Hokkaido Part 1

I have to blog about this trip in parts because it will be too long if I do it in one post. So bear with me.

My trip to Japan was not a planned trip at all. Considering the fact that I have never been to Japan, I wouldn’t say it was a properly planned one. I knew I wanted to go somewhere on the first week of May so my first choice was Hanoi, Vietnam but then via AirAsiaGO, I saw that the price to Sapporo, Hokkaido was almost the same.

Hokkaido immediately became my first choice because the hottest it could get was 16°C and I just wanted to get away from the scorching weather of Singapore and Malaysia!

Since I have never been to Hokkaido or Japan itself, I NEED to know what to expect. That’s just me, sometimes I can’t be spontaneous. So I read blogs to find out about transportation, food, places to visit etc. Most of them are just too vague and I wish they could be more specific so I am going to try and be detailed in case you are like me.

My trip was only for 4 days and 3 nights (too short!). AirAsia X had the cheapest deal obviously. In case you didn’t know (I didn’t), they have a direct flight to Sapporo. It’s about 8 hours journey there, it’s best you take the Flatbed but it’s very limited so you have to book early.

My flight from KUL was an overnight flight so I left at 2335hr on 3rd May and arrived at around 0815hr on 4th May.

DAY 1 (4 May 16, 11°C): Moerenuma Park, Sapporo

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It was raining slightly when we arrived at New Chitose Airport and I was not used to raining and windy in that temperature so I was struggling a bit.

When I was reading people’s blogs about their Hokkaido trip, I found out that renting a car is the most convenient was to get around Hokkaido. I am not sure if it’s cheaper than travelling by public transport but I agree it was easier to drive there mostly because you don’t have to walk so much in the cold weather. (hot cannot, cold also cannot just what do I want?)

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There are plenty of car-rental companies but the cheapest one with English website and GPS was OTS Rent-A-Car. I would highly recommend renting from them. They were easy to deal with and were very helpful. The car we rented was Toyota Aqua but in Malaysia it’s known as Toyota Prius and it was a Hybrid car so you really saved a lot!

There’s a free shuttle bus provided by OTS to pick you up from the airport to their office.

The total cost was ¥12,000 for 3 days but I rented it together with a portable wi-fi that costs an extra ¥2,000 so the total was ¥14,000. You may want to get the Expressway Pass too, it works like Smart-Tag in Malaysia but they have a 2-day price (at least) for tourists. If you pay cash at the toll it can be very expensive so it’s best you get the pass especially if you plan to travel outside Sapporo – which you should!

(Important: If you have a Malaysian driving license, you need to get the International Driving Permit at JPJ to be able to drive in Japan. It costs RM150 for a year)

We didn’t have a plan on our first day there, as I said, I didn’t properly plan for this trip. It didn’t help that it was raining.

Besides reading blogs, I also searched ‘Sapporo’, ‘Hokkaido’ tags or places on Instagram to see where people go to and discovered Moerenuma Park. Since we didn’t plan to go out of Sapporo on our first day, so we decided to just explore Sapporo – in the rain.

Sapporo has some beautiful parks but Moerenuma was my favourite.

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From the top of the hill, you can see tennis courts, baseball field, a river and mountains. It was not too high to climb so you’ll be fine.

It was also the day I discovered the best part of Japan. Their toilets!

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They are clean, dry and warm! The build-in bidets are the best. Maybe it’s weird that I’m excited about toilets but it’s the one thing I missed when I returned to Malaysia. The ‘music’ button is for making flush sound. I am not sure why but Azlani said it’s for when you make a lot of sound when you shit. LOL maybe.

That’s all for now. I will continue Part 2 of my trip next time! :)

Wanderlust

I am currently having a strong urge and desire to travel. When was the last time I travelled? Let me think….I think it was Bandung four months ago. It has been four months since I last took a flight away from the country! That’s a long time. I used to fly every month or two. :(

Well…unfortunately my new job scope does not require me to travel a lot like I used to and I’m a little bit sad about it.

My youngest sister will be going to Japan next week for 15 days. I was already searching for flights last week thinking maybe I could go with her maybe for a few days if not 15 days. But it’s too last minute and the airfare is too expensive. More sad news :(

I feel free when I travel. It’s my escape. 

And obviously when I have a huge urge to travel like right now…that means I feel like escaping from something.

I do.

Kuching

After 23 years, I finally visited Sarawak. Well, everyone in my family has never been there either. I am not sure why we never went there and now we kind of have a reason to go because Mom reconnected with her long lost Sarawakian friend and she wanted to visit her so she thought why not we spend a weekend there since we have never been there? So okay!

