A long overdue Japan backpack trip post: Tokyo – Sapporo

It’s not easy to find someday to travel with, let alone backpacking. Don’t we all love to travel in comfort and in style while still having it being affordable? Oh well, there are times where we just need to compromise and gain new experiences.
So in the year 2015, I was thinking of how can I plan my travel holiday for the year. There was already 1 for the year with my then company. Planned another to Hanoi with my friends. So I’m left with the 2nd half of the year with nothing. I didn’t have any travelling plans for 2014. It felt like I needed to compensate. It’s an achievement to travel overseas once a year even though it could just be a neighbouring country like Singapore.
Initially there was a plan to go to Korea in September. Things changed, plan changed as well. One day, I just texted my brother if he is interested to go to Japan. All I had to do was to choose the dates and check for cheap tickets. Finding for a length of time that requires neither of us to take too many annual leaves, also didn’t want to get stuck in a Summer heat. Got us a return ticket that cost us about RM900 each in mid September. So excited after booking the tickets. My first time going to Japan and it’s gonna be 12 days long!
We could just be twins
One month before our flight, I received an email from AirAsia rescheduling our flight. They had changed our date to probably a day later with a different timing and a different airport. From reaching Tokyo in the morning, it became reaching at night. This arrangement got us to our first adventure upon reaching Tokyo. Each of us had 2 bags. So much for saving on checking in our bags. Trying to be as much of a backpacker as possible.

Of course my travel buddies followed me. Only Ka-cheng! gets to be out of the bad and absorb them airplane germs.

Although we save on check-in baggage, but one cannot save on food when it’s a 6-hour long flight. I need my food.

Tip: Always bring some extra dry food when you’re traveling on a plane be it a budget airline or a full fare airline. You’ll never know when you get hungry.

Reached Tokyo (Haneda Airport) around 11pm. Time to grab some food. On this trip, we were trying to save on whatever we can. Ya, that’s me being poor and cheap.

It’s just about filling the stomach anyway. A simple meal is good enough in the airport when we sort of can’t leave the airport until the next morning.

We spent the night in the airport and I slept on that spot until the cleaner came and started work around 5 – 6 am.
When we got into the airport, it was already almost 12am. Due to the change of flight time and the airport, we aren’t able to exchange our Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) as the office is obviously closed. There’s no point to get out of the airport on our own. Reason being,
1. Easy access to exchange the pass in the airport.
2. Have to search and pay for an accommodation if we went to Tokyo.
Yes, we did NOT booked any accommodation prior to this trip. It’s a spontaneous trip with no itinerary, just places of interest to visit. The only plan is to go with the flow. So we only paid for the plane ticket, the rail pass, and also exchange of currency for us to use.

Only foreigners are eligible to purchase this JR Pass. However you will need to purchase it before entering into Japan. I got ours at KLCC, they have an office there. At that time with the exchange rate, it costs us around RM1,650 each for 14 days. This pass only allows you to take any train within the JR network. They have a few other private-owned trains in Japan.
The first night of our adventure, we stayed overnight in the airport.
Once we’ve managed to exchange our rail pass, off we went to the city!
Since we are out early in the morning, most shops are still closed. All I wanted out of this trip is just to be in Japan. What I found out prior was that there’s a Pokemon Centre nearby. Commenced hunting for the centre.

It wasn’t as grand as I thought it would be. Maybe other centres would be different. Didn’t have the budget to grab some pokemons for myself too. It’s only the first day of the adventure.

One of the things I like about Japan is this smoking area. I like to breathe my fresh air.

Also, you’re not supposed to talk on the phone in the train. They have designated area for you to make or take your calls at the beginning of the coach. The scene is very familiar in a lot of places, everybody will bury their faces into their devices, reading materials, or just sleeping, or like me looking around and out at the scenery.
We hung around Tokyo city as my brother’s meet up with his friend is later in the afternoon. Going to popular tourist post it is!
Went to Shibuya, had no idea that there’s a Hachiko Exit to get the Hachiko statue. Walked one big round just to find that the exit is really really near and just there.

There was another attraction at the Hachiko statue. Apparently the statue has a cat friend that sits there for a long time.

Even when you go up close, the cat doesn’t budge. Now I don’t know where to cat has gone to.

After the meet up, we went to check out the timing for us to get the overnight train to Sapporo!

With the rail pass, we can just hop on and off and even make reservation on the bullet train (if there’s still space available). We needed to get to Shin-Aomori and take the overnight train to Sapporo.
Got our meals settled. Something good about the bullet train is that they have toilets and power plugs for you to charge your laptop or whatever. I brought my multi-port with me and the charging of electronic device begins.

This is totally a candid shot. Ka-cheng! getting all snuggled up and keeping me warm at the same time.
Going up north, the temperature began to drop. Once the sun sets,  the temperature went further down.
For us to get to Sapporo, we sat on an old school train. This time, there wasn’t any reserved seats. It was so much colder in the middle of the night. At least, we didn’t have to cramp and managed to get some sleep in between the cold.

Train enthusiasts waited at the end of the platform to capture of photos before boarding.

Rise and shine in Sapporo. This is only the 2nd day out of our 11-day trip (excluding the day we landed). It’s cardio time. The weather was lovely. Slightly chill with lots of fresh air.

Our breakfast were the leftovers from the night before. It seems like eating just to get by was enough for us, for me at least. Wanted to have something fancy and try their ramen. The allowance for fancy food was once a day. Not too bad I would say. Found this ramen shop. Looks quite familiar.

True enough, they have a branch in Pavilion, KL.

It’s nothing special. Just your normal Japan ramen. I enjoyed the experience of having them in Japan. HaHa! Spent more time walking around, exploring the city.

We took the night train back to Shin-Aomori. That’s how we saved 2 night of accommodation.
Next sequel on this trip will be about the main highlight of the whole event. How things changed drastically as an event unfolds.
‘Nuff said. Till then! 


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