4 June 2010, Cloudy
We departed from T3 on Singapore Airlines (woohoo!) on a chartered flight direct to Hokkaido’s New Chitose (pronounced as “chi-toe-say”) Airport. It was a red-eye flight and I didn’t manage to sleep very well except for snatches here and there. Needless to say, I was slightly groggy upon arrival. Yawn.
It was indeed rather new looking!
It was a rather large group (100 pax!) but thankfully, there were quite a few tour guides to lead the way. We made our way to the coach bay for a quick trip to Toyoto Rent-A-Car where we were to pick up our car for the trip. How the “tour” works: Each day, we have a list of attractions and eateries that are recommended in the tour itinerary. We can choose to visit whichever we choose at our own pace, i.e. we can stay as long as we like or skip it altogether. The “aim” is to make it to the tour hotel by evening for dinner. As the boy puts it, it’s like Amazing Race without the racing 🙂
FMJ East Hokkaido Floral Fairytales II – yep, that’s us!
After a quick verification of our identifies, we were given a package containing the car key as well as a local mobile phone where we can reach the tour guide in case we got lost. Very cool! (alas, I forgot to snap a picture of it). We then made our way to the carpark and went in search of our New Prius. We chose the hybrid as it’s supposed to save us quite a bit on petrol – this turned out to be very true!
At C-8, we found “our” car. A white Prius. Yeay! We quickly loaded our luggage into the car – the boot space was only large enough for my pink luggage! The boy’s luggage had to go into the backseat.
The very helpful GPS who had a sexy woman’s voice. “200 metres, left turn”.
It was rather rainy and cloudy on the day we arrived and I was very excited that it was only 14 degrees. Woots!
A little welcome gift pack containing crisps, etc along with a cd and pouch was found in the passenger’s seat. By the end of our holiday, we would have listened to the cd no less than 20,782 times.
After a quick navigation course on the GPS by the staff, we were ready to head off to our first destination! We decided to head towards Kacha Ice Cream & Restaurant which is enroute to the first attraction, Sandantaki Falls. Apparently, it serves great homemade ice-cream and make a mean curry as well.
Our first glimpse of Hokkaido’s road.
There weren’t many cars on the road so it was easy to familiarise ourselves with the car and road system. Very similar to driving here except that everyone is really considerate and patient! OMG. If only half of Singapore drivers were like the Japanese, we’d be living in a very happy world.
We stopped over at a convenience store to buy a large bottle of water. Very important!
We soon realised that there were many of such stores located in the city.
Meal stop: Kacha Ice Cream and Restaurant
There were a couple of diners (all Japanese) having their meal quietly and we sat down at an empty table. Took a glance at the menu and realised that everything was in Japanese!
Wakarimasen! (I don’t understand)
It was a lovely restaurant that looked out to a pretty farm.
Thankfully, the waitress handed us an English menu when I asked for it. Heh. It was a summarised version of the menu but it was good enough – we ordered the curry with a side salad to share.
Hot food on a cold day. AWESOME!
It was definitely one of the best Japanese curry rice I’ve tasted. So yummy!! The sauce was thick without being cloying and the pork bits were fried to a nice level of crispiness (is there such a word?). Very very yums. After we filled our tummies with warm food, it was time to try their homemade ice-cream.
Loads of flavours to choose from – spoilt for choice!
For the life of me, I cannot remember what flavours we chose in the end but it was GOOD. I love japanese ice cream – they’re creamy and usually, is not too sweet. Slurp.
Attraction: Sandandaki Fall
Enroute to Farm Tomita, we stopped at Sandandaki Fall to stretch our legs and for the much needed toilet stop. The weather was pretty gloomy and by then, it had started to rain. This also meant that the temperature dropped even lower and I was shivering despite wearing tights, boots and a jacket!
Clean and dry toilet stop – lovely!
