This latest blog entry was written on my new swanky iPad (a presento from the fabulously sexy Miss M) on the way to Sapporo!
Time to leave!
Woke up quite early and finished off packing and tidying. Still couldn't believe I was leaving this fair city, just as the weather was getting warmer, spring was approaching and I had got into a nice daily routine. However I reminded myself that there was more of Japan to see and the only D brave roadshow must go on! When I arrived in Fukuoka my main luggage weighed 29 KG which was fine for being just under the Emirates limit but I was unsure if it would be ok for the flight to my next destination Hokkaido. Just to note travel in Japan is even more expensive in the UK if you don't book in advance. my flight to Hokkaido cost over £300 and that was only one way!! Train costs around the same and even booking in advance is still pricey.
Said my goodbyes to the staff at my accommodation who, in Japanese, said that whenever I'm in Fukuoka to please come back and stay in their rooms, which I most definitely will
Then made my way to the airport. Thought I would save some cash by first taking the bus and then the subway but it turned out it would have been cheaper if I just used the subway. Got to the airport two hours early and went to check in. Had to put suitcase through an X-ray machine which highlighted I had 2 lighters ( in fact I had 3 - presents from the owner of Fasika restaurant ) I didn't not know but apparently you can only take one lighter as hand luggage and none in your checked in luggage. so I had to say bye bye to two lighters. With the iPad I had saved my flight itinerary details as well as directions to my hotel, train times which negated the need for me to print out paper. The iPad a gift i never asked for but boy is it handy! While checking in, i did notice a rather amusing check in desk a couple of metres away.
Japan is known for efficiency but i was amazed by the length of time from when check in closed and the flight took off. In the UK maximum time is 1 hour before flight is scheduled to take off. In Japan it was 15 mins for internal flights... yes 15!!! I had arrived in plenty of time but its nice to know that it is possible to pul a last minute.com check- in.
So long my friend..
As I was boarding the plane i looked back and said a final au revoir! I know it seems like I'm going on about it but I really had a fantastic time in Fukuoka and I will miss la Fukuokians la familia. Special shout outs and thanks to all who got me presents and i'm already plotting my next trip back there. Flight was pretty standard. Nothing special to not other than it was quite packed. I guess a lot of people were going to the Snow Festival as well.
Welcome to Hokkaido city!
And what an introduction to Hokkaido. From chitose airport I took a express train to Sapporo jr terminal. First thing that surprised me was that it was snowing. Coming that it was Sapporo's 62nd snow festival it really shouldnt have shocked me since the clue is in the title But I guess the little snow in Fukuoka, combined with spring like weather and less reports of snow causing havoc in the UK made me think that snowy days were gone. Armed with 4 layers of clothes ( since I didn't have any items that could be truly deemed as winter garments) I stepped outside to brave the winter night! And what a sight I saw. My breath was taken away( and not because of the cold). Sapporo was hauntingly beautiful at night. I honestly thought this could have been the set for batman 2 featuring the penguin or a tim burton movie. The sky had an amazing purplish stroke chocolate brown tint to it, the aftermath of the sun setting mixed with the swirling snow affect ( well thats what i thought)the ground a duvet of white snow and the layout of building tall big and akin to the American block system.
Not as smooth sailing
However attractive this was, it did not make best conditions to cart 40 KG of luggage around. Google maps said it would take 18mins walk from the station. Given my aversion to cabs, this seemed ideal. What google and I hadn't taken into account Was the snow factor. It took about 30 mins to get to the place where I thought my accommodation should be. But as with my journey of Japan things do not go according to plan! Yes I couldn't find my accomodation. I had acquired a map at the train station which clearly had my hotel marked on it and I followed the map to a tee. Walk past Odori park - check. Tsuyata should be on the opposite side of the road that you are on - check you should see a parco on your side- check. The hotel is the block after the hotel - not check! I asked a couple of Japanese people if they knew where the hotel was and if they could read the map, however none had a clue and their map reading skills were a lot to be desired, one suggestion would have taken me back to the station! So decided to walk around the block just to make sure. As I was parallel to the place I thought the hotel should be I spotted a taxi driver cleaning the snow of his car. I politely in Japanese said excuse me do you know where this hotel was. He said that he didn't understand. So I put my luggage down and started to pull out my map to show him I asked again excuse me but the guy continued to scraps his car. I said it a bit louder and he moved to the other side of the car. I moved towards him just to make sure he could hear me and the buffoon got in his car and drove off! Now if I hadn't mentioned it before the Japanese are super polite. They even have different levels of politeness which is mind boggling. However they also can be extremely rude. Not the type of swearing at you rude, but rather treat you as you are beneath them. Fortunately I haven't experienced much of the rude behaviour so far. I went round the corner and saw a Australian guy outside a karaoke place. I asked him if he knew where the hotel was and he didn't have a clue but he did suggest I ask inside. I asked the lady at the counter who was a lot more helpful than the taxi driver. She didn't know where the hotel was but she had an idea and found a colleague to confirm this. The colleague took a look at the map and beckoned me to follow him. 30 secs later I was at the hotel! The irony of it all was that the hotel was exactly outside the spot I had asked the taxi driver where the hotel was!!! I thanked the karaoke for his kindness and went into my hotel - the capsule hotel Sapporo!
Japanese word of the Day - Demo -But