Saturday, January 21, 2017

Nakajima Park in Winter (Sapporo 2017 Day 1)

After checked in to the hotel, we took a walk to know our neighborhood, the Nakajima Park. This is a very beautiful park. We didn't have the chance to visit this place during the Spring last year so we didn't know how does it look like without the snow. I am sure this park is beautiful in Spring and in Autumn.
Let's see how the snow looks like...
Super soft!
Watch this...crushing the snow
Feel so amazing stepping on a land filled with snow.
Can even have a drink in the park! Coffee time!
Got to do the Dap!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Spring vs Winter in Hokkaido

I have unlocked spring and winter and this is the reason why I am going to visit Hokkaido again for summer and autumn:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ibis Styles Sapporo Hotel, Hokkaido Japan: Winter 2017

We have been to Sapporo last year May'16 and stayed in this wonderful Dormy Inn Premium Hotel in Tanukikoji Shopping Street. However, we want to experience a different environment where it is nearer to a park rather than shopping street. Hence, we found a good ranking hotel near Nakajima Park, the Ibis Styles Sapporo Hotel. It was ranked 3# out of 163 hotels in Sapporo by Tripadvisor as of our time of visits.

Getting there

It is quite convenient to go to the hotel from the New Chitose Airport. We went to the 1F Domestic (JAL) Arrival hall to look for the bus ticket counter. We bought our tickets from Hokuto Airport Liners for the Sapporo downtown Nakajima route bus at ¥1,030 per person (there are only two bus operator and the charges are the same but with different schedule, plan your time carefully as the interval can be up to 30 minutes).
The JAL Arrival Hall - Bus Station in the New Chitose Airport
After purchasing the tickets, we went to bus stop number 14 for our bus to Nakajima. There is this controller who manages the queue and advise the customers on which bus they should be boarding. He also helped all the passengers to arrange the baggage to be loaded into the bus when the bus arrive. The bus came on time (in Japan, on time means really on time. If it stated 12.42PM, the bus will arrive sharp at 12.42PM).
Some views from our bus journey to downtown. Snowing all the way.
Okay, we finally arrived at the nearest bus stop to our hotel. This is where we get down from the bus and took our luggage. First encounter with the snow at an unknown place searching for our hotel. Luckily, the signage was significant and we easily found the direction to Ibis Styles.
The bus stop at Nakajima Park
We arrived at Ibis Styles Sapporo Hotel. We booked the hotel via and cost us RM250 per night (with free breakfast). Check-in was fast and we got a spacious room at 11th floor with city view, facing the Susukino ferries wheel and the JR Tower.
At the lobby. There is a door that link to Lawson convenient store
One of the very important device to have in the hotel room for super dry weather - Plasmacluster!
The view from our room, amazing!
And this is the night view. Love it!
Watch how inspired I am while watching the snow fall from the room...

Next, we immediately went for a walk at the Nakajima Park before sunset.

Searching for Snow: Hokkaido Winter 2017 Day 1 (2-3/1/2017)

Right after our visit to Hokkaido in May 2016 for the cherry blossom, we have decided that we need to go back again in winter for their famous powder snow. Here we are now, winter in Hokkaido for the first time to witness ourselves what is powder snow like.
We booked our flight online and we found that AirAsiaX is still the best option o Hokkaido, mainly because it is a direct flight from KLIA2 to New Chitose Airport (other airlines will have to transit at other airport which can be hassle and time consuming) in about 7.5 hours. We took the evening flight and reach New Chitose in the morning.
If you can get a seat on the right-hand side of the plane when heading to New Chitose, you can enjoy the sunrise, but later you will have to pay for the consequences.... the sun!

How much we paid for the flight? - RM1,200 return flight with check-in baggage of 20kg (to Hokkaido) and 30kg (coming back to KL). The extra 10kg coming back is for shopping items :D
The only limitation is when returning from New Chitose to KL, 9.20AM flight - meaning we have to be at the airport to check-in as early as 7.30AM. So, we need to check-out from the hotel very early and catch the JR from Sapporo Station to the airport (JR from Sapporo to New Chitose Airport starts at 6.02AM - around 50 minutes journey - ¥1,030). Will share later how we dealt with this early flight situation.

Upon arrival, we we greeted (sniffed) by this cute Beagle. Make sure that this cutie don't bark or stop at you...haha
The first snow fall we saw at the airport, it was like computer graphic or some sort of animation. The scene is superb and we knew that we have made a good decision to visit Hokkaido in winter.
Morning snow fall to welcome us - New Chitose Airport
What to do upon arrival?

It is the same thing that I have posted for our May'16, go to get the passes and JR tickets for your our planned trips at the airport. Head to BF1 when coming out from the International Arrival Hall and locate the JR Informationa Desk next to the JR station entrance.
During this trip, we planned to visit Otaru again to experience the winter scenery so we purchased the same 'Sapporo-Otaru Welcome Pass' which cost ¥1,700 per person for a return JR from Sapporo-Otaru and a free One-Day unlimited pass subway ticket.

Also, we planned to take up a day to visit Asahiyama Zoo, one of the very popular zoo located at Higashi Asahikawa for the Penguin Parade in winter. The tour package cost ¥6,130 per person for a return JR from Sapporo to Asahikawa, return bus transfer from JR station to the zoo and the entrance fee.

Once we got all the tickets ready, its time to indulge ourselves with one the best Hokkaido delights, Ramen! We returned to the Ramen Village in the airport and the queue already started in the morning.
This is my favourite, A rich flavour Shrimp and Soy Sauce ramen, only at 一幻!
Shrimp and Soy Sauce (Rich Flavour) 一幻Ebiso Ramen for ¥780
It was still too early to go to the hotel because the check-in time at 2.00PM so we spent some time hanging around in the airport before leaving to downtown Sapporo. There are many shops in the airport and you one thing that you cannot miss is the yumilicious Hokkaido Milk Ice-Cream!
A must try!  Hokkaido milk ice-cream that melts in your mouth, obviously.... for ¥380
Next post (in progress), we head to downtown Sapporo to check-in to hotel: Ibis Styles Sapporo Hotel (Ranked 3# out of 163 hotels in Sapporo- as at 14/1/2017)