Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hokaido, Japan, August 2010

My dreams finally came true, always wish to go to Hokaido. Took Japan Airlines night flight to Narita. Arrived Narita in the morning and then took 2 hours bus jouney to Haneda, domestic airport. Landed on Hakodate which is of one of the most beautiful port cities of Japan and one of the first three ports in Japan opened for foreign trade in 1859. 

Visited the Motomachi Roman Catholic Church and the white Russian Orthodox Church is Japan's first Greek Orthodox Church.  (renovating when we were there). 

On the way we bought melon and mix ice cream and grilled squid to eat.

We visited Mt. Hakodate and took the cable car to have a panoroma view of the city and the fine natural harbour.  Great view!!

We stay in tatame and the bathroom are really small. Weather is really hot and hokaido people don't practice switching on air-conditioned. This year the weather changed and it was 35C. Normally summer in hokkaido the weather is between 17-26C.  We booked a private room for hotspring and the cost for 1 hour is only RM37.

Next day, we visited the Assaichi Hakodate Morning Market, Japan's biggest seafood wholesale market.
We had grilled scallop and abalone. It was ok, nothing spectacular. It is really fresh.

Sea Unchin

Then on our way to Lake Toya we stopped by at Seaweed Museum to buy seaweed and biscuits. The journey took us 3 hours to reach Lake Toya for lunch.

Our lunch are steamboat with prawns, scallops, salmons, chinese cabbage and pork.  Very healthy food and no oil.
Visit to Mt. Uzuzan and took a ropeway to view the active volcano rising from the valley.

At the same time, visited the Bear Ranch which has 102m long brown bears. The bears are so adorable, waiting to be feed with biscuits. You can purchase the biscuits from the vending machine, each packet cost 100 yen which is RM3.70.The bear will do all kinds of action just to get the biscuits. Make sure you save the biscuits for the last group of bears which are cage at the end of the ranch. 

After that we  visited Jigokudani (Hell Valley) at Noboribetsu.  Jigokudani is a part of an old crater. We did not walk all the way in to see the crater and the hot water bubbles.  The sulfur smells are too strong.

We check in to our hotel and the guide advise us to wear Yakuta for dinner. gosh, it was so hot and no air-conditioned in the restaurant. Some more we are eating hot pot. It is buffet style therefore you can eat fresh salmon, squid, scallops and etc.  

We are so lucky that we are able to see the Ghost Festival where there are fire crackers and ghost performance.  The shows starts at 8.30pm and is just walking distance from our hotel.  The guide ask us to wear Yakuta to join the festival unfortunately weather is too hot, so all of us change into our tshirts and shorts.  On our way back, we stopped by at Panchinko outlet to check out the place and see how to play. Panchinko is a japanese gaming device use in the amusement and gambling area, similar to pinball machines.

The guide took us to cherry plucking. Have you ever eat cherry from the tree? It was fresh and yummy. We had cherry feast..ha!ha!

We stopped by at Furano Cheese Factory and we tried their milk and it was so nice. Must try their milk!!.We stopped by at one of the restaurant for lunch and we were given one slice of melon. Melon are very expensive in Hokaido, one melon can cost RM129. After lunch we visited lavender shop where you can buy lots of lavender product such as pillow, lavender skin lotions, soap and etc. The driver and guide took us to additional farm so that we could see different views and flowers. The flowers are so beautiful and the view are magnificient, exactly what you see in the emails or postcards.

Then we reached Tomita Farm and we saw lavender and the smell are so nice.Tomita farm is one of the famous lavender farm in Furano. It started to rain heavily therefore we left the place and went to Biei, another magnificient view of the hill where you can see wheats, an ingredient for SOBA.

Magnifient view from the tower -golden wheat at Biei
We reached Sounkyo and stay over night, The hotel is build behind the ravine. After breakfast, visited Sounkyo Gorge, is a giant gorge consisting of 100m cliffs formed by the erosion of tuff, and forms the center of the Daisetsuzan National park. Saw Ryusei-no-taki Falls (shooting star falls) and Ginga-no-taki Falls (milky way falls), great view and must see it.

We travel to Otaru. Otaru renown as "foreign country in the north".  Visited Otari Canal, Ishiya Chocolate Factory famous for its white chocolcate. Visited the Otaru Handicraft Street where famous for glass handicraft and musical box. Bought a cow musical box to add in to my cow collections.

Most Expensive Musical Box in the world

We drove to Sapporo where is the capital of Hokaido.We had our King Crab Buffet in Sapporo. All you can eat long leg crab and hairy crab. The hairy crab really not nice, not much meat. The long leg crab is salty. This is because there is no fresh long leg crab during this period. The fishermen catches the long leg crab in October, and then cooked the crab and freeze it. That's why the crab is salty.  We also order Kobe beed and the cost is RM300++ which is 9000 yen for 200gm.  The Kobe beef really melt in your mouth. Must try!!  Shops closes at 8pm. Rush to Daimaru Departmental store to shop for toys unfortunately can't find any toy shop.
Beef, Lamb, Hairy Crab, Long Leg Crab - unlimited refew
Long Leg Crab
Hairy Crab
After breakfast, visited Hokaido Shrine to make pray and make wishes. Then went to Tanukikoji Underground Shopping Street and were given only 1 hour. Therefore very rush and also cannot find toys like Gundam here.

Lunch we had RAMEN, no words can describe the bowl of ramen. It was so delicious. Consist of 3 big scallops, 2 pieces of pork meat and also we are given 3 pieces of Gyoza to eat. I could not finish the bowl of ramen cos too big bowl. Really wasted...but this ramen is alot better than those we ate in Tokyo.

Went to Sapporo Factory Outlet to shop, we only given 2 hours here and the outlets are huge. Nike, Addidas, Rockport are really cheap.

Time to said goodbye to Sapporo and we headed to Narita by flight. Stay overnight and after breakfast we flew back to Malaysia.   So sad and now back in to reality.  Overall Hokaido is good for sightseeing and hotspring. Yeap I miss out the hot spring section, i did try the hot springs....it was nice and really an experience.  We did went for the private and the public hot springs. Both experience are different.

I highly recommend you to book your tour with Ming Ming Travel Services Sdn Bhd from Kuching.
Tel : 082-419953 or email to mingtrvl@tm.net.my
My local guide name is Felicia. She is really good and also a great friend of us. Our japanese tour guide known as Polly. She is really great and she got everything in her bag and we told her tat she owns an doreamon bag. She teaches us how to use the lavender skin lotion and highly recommend you to buy it cos you can't get this in Malaysia.  The most important thing that i left out, Polly took us to cherry plucking which is not in our itinery. We pluck cherry and ate on the spot. Really cherry feast. In KL, one cherry cost 90 cents. 

Hokaido is famous for hot springs, melon, scallops, long leg crabs and sightseeing.  Tokyo and Hokaido are two different world.

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