Saturday, September 29, 2007

From An A To Another A

SEPTEMBER 8 & 9
This will be the first entry of my Hokkaido trip a fortnight ago. But before I start off straight away with the trip, I will do an entry on our journey from my place, Nagaoka until Hakodate, the first city we will be steeping our feet on Hokkaido.
Well, it was impossible to take a normal train and reach Aomori (the city where we will be taking the ferry to Hakodate) within one day. That made us stopped at Akita first for the first night, and continued our journey the next morning. So the journey started from Nagoaka in the early hours of Sept. 8 and as usual, there were a few train exchanges along the way. At one of the station, we had to wait for almost 3 hours before the train we were supposed to take arrived.
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The station was Sakata Station. Guess what creature animal is that. I said it was a dog. Jonathan said it was a dragon. In the end, we both agreed that it was a cross-breed between a dog and a dragon. It was already noon by that time, and we decided to have our lunch there. But here is the problem. We walked for almost the whole town, looking for some place to have our lunch.
Okay, not really the whole town, but we did cover quite a big area.
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Unfortunately, we could not find a single restaurant. The town was deserted, worse than my so-called kampung in Nagaoka. All shops were closed and there were hardly any cars or bikes around. There even came to a time, when I imagined that those drivers were not real humans, but some spirits that escaped themselves since it was still the 7th month of the lunar calendar. For your info, Hungry Ghost festival falls on this month.
Heck, I have been dreaming and imagining way too far already. Back to reality. After walking for almost half an hour, we decided to ask for someone from a shop about the places we can find some food. Yes, I know we sound like starving. But we were really starving already by that time.
Finally, a man guided us to a restaurant. It looked more like a store selling dairy products, like fresh beef and frozen food. But they still serve some menus in their restaurant. I had ramen.
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Seafood ramen.
After we finished our lunch, there was still plenty of time for us. So we took a stroll around the dead town. Again, I spotted another dog-cum-dragon creature. Well, after reading the pamphlets I got, it was actually a lion. The lion head for the Japanese lion dance.
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But it looked so impaired distorted compared to the ones in Malaysia. And I realized now that the nose looks like a pig, while the grin looks like a goat. These Japanese people must had hired a group of think-tank which comprised the whole battalion of animals in the zoo when they were making the prototype of the so-called lion head.
There is a place where you can lend bicycles to be used by tourists when you go around the town.
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Again, the picture of that lion is visible in front of the basket of the bicycles. They love their lions very much, huh? After almost 9 hours of train rides with a few more stops along the way, we finally arrived at Akita.
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The moment I reached the Akita Station, I was impressed by its design. It looked so new and modern that it even beats Shinjuku Station. When I am in Japan, I know they are far more open in terms of dressing. Wearing tudungs should be the last thing you would expect to spot in this super-duper extra-short mini microskirts land.
But there it was, a statue which greeted me at the entrance to the station.
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Maybe that is not a tudung, but just a scarf.
It was late and we were quiet tired from the traveling in the day that we just went to Mister Doughnut and settled for this as our dinner.
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I know the name suggests that we should be eating doughnuts. But I had one apple muffin, one pumpkin muffin and one apple pie instead.
The next morning, it was another half-day train traveling from Akita to Aomori. I spotted a statue wearing a tudung the night before, but this morning I came across a giant paper mask with a set of drum beside it.
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It was just a pose but I tried hitting the drum a few times.
Along the way to Aomori, there were a lot of apple and grapes trees. I did not manage to take any nice and clear photos of them. If you still want to see a picture of apple, I guess this will do.
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When it comes to kiasu-ness, Japan is not to far compared to Singapore, no? We stopped at Hirosaki - the apple town for more than an hour. We wanted to go to the apple farm but it was quite far away and we would not be able to catch our train if we go there.
So we just settled with buying some souvenirs there. When I said souvenirs, I didn't mean stuff like key chains and aircrafts. I bought two boxes of apple pie cookies and also this.
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They call it apple snack, where they sliced the apples into thin pieces and deep-fry them. It was not bad as the sweetness of the apple is still there.
Finally, we reached Aomori. We were there much earlier and had a few hours to spend there before the ferry departs for Hakodate. So we took the chance to walk around the area nearby the station. We did not want to wander too far away as we need to take the bus from the station to the ferry terminal later on. First was by the port.
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Well, it looked like a port but it actually it wasn't a port. And of course, some camwhoring there.
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As you can see, there were 3 of us going to Hokkaido together. Initially, it was just Jonathan and me. But we got an extra ferry ticket after another friend pulled out at the last minute. So, Ekhwan from Akita kosen said he would like to join us, and made it 3 people in the end.
I have read a lot of articles from various sources that no one beats Malaysia when it comes to taking people ideas and making it look as if it is their own creation. They call it modification. But I call it copycat-ation. I thought these things only happen to my beloved Bolehland, and to see it happening in a country like Japan is like waiting for a goat to grow a pair of wings. Well, my goat did not grow any wings, but it is really happening right here in fornt of my eyes.
They try to make it having a different look from the Giza Pyramids by applying a different coat of paint.
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It didn't just happen to Egypt. Even Malaysia wasn't sparred. I also spotted a twin brother of the longest bridge in Southeast Asia.
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It was hot and what else is better other than having some cold stuff. Ice cream being one of them.
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But to get a cone of that Snoopy ice cream, we had to queue up. It was long.
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Much longer than I expected. But in the end, the wait was worth it.
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It so happened that on that day we were there, there was same carnival-like thing, and many stalls selling used items at reduced price. Food stall were everywhere as well. Even a stage for performance were set up. People were all around the places.
Just look at the number of people there.
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I found out that it weren't just sea of people there.
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A bird in the pink of health didn't want to miss out the fun as well. I was playing with that bird walking around until it was our time to have lunch.
I got this bowl of scallop ramen
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The scallop was to small. So, I went for a bigger one instead.
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Talking about Aomori, the first thing that should come to your mind is not scallop. It should be this.
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True enough, we got ourselves a box of apples containing 6 apples (3 red and 3 yellow) for 1,500yen (RM50) and shared among three of us. While waiting for the bus to the ferry terminal, what else is better to do other than eating apples at Aomori.
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The bus ride to the ferry terminal was around 15 minutes and we supposed to take this ship with a sexy name - Virgo.
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The wind outside of the ship after it set off was so strong that I had to go to a section of the ship that has no wind to have a shot. This is the only decent photo I got outside the ship as the others turned out to be disaster, especially to my hair.

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It took us about 4 hours to reached Hakodate and I am traveling with my laptop along.

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No, I wasn't blogging from the ferry. No internet in the ferry for me. And I wasn't gaming either. A person who knows me well enough should know how often I play games. Anyway, after turtle-ing for some time, we finally reached our destination.

We saw Hakodate.

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It marked the beginning of our trip in Hokkaido.

7 comments:

kokhong said...

that corner shop in sakata looks a bit like some kampung town in msia

calvin said...

@ kok hong:
yea, like those in kampung kuala lumpur, right? =P

kokhong said...

lol.. the whole msia is kampung

Ricky said...

i wan the snoopy ice cream....

calvin said...

@ ricky:
again, same reply. you send the cash, i send the ice cream =P

hehe, jk la. the snoopy ice cream was not bad. but it melted so fast that i had to finish it as fast as possible. i guess the weather was just too hot.

Ricky said...

itz made out of ice with colourings rite??

maybe u should try it again in winter...

calvin said...

@ ricky:
the texture was something different from the usual ice cream we have usually. yea, the colours came from colourings.

winter i will build snowman already lor =)