“Music saves the soul.” Play softly while you read. 🙂
When was the last time you did something for the first time? I feel like I’m always in need of something new, imagining myself to be in some place new. I’d like to believe I’m trying to engage myself on things I’ve never done before. I don’t mean doing drugs or orgy, dad! Hehe. . Sure thing, I have travelled alone, there’s nothing new about that. I may not be the most bad-ass adventurous creature you know but slowly, one step at a time, I try to do little things for the first time to take my semi-introvert self out of its shell and appreciate the world.
Many asked why do I wanna go see Hokkaido before other popular places in Japan. My answer, in a high pitched feminine tone, was “‘Coz I’d like to see the flowers on the vast fields, and the farms. Flowers are in full bloom in summer and July is the best month to go.” People replied “that’s it?”, I just nodded my head and smiled like a silly little girl on a Christmas morning. I guess they’re expecting me to climb Mount Fuji or something. Anyways, I flew to Tokyo from Singapore one early Thursday morning of July. I had a connecting flight to New Chitose Airport in the afternoon. Upon reaching Sapporo, I needed to take an hour long bus-ride going to downtown. On the bus queue I met a man, named Hiroaki Kobayashi, an engineer too, and I had a very pleasant time exchanging stories with him all through out my journey. He gave me the right warmth of amiability I needed in that cold town. I bid goodbye when he alighted at the Sapporo dome, 3 or 4 stops before mine.
I arrived Sapporo at around 10PM; I’ve been travelling for the whole day and it actually didn’t finish there. I walked down the dark alleys finding the hostel I am supposed to spend the night before going to Furano, but apparently I was lost. As the cold night breeze seeped through my maroon leather jacket, I walked bravely with my carpenter’s boots while pulling my almost 10kg luggage. I was really lost, and got no GPS. I waylaid a man in a bike, tried to speak in english the best way he could understand and asked for directions. Somehow, my words worked, he took his phone out for GPS, and showed me the way until I reached the place (I was screaming “what the f*ck”s in my head when I realized I walked towards the opposite direction of the hostel). I gleefully bowed to the stranger in the bike while I speak of “arigatou gozaimasu” and reached Guest House Waya safe and sound. It was my first time to stay in a hostel, I didn’t know what to expect. I am used to having all the privacy I believe I deserve when I travel. A lot of guests are still awake, I didn’t sleep yet and found time to mingle with all these wanderlust souls. They are from different countries, Syria, France, Australia, Taiwan and Japan. I was too tired to grab a bottle of beer, no one’s drinking anyway, so I just decided to doze off after a few chitchats with the friendly guests and staff. Hostels aren’t as awful as I first thought.
The next day I took the train to Furano from Sapporo. As expected, it took me a while to find my way. Damn it’s so difficult to go unprepared. Upon reaching Furano, I saw my airbnb host, an old ski instructor, waiting for me outside the train station. This is the first time I tried airbnb, curious about how it feels like sleeping on households owned by people you’ve never been acquainted with, sharing tubs and toilets with the owners. I slept in his house in Furano just above the bar he owns. I had a traditional Japanese floor futon mattress in a clean carpeted room.
I was browsing the internet trying to find ways on how to go to places around. But seems I can only walk or rent a private car. Public buses and trains pass by certain stations in a 1-hour interval; I thought I might waste most of my precious time waiting and looking for the bus stops, public transport isn’t a good idea for me. I thought of renting a bicycle but my host worried that I may not find my way home. So he offered me a package tour for a very affordable 6,000 JPY with him as the driver and tour guide in his personal BMW car. He drove me to places I wished to go and my main goal to visit Hokkaido has been fulfilled. I’ve seen the Furano Cheese factory and Winery. I have visited Ningle Terrace and witnessed the Japanese craftsmanship – from candles that looked like faces of Ents of Lord of the Rings, to snowflake pendants, to creative kaleidoscopes, I just loved them all. While in the car, I was amazed by the enthralling mountain rolls with white lines of snow. And finally the farms of flowers and immense lavender fields colouring my world with purple left me in so much fascination. And oh, I tried the lavender ice-cream. It was nice but I must say it’s not my most favourite flavour. 🙂
I was surprised not to see any other tourists apart from Asians, mainly Chinese, Malaysians, and mostly Japanese. I guess because it was not very convenient to roam around. Or maybe the place is not too popular for westerners? I’ve heard Aussies populate all the Hokkaido accommodations during winter to ski. 🙂 Not a lot of people can speak English so I didn’t really meet new friends during the tour. I had dinner just in front of my airbnb host’s bar and had him order for me because the menu are all in Japanese. I had a bunch of yummy Yakitoris and rice. After dinner, I took a stroll in the awfully quiet town and found no other tourists hanging around. All shops were closed, except from small bars occupied by locals. I didn’t go in and continued to walk and embraced the cold summer wind. I got lost a little again, and frightened that I may not be able to find another hero-in-a-bike anymore. Thank God I happen to pass by a 24-hour convenient store with a crew who doesn’t speak english but we both understood what each other meant. 🙂 I found my way back and headed straight to my room to rest. I was too excited to post my first picture of Japan in instagram so I didn’t stop myself from doing so right after I turned the lights off. My mom and sisters gave my post a “like” in Facebook. Oh shit, I forgot, I didn’t tell mom I was flying out. My first time not to tell my parents where on earth was I. I was stupid, I know, and sorry.
I was more than happy on my first day of stroll in the idyllic town. The enchantment of the the Hokkaido countryside continued the next day.
Oh before I forget, it was my first time to own and bring a DSLR with me on a travel. . I’m learning!! Hopefully I really am. . *wink*