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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Things to do in Sapporo

One place I regretted not staying longer was in Furano, the famous Lavender farm. In July, the fields will be filled with blossoms and it'll be a sight to behold.
 Hokkaido is such a huge place that even with our car, it takes alot of planning and time to go from one tourist spot to another. Locating places is easy with the GPS installed with the rented car.
Alas with the huge distance to cover, we only reach Farm Tomita at sunset. We did not manage to dine at the cafe with food made of Lavender (was looking forward to the ice-cream).
Lavender is known to be an aphrodisiac.
The Ishiya chocolate factory is one attraction you shouldn't miss. It's free (factory tour is not) and the grounds so magical, it's really like Willy Wonker's chocolate factory!
That's their famous cream biscuit that melts in your mouth. Apparently they do not export out Hokkaido's chocolates! That exclusive.
In the garden alone, you'll go picture frenzy. With bubbles in the air, musical statues and mechanical animals popping up from the ground, definitely amuses both child and adult.
You can even enter these doll houses! But if you eat too much of their chocolates, don't think you can fit in.
What you can give a miss is the Asahiyama Zoo. Although this guinea pig make it almost worthwhile the trip there.
While everyone laps up water with their head down, this particular one sips and then lift it's head up to look at you. It does that for 15 minutes, drink lift drink lift drink lift.
The zoo aimed to make us see the animals as if we were the animal ourselves. So they have afew exhibits where the penguins and seals swim above and around.  Other than that, it's just another zoo.
You know, we were looking at the apes and we marveled at how similar our DNA is, yet we're the ones looking in. Staring at them as if they're animals. I love the movie Planet of the Apes. Imagine if the roles were reversed and we were kept in cages!

By the way, here's a video of a monkey caught on tape in a Hawaiian Zoo forcing a frog to give it oral sex.
And they have soy sauce flavour, wasabi, strawberry cheesecake, green tea, sakura and milk tea. Don't you love how i switch topics? I'm GREAT in awkard situations. Hahah.
Bears are also another feature in Hokkaido. However, we didn't see any real ones despite 熊出没 (bears appearing) warning signs in national parks.
There's one alright. Having your own car allows you to make pit-stops anywhere. We saw this attention grabbing fixture, stopped and found....
Bear meat! Actually we never quite figured out what it was. Maybe fish, maybe bats, we don't know.
I'm not proud of what I've consumed, but i am guilty of being curious. I went on a hunt akin to Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. Chrispy and Tine go to Lucky Perriot.
 It's a burger chain like Mos Burger and can be seen around Hakodate only it seems.
Kujira Miso burger = whale meat. SGD6 They also have Chinese Chicken.
The meat is dark in colour, almost black unlike chicken that is white, beef that is brown/red.
Quite frankly, it doesn't taste THAT good. So i wonder why are people eating it. It has a very pungent taste, 10 times of mutton. It is also very tough, tougher than a well-done steak. But it didn't taste bad either, the burger actually tasted nice with the sauce mayo and bun. If i had to choose a burger i would enjoy, i'll still take beef, fish or chicken over this. Whale meat is therefore overrated, why are people eating it? Later that night, i was still disturbed by being immoral in consuming a whale (although i consciously looked to eating one and when i found it, i only had two bites (too guilty)). Frankly, if you presented dog meat to me, my stomach will churn but i didn't bulk at whales'. Because i have personal experiences with dogs. Puppies are furry, warm, cute. Whales...i've never encountered a whale. The closest was going on a cruise ship and seeing them blow water from afar and liking the movie Free Willy. I am an advocator of things I personally experience and thus causing a belief. I don't like empty talk and theories. I plan to swim with the whales soon, so i can appreciate and marvel at its beauty and then get in action opposing the whaling act fevertly.
Chinese chicken curry tasted alot better. Guess we should stick to our own kind, Chinese and Chicken (i swim like one remember?)
Japan has flavours of all sorts. They have Ghengis Khan beef noddles sweets, miso ramen sweets...alas i am not rich. If i am, i will buy all these without a bat of an eyelid just to try then puke it out then thrash it. But since i'm poor, i shan't be wasteful and a brat.
My dad proposed to my mum by saying "Wanna apply for HDB?" Guess they're reminscing abit of a romance by putting their faces into a cardboard.
Another miss is Fort Goryokaku. It's just another park, nothing to wow about. Abit of construction still going on. And if you want to see the "star formation",you've to pay to go up the observation tower.
However, this guard there is kawai-i in a way! He takes his job so seriously and with his minimal capability in speaking English, he took great efforts to communicate with us! Merlion represents Singapore, he told us mimicking the spewing of saliva.
 A must-try is the local food Ikameshi, stuffed squid with rice.
I saw it by chance along the streets, and remember reading about it. Filling enough to be a meal on its own!
After having enough of squids and soft serve in Hakodate, we drived down to Sapporo (5 hrs). 
Jigokudani or more popularly known as Hell Valley isn't spectaculary scenic but still, it IS a tourist spot to cover. It smells like fart and rotten eggs. There's a long walking route around the area and you should trek up to the foot bath in natural spring water.
Be careful to slowly dip your toe in first, then foot when you're entering scalding hot springs.
See the Japanese father "forcing" his terrified son's foot in. Once you pass that hurdle, the heat settles in and it's bliss for your aching feet.
Could almost visualise my dad being one of those soulful poets.
You MUST go to the onsens scattered around Hokkaido though. Every few kilometres you drive, you'll see signs with 温泉or 泡汤 (really helps if you can read Mandarin in Japan). We went to the onsen closest to Hell Valley (which explains why entry is double the price. Tourist spot mah. It's SGD 30? Can't remember. You can stay as long as you want.) The onsen experience is not new to me as i've written about it in last year's trip but it was new to my family members as it was their virgin time being naked in a public place(according to genders of course)!He in front of Dad, me in front of Mum. Thankfully mum didn't ask any weird questions about my body.

