My brother told me about this place in Nueva Ecija where the turquoise water of the river runs between limestone cliffs. I searched and saw several blogs on this seemingly “undiscovered” place, the Minalungao National Park. Apparently, its a place known to locals but only (relatively) recently to outsiders thanks to the power of social media. I suggested to my colleagues that we visit it as a potential site for their ecology classes (and to swim and beat the summer heat).
My first trip this year was to siargao with my family. We explored more of the island than in my previous visit. We rented a van to bring us around the entire island and exploited the largest contiguous mangrove forest in the country. We were only able to surf on the day of our departure since the tide cycles weren’t the most convenient during our stay.
Kids playing at low tide
Kusatsu is recognized as one of the top the onsen resort towns in Japan. Originally, I just wanted to go to any onsen during my trip. When I saw how accessible Kusatsu was from Tokyo, I made sure I made time to go there. Dipping into a hot spring on a cold day is one of my favorite winter activities after trying it in New Zealand.
Yubatake – source of Kusatsu’s hot spring
The following day, I tried to get a better view of Mt. Fuji. I decided to go to Hakone instead of the Fuji 5 Lakes area because other bloggers said that in the event of bad weather, there was more to see and do in Hakone. As I approached the transfer station of Hakone, I saw Mt. Fuji again in all its glory. I didn’t take pictures because it looked like the weather was going to be perfect in Hakone. Wrong! I never saw Mt. Fuji again. I did enjoy going around Hakone though.
Hakone Open Air Museum – Because I love walking around nature, I loved the concept of an open air museum.
After recovering from my illness, my friend brought me across Tokyo Bay to see Mt. Nokogiri. I had my first sighting of Mt. Fuji as we excited the aqua tunnel but my lens wasn’t long enough to take a good photo of it.
You can reach the peak of Nokogiri-yama by driving, walking up or taking the cable car. We did the latter since it was also my friend’s first time here. Be prepared for a hike if you’re visiting here, but don’t worry, it’s manageable.
There are several dozen buddhas along the path but only two were carved directly on the mountain face.