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Travel: Trip to Sapporo-Otaru-Hakodate-Onuma, 17-27 Apr 2016 (Part 2 - Day 1 in Sapporo)

>> Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Our honeymoon was focused mainly at Sapporo, the 4th largest city in Japan, & the largest city in northern Japan. It was only during our 6th - 8th day of travels that we explored 3 other cities/towns i.e. Otaru, Hakodate & Onuma using the 3-days Hokkaido Rail Pass (must be used within 3 consecutive days). I'll be explaining more on the pass in the later posts when I share on our travel to the 3 cities.

Sapporo was our choice honeymoon place as it was:
1. cool/cold (4°C - 16°C) in April
2. slower pace of life compared to larger cities like Tokyo
3. has reliable transportation systems that would be helpful when we're too tired to walk to our destination

We took the night flight from KLIA2 to Sapporo, arriving at Sapporo early in the morning. Upon arrival at the New Chitose International Airport, we were greeted by Doraemon, a familiar sight to all Malaysians!

We got a map from the information counter & double-checked with the information counter lady on our route to our hotel before heading downstairs to purchase our bus ticket. All you need to do is to do some research prior to arrival & you'll be on your way to your hotel without much difficulties :)

Our hotel provided options on their website on ways to get to the hotel from the airport :D
We took the airport bus although going by taxi is 20 minutes faster. The cost is a VAST difference, especially after converting it to RM! Heading to the hotel by bus costs JP¥1030 (RM74.16 for 2 pax), while by taxi it'll be approximately JP¥12,000 (RM432.00 for 2 pax).

The pink buses on the top right photo reminded us so much of our 'favorite bus' during our courtship days i.e. Bulan Restu! It was THE bus we took to meet each other from Kuantan-KL-Kuantan :P

We purchased the bus ticket from a ticketing machine for JPY 1030 (approx RM37.08) & waited for the bus to arrive. It is to no surprise that all their transportation arrive ON TIME, right on the dot, so you have to be prepared at all times!

View throughout the bus journey
L->R (clockwise): Bus stands in Sapporo are SUPER CUTE!, loads of Pachinko outlets, beautiful rivers & shrines here there

Our agenda for Day 1 was rather simple & relaxing i.e. "to do 'nothing'" :D We left our luggage at the hotel reception & headed off for brunch near the hotel. We didn't have anything planned on stone, so we just explored the surrounding area, looking for some comforting food to fill our tummies, 'til we decided on this small ramen restaurant behind our hotel.

In Ezo
Japan, 〒060-0061 Hokkaidō, Sapporo-shi, Chūō-ku, Minami 1 Jōnishi, 7 Chome,
中央区南1条西7丁目1−5, 南1西7ビル 1F
Tel: (+81)(11) 2313999
GPS: 43.058177, 141.347505
URL: http://ameblo.jp/ezo3939/
FB: https://www.facebook.com/in-EZO-319729874817196/

AP & I do not read Japanese (I forgot all my Jap lessons from uni days) & searching for anything in Sapporo didn't come easy; we were quite clueless on how to order food & what items are on the menu.

We arrived at the small restaurant 10-15 minutes before they're opened, & being strict, 'to the book' Japanese, they didn't allow us to enter the restaurant 'til their opening hours...hahaha. We waited in the cold for 10 minutes or so & entered into our 2nd challenge i.e. ordering food using the ticketing machine *horror of horrors!*

Once you get the hang of it, ordering food can be as simple as 6 steps:
1. insert cash into the machine (coins/notes)
2. press on the button/option of food item that you desire
3. retrieve the ticket
4. retrieve your change of coins/notes
5. hand the ticket to the restaurant workers
6. wait for your order to be served

Our problem was no doubt step #2! Everything is in Japanese *cries* Thankfully, this restaurant had pictures! *joy* So we had to play "spot the difference" & match the words on the images with the words on the ticketing machine. That took quite some time, so we're thankful that the workers at the restaurant helped us with the ordering. If you're taking too much time to decide & the restaurant has a queue, I'm quite sure you'll not be in anyone's friends list :P

Note: If you can get any main meal for less than JP¥1000/serving i.e. RM36.00, it's considered a 'good deal' 'cause the average prices of food here is JP¥1000/serving.

We've no clue what this restaurant serves, but we finally found out that they serve some interesting anchovies-soup base ramen. It's different from our Chinese 'kung yee zhai' soup as it's slightly milky, but oh boy, was the soup salty...hahaha...

The small 'lil ramen restaurant

You can add toppings too (pre-selected at the ticketing machine)

Since there were only 3 main photos of ramen beside the ticketing machine & we've no clue what each of them were, we just chose a dry version & a soup version.

油そば・並/ Oil Buckwheat Noodles a.k.a. Dry Soba - Average size (JP¥740/serving; RM26.64)
AP prefers "kon lou meen" to the soup version, so he was more than glad to have this. The soya sauce & oil mixture was on the saltier side, but it's better than the soup version, which is way saltier. The only set back is that this noodles were cold with a raw egg yolk. Hahaha. It takes getting used to it, but it's not too bad a start, I guess.

豚そば・並/ Pork Buckwheat Noodles a.k.a. Pork Soup Soba - Average size (JP¥720/serving; RM25.92)
I had this & it didn't feel like a pure pork soup noodles, but one that's cooked with that anchovies (well, the guy was pointing to that fish when he pointed to the photo of this noodle). It's something different, though salty, but we found out later that most of the noodle dishes here are on the saltier side. Perhaps people in Sapporo prefer their noodles to be saltier than average?

