Torn between work and writing travel journals, I chose the former.
When I’m finally out of work, I was torn between writing reviews on Tripadvisor and writing my own blog. I chose the former, again.
Perhaps the trip was such a major undertaking that writing a full blog post is more daunting than writing snippets of it in the form of reviews. I could skip places and write the ones that are more interesting. I could also write in shorthands or even colloquial-ish.
The road trip to Japan is actually part of a bigger trip, starting and ending with Seoul. I meant to accompany N, who just ended his student exchange with Korea University, through travelling Japan.
We took a budget airline (Eastar Jet) to Tokyo, from which we transferred to a domestic budget airline (Vanilla) to Hokkaido. The road trip took place in Hokkaido, for a week, before we returned to Tokyo for a few days, and then back to Seoul for a ‘cool down’.
The research started off with the site “Visit Hokkaido“, of which, one of the recommended tours (Hokkaido Lavender Tour: 5 days) was the inspiration for our roadtrip. With that, I added on the hot favourites like Otaru and Jozankei, and then filled in rest stops in between.
Online literature recommended that night-driving is to be avoided, because accidents usually occur when the animals jump onto the roads, being attracted to the lights of passing cars. However, driving in summer is a breeze. Car rentals provide on-board GPS, which is useful, because (a) the car rental company (Toyota Car Rent-a-Car) provided a list of places of interests complete with their GPS coordinates, (b) the GPS takes in phone numbers, which means any places with a phone number could be found, which include many far-flung locations like our stay in Furano (c) the GPS is very accurate and the GPS lady is very prompt.
We used Toyota Rent-a-Car, mainly because of the convenience and familiarity. There are outlets at every city; for the outlet at Poplar, New Chitose, they provide shuttle service to ferry passengers to and from the airport, so that we could choose to pick up and/or drop the car at the airport. Similarly, the places that we went to (Sapporo and ASahikawa) also have outlets. Since Sapporo is a very convenient city, there isn’t actually a need for a car there; It is actually possible to take the train to Asahikawa before renting a car to travel to less convenient places like Furano, Blue Pond and perhaps even further east into the national parks.
Don’t fret over the spare change given by the cashiers; they are very useful for the highway tolls, which can range from a few hundred to a few thousands. Always drive to the manual gantry and the guy manning the toll would tend to you (even if you don’t have change!).
The Infogram below showed our itinerary for Hokkaido.
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