We drove eastwards from Noboribetsu to Furano. There are a few routes and instead of taking the toll highway, we decided to explore some of the smaller roads, which were more scenic. Along the way,we passed Sandaki, a three-layer waterfall.Most GPS would recommend the toll highway to Asahikawa and then down south to Furano, a longer but probably faster way due to the higher speed limit (80km/hr versus 50km/hr).
Furano is a farming district where most of the farms are located. It’s also here where you would find fields of lavender and other flowers blooming in July. Unfortunately, we were too early to witness any fields of purple.
We made the mandatory tourist stops to the cheese factory, wine factory and even Farm Tomita, the heartland of lavender (no flowers other than in the green house). The factories have generous samples for tasting where you can help yourself. We couldn’t buy any cheeses but we tried the various weird ice creams flavours at the ice-cream factory next door that we heard so much of – corn, pumpkin, etc. I didn’t like the wines but my companions bought a bottle for a celebratory drink for later in the hotel.
Nearby Furano is Biei, a scenic area for a lovely drive. There were a few recommended stops in Biei with names like Mild Seven Hill and Seven Star Trees which puzzled us. Upon reaching there then did we realized that this was where most of the cigarettes print advertisements (when they were allowed in the 70s) were photographed. I remembered driving along Biei and a scene from Salem High Country TV advertisement on RTM flashed through my mind. That’s why this place looked vaguely familiar.These places are worth visiting if you drive. We were there around sunset and the view was spectacular.One reason why the photographs for the tobacco advertisement were taken there could be that this used to be where the factories were located. (At least i thought I saw a road sign pointing to it.)
From Furano, we decided to drive an hour to Asahikawa Zoo just to visit the polar bears and penguins. I have visited many good zoos around the world (San Diego, Taipei to name a few) and I must declare, if not for Singapore’s humid weather, the Singapore Zoo is truly the best.Asahikawa Zoo is built on a hill and luckily, we were parked at the high north entrance, where we would later viewed the exhibits by walking down the hill. At the end of the visit, we left the seniors and the not so fit people in our group at the bottom – main entrance, while we fitter ones ran up the hill to get the car. I relished the exercise after all the ice creams and pastries we had been indulging ourselves.
Our two-night’s stay in Furano flew by quickly. I was delighted to meet up with my mother, who was travelling with my brother’s family at the same hotel in Furano. We met up previously in Sapporo and Hakodate by chance although I knew they would also be in Hokkaido at the same time, but had no idea that we were booked in the same hotel now in Furano. What is so special about this hotel? I shall tell you in my next post.