Japan Spring Trip: Hokkaido - Day 1 (Apple Holiday)

Hey guys! I recently went to Japan (Hokkaido and Tokyo) with my family. So, I haven't really done this for awhile, or perhaps never did, but I had a great time so I thought I'll try and make at least a blog post every week about the one week I spent there.

This is also perhaps relevant for those who are interested to take a tour with Apple Holiday/Apple Vacations.

Believe it or not, but this is actually the first overseas trip we have as a family since 2010 as we haven't been to anywhere else except for Bangkok, Thailand. The last time was we went somewhere else besides Bangkok was in December 2010, where we went to South Korea for winter.

Anyway, let's start right from the top, we took a flight from KLIA to Narita Airport via Japan Airlines (JAL). It was a 11pm flight.


First impression - I loveee the plane! So basically, for our size, there was a lot of leg room. And the seats were 2-3-2 design, so basically it's easier to get out even if you're at the window seat.




Food was not too bad. And then there's the on-flight entertainment which was quite good - as in the movie selections wasn't bad.


So obviously, I was very pleased. Maybe for the seasoned travellers these are expected. And yes, I like the small pillow and the blanket provided.

Fun fact: Our tour guide, Ernest, told us that Japanese will "die" when they fly with Malaysian Airlines (MAS) because they think that it's too cold. It's quite true - I felt a little warm the few times we flew with JAL on this trip but the flight back to KL was kinda cold actually.

Here's our first meal in Japan! We flew to Narita and had a quick bite while we wait for our flight to the New Chitose Airport, the largest airport in Hokkaido.




So, actually there wasn't any lunch provided, according to the Apple Holiday itinerary, but they treated us for a lunch meal! So that's nice.




First proper meal at Japan, if you don't count the snacks that we grab at Narita airport.

So, the first place we went was this place called Noboribetsu, a city in Hokkaido, Japan:





So we were at this place called Jigokudani aka Hell Valley in Noboribetsu. The pictures above the landscape at the entrance of Shikotsu-Toya National Park at Jigokudani. So it's called 'Hell Valley' because the area is famous for onsen (hot springs) so being here is quite spectacular - to see for ourselves the origins of the onsen and things that goes on in the bowels of the earth.

It smells because those smoke you are seeing is actually sulphur. Did I also mention how cold it was? The temperature was lower than we expected, and I must say I actually underestimated how cold it can be.



But the lack of heat didn't stop us from getting green tea ice cream from a vending machine. It tastes so good!

First day is always a little exhausting because of all the travelling on flights, so after we walked around the park a little, we checked in to our hotel and it was free time. 

We stayed in Mahoraba Hotel which is really near (less than 5 minutes drive away from the park itself).


Entrance for the room we stayed in. Ta-da!

Everyone was free to do whatever they like since the next thing in line for the day was dinner. So many people actually went to experience onsen... but I didn't. (Why is another matter :P).

This place is actually highly rated on TripAdvisor for its onsen. It's one of the best and biggest ones. Two levels in the building is dedicated for onsen area. 

Anyway, I rested for a bit while my sisters went for onsen. "Liberating," they said. Next was the buffet dinner in the hotel. Awesome!


Noticed how almost everyone was wearing the same thing? That's because the hotel actually provides yukata (supposedly a Japanese kimono intended for summer) for all the guests to wear, various sizes available. Just grab it from the room.









Well, I was delighted! It was one of the best buffets from the trip. The selection was great and there was salmon and tuna. What's not to like?!



We came back after dinner to see our rooms set up with tatami. Our tour guide told us earlier that we could set it up ourselves or the hotel staffs would do it for us. How nice of them. Anyway, there's no air-conditioners or fan in the room but we could open up the windows and it was enough to keep us cool for the night. Yeap, it was that chilly.



Since the night was still kinda young, we roamed around the hotel ourselves. There were some shops just outside the hotel...


... And we got ourselves some soft-serve again!


That's all for now. Will blog about Day 2 next!

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