I must say while on the trains, the Japanese respect your personal space. However in an onsen, there is no such thing. Fat obasans cuddle up to you in the hot tub, with one jiggly mammary by your left cheek (face), and another wrinkly mammary by your right.
As for the boys, my brother observed that while younger men were more conservative and covered up with that tiny thin towel provided, older men walked around head held high and their chest out. A lot of confidence even if they were lacking in size below. I asked if it’s true that Japanese men were as tiny as tooth picks as we all hear. All my brother commented was, “there was so much hair, I couldn’t see anything.”

The Japanese women on the other hand, had perfect figures and porcelain smooth skin. The onsen had many public baths with different healing properties in each one. I think we soaked the longest in the beautifying one. Ha ha!
I envisioned to be in Fear Factor. Asians always score best in the eating challenge in Fear Factor. Intestines to caucasians is gross, to's ooishi!
So we tried some grilled seafood on sticks. Fresh from the tanks...we had
SEA SLUGS! It's chewy, like squid or escargots. Grilled with terriyaki sauce. Abit too rubbery for digestion.
Hokkaido isn't as sexciting as Tokyo. Maybe it isn't as dense as the city area, thus more relaxation, less oppression and stress so they don't need extreme outlets.The kinkiest thing I saw is this BOX next to the lifts in hotels. You put in SGD 15 and get a code where you input into your television for porn-on-demand.
One disappointment was we didn't get to pick fruits in the orchard! June is the season for strawberries. However it seems these orchards only entertain tour groups or prior bookings! Their incapability of speaking English sometimes is very frustrating.
We see them in quite a few shops placed at the entrance.I'm guessing they're for luck. 
Here's an absurb Japanese ad. I asked a Japanese friend, he said they seem to be advertising some sort of condo or construction company.
Japan tends to sensationalise everything. Now, which society doesn’t? Even our local TNP or Wan Bao sensationalises headlines. In Japan, they don’t need to beat around the bush about it. They blatantly have statues, displays and adverts screaming sex, in a very amusing way.

The Tanuki is a real animal, it’s called a racoon dog.. Now, I can hardly see the feet of these racoons so I really don’t understand how or why the Japanese will pick this animal specifically to exaggerate (I think hamsters have bigger balls).
In Japanese folklore, the Tanuki are portrayed as tricksters and shape shifters who like to eat huge meals and drink enormous quantities of sake and then pay with money that turns to leaves after the tricksters have made their escape.

There are even children's rhymes about how "tanuki's 'gintama' (golden balls) swing even when there's no wind. Is that what you called sex education? The thing we’re lacking here in schools?

Alot of things in Japan is expensive, espeically shopping (yet you can't resist!) I wouldn't consider food expensive, since their "normal" food would be like the mid range restaurants here. The most value-for-money meal we had was this set in Otaru. Sushi topped with fresh sashimi, tempura, chawa-mushi and don (rice bowl with selected sashimi) is SGD 30. I find Japanese meals alot of carbo. They always have sushi paired with a rice bowl. As they say, Asians can't do without rice!
Otaru is supposedly romantic, kinda like Winter Sonata feel. I like strolling down this old quaint town, one of my favourite places to explore.
I regretted not asking to take a picture with one of these trishaw boys though. Super tan and wearing hot shorts that look like diapers (seriously) with muscular calves pulling tourists around.
It IS a touristy town yet not overly priced. One thing i like about Japan is equality. If you see something and you want to buy it, you can safely buy it. You don't have to hunt around for the same thing thinking it'll be cheaper elsewhere. Unlike our Sentosa, crazily overpriced for a bottle of water or ice-cream from 7-11 compared to mainland. Even items at the airports are the same prices as in town.
Otaru is known for hand-made glassware though.
The famous musical box shop in Otaru is big with all sorts of musical boxes. I espeically like the sushi ones. I found it unique, uniquely Japanese.
I bought one that makes the sushi spin round and round.
Everywhere in Hokkaido, we saw this algae like thing in jars, as if selling them as "pets". They also have green balls as keychains or incorporated into designs. Hello Kitty holding green balls, Doremon holding green balls. We still can't quite figure out if that represents algae or sea urchin that Hokkaido is famous for.

After 9 days in Hokkaido, we made our way to Tokyo. By then, i was screaming to be released from my parents already...

However, i kinda regretted not following them to some far away illusion museum..
Where they had a ball of a time posing with 3D art.
All these were painted on flat images.
Amazing. They look so real!
My dad has strong calves. His leg was lifted in the air posing for this picture.
My mum knows how to pose huh! Is it she who copies me (jealous of my photo shoots) or is it me who inherited her genes?
Is that boy for real?

While they were touching 3D art, I was touching rubbers.

I found the LEGENDARY 6 story adult shop (amusement center, they aptly call it).
Only to find…….EVERY adult shop in this area is AT LEAST 6 stories high! I experienced an over sensory of sight and audio.
Mature Content coming up next….

1 comment:

Goldfish Uncle said...

haha jialat, your brother's hair sibeh ons!

staying glued for mature content next

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