Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bucketing Coconut Shavings

Am currently in Niseko, and it's been snowing like crazy. I've been told that it was snowing at a rate of 10cms/hr. Sometimes, powder is not your friend. One example is when you become marooned on a flat in knee-deep snow (in a roped off area) with nil visibility and nil helpers. I seriously thought I was going to die, a la Titanic (or similar) tragedy. Managed to 'save' myself after 15 minutes of seemingly futile wriggling/jumping/crawling/sobbing etc. And all I got out of that exercise was a pair of FOGGY GOGGLES!

Took the train to Sapporo yesterday for the Sapporo Snow Festival - very pretty sight despite the cold weather. However some of the sculptures were starting to have the Dali effect due to the unusually warmer weather (didn't feel warm to me):

Can't finish a blog with an Anpanman reference:

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Oishii = Delicious/Yummy

Today's blog title is courtesy of Andrew Murphy, and the lovely lady we met at the traditional tapas style Japanese restaurant.

Short entry today: too much saké and early start tomorrow morning to maximise the last day of boarding in Furano.

The day started with an extremely early bus ride to Asahiyama (1.5 hrs) to catch the "Penguin March" at Asahiyama Zoo. Below is the main road leading to the mountain, aka Furano Prince Snow resort. There is enough snow on the footpaths for us to sit on our boards and toboggan all the way back to our Pension - very convenient mode of transport after an entire day's worth of boarding.

Asahiyama was ridiculously COLD. Nice for penguins, polar bears etc ... not so nice for yellow-skinned Asian with bad circulation. Asahiyama Zoo is infamous for the marching penguins. This essentially involves a bunch of locked up Penguins that have been trained to walk between 2 pink tram lines. It was very kawaii (cute)... and the Japanese do seem to have a heightened appreciation for anything cute - lots of clapping and squealing. There were other extinct/rare animals locked up in various enclosures. Pacing was the common behaviour, including those of us that had to wait forever to use the SQUAT toilets *shudder* What are we?? Animals?? ;p
We did see some pretty funny things e.g. the male lion deciding to fart/pee at bystanders - there was some force in his expulsion; and the snow monkeys going at it with hammer and tongs. Both instances were greeted with clapping and squeals.

We bummed around Asahiyama city after the zoo. Despite the extremely cold weather and the heavy snowfall, people still insist on the minimalist look with the added effect of stiletto heels. How they don't catch pneumonia or slip on the very slippery, icy walkways is beyond me.

The day concluded with a fantastic dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant in Furano. Our host was, as with most Japanese hospitality, gracious, sweet and entertaining. We taught her elegant words such as: yummy, opera house and Melbourne Cup. She in turn gave us oishii (delicious/yummy) food, sake and origami as gifts. She was very cute, despite using the sake ember to stub her cigarette. But hey, for 320 yen per pack (less than $4 AUS) ... who can blame her.

The search for the elusive Anpanman toy in vending machine continues. I think I have all but for the crème de la crème

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Totemo Sagoi! (Very Fantastic)

We were treated to a full day's worth of snow fall. And not just the dandruff stuff, but the mega 6-fold dihedral symmetrical snowflakes. The generous conditions allowed us to engage in some riding through the trees. However, getting stuck in the thick snow (between trees) is NOT FUN.

In fact, it snowed so much that giant snowballs were starting to wreak havoc:

There has been a two-fold increase in the level of pain/soreness ... Wayne's crash in my kneecap did not help. Right knee is currently sporting a hard boiled egg. So tonight, I am relaxing in bed with not Asahi, but some cheap-ass Japanese "original brew" beer. Taste like VB ... guess all cheap beer taste the same huh?

Request for more snowboarding pictures has been acknowledged:

We started the day with Pension-provided brekkie (oh so healthy); and ended the day with sushi train.

The sushi train joint had vending machines jammed packed with Japanese goodies, including Anpanman and friends. We spent around 7 Aust dollars trying to score THE ANPANMAN ... but alas, all that spat out of the machine were his dodgy friends.

Think we might be going to the zoo tomorrow. Time for bed ...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Genki Genki!!!

Well my boots held up fine, but my feet did not follow suit. So to help with the pain and the acute body aches/soreness, I am sipping my 300 Yen Asahi beer in bed - available at one of the many vending machines littered around town.

The snow conditions here is amazing. Snow abundance! The feeling of that much soft snow under your feet is liberating and ... fun! However, my limited experience with 'power' means that there were plenty of stacking and carnage (leaving deep crevasses in the perfect terrain).

Lift tickets here are like stylised mug shots, except for Bretty's strategically positioned, perfectly posed model shot. Guess he had to live up to his 'handsome boy' tag - apparently some Japanese boys went up to him, looked him in the eye and said "handsome boy".

Speaking of homo behaviour, there's been much sharing/caring time amongst the boys in the naked communal baths/onsen. Will have to try and sneak in for a photo tomorrow.

Japanese cuisine has been oishi (delicious)! Standard issue consists of ramen of some variety, pork/red bean buns and curry of some variety. Taste tested the local lavender ice cream today .... interesting flavour.

Had dinner at an konomiyaki place, owned by the sweetest Japanese man. is an avid collector of all things American e.g. Star Wars, Coca Cola, McDonald's drive through signs etc. He was the most gracious host. He told us that we made him very happy. If only he knew how happy he made me.

Although Anpanman (everybody thinks he's ugly too Bec) has made a big play, I can't dismiss my old sentimental favourite ... PEKO!

Oh and Mindy, everybody reckons this stranger in this photo looks like you ...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Frigid Furano

I have never experienced this sense of endless snow, nor this type of arctic, sub-zero, walk outside and your face will go numb and your snot will freeze conditions. It is quite a sight. There is no relief from the snow. The scenery during our entire bus ride from Sapporo Airport to our Pension (Hotel) Ressha had one common element: never ending white stuff. That's 4 hours of continuous snow. You'd be lucky to get 5 minutes worth in Jindabyne.

We commandeered the bus; Sharlene was yet again back to her old (mummified) sleeping habits; and who eats ice cream in sub degree weather?

Anpanman has made a big play in the last few days. I've decided to purchase an Anpanman coin purse because: a) red bean is his constitution; b) Anpanman's friends are products of one of my fave trades:- bakery; and c) he has a massive head.

Our 1st day of boarding tomorrow. Will be interesting to see how my new boots perform. Speaking of performance, look who we bumped into today: