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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Only D Brave - Hokkaido revisited

Only D Brave is back on the last day of the World Cup Quarter final... Brasilll Brasilll. Day 5 of the 500 word challenge.

Currently Happening

If you didn't know the football World Cup is on. It’s been a cracking bunch of games so far! There has been a bunch of goals, teams disregarding reputation and playing without fear.
I don’t know if it’s because the gap in football hierarchy has got smaller, or that its taking place in the spiritual home of football but it has been one to remember.  I have watched part of every game and have treated to drama and excitement.  It’s a shame that it will soon come to an end.

10th February 2011

Welcome to Hokkaido city!
And what an introduction to Hokkaido. From Chitose airport I took an 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 shouldn't have shocked me since the clue is in the title.  However 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 (only d) 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 that's what I thought)the ground a duvet of white snow and the layout of building tall big and akin to the American block system.   It really had a Gotham city look to it. On this Japan journey, this was the first new city I intentionally planned to visit.  You can read about the first new unintentional city here

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 home and abroad, this seemed ideal.  What google and I hadn't taken into account was the snow factor.  Lugging 40 KG of luggage through about 6 inches of snow was very hard work.  Even though I was pulling the suitcase along, snow would build up between myself and the back of the suitcase forcing me to stop every so often to clear the snow.  Also the floor was a mixture of snow slush and ice. Keeping balance was an effort!  The four layers of thermal, t-shirt, hoodie Uniglo jacket + scarf kept my torso warm and the long johns was sooo necessary.

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 I 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 scrape 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 an 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 seconds 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 - Tomorokoshi -Corn

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