From Hakodate, we travelled along the southern coast to arrive at Noboribetsu at close to 2pm, a journey that took four hours.
Noboribetsu is famous for its onsen (hot spring). A one night stay here breaks our long journey to Furano. We were too early to check into our hotel and the friendly lady at the tourist information office recommended a famous soba restaurant down the road for lunch. The owner, seeing our large group, waved us away, claiming that he had run out of soba. Dejected, we moved to a Chinese ramen restaurant a few doors away, where we were greeted by a friendly elderly couple. (I would rather give my business to a friendly proprietor any time.)
After lunch, we went back to the tourist information office where our car was parked. Our next destination was Hell Valley, aptly named for its steaming pond and geyser. I told the group I’ll walk and meet them there, a seven-minute walk from the tourist office. As we parted, I told them, “See you in hell!”The sulphur smell that greeted us at the park was not unpleasant. The park, a short stroll away from the car park is easily accessable for the old folks.
A short drive away from Hell Valley is Oyunuma, a steaming pond. A sign pointed to a hot stream 15 minutes walk away where you can actually soak your feet. We didn’t, because the people in my group are not walkers, preferring to drive even for a five-minute distance.After viewing all the hot springs, we couldn’t wait to get back to our hotel for a soak.
Our hotel, Noboribetsu Grand, has large indoor and an outdoor onsens, with different recipes of hot spring pools for all sorts of ailments (even one for menopause). I declined to join the group for their soak. Yes, I am not used to being totally naked in front of strangers or friends but more so because I don’t fancy soaking in hot water. After all, I left behind humid Singapore to enjoy the cold weather.
But I did visit the onsen (yes, totally naked!) before I left Hokkaido so that I can blog all about it. (Later!)