In Chun Eng's words...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hokkaido: Day 6 - 2009/01/12

So it's finally the last day in Hokkaido, which also a day of only flying. The only place to visit? The airports. First was the Shin-Chitose Airport to Kansai Internation Airport to Changi Airport and finally KLIA. But even before the reaching Shin-Chitose Airport, it's another hour of travelling in the bus.

We were all supposed to gather at the lobby at 5am, after checking out. One group only woke up at 5am, after they wrongly set their alarm.

Finally left Sapporo Grand Hotel at around 5.30am.

The most enlightening thing when checking-in was one of the JAL attendants, the prettiest girl I've seen so far in the 6 days spent in Hokkaido... man, and who says all Japanese women are pretty. sigh!!!

It didn't take long before we boarded the plane and I couldn't believe my luck when I saw the girl again on the plane. Sadly, I don't have a camera. Otherwise, I would have secretly snap a photo of her... but then again, it was a case of mistaken identity.. on my side.


I reliased the one on the plane was a different person after I saw her nametag. So that makes 2 of the prettiest... double joy... but on my last day in Japan??!!! Kansai suddenly become kanasai!!!!

But then again, I didn't have enough sleep the night before. So, I was too tired and just fell asleep on the plane.

After about 2 and a half hours of flying, we landed on Kansai Internation Airport, Osaka, just in time for brunch. Brunch was on our own, and we went to a 'chap fan' like stall. Only difference is that we the food are placed on plates for us to choose, instead of scoping it the chinese way.

But the food isn't any special. Probably one of the least satisfying meals I got so far.

Anyway, the were some time left to spare before we gather to fly again. Here, I actually made a blunder. For the past 2 days I've been assigned to hold on to the banner. I've been carrying it around until this point where I left it in the airport, in one of the seats. Only realised after we landed Changi Airport.

Here was also where I bought a bottle of sake to be brought home.

We were in Changi Airport for transit and actually we given 30 minutes to walk around. But after landing, leaving the plane, stepping into the airport, into the loo and out of the loo, it was already about time to go board the next plane, but once at the security check counter, we were told of a delay.. by almost an hour.

Shit... another time wasted. Well, it's not that there were anything I feel worth buying in Changi. So we just sat in Burger King for some fries and drinks.

By then, it was almost 9pm KL time.

By the time I reach KL Sentral it was already about 11.30pm. And when I reach home it was way past midnight. F***... still had to work the next day. Imagine how tired we all were from the flying and transitting.

But no choice. Our MD do not allow any of us to take AL. To think that I actually fell asleep in a meeting... snoring. How embarassing.

Overall, the trip was great but could have been excellent had the there are less time spent in the bus and plane. The best part was of course when we were playing the snows and skiing.

Update: Some of our Japanese partners based in Osaka claimed the banner from the Kansai International Airport lost and found counter and brought it back to Malaysia for us. So grateful for their help... hahaha

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Hokkaido: Day 5 - 2009/01/11

Today is a day of mixed feelings. We got to see one of the best scenery of our 6 day trip, yet, it was also one of our most unproductive trip as well.

After an early breakfast, we left our hotel at around 10am and were taken to a frozen waterfall. The view at the waterfall was absolutely amazing.

Here's my manager, Alan and I outside the Hotel Taisetsu while waiting for our bus. The snow was rather heavy that morning.

The signboard at the waterfall:

And this was probably my best taken photo in Hokkaido.
And who could miss another group photo, right?
After that, it was approximately another 2 hours journey to the city of Otaru, where will first had lunch in a restaurant beside the Otaru Canal (Otaru Unga). I forgot the name of the restaurant. It was just a plain simple seafood grills.

Then, we were on our own, walking around the city. It's a chance to go around buying the seafood delicacies and other stuff if you're willing to spend. But basically, the city's main attraction is their music box and glass factories.

I'm not sure how I can describe the city but it's nothing like in KL. The stores are very westernly-influenced in its designs and concepts (like how you see in the movies). We were only given an hour to tour the city but without proper English signboards, we got a little lost and a lot of time was wasted.

We ended up touring for almost 3 hours and had to cancel our next destination, which is the chocolate factory.

We headed straight to our hotel in Sapporo and it took us another 2 hours travelling. That's how the day went by.

Our next hotel, Sapporo Grand Hotel is located inside the busy city of Sapporo, our first and only city hotel during our stay in Japan, where we reached at about 4-5pm (and the sky was as dark as night).