After our 1st meal in Japan, we went back to the hotel to rest a while before coming back out in the evening to survey the area again. Food is aplenty, so you won't starve as long as you have cash. One of our favorite places was the Mitsukoshi Departmental Store at intersection of the Odori Subway Station underground & the Sapporo Subway Station. Alike Takashimaya in Singapore, the basement of Mitsukoshi had an extensive variety of snackies to enjoy! :D

きのとや ザクザク Kinotoya's Zaku Zaku Custard Cream Puffs (JP¥216/piece inclusive 8% tax; RM7.78)
You MUST try their cream puffs if you're in Hokkaido. The Zaku Zaku caught our attention & oh boy, we have no regrets paying so much for a piece of custard cream puff that's so heavenly. The custard was smooth, not overly sweet, has a pleasant fragrance of milk & the crust was fluffy with some crunch! I could eat more than 5 of these as snacks if these were the only snacks available, but there were just too many lovely choices that we had to ration & make space to try out every little bit of snack available :D

Mini Croissants from Johan Bakery (JP¥196 for approx 6 pieces inclusive 8% tax/100++grams; RM7.06)
Don't look down at these minis. They may look like any normal croissants, but these humble-looking kids are truly delectable! Crunchy on the outside, soft & fluffy on the inside, these are sinful snacks with rich, aromatic fragrance of butter in every layer that you'll have to savor every moment, every bite...

See, I told you we didn't stinge & hold back during this trip...

On non-traveling days or more like non-honeymoon period, I'll be more careful with the way I spend. Snacks like these are 'wants' & not 'needs', thus, can be refrained from purchasing & trying....hahaha. Anything that could be equivalent to a proper meal had to be thought twice before purchasing. Yeah, sounds like I'm quite a scrooge, eh? My hubs is more 'adventerous' when it comes to cash, so he will rather spend first, then earn back the money after spending...hahaha.

We explored slightly further that evening, in search for some sushi & rice dishes, when we came to this quiet, darker area (not-so-happening area) of Susukino, to this place where we've no clue what its name is 'til the time we left the restaurant!

Shitamachi Wolf 下町ウルフ
Sapporo7-2 Minami 3 Jo Nishi, Chuo-ku
GPS: 43.056522, 141.348068

It was a quiet restaurant when we first entered, but after us came 3-4 more customers. AP says people will always follow once we're in a restaurant...hahaha. It's yet another simple restaurant that serves all sorts of rice dishes, noodles, appetizers & even alcoholic drinks; quite a perfect place to chill after a long day at work.

To the very least, for foreigners like us (we were the only foreigners there & it's like this for almost all the restaurants that we went to throughout our trip!), they had a menu with pictures in it. To add to our delight, the cute-looking 'chef' speaks minimal English, so that was really helpful :)

Suntory Whiskey (JP¥450/glass; RM16.20)
It was cold outside, so the word "whiskey" looked appealing. To our surprise, it's a very light whiskey with fizz! What a refreshing drink, but it's certainly not for alcohol lovers who prefer their bold-flavored whiskey.

Appetizer: Pickled baby squid & seaweed
It was salty & acidic! One crazee appetizer indeed...hahaha.

ウニ いくら 丼/ Uni Ikura Donburi a.k.a. Sea Urchin & Roe Rice Bowl (JP¥1480/serving; RM53.28)
We were told that the seafood donburi in Sapporo/Hokkaido is a must-try. We loved it that the rice was warm, but the roe & sea urchin were somewhat cold & the roe were rather salty. It went well with the rice & the soft, smooth sea urchin complimented the dish as well, but it was certainly not AP's favorite.

I've no clue what's this called (JP¥500/serving; RM18.00)
It's tonnes of sashimi (all sorts of fish like salmon, tuna, sea urchin, crab meat, squid...etc) loaded on top of rice rolls that tasted REALLY good! This was probably one of the best dishes that we had thus far. An abundance of fresh seafood & fragrant seaweed-wrapped rice rolls with a hint of wasabi for the kick. What's not to like about this dish?

Menu for the items below...

Yakitori/Chicken Skewer (JP¥180/skewer; RM6.48/skewer)
It was comforting to have some cooked meat with the smokey aroma from the grill. The wasabi mix gave the chicken meat a nice zing as well.

The cute-looking 'chef'

Grilled Scallops on Skewers (JP¥280 for 2 skewers; RM10.08 for 2 skewers)
Scallops were yums! As it was our 1st meal with scallops, we were just thrilled to bite into the succulent, sweet, & plump scallops...ahhh...syiok!

Looks like we didn't eat that much but paid quite a bit for a meal, eh? That's the average budget for a meal, friends. I guess when you're on a real vacation, you'll just have to stop converting too much & just enjoy the meal & the journey. Of course, do what you can within your budget & have a feasible, logical budget if you would want to enjoy yourself thoroughly :)

We took a slow walk back to our hotel, about 10-15 minutes away, in the cool, slightly drizzly night. On our way back, we had to 'pay our debts' at the much-loved 7-11 convenience store. We probably dropped by 7-11 on a daily basis to 'pay our debts' as there's just so much variety & the food/drinks there are no less delicious! :P It's also somewhat cheaper than eating a main meal at a restaurant...hahaha...

Cute Hello Kitty roadwork cones seen on our way back to the hotel

Hello 7-11!

Drinks to conclude the night & to kick-start the next day!

That concludes our day 1. You can expect more food, fun & adventure in the coming days, so stay tuned!

Missing the 7-11 in Sapporo,


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