Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Hell Valley (Jigokudani / 地獄谷) @ Noboribetsu [Hokkaido, Japan]

The most famous attraction in Hokkaido's Noboribetsu region is Jigokudani (Hell Valley) and even though i have been to the similar thermal valley in Taiwan, i thought i might as well check it out, especially when it's just a short walk from Takimoto Inn!

Directional signage was clear and in case you still can't rely on them, follow the crowd as most people would be on their way to the valley; according to some of my friends who took on tour packages to Hokkaido, Hell Valley is just a stopover and they didn't get to stay in the demon-filled onsen town.

Spacious walkway.

Those on tour packages would be on a touch and go itinerary but there was more than just the Hell Valley; a number of walking trails brought us to hot water marshes and even a natural foot bath!

Aside from the sulfuric smell (which wasn't that unbearable), you may feel the thermal heat from the pipes jutting out from stone walls.

It couldn't be compared to the less developed Kawah Rengganis in Bandung though; where you can literally put your hands next to the holes on the ground and risking severe burns!

Pretty sight in front of us where gas rises continuously due to "high volcanic energy in the form of magma believed to be stored underground"!


A location marker on the scaled-down version of the valley - the greenery surrounding the valley is known as the primeval forest which i assumed has been around for a long time.

How did this get there? No idea and although it's an inscription of its name in Japanese Kanji (Chinese characters), it felt more like a tombstone.

A friend marveling at the beauty of mother nature.

As expected, such signboard is a huge draw among tourists and for a person who hates to waste time, i am quite chilled to take for others and upload the picture to my blog.

Notice the pathway on the left? We shall be on our way to explore that area and find out the source for that large cloud of gas!

I did see this smaller compound with what appeared to be a little Shinto shrine. Although time wasn't on our side, it's a waste to give it a miss since the slight detour wasn't expected to take long.

Oh my god, two Japanese Sika deer!

It's always exciting to see wildlife in their natural setting and i thought they could be endangered; turned out their population in Japanese exceeds three million and the species is considered overpopulated.

Continuing our walking trail.

Yakushi - Nyorai; the shrine i saw earlier which i assumed to be Shintoism based. Turned out it was a Buddha said to help people with illness. You may read more here.

Another angle.

Frankly, the decor and architecture of the shrine appeared to be more Shinto than Buddhist even though there's a noticeable difference; Shinto shrines usually have the 'doors' closed.

Low fence means i wouldn't be surprised if some daredevils decide to step into the valley for thrills. I might be one of them 20 years ago.

'Tombstones' again.

I sincerely believe there's something about my head of hair since the hornet incident at Kawah Rengganis; i tend to have increasing encounters of whirring bees and hornets surrounding me!

On our way again.

View next to the pathway; thanks to the cooler temperature despite the season being summer, it was a relaxing walk with a peaceful atmosphere.

Hillside was bare due to the heat and gas as they tend to make the soil highly acidic and dry. However, alpine plants were said to be able to survive better in the aforementioned conditions and i read on a noticeboard that you can find marsh tea and cowberry.

Honestly, i don't think i would be able to identify them anyway and prefer to look at the bigger picture to save precious time!

See that building there; it's near the entrance of Jigokudani and if you look closer, you would see glass window panes with lights. That's the Onsen Heaven of Dai-ichi Takimotokan where you can soak in mineral-rich hot spring and relax by the beauty of hell valley!

Looking back at the path we took.

Signs asking visitors to keep off the grounds of Hell Valley. I can imagine that the same signs would be installed at Kawah Rengganis in the near future as there's absolutely none when i visited.

Wooden platform that shall lead us to the middle of the valley!

In comparison to what we experienced at the start of Hell Valley, the vents at this part appeared to be more active in purging out the gas.

I was curious on what's there at the end.

No idea where the crowd came from as the platform was exceptionally filled with people whereas the pathway i came from didn't seem to be that packed.

Now, let's see what's there in the middle!