The details:
Sapporo Grand Hotel
N-1, W-4, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0001

(I figured it was established in 1934.. haha)

While all these while we were visiting places outside the cities of Sapporo and Otaru, tonight was actually my first Japanese city experience

After checking-in, we were again on our own. So hit the nearby shopping malls. The place is so packed with items and people, we got a little 'suffocated' and adjourned to the streets where it's much cooler.

This is the Sapporo Tower at the background with a digital clock on it.Then, we returned to the hotel to meet up with the rest of the group for Shabu-shabu dinner in a restaurant about 200m away.

In this trip we've getting a lot of crabs... and so, we were again served crab.After performing a form of Japanese traditional meal-closing ceremony, we went back to our hotel. On the way back, someone wanted to visit the subway station and from there we found out that all their subway stations were all integrated underground.

You could actually walk from one station to another and along the way are all occupied with stores and shops. It's a whole new world down here!!

That night I initially planned to stay up because we had to get up at 4am the next morning, check-out by 5am and head to the airport for our 7am plane. But I got too tired... and slept right after my bath.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Hokkaido: Day 4 - 2009/01/10

If day 3 is a day of skiing, then day 4 is a day of walking... in the zoo.

And damn it... it's a walk in the breezing cold... so cold, it chilled up my spine.

After breakfast, we checked out from our hotel to begin the day's journey. The whole morning was spent riding the bus which only stopped for toilet breaks.

Our first destination for the day was for lunch in a place called Asahikawa Ramen Village, a food court area with only ramen served, from a few ramen shops to choose from.
The food looks good, but it isn't as good as it seems. A little too salty, among others.With the whole day skiing the day before, everyone was really really tired. Even after a 'refreshing' meal, we were all still very tired. So, the only thing we did was... ZZZzzzThen, finally, we reached our destination. Zoo Asahiyama.The main attraction that day, the penguin walk...but frankly... there wasn't anything special in the zoo, and the time could have been better spent elsewhere. And the penguin walk was just a group of penguins walking past you and it all ended in a matter of minutes. And we were made to wait for almost 30 minutes just to see it.

The best part of the day was actually in the hotel we stayed in, Hotel Taisetsu, somewhere at the highest area in Sounkyo.

The details:
Sounkyo, Kamikawacho

Known as Ryokan (traditonal Japanese inn), this is one of the most famous hotel for the natural onsen (hot spring).

Being a ryokan, we slept on a tatami the traditional Japanese way.The table had to be rearranged before we could lay the mattresses.

The group photo after the traditional Japanese dinner. There were certain rules on wearing the kimono (left side outside) and how we have to lay our slippers (pointing outwards) before entering the dining room.

And of course who could actually miss the famous onsen. There are in fact, 3 onsen to choose from, and I went for the one located outdoor. It's said to be the most beautiful of all. As we were not allowed to bring cameras in, I got this photo from some website. This was the exact one I went to. It was so warm under the water, yet freezing cold above. My boss' hair got frozen ice from the falling snow as he was sitting on the outside of the pool. Yeah... crazy us.

The most satisfying activity was during the dinner. I managed to taste sake (warm and cold) and shochu for the first time and was actually warned that mixing the 2 brings a lasting painful after-effects. So I had to drink sparingly.

And if drinking over dinner wasn't enough, my ED bought a few more bottles to be completed in his room and I was the few that was invited along (but the few grew)... hahaha... more drinking... over some of the best Japanese snacks.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Hokkaido: Day 3 - 2009/01/09's the day of skiing
Breakfast was again in the same place where we had dinner last night.

The hotel: the building in green (on the left) was where we stay for 2 nights
The hotel surroundings:

Then, it's the whole day at the range. Sadly, very little people brought cameras along fearing of damaging it during our skiing.

Some of the gang of beginners with one of the instructor. We were separated into a group of 4, with an instructor assigned for each group.
Where we skiid.

During practise:
And yes... it was fun!!!

During the night, we had the whole time after dinner for our own. So we just went around the resort. I think the most special place over there would be the ice bar which was already closed by the time we reached. So, just managed to take some photos.

By the end of the day, we're all like zombies. Tired?.. yes. Painful muscles?.. indeed. Need a rub?... yes. Did we get any massage?... no. Some bought some sulphur to mix into the warm water for some artificial hotspring in our bathroom bathtub.

