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Escaping the city heat (better known as summer vacation) V

Day 6 - Wakkanai, and the drive south

View Summer Vacation 2006 on agc_cwm's travel map.

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When our ferry from Rebun arrived in Wakkanai, we said goodbye and good luck to the people we'd met at the hostel, and went to the information booth to figure out how we could get the the airport from the terminal. The person at the booth didn't speak English, and some helpful Japanese man standing nearby interjected and started helping us out. We finally figured out that we could take a bus to the airport. We lugged our bag outside and over to the nearest bus stop we could find. Andrew went back into the terminal to get another one of those really small coffees, and I sat outside with the bags. I realized two of the women that were on the boat with us were in line behind me, and they then bolted to another bus stop nearby, where a bus was just pulling up. Andrew was walking back from the terminal with his coffee, and I shouted to him "I think that other bus is going to the airport." He ran over to check, and indeed, it was. He ran back over, grabbed his bag, and we ran to get on the bus. We actually didn't have to run, but you never know. Andrew ended up leaving his coffee somewhere in the process, so he didn't get to enjoy it.

The bus to the airport took about 20 minutes. We got there and Andrew went to the rental desk to get our car. They gave him a phone number and told him to call it. He called the number, and was told "Someone's coming." Ok. Someone's coming with our car, we thought. Someone arrived, and gestured to us to follow him. We got into a van (yeah, that sounds safe), which took us to the Mazda rental office just down the road. After a lot of nodding, and some impressive Japanese usage on Andrew's part, we finally got the car. We got some instructions from the rental guy on how to use the navigation system, and, after we loaded our stuff and got ourselves organized, we were on our way.

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We headed north to Soya Misaki, the northernmost point in Japan. We stopped along the way for some konbini bento, drove past an enormous windfarm (at least 50 turbines were visible from the road), and finally reached the point. We only stopped there for a few minutes, took a couple of pictures, and started driving south again. You can't very well be that close to the northernmost point in Japan and not visit, right?

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We wanted to put another route into the navigation system, but for some reason it wasn't letting us do it. We decided we'd just get on the road and figure out the computer as we went. Well, after driving for a while it still wasn't letting us do anything, so we stopped at a gas station for some help. The attendant came over and sat in the driver's seat and pulled up the parking brake. Oh yeah! That's what we weren't doing. Problem solved.

We continued driving, passing a scallop packing plant. You know how woodmills have piles of sawdust outside? Well, scallop packing plants have piles of scallop shells of comparable size. No joke. We also passed lots of farms, fields, and cows. Even the smell of manure filled the air a couple of times. I didn't think that smell would ever bring tears of joy to my eyes.


After about three and a half hours of driving, we finally arrived in Daisetsuzan. We had called ahead to confirm our reservation at Daisetsuzan Shirakaba-sō Youth Hostel, and to tell them we would be having supper there that night. When we arrived, somehow our reservation from two months previous had been screwed up, and they had put us in dorm rooms when we had reserved a private room. This was frustrating, but we had no other affordable options of places to go, so we toughed it out. Plus the natural hot spring bath (the drawing point of Asahidake Onsen) was a nice feature, and the rooms were really clean.
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That night we had another typical Japanese meal: fish, rice, miso soup, and melon for dessert. We also met a guy from the UK and another guy from the Netherlands who were travelling around Japan. We sat and chatted with them for a while, played some cards, onsenned and went to sleep.

Posted by agc_cwm 18:32 Archived in Japan

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