Thursday 14 March 2013

Japan - Tokyo to Hakuba

Mount Fuji
I just got back from an amazing trip snowboarding in Japan, I only decided to book the trip a few days before I left, I think its really the way to travel, you don't really bother trying to look around where to stay or what to do you just go... I went by myself, its pretty hard to find friends that can go book a trip so last minute, anyways its great traveling by yourself, you get to do what ever you want and you meet way more people, because really who wants to walk around, snowboard, eat or drink by themselves.  I took the morning flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo with Cathay Pacific. Whenever I fly now I order a special meal, it actually works out pretty well, you get served first, and if your still hungry you can always ask for an extra meal, even though the food is pretty gross! I used to fly a lot to China for work and a flight attendant suggested that I do this because I was so tired of getting the breakfast with the soggy eggs, grey sausage, and tasteless tomato. There's usually about 15 meals to choose from so you can order something new each time you fly.

Getting to Hakuba 

The flight took around 4 hours to Haneda airport in Tokyo. At the airport I was met by my driver for my 5 hour drive to Hakuba.  I booked my car through  CHUOTAXI it cost ¥11,400 (per person) for 1 way, its a van that can carry around 10 people.  The other option to get to Hakuba is take the train from the airport to the Shinkansen (bullet train) and then take the Shinkansen to Nagano, then take a bus to Hakuba, this is about ¥1000 cheaper.  If you are coming from Narita airport there is a bus which goes directly to Hakuba which cost around ¥9900.
yum bourbon cookie snack in the car

The drive through Tokyo takes ages, it's confusing, if I had to drive I am sure I would take the wrong exit and never get going in the correct direction again (Luckily I was not). We drove for about 2 hours and stopped at rest stop. I was starving by this point and ordered Tom cat su with finely sliced cabbage and rice and sauce.  Luckily the driver followed me in and helped me find the correct button on the vending machine to order my meal.  2 minutes later it was ready (it didn't actually come out of the vending machine, the vending machine just sends the order to the restaurant)
my vending machine meal Tonkatsu, miso soup and pickles

After lunch we continued on the way to Hakuba, and I start to wondering when I will actually see some snow! We drove for another hour or so and I saw one little patch of snow, then we stop at the next rest area and right when we pull out the snow starts to appear on the sides of the roads, and with each tunnel we went through a little more. There are so many tunnels on the way I tried to count but completely lost count, it seemed like we drove through about 100. On another note I kept seeing signs on the side of the road to watch out for monkeys, I wonder are they like deer do they hurl themselves out in front of your car. Do monkeys cause a lot of accidents each year in Japan?

Mt. Hakuba Backpackers
We drove through Nagano then about 20 minutes later we arrived in Hakuba at my hostel Mt Hakuba Backpackers, walked in threw my stuff in my very small share room, walked downstairs met some people walking out the door and went to dinner with them.... (see next post)

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