Friday, March 21, 2008

Phra Phrom

I go to the Erawan Shrine to pay respect to the Brahma God (Phra Phrom). About six months ago, I had wished that I would be able to sell my house so that I can move to live in my condo. Last Monday I received an offer to buy the house at a satisfactory price. Now that my wish comes true, I return to thank the Brahma God.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hokkaido, Japan

During February 21-March 1, 2008, we took a trip to Hokkaido, Japan. It was the second time for me in Japan after the first trip five years ago but it's my first time to Hokkaido. Hokkaido is one of the four main islands of Japan, the others being Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku. Since it is located in the northernmost zone, it has long cold winters and cool summers. The winter ranges from November to March. It was therefore in the late winter when we got there.

We had 17 people in our group, most of them familiar faces who love to travel after retirement or at least in preparation for retirement. This time we chose World Surprise Travel Agency to organize the trip for us. The trip started with 3 days in Abashiri, the northeastern city of Hakkaido, another three days in Sapporo and Hakodate which are located in the south of Hokkaido, and the last two days in Tokyo and Yokohama.

It is very difficult to tell what I enjoyed most in this trip, since I enjoyed almost everything. Besides the beautiful scenery of Hakkaido, the white and soft snow all over the places, the magnificent Japanese food, the warm hospitality of the Japanese people, the most comfortable "Onsen", etc., I was also very happy spending time there with my friends and my son, who, had to take a leave from his work in order to accompany me. This trip was one of the most pleasant and fun trips for me.

Haneda Airport

It took us six hours from Bangkok to Narita, Tokyo, from which we had to take a bus to Haneda local airport to catch a plane to Kushiro airport in Hokkaido. While waiting for the plane, we took a nap to save our energy.

Kushiro and Akan Lake

After arriving at Kushiro, we went to see Japanese cranes at Kushiro marsh. The cranes were considered by Japanese people to be a symbol of longevity and auspiciousness.

In front of the souvenir shop near the Kushiro marsh.

After checking in and having buffet dinner at the New Akan hotel, we went to see the demonstration of ice sculptures with light and sound in the front of the hotel.

The Japanese beds, or Futon, were provided for us at the hotel. Although the mattress was quite hard, the comforter was soft and thick. The pillow was stuffed with beans or buckwheats.

Lake Masshu

The next day we went to Lake Masshu, a very beautiful lake in Akan National Park.


Then we went to Abashiri, a city on the eastern coast of Hokkaido. We stopped to see and feed the ice geese.

P' Ad was happy feeding the ice geese amid the snowfall.

Was the snow falling so hard that Dear could not see anything, or did his new hat block the view?

Before entering the Okhotsk Sea Ice Museum, everybody was given a wet towel, which was frozen when swung for a couple of minutes in the cold air.

Dear preferred to play the snow ride outside the museum.

Dear posed with a wax figure of a warden at the Abashiri Prison Museum

At the Abashiri Koso Hotel, we were treated to the Kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner cuisine, usually provided to VIP guests. Everybody had to wear Yukata, a Japanese traditional garment, and sit eating on the floor.

Sitting on the floor was very difficult for us, as we were not young any more, but we tried our best.

The hot sake was the compliment from World Surpirise Travel Agency. Thanks!

After the food and the sake, Dear was so sleepy (or drunk) that he fell asleep in his yukata.

Snow Storm

When we left Abashiri Koso Hotel, we saw white soft snow everywhere as the snow storm hit the town pretty bad last night.

Daisetsuzan National Park

We went to see the Ginga no taki (Silver River Waterfall) and Ryusei no taki ( Shooting Star Waterfall) in the Sounkyo village. Both waterfalls were frozen.

Khun Sivaporn and P' Rochana at the waterfalls.

Dear in front of the beautiful stream which runs along the mountain.

Kamikawa Ice Pavillion

At the Kamikawa Ice Pavillion we saw beautiful ice sculptures and experienced the room temperature of minus 41 degrees celsius.

Don't ask me why Dear likes to jump, because I don't know.

It was very warm inside the igloo.
We took a ropeway to the top of Mount Kurodake in Daisetsuzan National Park, which is the largest national park in Hokkaido.

Suunkyo Ice Festival

We went to the Sounkyo Ice Festival which covered the area of 10,000 square meters along the Ishikari river. It was very beautiful with marvellous ice sculptures. However, it was very, very cold there. The battery of my camera was dead several times and so was my hand.

Lake Toya

We went to Lake Toya, which is a volcanic caldera lake in Toya National Park. It is said that the Lake Toya never freezes due to its enormous depth. We wanted to go to the top of Mount Usu by ropeway to see the panoramic view of the lake. Unfortunately the ropeway did not open.

Snow Mobile

We tried snow mobiles twice in this trip. This one was at Sapporo.

We were briefed by the mobile operators how to drive before they let us start.

Took a group photo after the drive.


On the fifth day we arrived at Otaru, a harbour city northwest of Sapporo. The Otaru canal was very beautiful lined by old warehouses.

I was glad the weather here was warmer than Abashiri, but still under zero.

Khun Ord showed us how to throw a snowball effectively.

Ishiya Chocolate Factory

We visited Ishiya chocolate factory in Sapporo.

We were shown the process of making the chocolate.

After shopping for some chocolate, Dear made acquaintance with Lincoln.


On the seventh day we arrived at Hakodate, Hokkaido's third largest city, located at the island's southern tip. We went up the Goryokaku Tower, 107 metres tall, to see the star-shaped Goryokaku Fort, or Pentagon Fort.

Dear cheated death by standing on the clear glasses on the floor at the observation deck at the Goryakaku Tower.

In the evening we went up Mount Hakodate, 334 metres high, to see the night-time spectacular view of the city. This is claimed to be the Million Dollar View and one of the most beautiful night-time city views in the world.