Results tagged “Driving” from Eurasia 2012

Have I ever mentioned that heat in hotels is a major pain? Overheated again last night. And woke up with the sun at 3:45. Grunt.

Bit of a slow start. I headed out a bit before nine to withdraw some money and pick up some supplies for breakfast.

So didn't get out of the hotel til a bit after ten.

Headed up to the Asahiyama Zoo, quite a good little zoo outside of Asahikawa. The enclosures for the penguins and seals (and other animals too) are well thought out and you get some *great* views of the animals. For the penguins there's a tube you walk right through their tank, like the sharks at Darling Harbour. And the seals have this vertical tube they dive through right in the middle of this room you walk through. Sometimes they stop in mid flight and nose the perspex, so there's all these people in a room with a seal floating the middle! Extremelly cool!!

The polar bears looked a little miserable in the heat (or maybe they were just bored). Only gripe about viewing them was you queue for ages in a dark stairwell for who knows what. Turns out there's a little "bubble" you can stick your head up in the middle of their enclosure. OK but not really worth waiting in the heat.

But yeah otherwise a great day and took over four hundred photos in four hours.

Then Japan took another opportunity to completely rip us off. We needed to get to Chitose airport, so programmed the GPS with either the back roads or the expressways. The expressways were 30km longer but a bit quicker, and it quoted us 2250 yen, according to the GPS for the tolls. OK so we did that. And then got quite disappointed that the speed limits on the expressways were 80 km/h .. ???? I thought they were meant to be 100. The road certainly would have handled it. But all the signs we saw said 80. Now it *might* have been that the 80 was only for temporary stuff, like lanes merging in, and the default limit was 100. But if that was the case it certainly wasn't obvious. Give me Australian speed indicators any day (which always make it clear what the speed limit should be when it changes). And give me Australian traffic lights too - everywhere else I've seen doesn't have nearly enough lights. Sometimes in Japan there's *one* light, which is pretty easy to miss. Europe was pretty bad too - there's nothing on the far side of the intersection, so pedestrians can't see what's being shown to the traffic coming. Anyway, where was I? Oh, Japan ripping us off again. The expressway from Asahikawa to Sapporo cost us 3800 yen!!! That's like $50 for 100km of road. Absolutely ridiculous. And for not much time saving either! We should have taken the back roads!!! Blah :(:(

But got out to the airport car rental place without any other dramas (filling up with petrol near the airport at a full service petrol station). Returned the car, and got their shuttle bus to the airport.

From there we just needed to find the airport hotel where we were staying the night. It's right in the domestic terminal which is pretty easy. Sadly no view of the planes from our side of the hotel.

Checked in, then went down to the airport food court to get some dinner and watch the planes while we ate. They even have free wifi! Win!

Then back to do photo stuff and blog.

Distance covered on the GPS: 209.4 km
Steps walked: 11793
Photos on the Canon: 406
Photos on the Sony: 26
Videos: 4

Stoopid east facing windows and stoopid sun that gets up at 4am and stoopid blinds that do nothing to keep out the light or heat :( Blah. So it was very hot in our room. So didn't sleep all that well :(

Breakfast was at the hotel. We'd chosen "western" breakfasts the night before (fish and natto for breakfast? no, don't think so). But they brought out all this food. I couldn't get through it! Saved my bread roll and sweet roll for later.

Then we headed up into the mountains again.

Stopped first at the dam at Lake Chubetsu. Cause I like dams. Have I mentioned that? :)

Then into the national park and up to the Asahidake Ropeway.

But first, 500 yen for parking. WTF? When just down the road was a public car park that was free. Grunt. So already feeling ripped off. Then to go up the cable car it's 2800 yen. Each. !! WTF?? I was way pissed off at that point. But we went up anyway and I grumped the whole way :(

Still, it was a fairly nice place at the top. We went up for a wander up into the snow and mud around the walking tracks and saw the little lakes and the fumaroles. Stu definitely enjoyed it. I would have more if hadn't been so badly ripped off. *sigh*

Had some snacks while waiting for a cable car down.

Then we decided to just go to Asahikawa rather than try and do any more mountains.

So got into town and negotiated city streets and got to the hotel ok.

Had a bit of a relax for a little while.

Then we decided to head out to find some dinner. We were going to get ramen (which this place is famous for), but as we were getting ready Stu looked out the window and said "there's a festival" and I'm like "Japanese street food!!!!!" So that's where we went.

It was just in this little park near the river. All around the outer edge of the park, and through the middle were stalls setup selling food and toys. We had some *amazing* food, as well as some average food, and some pretty good food. Love love love Japanese street food :) Not really sure what the festival was for. We asked at the hotel, she said something about the transition between spring and summer. Couldn't find anything online about it, but not really sure what to look for! heh. We were probably the only gaijin there (we certainly didn't see any others).

Distance covered on the GPS: 128.2 km
Steps walked: 10696
Photos on the Canon: 143
Photos on the Sony: 39
Videos: 0

Pretty good day today (although still didn't sleep too well - too hot).

After breakfast had a bit of a slow start getting out the door. Had to plan what we were going to do first.

I waited outside the hotel with our bags (we didn't really feel like carrying my broken bag all the way to the car rental place). And then the sweetie arrived and off we went.

Fortunately this trip, not only do they drive on the correct side of the road, but we got an automatic, and the blinkers are on the correct side!! Yayy for Japanese cars :) (London in 2010 had the correct side of the road, but a manual and backwards blinkers).

