Thursday, September 24, 2009
Hokkaido!.... Daisetsuzan National Park
I waited out some bad weather in the morning, then headed towards Asahikawa. But Asahikawa was not the destination, just a mere rest stop before heading to Daisetsuzan National Park. The weather went from bad to worse, and I decided to fuck up my budget and stay in a hotel. Of course, the minute I booked a room at the Toyoku Inn, the clouds parted. And for being the 2nd biggest city in all of Hokkaido, Asahikawa is kind of lame. Except for the ramen and this place.
Had some beers at the Taisetsuzan brewery, which is actually more of a family restaurant than a nice place to drink beer. Who brings their kids to a brewery? Cut that shit out people!
Next morning headed out and drove the length of the national park. Here's the route:
The roads: Bibai -> 12 -> Asahikawa -> 39 -> 140 -> 295 -> 140 -> 39 -> 273 -> 85 -> 1088
Its gorgeous here.
Ended up at this campground.
With this free onsen next to the river. This is the life, 20 minutes in a bath, eat some snacks, 20 minutes in a bath, study a bit, 20 minutes in a bath, take a nap, 20 minutes in a bath, sleep. Feel free to add booze to every comma mark there.
Using the camp as a base, I spent a day exploring a 100km radius. First, a nice long dirt road into the remote mountains for this!
Ok, on paper it looks like an unbelievable place. I don't know who built this, but they did it up proper. Just me, nature, and a hot bath. So relaxing! But...
It's hella hot. The source is almost 100 degrees Celsius. So basically boiling. There is a valve for hot onsen water and one for cold river water. But the valve is either rushing torrent ON, or no water OFF. The balance is really hard. Wouldn't be too bad, just takes some time. Lie out in the sun and wait for that perfect heat to build up. Except the bug of this leg of the trip is the buyo, which is some kind of biting Japanese horsefly. And remember, you are naked in an onsen situation. And the buyo bites.
No camping dude!
Also went to Obihiro, another large city in Hokkaido. Of course, the minute I park my bike I find an awesome Irish bar with a cool owner who told me the best place in town for Obihro style pork bowls. I would have stayed here, but the tent was already pitched miles away.
The Obihiro Pork Bowl was recommended by a student of mine. When I said I was going to Hokkaido, and I wanted suggestions, his eyes lit up. "Obihiro Pork!!!" Nothing else in all of Hokkaido, just eat up some of that pork.
In defense of my hungry student, this was some damn tasty pork.
Back to the camp, back to the onsen. Hung out with some Canadian dude who thinks that there is a big conspiracy to overthrow Western ideals, and that civilization as we know it is going to be plunged back into the dark ages.
Here's the thing I noticed though. In my life I've had long conversations with maybe 15 Canadian people. Out of those 15, 5 were bat shit crazy conspiracy theorists. One dude I met always wears yellow tinted glasses because he thinks that companies spend billions studying colors to put on their advertisements, and if you wear color tinted glasses you can negate their mind control. So, in my case, 1/3 of Canadians are, like, out there man. To be fair, 15 isn't a good sample size... and if I extend the study to westerners in general who come to Japan, 1 out of 10 people are crazy whack funky (sample size more like a few hundred). That's the end of my short rant.
Next time: Off to some lakes, Akanko, Kussharoko, and Mashuuko. That first one is the birthplace of Marimokori, the algae boy with a giant erection. What? Hokkaido is still part of Japan, remember?