On the top of Mount Fuji

I climbed Mount Fuji.

I still can’t believe I did it. It was the most horrible thing I’ve done to myself. And it’s all because internet is such a dark place full of lies! I climbed Mount Fuji because people in the internet says it’s not difficult, that grandparents and kindergarteners climb Mount Fuji. So I decided to write this post and give you the truth; like I always do.

First of all, kindergarteners did not climb mount Fuji. They hiked from 5th Station to 6th Station and then they went back. I met a lot of kindergerteners along my hike from 5th Station to 6th Station. It was a breezy long walk with amazing views.

Some grandparents do hike Mt Fuji, but only those super crazy fit grandparents who train daily. During my hike, I met some ‘older’ people, probably those with teenager kids, but no individual grandparents. The only old people I met were those who led the group of hikers (so it’s probably his professional job). So here’s a flash news: normal grandparents do not climb mount Fuji.

So, who climb mount Fuji?

Fools.

Only fools like me climb mount Fuji.

I’m trying here guys… to make you really really understand that it’s no joke. Do not climb mount Fuji expecting it’s gonna be an easy climb. It’s freaking horrible… grovels and rocks and rain and hail and fog and the cold…. oh the cold…

It’s not gonna be pleasant, it’s not gonna be rainbow and unicorn, the weather might change so fast just like teenager’s mood and the wind will tear your soul apart.

If you read this post and plan to climb Mount Fuji, I want you to be prepared. And even after you accept these ugly truths you still want to go, then go. Go conquer that beautiful mountain!

I’m not a hiker and my ECG test result came out abnormal (inherited from my Dad), even though I do yoga I know I am not generally fit person. But I decided to climb Mount Fuji with 2 persons who are so close to me, my hubby and my bestfriend. I know they would understand my weakness and will not shame me if in any case I couldn’t make it.

If you’re still interested with the story and want to know technicality on “how-to”, go ahead and read, but if you have lazy eyes, just grab the pop corn and watch the vlog instead:

So here’s a story of Bandi, Tannia and May conquering Fuji-San:

Storing our other luggage at Shinjuku Station

I tried to find in the internet on where should I store my stuffs which I didn’t want to bring to Fuji but there is no exact clear answer. I know there are a lot of coin lockers in every train station in Tokyo, but I knew that it’s only for 24 hours. What happen if I want to leave it there for 36 hours? You can do that. You just need to pay the penalty when you take out your luggage. You can leave your bags up tp 72 hours. So don’t worry about luggage!

Arriving at 5th Station – 2,305 Meters

We took the Fuji highway bus on 14th July 9:45 am from Shinjuku Express Bus Station. It’s located in the 4th Floor of Shinjuku JR Station. The bus ticket can be booked online only if your IP address is in Japan, if you’re from overseas then you can call them. We booked our outbound tickets through phone and inbound tickets through internet once we reached Tokyo one day before the hike. The price for one way ticket is 2,700 yen.

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We then exchange the booking code with the actual tickets in the bus station. It’s Japan, so everything is well planned.

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The bus ride took about 2 hours and 15 minutes, so we reached Fuji 5th Station on noon. We ate our lunch and bought the walking stick made of wood, which is a perfect souvenir from your Fuji adventure. You will know why later on!

5th Station to 6th Station – 2,390 Meters

We took Yoshida Trail (the most common trail people take) so all the stations I’m mentioning is in Yoshida Trail. The walk between 5th Station to 6th Station is nice and breezy. From the altitude you can see it’s only 85 Meters difference in altitude, so with the long walk, you don’t really realize you’re climbing a mountain.

At the end of 6th Station, you can take a selfie like us coz this is gonna be your last happy selfie.

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6th Station to 7th Station – 2,700 Meters

Most of the terrain during this climb is grovels and sands, in a long zig-zag inclined road. Just right before reaching 7th Station you will have your first spiderman climb on the rocks. It was fun!

