Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dewy Dew Dew Hokkaido Vacation (Part I)

Had been looking forward to this flora wonderland... Finally been there, done that. Here's a brief overview of the trip. I will include the full itinerary here to benefit whoever's planning a F&E trip to Hokkaido! (However, due to some snippets on our first-hand experience, the blog entry become excessively long..so this will be split a few parts):

Day 1 – Singapore-Tokyo, Asakusa
0640 Arrived at Narita Airport
Train transfer 1,080 yen (Narita -Asakusa)
0830 Checked-in Khaosan (near Asakusa Station) for 1 night (2,630yen/night)
Went to Asakusa
*Lunch @ 大黑屋: Tempura Set at 1,730/pax
(only starts around 11plus, 12.)

As you can see from the background, it's a very popular restaurant...
But somehow, I don't really understand why.

- Asakusa, imperial castle

- Roppongi

- Tokyo Tower

We met Eugene's friend for Dinner after a visit to Tokyo tower.
***Dinner @ a Local restaurant (can't remember the place, but it's very nice)
We had a sumptuous meal with so much dishes, I can't remember them all. What left the most impression is a type Sashimi from a kind of fish in season. It has a maroon red flesh, with a special kind of sweetness and goes really well with sake.

Day 2 – Tokyo-Hakkodate
Early visit to Tsukiji Fish Market
***Sumptuous Breakfast at Daiwa Sushi: Nigiri Set @ 4,300 yen - worth it!

(note: The set wa supposed to be only 3,500 yen, but we ordered Otoro sushi after that. We were really full, but the nice chef made us a "Special" Otoro sushi - I thought the 800Yen was worth it.)

The Chef incharge of our Nigiri seto.

Check out the Queue, So better be there early to beat the crowd...


- Tsukiji Fish Market and Breakfast at Daiwa!

- Stroll down to Ginza from Tsukiji Market

- Went back to Asakusa for a few pics with blue skies (the sky was greyish the day b4)

1115 Left for Haneda Airport
1300-1420 Flight from Haneda to Hakodate Airport
Transfer bus to Hakkodate JR Station (20mins from Airport, 300Y)
1500 Hakkodate JR Station
( Booked Hanatabi Reshiri tickets and exchanged our 3 daysHokkaido Railpass for use from Day 3 to 5. There's also a Tourist Information Centre on the right side of the station.)
*Check-in @ Niceday Inn (3,000Y/pax)
Address: 9-11 Otemachi, Tel: (81) 0138 22 5919
Direction: Hakkodate Station, take the west exit out of the station and walk stright pass the morning market, after crossing the wode, tree-lined avenue, take the 3rd left (across Kokosai hotal entrance) Inn is a white, 2 storey building on your right.

Saito San - Nice lady

with a Nice cosy lodging to make us feel at home.

*Lunch : Curry rice

- Stroll towards the harbour, which is within walking distance.
- Therefater, stroll towards Hakodate-yama foot, also known as the Motomachi District, which houses some historical buildings like Russian Orthodox Church and Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward. Our ultimate destination was the summit of Hakodate-yama for the renowned postcard-quality night view.

So, Don't miss! Hakkodate night view
(Note: Another spot worth a visit is the Goryo-kaku - Japan's 1st western-style fort in the shape of a star. We didn't manage to see this due to time constraint, though we managed to get a glimpse of it from the sky as our plane flew in towards Hakodate Airport.)

Do you understand why Hakkodate

has one of the World's most beautiful night scenery? Humm.. somehow,

the photo doesn't do the place justice

Mt Hakodate Ropeway (between 10am to 10pm; 640 Y one-way, 1,160 two-way)
Recommended time: When the sun is setting, so you get to see it at sun down and at night.
We took one-way and a bus down
*** Dinner @ 海鮮炭焼そーらん亭 (かいせんすみやきそーらんてい)(recommended)
Operating hours: 17:00 ~ 00:30 (No rest day, Only Cash)

Hakkodate is famous for its fresh, live seafood as it's a key seafood trading centre. イカ(ika)~ meaning Squid, was in season when we were there.
As such, we decided to look for a nice restaurant with good イカ (Ika) dishes and not too far from Niceday Inn. And there it was... 海鮮炭焼そーらん亭 (Kaisen Sumiyaki Soran Tei).
I'm glad we went there. It was said to be about 5 mins away from 函館駅 (Hakodate JR), but I think we took about 7 mins. Night was rather chilly after one whole day of incessant rain. But I guess the cold chilly walk in search of good food is all worth it!

