Bright and early, post-breakfast, we left for Shibazakura Park. It was going to be another moss pink galore day! The guides did tell us that it’d be similar to what we viewed the day before at Takinoue Park except that there’d be even more at Shibazakura! Oh wow!
Attraction: Shibazakura Park (Higashi Mokoto)
According to the itinerary, ‘Shibazakura’ is the Japanese name for moss pink and it can be translated as ‘lawn cherry blossoms’ because they stretch out like a lawn in the garden!
This time round, we weren’t as excited as the day before but still, it was awesome seeing soooooo much pink in one place.
At this park, there were white flowers used to create different patterns in the hills:
Here, you can see the cow logo:
Look how HUGE the whole place is! If you look carefully, you’d notice a yellow “car” on a “track”. There was a “track” where you can rent a “car” and drive amongst the lovely blooms.
And of course, being tourists, we decided we wanna ride on one of the “cars” too!
500 yen for 2 pax.
It was a short ride and no, we were not allowed to speed. Heh. Actually, most of the visitors were a parent with a child.
Enroute to our next destination, we stopped by the Mokotoyama Observatory Park.
Gorgeous blue skies! I could stare into the horizon forever…
Check out this picture-perfect view which the boy snapped from the car (I was driving):
*sigh in contentment* And yes, it was really easy to drive because the roads were EMPTY! Most of the time anyway. It wasn’t uncommon to travel for a good 10 minutes without any other vehicles in sight!
After a quick stop, we headed to our actual destination:
Attraction: Mount Iou 硫黄山
Mount Iou is a sulphur volcano. This explains the thick smoke spewing in the picture above. In fact, the moment we exited the car, we could smell sulphur in the air. No snakes in sight! Heh. No climbing is allowed on the mountain but you can still go pretty close to the sulphur discharge. There are barricades preventing you from falling in.
When we walked closer to the fumes, we spotted a cute old couple who looked like they were selling something:
Upon closer inspection, we realised that they were selling hard-boiled eggs cooked by the vapour from the sulphur fumes! Naturally, we decided we had to buy some:
“How much for an egg?” (100 yen)
“Say cheese….or rather, EGG!”
Apparently, you have to eat the egg with sugar!
To be honest, it tasted like any other fresh hard-boiled egg. Ha. I guess it’s the novelty of eating an egg near a sulphur mountain.
While the boy was finishing up the egg, I followed the cute old lady closer to the sulphur fumes. She was going to collect more eggs…
About 5 seconds after this picture was taken, she removed the crates and the fumes engulfed me totally, fogging up the camera lens and my vision. Ha. I guess it was my own fault for standing so close lah.
After half an hour, we decided that we have had enough of sulphur and left for our next destination:
Attraction: Sunayu, Lake Kussharo 砂湯
This area is famous for their hot springs and their ‘sand baths’. Apparently, if you are hardworking, you can even immerse your entire body into the warm sand!
I can vouch that the water was REALLY HOT! The boy took very unglamourous shots of me wincing my face as I placed my feet into the (very very hot) spring water and no, you are not going to see them. Hehe.
And yes, wet wipes are very very useful and handy while on a holiday! They were great for wiping our feet dry 🙂
After all that activity, tummies were rumbling so it’s time for lunch. Woohoo! We decided to check out a place recommended by the tour guide.
Meal stop: Cafe Azure
Check out the beautiful interiors! Very very lovely cafe, laidback vibe to it.
Unfortunately, the menu was completely in Japanese but thankfully, pictures saved the day – again.
I ordered a hamburger set (with rice) while the boy had (boring) spaghetti bolognaise. I guess these are dishes you can’t go wrong with!
They weren’t spectacular but made for a decent lunch. We took a quick walk outside the restaurant after lunch…
I love the texture of the wood chips used to line the ground:
It was time to head to our next stop, Lake Mashu. Check out the road conditions!!
Naturally, I let the boy take over the wheel while I snoozed with a happy belly.
Our next stop is Lake Mashu.
Stopped for a quick toilet stop and spotted these melons.
Just so you know, 9,800 yen is equivalent to…..S$158. Phew! That’s a lot of money to pay for a fruit! And no, we didn’t buy any…
So here we are at Lake Mashu. They have different observations points and we went to 2. One of them had huge souvenir shop so obviously, we did not miss that. Heh.