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7th Station to 8th Station – 3,020 Meters

I think this is the most exhausting and difficult part of the climb. It’s all big rocks with sands so you have to use both your hands and your legs to climb. I stopped in every corner and I started to have difficulty yo breath properly because the thin air. The original 8th Station supposed to be on 3,360 Meters but somehow they moved here… I think it’s probably because it’s just too difficult so people won’t quit if the distance between 7th and 8th are too far from each other. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it rained! We took out our gears and wore our raincoats… and kept walking.

8th Station to Original 8th Station – 3,360 Meters

Still the same… grovels and rocks and then it stopped raining coz… it hailed! On this moment my soul has already been torn apart… I kept imagining laying down in my bed with warm tea on my hand…  but the reality is I was cold, my hands are frozen til I thought my fingers needed to be chopped off (I’m a drama queen whaaat). We started to be panic because it was already 7 pm, the sky was getting darker and darker and we haven’t reached our Mountain Hut… I knew nothing to book Goraiko-kan Hut which is located in the highest of all huts!!! Good job, May!

Original 8th Station to Goraiko-kan (8.5 Station) – 3,450 Meters

I remember it was only the 3 of us and the other 2 persons climbing up from 8th Station. Soon, the 2 persons stopped at a mountain hut before us… and there were only the three of us left, climbing slowly…

When we finally reached Goraiko-kan on 8 pm, I was so happy…. I just wanted to sit in a warm room and rest. I had better… I ate a bowl of ramen. It was the best ramen I’ve ever eaten in my life.

We were given shoe bag where we put our dirty shoes in and then shown into our sleeping bag. We were sleeping in the attic and because I drank too much water before sleeping, I had to go to the toilet in the middle of midnight and the toilet is outside the hut! Noooo!!! I had to walk out alone in the cold! brrr….

Anyway, I had about 3-4 hours sleep until one person started to turn on a torch light and made noise when he packed his stuffs. He was then followed by other people and in minutes, everyone were awake, including us. We ate breakfast in the small attic (imagine it was only 1 meters attic so you have to sit or crawl when you move), which we got from the staffs the night before. It was rice with salmon and tamago. After breakfast, we packed our stuffs and made a move. I was so scared with the cold I almost wanted to give up.

To be honest, even though I groaned a lot, I’ve been very sure I would reach the summit all along… until that morning… when I saw darkness and felt cold. I couldn’t imagine I had to climb in the cold! But of course Tannia and Bandi cheered me up and made sure it’s gonna be alright.

Goraiko-kan to Summit (3,776 Meters)

The distance between Goraiko-kan to the summit was techincally very near, but with the elevation and the cold with little rain, it took us 1 hour to reach the summit. Bad news, there were no sunrise because of the fog. But to be honest, I didn’t really care about the sunrise anymore. I JUST WANTED TO GO BACK TO A WARM PLACE AND SLEEP.

We bought a 500 yen canned drinks that were boiled in the water. Yes they put cans into this boiling water so the canned drinks were boiling hot. Great idea! We held into this small hot can and felt the instant relief of warmth… Oh…. finally… after such a wet cold climb…

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We sat inside a crowded mountain hut and everyone felt so proud of themselves, exchanging stories. I was just so sad because now I had to descend back to where we started, which seemed so horrible for me because I didn’t have any energy left and I had no appetite to eat anything; I was just so tired.

Summit to 5th Station (Descending Trail)

The descending trail is different from the ascending trail. The descend trail is longer but easier. It’s just a small zig-zag road full of rocks and grovels. We descend for 4-5hours I couldn’t remember just because I sat down to rest for every 10 minutes. LOL.

Like I told you, I was in low batter mode already.

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Aftermath

I was definitely proud of myself, no doubt. Climbing Mt. Fuji is by far the greatest physical challenge I’ve ever encountered; and completed. However if you asked me whether I will ever do it again, the answer is very easy: NO WAY in a million gazillion years.

I was left sore and beaten up and I slept the whole evening til the next noon. Bandi insisted to wake up earlier so he could go to Tsukiji Market. Crap.