Well, that's it for day 3 for us.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hokkaido: Day 2 - 2009/01/08

Reach Narita Airport, and immediately took a coach to Haneda Airport which was about an hour drive away.
Along away, it was just city view. Highways, buildings, tolls, bullet trains... we've seen it all (from the coach I mean).
Had brunch in Haneda Airport. It cost me 600 yen (about RM 23).
Then jalan-jalan around the shopping complex in the airport until it's time for our next flight to Shin-Chitose Airport, Sapporo, one of the cities in Hokkaido.

Once in Sapporo, we again took a coach to our lunch place, known as Sapporo Beer Garden.
It has a Beer Museum nearby, though we did not visit it due to time constraint.
This is the restaurant in the background.

Already, reaching the restaurant from Shin-Chitose Airport took a few hours. By the time we finished our lunch, it was already 4pm, and the sky was already getting dark. After lunch, we of course took to opportunity to play with some snow... and a snow-man.
Sadly, I didn't get to experience building my own snow-man. There just wasn't time for it anyway.

We finally reach our hotel, Tomamu's Alpha Resort.

The details:
Alpha Resort Tomamu,
Aza Naka-Tomamu, Shimukappu-mura, Yufutsu-gun, 079-2204 Hokkaido.

It's located in the one of the hills in the city (or town, I'm not sure) of Tomamu. This was the place we had our ski lessons and a hell loads of an enjoyable skiing time.

The place where we had our Japanese buffet dinner that night, in the Nininupuri Restaurant in the resort itself. The view outside the restaurant was just spectacular.

It's a tiring 2nd day.

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Hokkaido: Day 1 - 2009/01/07

So it's day 1. Nothing great about it. Just that I get to leave office at 4pm to prepare myself and be in the airport by 7pm.

Left KLIA for Narita Airport, Tokyo onboard flight JL724 at approximately 11pm.

Along the way, I couldn't sleep much, maybe slept for 30 minutes at most. So I spent my time watching movies, listening to music and played games. I finally got to watch The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Mamma Mia, the musical movie.

If you ask me about the matter of preference, I'd prefered Mamma Mia over High School Musical. At least, there's more proper story line in Mamma Mia while in High School Musical, the movies a little lost in the story line and the songs aren't as catchy as the ones in Mamma Mia.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I'm back!!!

Touch down KLIA at around 10.05pm last night after almost the whole day travelling. By the time I reached home, it was already past midnight.

Coming back, I took 3 plane rides... and it's one damn bloody tiring ride. Worse, I was at work today. Was feeling sleepy the whole day today.

Anyway, day by day details will be posted later.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hokkaido Trip

Flying off tonite, 11pm on JAL.

Needless to say, it'll be great being able to travel for a holiday. This is going to be my first holiday in years... Hopefully, there'll be snow!!!

However, this trip will also burn a hole in my pocket.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year II

It's already 5 days into 2009. Things are pretty much the same thus far, the way it has been.

I've never made any resolution or wishes in the past, maybe because I was pretty much happy with the way things were.

But this year seems rather different. At least, the New Year itself gave me some indifferent feelings.

In my New Year post, I said:
"Good bye 2008.. you haven't been great, but you haven't been that bad either
Welcome 2009.. hopefully, things will be much better than before".

Yeah, 2008 hasn't really been a great year. The 2nd and 3rd quarter of 2008 has given me probably some of the best memories I've ever had thus far in life, but come the last quarter, all these took a nose-dive.

Basically, I was not a happy man. There were times I just wish I was somewhere else. Being at work sickens me, so I wished I could be out of the office. Staying at home annoys me, so I sometimes wished I'm out of the house... yet when I'm actually out of the house, the feeling of being lost haunts me.

And at times, I felt lonely...

I've also posted one of my thoughts that has been troubling for a while now. Maybe I've always been the more reliable one, the one who could bare responsibilities, ever since I was a child. But that has finally starting to show cracks in me.

If there's ever a resolution that I would make for this year, it is probably to be MORE irresponsible. That way, I could perhaps be a little more carefree and happy at work, at home, or at what ever that I've been doing.

Funny when I looked back into my past 25 years in life, I haven't really achieved great things that would or might make my life happier... not just easier... happier. Sure, there's been achievements in Wushu that I should really cherish. It have its wonderful moments but that have long past, in the history.

So now what? I just need to wait and see what 2009 brings for me.

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Yupz.. all packed and preparing for my trip now.
Here's my schedule and agenda in Hokkaido.

I hope you're able to see it..

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008 to 2009

Good bye 2008.. you haven't been great, but you haven't been that bad either
Welcome 2009.. hopefully, things will be much better than before