quite embarrasing that this happen as they were very sure that the guy must be mistaken his money somehow. They also mention that it is very difficult for Japaneses to learn to speak Thai and yet the people working in that shop all speak Thai (they were able to distinguise Thais from the crowd too) which shows how much they appreciate our business up there and said that Thais buy things up there like no others :P.

On our way down the fog began to set again which prompted the tourguide to mention how lucky our group were since if this happen in the morning the mountain will be close and not to mention we won't be able to get the view too.

Then it was a pretty long bus ride to Tokyo. We stop for lunch in Ginza area at a Thai restuarant (although in the brochure it said we would be having korean grills). The food was quite good, grilled chicken is very good, the spicy glass noodle is quite like home while the tom yum is almsot tasteless. The restuarant is very popular. People qued up for seat when we were there.

After lunch we have a bit of time to check out the area. The road in Ginza area will be close for cars and bench with parasol will be setup in the middle of the street for patrons who will crowded the area after 13:00. In front of one shopping mall there were people lining up for something and my mom push me and my youngest bro. into the que as well. As I observe the staff and the poster at the end of the line, its appear to be the draw lots of the mineral bath association in one of the province. We tried but got the lowest prize (Darn it...) which is a bag of herbal teas :p.

Afterward we went on the bus again and passed the palace, and a few sightseeing spots in Tokyo before stopping at Tasaki Pearl company. According to the guide Tasaki has became the leading pearl making company in the world. They even give away the pearl by lucky draw to one of the tour group using a number randomizer after we finish seeing the demontration of how they make pearl. Then on the first two floors it was showroom for the pearl. Some are quite cheap 14,000-18,000 yens to the very expensive necklaces. We stay here for quite a long while since there were many women in the groups :P

After we got everybody we finally went to Miraikan Museum. However it was 16:00 by the time we got there and the museum close at 17:00. So we did not have a lot time to completely scouting the place out. So I just concentrate mostly on the globe that show the current world weather and other pattearn in real time that I had often saw on Discovery channel.

Then we all leave to get back to the hotel. We have about an hour of free time before the dinner time. So I decided to check out the mall that sell earbud headphones since I seems to broke mine while I slept in the ferry. Also two of the women in the group wants to check out the mall for other items as well so we agreed to go together.

The weather is certainly colder in Tokyo than other city we were in especially after dark. We went looking for this place that called 'Bic Camera' which seems to be the biggest chain that sell electric appliances all over Japan (I saw one while in Osaka). It took us a while to look for this place as it does not have a big banner telling which building it is but we eventually found it. Once we found it we first took care of the business of my parties first which is battery for her camera. Then when it's my turn, it turns out that what actually broken is the earplug socket of my mp3 player. Since the warranty of this mp3 player is alreayd expired so I think it's a better idea to buy a new one. After browsing around a bit I decided on Creative MuVo s200 1Gb. It seems to be a brand spanking new model too ^^. It cost me around 12,000 yens, something that's close to 4,000 baht. Which is quite a good price, considering the brand and the size, comparing to TH.

Our dinner for today is at a Chinese restuarant. It was again abit edible... Personally I would prefer some ramen but still...

After the meal I rush to my room to gathered the camera, mp3 playerS, flash drive, and all the cable in order to transfer all the photo from the camera to flash drive. As it turns out the hotel does not have available business center but the staff pointed me to the internet cafe just opposite from the hotel.

It was easy enough to find but the place stink of cigarette and I really do mean STINK and REEKS of cigarette. It took some minutes to transfer all the photos and it could not be fast enough. On the bright side it cost me only 80 yens after I finish using it. I could only focus on checking my emails while waiting for the transfer to complete... Although the place looks quite interesting as it as a manga corner I just wasn't in the mood for it as I could barely breath with all the stink of cigarette smoke.

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