10 things I learnt in Hokkaido

  1. Lorries and slower vehicles keep left and actually signal to get you to overtake them. They’d actually switch on their left indicator, keep left and slow down. This is an indication that you can overtake them on the right. Like, OH WOW!
  2. Wild animals cross the roads anytime they fancy. This explains the many “beware of deer/cow/fox/insert-name-of-animal crossing” signs that we spotted along the road. We encountered a couple of deer grazing by the roadside as well as a fox who decided to circle our car.
  3. Water from the tap is so cold, your fingers become frozen. Brrrrr. I wonder if it’s the same during summer time.
  4. Every ryokan we stayed at had hot and cold water, along with packets of green tea and snacks such as mochi.
  5. For those of you who have tested your eyes at the optician, do you remember the picture you view as you look through the machine that checks your eye? It is usually a picture of a small house amidst lush green fields? This is exactly the view you get in Hokkaido.
  6. Temperature in Hokkaido goes from 11 to 23 degrees in the span of one day. Bring clothes to layer, i.e. scarf, a warm coat, etc.
  7. If you are on a self-drive holiday, load up your ipod and check with the car rental company/travel agent if the car comes with the auxilary wire to connect ipod to car. Our car had the capability but there was no wire. BOOHOO.
  8. Preferably, travel with a co-driver so you can take turns to enjoy the scenary and rest for the long drives. At some point, we were clocking 1.5 hour drives at a stretch and it can get tiring and boring (for the driver). Don’t forget a large bottle of water as well – drink as much as you can because you are on a self-drive holiday which means you can stop anytime you like! 🙂
  9. The Japanese wear the yukata everywhere within the hotel. To dinner, to the onsen, to hang out at the lobby, EVERYWHERE! I wonder if they’re wearing anything underneath.
  10. Women sit around the onsen stark naked and scrub each others’ back, while chatting idly as if they are at a cafe having tea. They’re probably used to being naked around each other but to me, that was completely strange. I mean, can you imagine doing that with a friend? I’d be looking at that friend strangely from that moment on. It’s like, OMG, I saw you NAKED. OMGOMGOMG.

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