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Cheers,

May, loving Japan even more.

Hiking the Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen)

Hiking the Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen)

Preikestolen only opens for public hiking without guide in summer, when there are a lot of sunlight. It is forbidden to hike in winter without a guide.

But I mean, why would you want to hike in Winter? Are you nuts? It is already super cold in summer!

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The hiking route – for you to decide whether you wanna do it.

The hike itself is moderate, not very steep, but very rocky, so proper footwear is recommended. But to be honest, I prefer rocky mountains than dusty mountains. The route is guided by a red T sign in almost every 100m, so I don’t think you will be lost. The route is also very safe, unless of course you decided to jump off the cliff. You will pass by some lakes and swamps. No animals in sight during my hike.

The view along the hike

The view along the hike

Me, acting silly.

Me, acting silly.

You won't get lost.

You won’t get lost.

Bandi, on the top of Pulpit Rock

Bandi, on the top of Pulpit Rock

Geeeeeezzz!!!

Geeeeeezzz!!!

How to get there?

You can fly/take train/bus or drive a car to… Stavanger. From Stavanger Central, you take Ferry to a small town called Tau. There is only 1 Ferry terminal in Stavanger Central, you won’t miss it. Just board the ferry to Tau, and purchase the ticket directly in the ferry. I suggest to buy a combo ticket that includes Ferry ride return and bus ride return. The bus schedule changes every year, you can find more information here. Once you reach Tau, board the bus that has “TIDE” sticker on it. Keep your combo ticket and show it to the bus driver. The bus will take you to Preikestolen Fjellstue (mountain lodge). I spent the night here coz I wanted to go on a morning hike. You may or may not spend the night here. It’s possible to do day trip to Preikestolen, but it’s good to unwind here because the view is amazing.

The view from the mountain lodge.

The view from the mountain lodge.

The small room in the mountain Lodge.

The small room in the mountain Lodge.

If you decided to stay the night in the lodge, you can book your room here. It costed us 770 Nok for this room, which is not so bad. We had to make our own bed though and had to remove the sheets and threw it to the laundry basket once we checked out. It was pretty much like hostel.

What time to start hike?

During summer time, there is no restriction of the time to hike, we basically can start anytime. Bandi and I started the hike around 3:30 am, it was already quite bright. We only met total of 6 people during our hike up and only 1 couple on the top of pulpit rock when we reached there around 6 am. It was a Norway Day (Independence Day) when we hiked so during our trip down, there were a lot of people starting to hike bringing the Norwegian Flag. Thank god we hiked up early.

People hiking to Preikestolen on Norway Day

People hiking to Preikestolen on Norway Day

Is it worth the trip?

That was my question too. And I had to do it myself to find the answer, which is: Yes. I think the view along the hike was breathtaking. The whole experience was amazing too, to sleep in the mountain lodge and it turned out that our dinner in the Lodge Restaurant was the best dinner we’ve had in Norway! :) It was also the start of my addiction to Pear Cider. SO GOOD! Bandi kept repeating “I will come back” during our stay there. The place was just so peaceful and beautiful, it felt like the time stopped for a while. It was also the first time I saw Bandi taking pictures so often. He rarely took pictures, but he just kept taking pictures and mumbled, “Oh it’s so beautiful.” I’m glad we went to Preikestolen and we will be back to try the other hikes!

I hope this post clears off some doubt you have whether you should or should not go to Pulpit Rock. It’s a pretty easy and accessible trip. I don’t see any reason why not going. :) Good luck and have fun if you’re going to Preikestolen!

Cheers,

May.

Vertical Exploration

I just came back from Bali and this time, I didn’t do the usual beach trip. I trekked up Mt. Batur.

To be honest, this is my first real mountain-hike. Mt Bromo was not a hike at all. Jeep covered 80% of the trekking and horse did 15% and I just used my feet for 5% of the whole journey.