Known as the Tessen (Iron Spring) Pond, it's a geyser with a temperature of about 80 degrees celcius. Well, i didn't see any bubbling and it did seem like a pretty blue pond with metallic sides.

On our way out of the platform!

I came out with a 20-second time-lapsed video of the walk along the wooden platform to Tessen Pond; click if you would like to see more!

We could have gone back to where we started but the trail was connected to a few other attractions and given that there's still about an hour or two before dinnertime, we figured it's better use to cover what we can before sunset. 

Crowding around Tessen Pond! 


Within the Onsen Town,
Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

Monday, March 19, 2018

Patbingsoo Korean Dining House @ Northpoint City Shopping Centre [Singapore]

Northpoint in Yishun has become even more happening with the opening of the south wing that brought tons of eateries to the infamous town! Today, let me share my review of Patbingsoo which offers more than just the popular South Korean iced dessert.

Don't you just love menu showing bright and large pictures of the dishes available for ordering?! The only downside is when the real stuff appears vastly different when served to your table. Oh well, at least we know who to blame. 

After ordering, take the cutlery (and serviettes) from the drawer under your table. The restaurant isn't big and the optimal usage of space is necessary to create more walking space for diners! p.s. i already found the current layout to be a bit tight. 

Bibimbab (Pork) - i usually tried not to order a carbohydrate-rich dish but if i am with my parents, that would be a standard staple for them and the benefit for me is that i can sample a bit without feeling overly guilty.

Since mom doesn't take beef, i had to make do with the pork version and even though the serving seemed pretty generous with almost overflowing ingredients; the reality was that the bowl is small and i couldn't help comparing the size with the humongous yangpunibibipbap from 2D1N soju bang

Taste wise, it was honestly not too bad even though there wasn't an exceptional factor that impressed us. I would suggest that the eatery replaces the bowl with a bigger one; even if the portion for the ingredients is the same, it does make it easier for us to mix the ingredients as required to enjoy bibimbap. 

Honey Garlic Chicken Wings - i should have been more observant with the picture on the menu as the price of S$10.90 (before GST and service charge) for two whole chicken wings is indeed pricey and it didn't help that they weren't out of this world. For that price, it's more worth your money to go for 4Fingers that's located a floor above. 

Fried Samgyeobsal - with a recommended symbol on the menu and given my taste for deep fried food and pork belly, this was a definite must-order! The batter did look like it's thicker compared to the picture on the menu. 

Aside from being visually unappealing, this was a total letdown; it's somewhat like eating fish and chips with a disappointing batter surrounding a thin, rubbery piece of salty pork belly. One thing for sure; it's definitely "extra sinful" as indicated on the menu.

Kimbap (Pork) - out of the dishes ordered so far, i am most satisfied with the kimbap as it was a delicious amalgamation of rice, juicy pork, crunchy kimchi and fresh lettuce and cucumber! 

Euljiro Bingsoo - of course i had to get a bingsoo and no thanks to the recent news on rock melons contaminated with the listeria bacteria; Patbingsoo had halted the sale of Sinsa (rock melon) Patbingsoo and we had to defer to an alternative.

Drench the Korean ice-kacang with the small glass of berry cheese sauce and be ready to indulge in the luxurious shaved ice mountain that consisted of cheese cake, vanilla ice cream and many pieces of diced up strawberries! 

On one hand, I actually like this a lot as the tightly packed snow ice was rich in milk and i enjoyed having the taste of cheese cake (hidden underneath) together with milk ice and sweet strawberries in every scoop that went into my mouth! Mom, on the other hand, preferred loosely packed snow ice that's not as milky; taste can be so subjective. :)  



1, Northpoint Drive South Wing,
#B1-181, Northpoint City, 

Singapore 768019


Bibimbab (Pork) - S$11.50
Honey Garlic Chicken Wings - S$10.90
Fried Samgyeobsal - S$7.90
Kimbap (Pork) - S$10.90
Euljiro Bingsoo - S$13.90
(subject to GST and Service Charge)

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