Day 8 (1 of 1).
In 1890, Scottish merchant Thomas Lipton who owned a vast business of grocery stores in Britain, visited British Ceylon and partnered with tea farming pioneer James Taylor to secure supply of Ceylon tea and distributed it throughout Europe and the United States. Lipton’s business plan of providing affordable tea to the mass working class in the West led to the increasing demand of tea and the bloom of tea plantations in Sri Lanka. The plan eventually developed into the business empire of Lipton tea.
Near the hill town of Haputale, about an hour of train ride west of Ella, the enormous Dambatenne Tea Factory and the surrounding tea fields have been immortalized by the legacy of their founder, Thomas Lipton. An 8km uphill hike to the lookout known as Lipton’s Seat remains as one of the best hike through the tea plantations in the hill country. Unlike taking the train or car, hiking in the tea plantations allow visitors to get close to the tea bushes and interact with the tea pickers.
From Haputale railway station, we hopped on a tuk tuk and got dropped off at the entrance of Dambatenne Tea Factory. We had no hurry to tour the factory, and left the factory tour for after the hike.
From the factory, we began to walk uphill into the plantation area along a winding road frequented by tea pickers. Tea terraces extend out in all directions from the road. We passed by all sort of buildings from worker dormitories to school complex, all apparently belong to the community of plantation workers.
Rows after rows of tea plants terraced up the hill slopes. Busy tea pickers dotted on the slope moving slowly horizontally on the slope.
Dramatic shadows were cast on the tea slope in the early part of our hike.
Everywhere was lush green as we walked deeper into the plantation.
Causally zooming into any cluster of tea pickers would create a scenic picture.
For visitors who don’t want to hike uphill may opt for a tuk tuk ride up to the destination. But surely walking would offer much more opportunities to get close to the tea shrubs and tea workers.
Past the first valley, we soon realized that the tea plantation was much larger than we thought. Tea terraces extended out from all directions to as far as our eyes could reach.
Shrines of different religions, including Roman Catholic Christianity, signify the wide range of religious backgrounds of the tea workers.
A tea plantation is much more than just a place for work. It also includes settlement of housing, school, dining places, temples, etc. Many tea workers are Tamils from Southern India, thus settlements with a Hindu shrine are quite common.
Near Lipton’s Seat lookout, we stumbled upon a weighing station where tea pickers offloaded their tea leaves, got them weighed and repacked into large bags for transportation.
Soon we arrived at the lookout of Lipton’s Seat, apart from a sleepy dog and a bronze statue of Sir Thomas Lipton, only fog coming from the other side of the mountain greeted our arrival. Some said this was the spot where Lipton loved to linger when he came to inspect the plantation. With the fog, we had no luck to see the supposedly good view from the lookout.
Soon we realized that great scenery of this hike were basically everywhere, not limited to the final lookout.
Doing the journey on foot allowed us to get close with the tea pickers.
Returning to the first valley where we started the hike, the slope with dramatic shadows was replaced by a foggy scene.
Following a tea picker, we chose a different route to descend the slope towards the factory.
The small path through the tea rows gave us a closer view of the working scenes of tea pickers.
We took our time to walk down and were greeted by several smiling tea pickers.
Close up of working tea pickers.
We leisurely walked back to Dambatenne Tea Factory in the fog. At the factory, we joined a tour to learn more about the tea making process, machinery and traditions.
RED STAR & GENGKIS KHAN, Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール株式会社), Sapporo (札幌), Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, 2019.06.25
Day 11 (2/2).
When people mention “Sapporo” many will immediately think of beer. Established in 1876 as Kaitakushi Brewery (Pioneer Brewery, 開拓使麦酒醸造所), Sapporo Beer is the oldest Japanese beer. It was the pioneer period when the Meiji government raced to settle on the Island of Hokkaido ahead of the expanding Russians. A regional government known as Kaitakushi (開拓使) or Hokkaido Development Commission was set up in Sapporo to oversee the island’s pioneer development . Reference to the northern Pole Star, a red star is used as the symbol of the Kaitakushi. This Kaitakushi red star appeared throughout the old Hokkaido, from building facades such as the Sapporo Clock Tower to bottle labels of Sapporo Beer.
After visiting the Former Hokkaido Government Building, we made our way to the Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール博物館), the historical brewery about half an hour walk from Sapporo Clock Tower. We have decided to spend the last few hours of our trip to learn more about beer making in Hokkaido. We also planned to fill our stomach at the museum’s Beer Garden with a Genghis Khan or (Jingisukan, ジンギスカン) lunch. Not sure if it has anything to do with Mongolia, the Genghis Khan is a local Hokkaido dish serving grilled lamb and local vegetables on a special round grill. Perhaps in reference to the lamb eating custom of Mongolian soldiers back in the prewar years, Genghis Khan (Jingisukan, ジンギスカン) has become a popular local dish after a sheep farm was set up in Hokkaido in 1918. The first Genghis Khan (Jingisukan) restaurant opened in Tokyo in 1936. Decades after Genghis Khan restaurants continue to flourish in Hokkaido. For our 2019 Hokkaido trip, a hearty meal of grill lamb and draught beer at the historical brewery of Sapporo Beer offered us a satisfying closure.
On our way to Sapporo Beer Museum, we passed by Sapporo Factory (サッポロファクトリー), a shopping and entertainment complex housed in a former brewery of Kaitakushi Brewery, the predecessor of Sapporo Beer.
The building of Sapporo Factory was renovated and converted into a commercial complex in 1993.
At Sapporo Factory Hall, there is a small exhibition house that tells the story of beer making in Hokkaido. The Kaitakushi star can be seen at the small exhibition house.
We arrived at Sapporo Beer Museum after another 15 minute walk from Sapporo Factory.
Visitors gathered at the entrance to wait for the museum to open its door.
An enormous brew kettle greet all museum visitors at the entry hall.
On display are some of the earliest beer bottles from the late 19th century.
No matter how the label design has evolved throughout the past century, the star of Kaitakushi remains as a visual focus.
The evolution of marketing posters reflects the social and cultural changes in the past century.
Since 1966, the Beer Hall at Sapporo Beer Museum has been a popular restaurant serving the Mongolian barbecue Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan is self served on a special round grill.
We ordered different kinds of lamb meat.
Not to be missed were the special draught beer at the Beer Hall.
The bear sculpture in the gift shop reminded us of the wilderness of Eastern Hokkaido.
After the hearty lunch, we walked around the museum ground for a bit.
Until it was time for us to pick up our backpacks at Cross Hotel and headed for New Chitose Airport. This concludes our 11-day Hokkaido journey.
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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)