Day 9 (2/2).
After Yoichi and Otaru, it was time for us to head towards Sapporo (札幌), the capital city of Hokkaido. With a population of close to 2 million, Sapporo is the largest city in Hokkaido. Like much of Hokkaido, Sapporo was occupied by indigenous Ainu tribes until the latter half of the 19th century, when migrants from Mainland Honshu settled in the area to cultivate the land and establish early settlements under the order of Emperor Meiji. In 1876, American professor William Clark was hired to establish the Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University). During his short spell in Sapporo, Clark made a significant impact on the academic and economic development of Hokkaido. Clark’s motto to his students, “boys, be ambitious!” could best describe the adventurous cultural identity of Sapporo citizens. Compared to other regions in Japan, Sapporo is relatively new. The city has emerged into a bustling urban centre in just a few generations and has become the fifth largest city in Japan. Hosted Asia’s first Winter Olympics in 1972 and the annual snow festival that draws thousands of outside visitors, Sapporo has gained significant international popularity in recent decades. As the official gateway and transportation hub of Hokkaido, Sapporo is also well known as a foodie destination, due to the fact that all of Hokkaido’s agricultural produce and seafood would eventually end up in this city at some point.
The adventurous spirit of the city coupled with the abundant natural resources of Hokkaido form the basis of Sapporo’s culinary culture. The popular soup curry originated from Sapporo in the 1970s is one of the best examples. This innovative fusion of East Asian broth, Southeast Asian curry and fresh Hokkaido vegetables and meat turned out to be a great success story. By 2000s, soup curry has become a signature dish of the city. There are many restaurants in Sapporo offering soup curry. We chose Suage, a very busy curry restaurant popular with both tourists and locals alike.
From Otaru to Sapporo, the train passed by the turquoise Ishikari Bay (石狩湾) to the northeast.
The lovely scenery of Ishikari Bay (石狩湾) was our last open views to the sea for this trip.
We soon arrived at the railway station of Sapporo.
Crab meal is a big attraction for many tourists coming to Hokkaido.
On our way to our hotel, we passed by the Clock Tower (時計台), a historical landmark built in 1878.
At Odori Park (大通公園), the Sapporo TV Tower was lit up in a romantic way.
We picked Suage for a soup curry dinner.
We had to wait for about half an hour in order to get a table.
The restaurant was causal and most visitors were pretty young.
The soup curry was very delicious.
All ingredients in the soup curry came from local farms
On our way back to the hotel, we passed by the Norbesa and its eye catching Ferris wheel on its roof.
We walked a bit of the covered arcade and called it a day.
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HOKKAIDO ROAD TRIP, Hokkaido (北海道)
Day 2 – Utoro
Day 2.1 SHIRETOKO FIVE LAKES (知床五湖)
Day 2.2 UTORO FISHERMAN’S WIVES CO-OPERATIVE DINER (ウトロ漁協婦人部食堂)
Day 2.3 FUREPE FALLS (フレペの滝)
Day 6 – On the road from Lake Akan to Furano
Day 6.1 FISHERMEN BELOW MISTY OAKAN (雄阿寒岳), Lake Akan (阿寒湖)
Day 6.2 TREATS OF OBIHIRO (帯広), Tokachi (十勝)
Day 6.3 ARRIVING IN FURANO (富良野)
Day 7 Furano & Biei
Day 7.1 LAVENDER BUDS, Nakafurano (中富良野)
Day 7.2 FARM TOMITA (ファーム富田), Nakafurano (中富良野)
Day 7.3 BI.BLE, Biei (美瑛)
Day 7.4 PATCHWORK ROAD & PANORAMA ROAD, Biei (美瑛)
Day 7.5 NINGLE TERRACE (ニングルテラス)
Day 8 – from Furano to Otaru
Day 8.1 CHURCH ON THE WATER (水の教会), Hoshino Resorts Tomamu (星野リゾート トマム)
Day 8.2 HILL OF THE BUDDHA (頭大仏), Makomanai Takino Cemetery (真駒内滝野霊園)
Day 8.3 SEAFOOD, CANAL, & HISTORY, Otaru (小樽)
