The Sapporo Sunflower

With the 100km to cycle from Tsukigata to Tomakomai to make our ferry on time, we set off early cutting a strange and complicated route. Using the might of Google Maps, we navigated our way along the flat, rice paddy filled plains, cycling into the pleasantly still air and making excellent time. The sun came out one last time in Hokkaido, and became almost too intense. Almost.
The closer we got to the coast, the cooler it became, until a low mist had formed and sticky moisture clung to every surface.

We reached the ferry with time to spare, and went for a spot of shopping at the local Aeon mall. Aeon’s a decent supermarket, but when they build one of these enormous concrete monstrosities, filled with store upon store with screaming salespeople standing in each doorway, it becomes a race against time to get out as quickly as possible.
With the exception, of course, with a stop off in everyone’s favourite restaurant- Mr Donut.
Amazingly cool looking mascot aside, Mr Donut makes some pretty delicious donuts. But mainly I like the mascot.

Checking into the ferry was a simple affair once we found the right terminal. Ushered to the front of the queue, and first on board, we did what any respectable Japanese would do – headed straight for the onboard bath. I can’t think of any other country that would bother to install a full bath on a boat. Not that its not welcome- with windows overlooking the ocean, and a enormous hot bath to sink into, it certainly feels luxurious after a sweaty day in the saddle.
Sadly though the views from the window have a lot to be desired- Hokkaido seems to be giving us a parting gift- the thickest fog I’ve seen all trip. Hopefully the guy steering this has Google Maps too…

The ferry seems to come equipped with everything. Aside from the baths, there’s a restaurant, games room, and even a cinema. A shame that they showed only the worst of Denzel Washington’s latest films, dubbed into Japanese with English subtitles…

The rooms here are also of a mixed bag- the “economy” room we’re in is similar to the rider’s house we stayed in recently- a dorm room type set up sleeping up to 40 people, shoulder to shoulder. Its not overly busy, which means a bit more space, but even if it were full, it would certainly be manageable. Unless you’re sleeping next to a fatty. That would be less fun.
Speaking of which, I can’t believe there’s not more obesity in Japan. The quantity of fried food on sale would soon have me pushing maximum density if it weren’t for the amount of cycling I were doing.
Perhaps its the level of self restraint people have.

Ah, but now its approaching 10pm, its time for bed. Time to snuggle up and get to know my neighbour….

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  1. Well done, guys. It has been the most interesting and exciting tour to follow!

    Now I too feel the tension in me easing, as if I had just completed a great work.
    Bon voyage and good night.

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