28 August, 2013

Our Hokkaido Adventure Days 21 & 22

Monday 15th July
Sapporo to the ferry

We camped at A, drove to B to meet with friends, and
C was the ferry terminal.
For the last time this trip, we packed up our camp, and headed to northern Sapporo to meet up with another OMF family. This family is one of the few in Hokkaido (with our mission) who have children similar ages to our kids (most of the families up there have very young children). 

I regret that I forgot to take my camera out at anytime that day with our friends, so we have no photos whatsoever of our time with them.

It was a public holiday, so their children, who are in Japanese public school, were home. Being a hot day, we decided to go to a small water park on the west of the city. But of course, the rest of the city was also feeling hot and having a day off, so it seemed as though half of Sapporo was there (which, of course, couldn’t have been the case as there are 2 million people in the city). It was crowded, just like it would be in Tokyo, but we’ve apparently gotten used to that kind of crowdedness, unlike our English-New Zealand Sapporo-dwelling colleagues. I guess that is something of a comfort.

There was a smallish wave pool that only ran for ten minutes every half hour. To watch it was to see a sea of black heads rise up and down. Over the top of the crowded joy, there were four or five lifeguards frantically blowing their whistles and shouting directions into their megaphones. They were somewhat distressed because few people were taking notice of them!

After a hot start, the day didn’t get much over 22 degrees and, sitting in the shade, I didn’t feel hot enough to have a swim. I’ve grown to be like my Mum—only interested in swimming when it’s really hot. So I mostly just talked with our friends.

In the mid-afternoon clouds came over and a breeze whipped up, the crowds started to thin and we gathered up our family too, for we had a boat to catch. We were to board the ferry at 5.30 in Tomokomai, about an hour or so away. So we said farewell and took off for the final leg of our Hokkaido Adventure.

On the way to the ferry we were looking for some take-away dinner to eat after we’d boarded (saving an expensive dining-room meal). We discovered an Aeon Mall (the closest Japan seems to get to Western-style malls) with a Subway, so we dashed in an bought some take-away Subs.

Strolling on the ferry's upper deck.
This ferry was even more luxurious than the one we’d traveled on three weeks earlier, as it was newer. This time, though, we shared a room with others. However, the way it was designed, we rarely saw the others. The room had a central aisle with aisles off each side, each aisle containing two bunks, either at floor level, or up a few stairs and above the bunk in the neighbouring aisle. Each bunk had a pull-down blind that made you invisible to outsiders. Very cosy!

My youngest son kindly demonstrating the bunk's privacy blind.
After settling in, we ate our take away dinner and went off to experience the Japanese-style baths. Then I read the second last chapter of The Hobbit to the boys before we all crashed in bed; it had been a big couple of days!
The cabin on the ferry with one of its
aisles. Two of my boys slept here.

Tuesday, 16th July
Ferry to the beach in Sendai.


Everyone slept in the next morning: we were all quite relaxed by this stage in our journey. We eventually made it to the buffet breakfast in the restaurant at about 8am. After breakfast we played games in our cabin for a bit and then it was time to pack up again and disembark.

Arrival in Honshu didn’t prove to be a heat blast as we had expected, the temperature being very similar to Sapporo the day before. We were headed to an old OMF cabin at the seashore, not too far from the ferry terminal, but stopped at another Aeon Mall to pick up some groceries before we got there.

It was odd to be buying food to go into a refrigerator! Additionally the store had self-checkout, the first time I’ve seen that in Japan. So I tried it out with my helpful youngest son. It got a bit messy because the computer was very precise and we didn’t have quite the right amount of bags, so it was hard to pack as we went, but we made it through, hopefully without ripping off the store or being ripped off ourselves.
The cabin we stayed in. It's over 100 years old.
The cabin, after we'd cleaned (lots of spiders, and
and their poop).

We’ve never stayed in the OMF cabins at Sendai, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but we were a bit shocked with what we found. It was hard to look past the dirt and insects, the spiders and their webs. I spent ages vacuuming and cleaning. Upstairs in the bedrooms it felt worse because the mattresses were dirty. After travelling around in our clean tent, and being self-sufficient with all our kitchen implements that we knew were clean (and worked), it wasn’t that fun. An hour or so after arriving we adjourned for lunch and the boys weren’t happy about staying. But we persuaded them we would manage, at least for one night.

The view. We struck mostly rainy days.

The beach. Not much to boast of by Queensland
standards, but the two younger boys loved it. Our
eldest didn't go near the beach. He hates the sand.

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