I have to mention here that the toilets in Japan are really clean and nice. Regardless of where you are (i.e. middle of the city, in the mountains, etc), the toilets are always clean! Not all come with toilet paper but it’s always clean. Best luxury of all? Heated toilet seats. They’re lovely, especially if you’re shivering your butts off and you rest your bare butt on the warm toilet seat. Ahhhhhh……
Ok. Moving on….
I have to admit that as this was a quick toilet stop plus it was really cold and windy, we did not actually walk to where the waterfall was. Instead, we snapped a quick shot of the river and then promptly left.
“Ta-dah! River! Ok, let’s go”
We continued up north to Furano where we soon arrived at a flower farm called Farm Tomita.
Attraction: Farm Tomita
According to the write-up in the itinerary:
Farm Tomita was responsible for introducing lavender to the Furano area with which it is now synonymous for. It is a popular destination for flower-lovers with more than 150 varieties of flowers blooming throughout the season, as well as perfume and potpurri workshops selling a variety of goods made from or associated with flowers grown there.
And we weren’t disappointed! There were rows and rows of colourful flowers! It must be the season for tulips because there were rows of them.
I couldn’t stop snapping pictures. Ha!
No photoshop was used in this picture, thanks.
Such vibrant colours! I wish we had such lovely flowers growing in Singapore. Most of them die in 2 hours after you bring them home because of our horrible heat and humidity. Urgh.
After taking a gazillion photos of the flowers, it was time to move on….
Attraction: Shikisai no Oka
This is a large farm that is located on a hill and apparently provides a stunning view of the surrounding areas. However, it must be the “off season” because when we reached the area, it wasn’t particularly spectacular. Boo. Anyway, no biggie. It was enroute to our hotel for the evening so we did a quick look around.
Headed off after about 15 minutes. We should have driven straight to the hotel but we made our way to the ramen village. Would I have missed that for the world??
Meal stop: Asahikawa Ramen Village
According to the itinerary, it is a “gathering of Asahikawa’s finest Ramen shops, each with their own individual tastes and specialities”. Indeed, there wered ramen shops located side by side and we had no idea which one was good! After doing a quick round, we decided to check this one out.
Till now, I have no idea what’s the name of the shop. Ha!
We were the only customers so got served really quickly. Typical ramen shop, manned by 2 male staff (seen behind the counter).
I cannot remember what we ordered but it was the recommended one. The boy had the spicy version.
Both bowls of ramen did not disappoint and we finished every drop of it. Heck, I could eat ramen everyday!!
After we were done, the boy spotted a huge Uniqlo outlet located right across the ramen alley and got really excited.
Uniqlo was calling the boy’s name.
So again, instead of heading to the hotel, we ran across the road and spent a good half hour shopping. Lalalalalalalalala. When we finally left the shop, the sun has set and it was raining. Urgh.
Accommodation: Hotel Taisetsu
We finally arrived at our first night accommodation. Apparenty, we were the 2nd last car to arrive. Heh. We parked beside another car from the group and I noticed that there was a dent in the back bumper. ALREADY?! I had a quick chat with one of the tour guides and he shared that the driver backed into a wall or something. Tsk tsk, Singaporean drivers. And mind you, the warning beep sound when the car’s in reverse is really loud! Oh well.
Stored our luggage at the lobby and made our way to the dining room for dinner. Everything was ready, just waiting to be eaten.
Yes, there was a LOT of food! We ate till our bellies were very happy. I have to make special mention of the onion thingy. It was filled with some sort of beef stew with melted cheese and it was the highlight of my dinner. Soooooo delicious! With our bellies filled, it was time to retire for the night. The hotel’s a traditional ryokan so we were going to be sleeping on mattresses on tatami mats. It was actually pretty comfortable!
By this time, I was thoroughly exhausted (remember that I didn’t sleep well on the plane?) so after a quick shower, I slipped into the tatami beds and fell promptly into a deep deep sleep.
Day 1. The End.