At first I didn’t know what to expect from Kuching. I was not sure what the city is like. Is it like KL, JB, boring Kuantan, slow-developing Seremban or almost-not-developing Ipoh? I was very curious.

When we landed at the Kuching airport, I knew it was not Ipoh, Seremban or Kuantan but it’s not KL either of course. It’s something in between but maybe much more cultured – differently. My Mom’s friend and her two sons picked us up at the airport and I swear I could not understand anything when they talked to each other. The sons didn’t talk to us much because apparently they don’t speak ‘Semenanjung’ but they can understand it. I did try anyway.

Mom’s friend was so excited to have us around and she even made an itinerary for us on places we will visit. Totally felt like tourists.

We first went to the waterfront where we took a taxi boat to cross the Sarawak river. It was only a short trip costs 50 cent and you arrived before you even realised it.

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Crossing Sarawak river – taken from the boat.

We crossed the river to get to a food court there which unfortunately at that time I still couldn’t eat anything nice!

The next morning we went to the Cat Museum which is apparently a must go because it’s Kuching?

I was hoping for more real cats but NO. Only cat statues and cat facts which were quite interesting.

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Cutest kitty there!

And later in the evening we visited the Cultural House of Sarawak. I think they had something like this in Melaka but maybe this one is better. The place is massive. There were Iban house, Melanau house, Malay house, Chinese house etc and we only went to three houses because it was so hot and we couldn’t go on.

Melanau House was the most interesting because it’s so tall. I think it was 7 feet tall from the ground to the first floor of the house. It has about three floors I think. I guess Melanau people aren’t scared of heights. Bungee jumping is nothing to them.

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Rainforest Music Festival is held here too
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The passport when you enter the Cultural Village. There’s a stamp you can collect when you visit the houses.
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Super tall Melanau House
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Mak Cik making kuih kapit at Malay House

What I like the most was when you visit the houses, you don’t feel like they are only show houses because there will be people like this woman above in the kitchen making and selling the traditional kuihs on the spot.

There are a few new shopping malls in Kuching but I only went to one – Plaza Merdeka because we didn’t really have much time to visit everything but I can say that I like Kuching.

I’m just glad that I almost covered the whole Malaysia – my own country – after 23 years. Now we have only Sabah left which we are looking forward to visit soon hopefully!

 

 

Bandung

I feel like I have been away for too long. I miss home. The last time I was home was before Merdeka. So it has been three weeks now.

I was in KL at the end of last month, then I was in Kuantan was 10 days and now I am in Bandung. Work. Work. Work.

I do love being away but it’s not entirely fun to be away alone. It’s always the company that makes a trip worthwhile, I thought. It’s just that it’s nicer to have someone to share with.

Anyway, this is my first time in Bandung and so far all I can say is I do not have the patience for the traffic jam here and we are not even staying in the city of Bandung. I have not been doing anything much except for work – to the stadium and nasi padang for lunch – which was really, nothing special in my opinion.

But I do love my room. It has a beautiful bed like a wedding bed and I think it’s a room for newlyweds too….it’s a shame I don’t have a groom :P

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The hotel is not too shabby. It doesn’t have a fantastic view around it but it’s probably the best hotel around this part of Bandung. It’s called The Papandayan Hotel and I’m on The Classic floor.

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Whenever I asked people what’s there to do in Bandung, they will always say ‘SHOPPING’. So we will be be shopping later today before we leave on Wednesday. A part of me just can’t wait to go home :)

Czech it

We actually toured Prague with a tour guide today. I always thought travelling in a group with a tour guide is lame and a nuisance but it was actually fun and most importantly we got to learn more about the city. Of couse you can read about it but it’s always better when someone tells you a story.

Prague is love.

We basically went to the famous Charles Bridge, Astronomical Clock, Saint Vitus Cathedral and others (wasn’t paying attention to the tour guide towards the end…)

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To be honest, it never really crossed my mind to travel to Czech Republic. But I have always wanted to go to Italy and France (soon hopefully).
But I’m glad that I visited Prague. It’s a romantic city – it felt like it. If only I was there with a lover then the trip would be perfect. Wow damsel in distress.

There was even a wedding going on at one of the churches near the Astronomical Clock. How beautiful to be married in Prague. I actually though of getting married there or at least spend my honeymoon there. Sounds lovely! :)))

I’m sure I’ll come back here one day.