Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hokkaido I love you

I just got back from a short trip to Hokkaido. It was a very last minute trip. I think we planned it within 2 weeks. I still can't believe we made it. It was awesome. I am falling more and more in love with Japan every time I go there.

Yummy Salmon on our flight to Sapporo
Since it was a last minute booking, we couldn't get a direct flight to New Chitose. I think AirAsia is the only direct flight there but the seats weren't to our liking. A friend suggested we try Thai Airways. Sceptical but we gave it a go and guess what? It was awesome!

Surprisingly, the seats were a lot bigger than MAS. It was way more comfortable! Makes me feel like MAS is such a rip-off. We have been loyal MAS customers because it is easy to just fly direct and we dont have to think about getting halal food. Well, perhaps we should explore other airlines next time.

Anyway, our trip was a short one. 4 nights only. Sobs! Definitely not enough to explore the whole of Hokkaido. We decided to stay in Sapporo, which is the capital of Hokkaido. Sapporo is quite a big city but it is so calm and not as busy as other capital cities are. Everything seems to move slower, I feel, which is so weird.

Our first day there, our driver picked us up at the airport. We booked via a website my husband found from google. Our driver, Yoshida was awesome. He didnt speak that much English but it wasn't too bad at all. He was super helpful. The initial plan was to send us to this restaurant for breakfast but he told us that it is not opened yet. He took us to another place on the way to Sapporo from the airport. It was like a R&R. Big area and lots to eat there. There was also a food truck selling Indian food. We ordered Nan Bread with Tandoori. I know, it is weird. Indian food in Japan? But man, it was goooood.
We also had some Japanese pancakes. It was nice too. My son had ice cream for breakfast. Apparently, that is ok. They eat ice cream all day.

After breakfast, Yoshida took us for sakura viewing. This is actually the main reason why we decided to come to Japan. The sakura season is over in other parts of Japan like Tokyo and Osaka but Hokkaido is up north and we are just in time for sakura. Initially we were supposed to go to the Sapporo Shrine but Yoshida said he knows a better place to view the sakura and he was right. It was beautiful. We went to the Nakajima Park instead for sakura viewing. It is beautiful. We managed to take a few beautiful family photos there.

I took my portable diffuser everywhere

We stayed at the Sapporo Grand Hotel. I didnt know where to stay. Normally I would do a lot of research before I decide on a hotel and the location but this time, I literally picked the hotel because there is a Starbucks on the ground floor. I figured, if theres a Starbucks there, it should be pretty 'happening'. Lame, I know but thankfully, I made the right choice. Sapporo Grand Hotel is awesome. The location was good. It is only about 5 minutes walk to the biggest mall in town (JR Tower).
Breakfast was also good. I had sashimi every morning. So much so until I cannot eat another sashimi for the next few weeks, I think. The room is also very comfortable. I have no complains. We wanted to stay in Nikko Hotel, which is the hotel connected to JR Tower but the rooms were all fully booked. Next time we go back to Sapporo, we will try Nikko Hotel.

It is actually Spring right now but the kids begged us to take them to see the snow mountains. We were told that theres not much snow left but you can still see some. Not the best quality but the kids didnt care. They just wanted to see snow. Off we went to Kokusai Skiing Resort. It is about 1.5 hours away from Sapporo town. Kids had so much fun exploring the ski resort. We didnt bring any winter clothing, obviously, because we came to Sapporo to see the sakura but since we were dragged to the ski resort, we had no choice but to rent the clothing. Surprisingly it wasn't cold at all. I was wearing my sneakers and a long sleeve top and a coat. I had to take off my coat at one point as I was sweating. My kids wanted to play with the snow so they had to rent the pants and whatever else. They told me that it was the best day of their lives. Awwww….poor jakun kids. hahaha.. Looks like we will be booking ski holiday soon. They loved it so much. Food was a bit difficult to get because they couldn't communicate in English but thank God for translator app. I showed them "No pork" and they made sure whatever they served us had no pork. They even checked the labels on the sauce bottle to see if it is ok for us to take.

Street Food in Otaru
We also went to a small town about an hour or so away from Sapporo. Otaru is a famous place for tourist. It is famous for various things like glass/crystal and also their music box. We spent half a day there shopping for gifts to bring home. It is a nice little town. Worth visiting. I wish we spent more time there exploring the town even more but we just didnt have the time.

The remaining of our stay was pretty much shopping in Sapporo. Still, it wasn't enough. I went to Sapporo Factory one night to buy food and I caught this Japanese singer performing. The song was beautiful. We were rushing back but I managed to record a short video of the song. I wish I had stayed and gotten the CD because I really love the song.

Awww Sapporo. I love you. I dont think I saw enough of what Sapporo had to offer. It is ok, this will only make me want to come back again next time. I promise we will be back!

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