Slow Train to Sapporo

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Sep 02, 2010

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Where I stayed
Best Western Hotel Fino

Flag of Japan  , Hokkaido,
Friday, August 27, 2010

It wasn't that slow of a train but it made quite a few stops.  Not a lot of excitement today at all.

I slowly packed up this morning, alternating reading with packing.  I tried to save the charging battery and drying socks for last.  It is amazing:  I washed the sox yesterday morning and the thick ones were still wet, not damp, wet, and starting to get that moldy smell.  I was out by the 10 am check out time and back over to the station for my 11 am train to Sapporo.  I was a little disappointed that the scenery wasn't that different and that my window seat was on the opposite side to the ocean.

We pulled into Sapporo station at 3:15, I walked (with difficulty because my bags are so burdensome) to the hotel and checked in.  When will I learn to pack light!  Then I went back to the station to try the tourist information.  I got a bunch of brochures and some advice on which of the national parks I should visit.  Somehow I limited myself by not leaving enough time for it.  Perhaps I should only have stayed overnight in Hakodate and left noon time.  Well, I am set for going to Noboribetsu Onsen and Hell Valley tomorrow and then I will spend my last 2 days in Sapporo. 

 I read that Sapporo is a relatively new city.  It is big (to me) at 1.3 million according to Frommers guide.  Here, near Sapporo Station, is the center of town with lots of modern skyscrapers and public sculptures.  I haven't had any luck finding an ATM machine but have a map to one near the hotel for tomorrow morning.  There may be dingier parts of Sapporo but it is quite spiffy around here - tons of shopping centers, especially underground.  There also seems to be more piped music - jazz and western pop music - around.  Yesterday when I was having my hairy crab lunch, it was Margaritaville.  Some of the music today seemed like Olympic hero music - maybe because I remember the Olympics being in Sapporo. 

So after getting my ticket, I went to find some lunch and thought noodles would be good so I had two kinds on a basket.  I think I should have gotten more instructions on how to eat.  I try to watch other people, but sometimes I am left to my own devices.  I had great shears yesterday for the crab and a picking instrument.  I totally forgot about the chopsticks for picking up the crab meat that I had extricated with the other tools.  Oh, well, there goes the Western reputation again.

I have one other major observation that I haven't included up til now...I don't think.   Cyclists.  Here cyclists ride on the sidewalk.  It is frightening sometimes to look up and see a bicycle heading toward you.  People tend to be very good about not crossing the street when the walk sign is not on, but I have yet to figure out what the convention is for walking on the sidewalk.  Most time it appears that you should walk on the left.  There are sometimes different lanes for pedestrians and cyclists but most cyclists don't seem to pay attention to those.  I haven't seen any accidents...I wouldn't dare to ride a bike here because I know I don't have reflexes that fast. 

Today I was walking down a sidewalk (most have markers separating the sides) and the person in front of me was walking on the right side - so I did too.  Just when I remember to get on the left, somehow everything changes.  The escalator etiquette is for people to stand on one side only so that people can pass on the other.  I have seen the standers on either side, or sometimes both sides.  I am having difficulty figuring out the rules.  Yun Hui told me in Seoul that there had been a change in policy and that people were supposed to stay to the right but, since they weren't used to it, they didn't always do it.  I think the same must be holding true here as well.

Since it is only 7 pm, I may try to upload some photos.  I haven't been able to download the quick photo uploader so I have had to do them individually.
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