Trekking Mt. batur was a very unique experience for me. It’s not a surprise for me that I love outdoor activity, I’ve always enjoyed hiking, but so far I’ve only done horizontal hiking, like in Italy (Cinque terre hiking) and some national park in Australia. Yes, Blue mountains was vertical too, but Mt. Batur was raw. No man-made steps or anything. It was just me and the mountain. It’s raw. The feeling was mixed between exciting, scared, curious and amazed. It’s personal, intimate.

The path from the "New Crater"

The path from the “New Crater”

Technical stuffs first!

If you want to trek mount Batur, you need a car and a guide. If you want to pay around US$80 then you can book online and some tour will pick you up from hotel.

But we don’t wanna pay US$80 of course. :p we rented a car and drove from our villa in Ubud. The journey supposed to be 1-1.5 hours until the carpark of Mt Batur Trekking guide association, but we were lost so it took us 2.5 hours. :(

We finally reached there abour 4:30 am and immediatelly found a guide. Don’t worry there are plenty of guides, you won’t run out of guides. Our guide, Made, was a cheerful and humorous person and he, of course, knows a lot about Mt. Batur. Throughout the journey he told stories about the eruptions (there are several eruptions) and how once the whole village was swept off just like Pompeii.

We dealt for 750K (S$75) which shared by 5 persons. Bandi, I, Ricky (Bandi’s groomsman), Wai Sie (Ricky’s gf), and Klemens (my childhood friend). It’s super cheap if you compare with the tour that costs US$80 per person!

The guide will provide torch and he will bring your stuffs if you’re tired (just try not to bring so many stuffs!) and of course they will open the trek for you.

The journey

Trekking Mt. Batur is no joke. I’m not super fit with six packs but I exercise regularly and I consider myself fit, however… I still huffed and puffed all the way up. The trek was quite challenging especially yhe part between the first stop-base to the first summit (the one with so many monkeys).

Ain't it kiddo cute!?

Ain’t this kiddo cute!?

So the first part of the trekking was from carpark to the stop-base. It took about 1 hours, at first it was flat and then became quite steep. We left Klemens in the stop-base coz he was not fit that day and he decided to stop. The four of us continued going up and it was really tiring for me. First of all, I haven’t eaten anything, that’s probably my biggest mistake. Learn from it. Eat something before challenging Mt. Batur!

It took me another 45 minutes full of 42 degrees of steepness and total rough rocks. Super difficult for me as a newbie in mountaneering. But once I reached the top, it was worth it. :) the view was amazing. Universe is awesome, eh? I met so many cute monkeys too!

Oh life's good.

Oh life’s good.

We made it!

We made it!

There is actually another summit (maybe another 45 minutes up) and I rejected the proposal. I was effing tired. So the guide proposed to explore other area, the new crater. It was another 45 minutes to the new crater and another 1 hour to another viewing point. The journey was much more interesting than going up. We walked around the mountain to the other side and went up to the crater. It was not so difficult but dangerous as some wrong steps could lead to falling down.

I enjoyed this part so much. When we went back down, there was one part of the area that was full of sand and we had to run in order to go down and the sand would suck our feet while we ran and it seemed like we were flying down the mountains like a ninja. It was super fun!!!

My friend, Ricky made this image below as a memoir of our adventure. The four of us made a pact to trek to Mt. Agung next year!

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The aftermath

Of course I slept like dead once I reached the villa, just right after I stuffed 1 huge pack of nasi padang into my mouth. Oh wait, we’re not talking about that aftermath, are we?

I swore a lot in my mind when I climbed up the trek why did I do this? How could I end up here, gasping for air to breathe? This will be the last time! Etc. But then I felt a foreign feeling when I reached the peak and I wanted more. It’s like addiction. It’s like that annoying TV commercial that plays in your head. It’s annoying but it comforts you strangely.

It’s not the mountain we conquered, but ourselves.

– Sir. Edmund Hillary

I always wanted to see the world. It turns out we can explore the world vertically ad well. I’m still unable to face my phobia of being drowning hence no diving, but I can keep exploring mountains.

Cheers,

May, keep exploring.