Day 8.4 RAINY NIGHT IN OTARU, Otaru (小樽)
Day 10 – Sapporo
10.1 OKKAIDO SHRINE (北海道神宮 )
10.2 MORIHICO COFFEE (森彦珈琲本店)
10.3 KITAKARO SAPPORO HONKAN (北菓楼札幌本館)
10.4 SATURDAYS CHOCOLATE
10.5 GOTSUBO OYSTER BAR(五坪)
10.6 MOUNT MOIWA (藻岩山) & RAMEN HARUKA (ラーメン悠)
Day 11 – Sapporo
11.1 FORMER HOKKAIDO GOVERNMENT OFFICE (北海道庁旧本庁舎)
11.2 RED STAR & GENGKIS KHAN, Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール株式会社)
Tourists and guidebooks often compare the ancient ruins of Myanmar’s Bagan with Cambodia’s Angkor, and so as their base towns: Nyaung-U of Bagan and Siem Reap of Angkor. Tourists arriving in Bagan may discover that Nyaung-U is nothing like Siem Reap. There is no designated Pub Street, massage parlours or fish spa for the tired feet. Several years ago we spent the night of New Year’s Eve in the Pub Street of Siem Reap, where bars and restaurants were packed with half drunk tourists. This time, we had an opportunity to spend Christmas Eve in Bagan. Unlike Siem Reap, Nyaung-U was much more peaceful. To celebrate Christmas Eve, we chose Sanon Restaurant, a social enterprise offering great food and non-profit training for the disadvantaged youth. After a satisfying meal, we walked around Nyaung-U to take in the peaceful atmosphere of the silent night.
On our way to Sanon Restaurant, we passed by a number of convenient stores catered for tourists. Most shops also offered e-bike rentals to tourists. Renting E-bikes is one of the most popular ways for tourists to do their pagoda hopping.
We were lucky to find a table after a bit of waiting at Sanon Restaurant.
The dining area was a pleasant open terrace.
We started our Christmas Eve dinner with a delicious cocktail.
We had a local dish: deep fried morning glory for appetizer.
One of our main dishes was also a local dish: Giant Irrawaddy Prawn and Catfish Curry. Flowing north to south, Irrawaddy River is the largest river in Myanmar.
After dinner, we walked past a book vendor in front of a restaurant. All books were non-fiction and half of them were in English.
It was a 15-minute walk from Sanon Restaurant back to Oasis Hotel. The street was peaceful and quiet. All actions seemed to be limited inside the restaurants and hotels.
Some of the local eateries were particularly busy, with customers gathered to watch football games on large televisions.
Located at a road junction, Sapada Paya stood quietly over Nyaung-U.
We stopped by a small playground at the base of Sapada Paya.
Despite there was no one around, up at the terrace of Sapada Paya we found a small altar with fresh floral offerings.
Finally we were back at Oasis Hotel, our comfortable base for our stay in Bagan.
No one was around in the garden of Oasis Hotel, though Christmas music was on.
We enjoyed a peaceful Christmas Eve and retired to our room early. The next morning we would get up before dawn. Our driver would pick us up to watch the magical sunrise over Old Bagan, probably the most well known and gorgeous scenery in Myanmar.
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Blog posts on Myanmar 2017:
Day 1: Yangon, Myanmar
DAY 1: INTRODUCTION OF A SHORT BURMESE CHRISTMAS VACATION
DAY 1: WALK TO 999 SHAN NOODLE HOUSE
DAY 1: SULE PAGODA
DAY 1: COLONIAL ARCHITECTURE
DAY 1: BUSTLING STREET LIFE
DAY 1: GOLDEN WORLD OF SHWEDAGON PAGODA
DAY 1: A PLACE FOR PEOPLE, Shwedagon Pagoda
DAY 1: EVENING MAGIC OF THE GOLDEN SHWEDAGON PAGODA
DAY 1: A FESTIVE NIGHT
Day 3: Bagan
DAY 3: MAGICAL SUNRISE, Old Bagan
DAY 3: NYAUNG-U MARKET, Nyaung-U
DAY 3: SULAMANI TEMPLE
DAY 3: DHAMMAYANGYI TEMPLE
DAY 3: THATBYINNYU TEMPLE
DAY 3: NAPAYA, MANUHA AND GUBYAUKGYI, Myinkaba
DAY 3: SUNSET No. 2, Old Bagan
DAY 3: FINAL NIGHT IN NYAUNG-U
Day 4: Farewell Myanmar
DAY 4: FAREWELL BAGAN FAREWELL MYANMAR