So pretty much just headed straight out of Sapporo (after getting a coffee for the sweetie at a Scottish Restaurant we passed). Decided to go via quieter roads rather than expressways.

Except Hokkaido has ridiculously low speed limits. Roads that would be 60, 70, 80 in Australia were all 50, or maybe 40. It was impossibly slow, and we were pissing off the locals, who were all passing us any chance they could. After ages doing this we gave up and drove more to conditions (but still slower than the locals!). I suppose their limits are for when the conditions are bad, which is sure to be much of the year, or to reduce the number of wildlife accidents. But this was the middle of a clear sunny day. Whatevs.

So basically just drove slowly to Furano. Stopped at a dam on the way. Because I like dams.

Had more Scottish Restaurant for a late lunch, then went and checked into the hotel. Crazy design to the room. The bathroom has a big glass window next to the bed, with a blind on the outside! Weird as!

We headed straight out again, deciding to drive up into the mountains.

Drove up towards Tokachidake springs.

The "lavendar road" would sure be pretty in a month's time. But for now it was just green.

Saw a few foxes around the place. Nat would have loved them heh :)

At Tokachidake springs got out and walked up a trail a bit (I was a bit worried about getting eaten by a bear). There was still snow around!

Drove around a bit more, ending up at Bogakudai for a nice lookout (although looking straight into the late afternoon sun).

Then down the hill to the "Blue Pond" which is a famous tourist attaction in the area. The parking lot and one-way paths testify to that. But when I got there I was very disappointed. The "pond" appears to have been created by the damming of a creek, flooding the area and killing a bunch of trees. There's no flow through the pond so it's a stagnent pool full of dead trees. Yuk. OK so yes the water is a pretty blue (in the right light, sadly we were there a little too late in the day), so if you look at the right angle you can see live trees and not the stagnent muck, it's not too bad. If you want pretty blue lakes, go to Canada.

Then back to the hotel (and stopped at another dam).

Had dinner at the hotel. I had some wagyu beef which was *awesome* and the freshest, nicest asparagus I've ever had!

And finally we stayed up *very* late doing our washing (last load of the trip though - yayy!!)

Distance covered on the GPS: 205 km
Steps walked: 6936
Photos on the Canon: 278
Photos on the Sony: 15
Photos on the Video: ?
Videos: ?

So the wakeup call this morning came at 5am.


Got ready and picked up our "breakfast boxes" and headed for the bus.

There were a pair of Canadians and a pair of Americans who were on a different Insights tour along for the day as well.

So off we all headed to Alexandria.

Had some of the breakfast box on the bus (but I forgot to document the contents!). There were several rolls (two large - one cheese, one meat, and two small), a croissant, yoghurt, juice, jam, butter, a banana and an apple. Enough for breakfast *and* lunch! Although far too much bread for my liking (and my bowels aren't thanking me either).

Took a little over three hours to get to Alexandria. Apparently today was a public holiday so the traffic was considered to be fairly light.

Our first stop was the Alexandria Museum. The tour guide said "leave your cameras on the bus" so I immediately started stressing out :(:( Took the memory sticks out and brought them with me. The museum does xray bag checks as well as metal detectors. Apparently the rationale is that when it's crowded, people taking photos makes everything take too long. And when they say no flash people would still use flash anyway. So now they ban cameras completely. Which just makes it stressful for people like me who need to be with their cameras at all times :(:(:( Had an hour to wander around the museum, which is relatively small.

Second stop was the catacombs. Again the guide said no cameras. Manual bag searches here and metal detectors. Around the top of the area they have a whole heap of sarcophagi that they've brought up. So you go down this spiral staircase which is where they used to lower sarcophagi down. Then there's chambers off to the sides - a big super fancy one with amazing stone carvings, and then around lots of passages around the sides are the "commercial" areas which were just plain empty holes (the sarcophagi were upstairs, and apparently they only found a very few mummies there as most had been taken, probably for fertiliser).

Third stop was Pompey's Pillar, which apparently is famous..

Fourth stop was the roman theatre and collonaded street.

And the final stop was the Qaitbay Citadel which is a pretty cool castle (although it does look somewhat restored as it looks in a little too perfect condition).

Traffic through some of the small streets in Alexandria was pretty insane. Actually it wasn't even so much that the streets were small, it's just that in recent times illegal street vendors have gathered, taking up lanes and causing traffic chaos. If we thought Jordan was bad it's even crazier here! Road rules and parking rules are non-existent. Whoever's in front (mostly) has right of way. Most of the cars have scrapes from obviously very frequent crashes.

Got to do lots of people watching while negotiating the traffic. One thing I don't like is how many idle men there seem to be. They just stand or sit around either by themselves or in groups and just *stare* at us. Not very pleasant at all. Much fewer women around and almost never with men. When we got to the coast there was a bit more mixing.

So left Alexandria just after 2pm and got back to the hotel just before 6pm.

Went straight out to look for some snackages and also get some dinner.

Then back here to do photos and blog.

I'm almost delirious tonight I'm that tired. I'm forgetting things and everything is that much harder and taking that much longer to do :(:( Need to collapse into bed but need to do washing even more - as tomorrow we don't get back to the hotel til like 9:30pm :(:(:(

Distance covered on the GPS: 460.8 km
Steps walked: 10026
Photos on the Canon: 193
Photos on the Sony: 20
Photos on the iPhone: 4, if my computer would read it
Videos: 10
EGP Spent: 71.50