We had grilled fish, the famous イカめし (Ika Me Shi ~ stuffed squid with seasoned guitunous rice), イカ刺身(Ika Sashimi), Roast duck slices and Bacon asparagus 焼きとり (Yakitori)。

Oh, I must say the Ika Sashimi ~ was so, so fresh! It was still swimming in their tank, and they only cut it just before serving. It was So fresh that the tentacle twitched when I bite it, and sometimes, it might even stuck on to the roof of our mouth... hee..sounds rather scary. But it's really so fresh, you can taste the sweetness of the transparent flesh. And note that I used the word "transparent" and not "translucent".)
The food's so nice, we only remember to take a picture mid-way through the meal ...

All these good food (no alcohol) for only 2,720 Yen/pax?!!

Day 3 – Hakodate-Sapporo-Otaru
***Breakfast @ Morning Market Asa-ichi: Seafood Donburi
Sluurp! Cheapest, freshest seafood donburi I ever had, topped generously with Uni, salmon roe, bits of kani (crab)... Argh... thinking of it makes me drool.

This is the Owner of the restaurant with

the freshest and most delicious Kaisen Donburi I ever tasted.

Train schedule(highlighted timing is what we took)
0704 Depart Hakodate 0830 Depart Hakodate
1018 Arrive Sapporo 1147 Arrive Sapporo

*Leave Bags at train lockers to travel light.

Sapporo is a cosmopolitian little city in Hokkaido, though not as crowded as other cities like Tokyo. As such, it is not so appealing to me. We merely stopped by to look at some attractions.

Sapporo Park, Tokeidai (Clock Tower), TV Tower (shaped like Eiffel Tower)

Next, to Otaru.

Train schedule
Depart Sapporo 1044 1114 1144 1214 1244 1314 1344
Arrive Otaru 1116 1246 1216 1246 1316 1346 1416

We walked down the street infront of the train station, in search of the well-known canal called Otaru Unga. Along the canal are several historical buildings like Mitsui Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Coproation (still in use), Bank of Japan and etc.. Further down, there's a stretch lined with rather interesting shops selling pretty ornaments made from glass. The area is rather touristy, but still nice.

*Lunch @ Sushiya Dori
Nice set lunch.

Otaru Canal, Kitaichi Glass, Orgel~musicbox , Traditional architectures like Nippon Yusen Co., MSMBC and Bank of Japan.

Otaru is supposedly famous (or rather, JNTO is trying to promote Otaru as) The place for handmade/personalised musicbox and glass-blowing little town. Initially, we were tempted to get our own personalised music-box with our selected tune..But after browsing at the materials on display, we managed to pull ourselves out from this gimicky trap.

Otaru Canal - A rather Romantic place at dusk

with gas lamps lining the walkway besides the canal...

Even the interiors of the shops got a unique 'feel',

created with crystal glass lamps hanging down from its high ceiling

Train Schedule Back to Sapporo
Depart Otaru 1534 1604 1634 1704 1734 1834 1904 1958
Arrive Sapporo 1606 1636 1706 1736 1807 1906 1936 2043

* (Intended) Dinner @
- Ramen Dinner at Susukino/Shopping; OR
- Shin/Ramen Yokocho
But……due to a series of unfortunate event, in the end... we only had some Onigiri (rice roll) from Conveni Store at Train station. In fact, I didn't even had any dinner I think..

2305 Departed Sapporo (Hanatabi Rishiri 6300yen/pax)
It was an Overnight train - we had to share the sleeping berth with 2 other people. It was Quite a good concept to use curtain to give us some privacy within the limited space given to us.

~ To be continued~

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