Monday, January 14, 2013


when in korea

I love Japan.  It's quite possibly my favorite place ever.  To be fair, I was only there for 4 days, three of which were spent at a luxury condo with full concierge service, 2 whole days were spent skiing through some insane powder, and the whole time was spent some totally awesome people.

Paul and I left HK on a 1am flight, arrived a short 3 and half hours later in Seoul at 5am.  Man even at 5am Incheon is a sweet airport.  It's clean, there's free wifi, and there are a plethora of benches from which to choose for our brief respite.   Paul and I got a solid 3.5 hours of sleep in before we had to drag ourselves to the next leg of the trip.

nice little set up.  ha.
cool rest stop
I should also mention I love Korean air.  They have entertainment systems complete with movies (a lot!), shows, music channels, and I think there were also video games.  They also had Korean wine (Majuang!) which made me laugh, all of the flight attendants are gorgeous and super attentive.  When I was asked if I wanted pork or beef I replied that I was a vegetarian.  They politely informed me I should sign up beforehand (which I always do and am surprised I did not here) and then rushed up to first class to bring me an omelet...with bacon, but it was still better than beef or pork!  And then she asked for my passport and return flight info and went ahead and got me veg set for the way back!!  What!?  And to top it all off, the food was good too!  Got bibimbap on one leg.
 We got into Sapporo at 1:30 and quickly found a shuttle bus service who told us to meet by the green chairs at 1:55.  I'm not even joking, at 1:55 sharp we were picked up by our guide with a sign to follow and we started walking to the bus.  Perhaps I've been spending too much time in South East Asia, but the time they tell you is never the time it actually takes!!!  Amazing, Japan.  I love you already.

Then the bus.  2.5 hours through nothing but snow snow snow.  There were no people, no houses, no nothing, just snow.  Until about an hour in when we stopped at a rest stop.  A super clean awesome rest stop with awesome Japanese bathrooms.  All of the toilets in Japan have heated seats and bidets; if you're into that.
Friday am view from our living room
Then we arrive in Niseko in the dark, which begins at 4, are picked up by the Niseko Company's concierge, and are brought to our house for the weekend; Byakko.  AMAZING!!  I have never seen so much snow anywhere in my life.  It was already ridiculously deep and hadn't stopped since we got on the bus.  Apparently the Siberian winds meet with the Pacific wet and make this a powder heaven.

getting ready for the slopes
The house itself is immaculate.  Big, beautiful, heated, and very very Western.  We all kept laughing that we thought we were in Pennsylvania or NJ.  There were some Asian artifacts and furniture pieces, but otherwise it was pretty Western.  Paul and I settled into one of 2 basement rooms, and then waited for Brad and Ravenna's arrive just an hour later.

We spent the first night in awe of how awesome our lives are.  We sipped our duty-free white russians sitting in front of the turn dial fire playing Jenga and circle of death.  Nice little Thursday.

Paul and I feel asleep and missed Laura and Derek's arrival at mid-night.  The next am we were all up pretty early and excited to get out on the slopes.  From our back porch you could see the Hirafu ski area.  Well, if it wasn't white out snowing which it did most of the time.  We picked up some rentals and then skied!!!!  In amazing powder!!!  All day!!!  And into the night!!!  The mountain stays open until 8, but by 6 or so Laura and I were frozen and called it a day.  The men folk stayed a bit longer, and we all reconvened in the house for dinner.
takoyaki; fried potato with squid in the middle.  topped wih eel sauce and bento flakes

We went out for a 'Japanese' dinner which apparently is quite difficult to do in Niseko.  Niseko is probably 99% Australians with the occasional Japanese or Canadian thrown in.  The dinner was great and Diane showed up just in time after a 3 hour delay; takoyaki and fried stuff for me, pizza, penne, fried chicken, edamame, and sake.  Waaaay too much sake.

Sake to me
Saturday up early-ish again and we decided to ski a different part of the mountain, Annapuri.  There are four ski areas, and on the map they all look pretty close.  Not so much.  30 minute bus later and Paul and I got there, and Derek and Diane decided to ski/board over.  I'm so so so glad we didn't as it was some pretty ridiculously steep slopes.  I'm a weenie skier and prefer to stay on my greens and blues (red in Japan).  This part of the mountain was a bit easier and smaller than the first day.  It was so much fun and later we were able to utilize Brad's walkie talkies to meet up with he and Laura.  We skied our little hearts and legs out and sadly had to leave at 5.

bus stop AND indian takeaway
Not wanting to pay $400 usd for a private shuttle to the airport the next morning (no AM buses!!!) we parted ways on Saturday night.  We waited in the cold cold cold for the bus, met a cool American girl who assured us this bus is never this late, and then got to the train station.  2.5 hour train to Sapporo and we checked into the nicest Best Western I have ever seen.  The room was impeccable, and every square inch was utilized with the utmost efficiency.

raw egg n hairtail n kinyip (sesame leaves)
Despite being mid-night, we decided to head out in the snow for some late night sushi.  There was a cute Izakaya, WaraWara, within a block so we hunkered down.  Okonamyaki, raw hairtail (amazing), and an assortment of sashimi and we finally felt we were eating some legit Japanese.  Oh and sake.  Of course sake.  We wish we could have been at the house for 2 more nights with everyone else (did Scott ever make it??), but it was nice to end on a nice Japanese meal and room.

5am get up, subway to airport, 4 hour flight, an hour in Seoul [we soooooo miss Korea!  I miss Korea people, the food, the snow...maybe not.....the friends, the Konglish. Ah.  Planning to go back in October for our National Day holiday], 4 more hours, and we were back in HK, all before dark.

loved that room
Paul and I are both sooo sooo pumped to go back to Japan as tourists.  We want to hit Tokyo next.  And Derek, Laura, Brad, Ravenna, Diane, Paul, and I are all super pumped about Asian ski trips.  Perhaps next year Kimchitown :)  

Sapporo is the COOLEST airport.  But not when your flight leaves at 8:30....

Hokkaido is famous for it's dairy products.  Milk!

The group!  Ravena, Diane, Paul, me, Laura, Derek and Brad <3

No comments:

Post a Comment