Lake Mahu can only be viewed from 2 designated look-out points: #1 which is the larger and busier of the two and #3 which is located on the north shore (free parking here). It is a deep volcanic caldera lake and the lookout points are suspended high on cliffs. There is also usually a strong wind blowing so bring your coats! Lake Mashu is usually blanketed by a thin layer of fog and definitely worth a visit
Here, I’m trying to record the sounds of the strong wind. It was mad windy!
After a spot of souvenir shopping and sight-seeing, it was time for ice-cream. Along the way, check out who we encountered!
I was driving when I spotted him and got really excited. Was squealing at the boy to grab the camera to snap a pic. Haha. Suaku Singaporeans we are. The fox came out from the side of the road and when we stopped and wound down the window to snap pictures, he circled our car. Got a tad nervous and told the boy to wind up the window because I had a vision of the fox jumping into the car, ala a horror movie. Heh. Actually, all he did (as per above photo) was to stand at the side and stare at us. When we related this incident to the tour guide, they told us that he was probably expecting us to feed him because many tourists do that so they’ve come to expect it.
Anyway, back to our road trip. We did a brief ice-cream stop at Kuriimu.
Check out their flavours! Very interesting stuff.
Asparagus?!?!! No, we didn’t try that.
Here’s what we got:
350yen (S$5.60) for a double-scooop.
The ice-cream place has this lovely wooden swing outside its main door so we sat in the sun to have our ice-cream. And no, the ice-cream didn’t melt too quickly because of the cold wind!
The company and the ice-cream was absolutely lovely 🙂
We also spotted some standees and guess what we did?
As we pulled away from the ice-cream place, the boy checked the gauge on the petrol tank and decided we had to refill. Drove along in the small town until we spotted a petrol station:
The tour guide taught us how to communicate with the petrol station staff so I wound down the window and uttered: legular mantan!
And they understood me! Woohoo! That was quite fun. Heh. And btw, that means ‘regular petrol, full tank’.
We were on the way to Shiretoko Five Lakes when we did a brief stop at a random place. Turns out that the big building we parked beside was….Daiso!
We stepped inside and found the signages, etc really familiar before the boy remarked: It’s Daiso!!!! So yes, we ended up buying loads of random stuff just because. Ha.
Happy with our purchases, we went along our way because it was getting a little late. Check out the gorgeous landscape unfolding before our eyes:
Spotted a couple of deer grazing at the side of the road and got really excited again. Heh. I love its cute white bob-tail!
We arrived at Shiretoko Five Lakes (知床五湖) in the evening and the place was going to close in about 30 minutes. We hurried down from the car and made our way in. There weren’t many people around which isn’t a bad thing. This is actually a national park with 5 lakes within (which explains the name). Most people come here to trek from one lake to another but we were happy just looking around.
According to Wikitravel:
Shiretoko National Park (知床国立公園 Shiretoko-kokuritsukōen) covers the entirety of the Shiretoko Peninsula (知床半島 Shiretoko-hantō), a remote northeastern corner of the Japanese island of Hokkaid. In 2005, the park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Shiretoko Five Lakes (知床五湖 Shiretoko-goko) are Shiretoko’s best-known and most easily accessible attraction, at the end of the main road on the western coast. The five lakes are located within walking distance of each other and well-maintained trails connect them, a quick circuit won’t take more than an hour. Watch out for bears!
The view was absolutely stunning…
When we were leaving the place, we spotted a deer lying in the grass with half its body in the water. I thought that was a little strange until we realised that it has – literally – just popped its young! OMG!
We must have stood there for a good half hour just watching mummy deer trying to get baby deer to stand. Awwww. It was truly a National Geographic moment happening right in front of us, can?! I also took a gazillion photos and only stopped when the boy gently told me that we probably have enough deer-related photos to start a deer archive.
Shiretoko Five Lakes was our final stop and we drove towards our hotel for the evening. Check out the lovely sunset:
After a rather long day, we finally reached Shiretoko Grand Hotel. As usual, we made our way to our room before heading for dinner at the hotel’s premises. Check out the dinner spread!
The Japanese are really good making food look good. Check out the presentation. My eyes were boggled because I didn’t know what to focus on.
I requested for no seafood/no raw food menu (I know, and I’m in Hokkaido!!) so I got slices of pork instead to put on a mini grill.
My personal mini grill!
Some mixed rice thingy.
After filling our tummies to the brim (again), we headed to our room for the night:
The room was relatively large and yes, we slept on mattresses on the tatami mats again.
They’re realllllllly comfortable and snug. I like 🙂 Then again, I pass out like a light every night, probably due to the day’s activities. Ha.
Good night world!