On the third day, we checked out of our hotel and headed for Asahikawa.The snow was really thick that day; Mark skidded the car a few times and it was a nerve-wrecking experience for me sitting in the front passenger seat. The ladies were too sound asleep to feel anything though.

Look at the amount of snow covering the cars

Look at the amount of snow covering the cars

Braving the snow

Braving the snow

On the road

On the road

Ignorance is bliss

Ignorance is bliss

We took a short stop at Otaru to grab a quick bite. Mark and Meiyen were determined to go back for the charcoal-grilled scallops which we missed narrowly the night before. Rachel and I tried the two-coloured Hokkaido corn which tasted delightfully sweet. We also visited LeTao and bought some chocolates. A few of the service staff at LeTao were Taiwanese who spoke Mandarin to us. It felt really warm to finally be able to communicate with someone in Japan as I don’t speak Japanese.

The presence of Mandarin-speaking sales staff in upmarket Japanese shops reflected the increased economic importance of China around the world. It was interesting to note there were more tourist signboards and announcements in Mandarin rather than English in Japan.

Fresh, charcoal-grilled scallop

Fresh, charcoal-grilled scallop

Operation Scallop - mission accomplished!

Operation Scallop – mission accomplished!

yummy two-colour corn

yummy two-colour corn

delicious two-colour corn

delicious two-colour corn

Would Totoro like some corn too?

Would Totoro like some corn too?

Braving the cold to make snowman

Braving the cold to make snowman

Dancing toy cats outside a 1000 yen shop

Dancing toy cats outside a 1000 yen shop

LeTao chocolate art

LeTao chocolate art

LeTao counter staff

LeTao counter staff

LeTao chocolates

LeTao chocolates

After Otaru, we headed for Asahiyama Zoo (旭山動物園) to catch the penguin march – the highlight of our programmes for the day. It did not disappoint! Coming from a tropical country, it was really amazing to see cold-climate animals like penguins and polar bears roaming about freely in open-air enclosures as opposed to the giant fridges at the Singapore Zoo.

At the zoo entrance

At the zoo entrance

open-air penguin enclosure

open-air penguin enclosure

Lots of people vying to see the penguins

Lots of people vying to see the penguins

Many penguins

Many penguins

Penguins cleaning themselves

Penguins cleaning themselves

Bunch of King Penguins

Bunch of King Penguins

Nice fur

Nice fur

Sunbusking

Sunbusking

Baby King Penguin

Baby King Penguin

Front view

Front view

Two Rockhopper Penguins

Two Snares Penguins

A Snares Penguin cleaning itself

A Snares Penguin cleaning itself

A lazy penguin

A lazy penguin

A Galapagos Penguin

A Humboldt Penguin

Group of Humboldt Penguins

Group of Humboldt Penguins

A diver in the penguin enclosure feeding them

A diver in the penguin enclosure feeding them

swimming penguins

swimming penguins

strange looking marine fish

strange looking marine fish

fierce-looking red fish

fierce-looking red fish

Colourful puffer fish

Colourful puffer fish

Japanese crane

Japanese crane

At the polar bear enclosure

At the polar bear enclosure

Polar bear

Polar bear, not carpet

Standing tall and proud

Standing tall and proud

Theres two of them

There’s two of them

resting on a rock

resting on a rock

Up close

Up close

Two polar bears playing

Two polar bears playing

Taking a leisurely stroll

Taking a leisurely stroll

Shiok-looking expression

Shiok-looking expression

Sad brown bear

Sad brown bear

At the seals and sea lions enclosure

At the seals and sea lions enclosure

Clowning around

Clowning around

A sea seal popping its head out of the water

A sea seal popping it’s head out of the water

Hello!

Hello!

underwater view

underwater view

Fatty sea lion

Fatty sea lion

Posing the the sea lions

Posing with the sea lions

Cute vending machines

Cute vending machines

As we arrived rather late, we had only about one hour to tour the entire zoo, minus the time spent watching the penguin march. Hence we visited only the cold-climate animals and skipped all the tropical animals. An observation made was that cold-climate species of the same animal tend to be bigger in size, probably because of thicker fur.

Rawrrrrrrr

Arctic Lion

Arctic Lion

Snow cheetah

Snow cheetah

Snow leopard

Snow leopard

Siberian tiger

Siberian tiger

Irritated by gawking tourists

Irritated by gawking tourists

Desperate red panda which fell into a moot and couldnt get out

Desperate red panda which fell into a moot and couldn’t get out

Another red panda

Another red panda

Two more red pandas up the tree

Two more red pandas up the tree

Japanese wolves trail - as they are already extinct, there are only images

Japanese wolves trail – as they are extinct; there are only images

A snow wolf

A snow wolf

Smiley looking snow fox

Smiley looking snow fox

At the monkey enclosure

At the monkey enclosure

Rachel, me and the monkeys

Rachel, me and the monkeys

Can tell the monkeys are very cold

Can tell the monkeys are very cold

Hurdling together for warmth

Huddling together to keep warm

Another neatly hurdled group

Another neatly huddled group

Commiting obscene acts

Committing obscene acts

The orang-utans enclosure was closed - probably hiding from the cold

The orang-utans enclosure was closed – probably hiding from the cold

The penguin march was an exhilarating experience for all of us. Two long rows of people lined the path of the penguin march in a circular loop from their enclosure. The penguins were followed closely by zookeepers who ensure they do not stray and make it safely throughout. Two species of penguins were in the march – the King Penguins which generally walked in a straight line, minding their own businesses; and the inquisitve Gentoo Penguins which seems to enjoy interacting with human beings.

Long queues to see the penguins march

Waiting for the penguin march

excited kids

excited kids

Here comes the stars!

Here comes the stars!

lalalalalala

“lalalalalala”

King Penguins minding their own business

King Penguins minding their own business

The smaller, mischievious Gentoo Penguin leading the King Penguins pack

The smaller, mischievous Gentoo Penguin leading the pack

Please stand behind the red line!

“Please stand behind the red line!”

Rachel was very excited

Rachel was very excited

Strolling along

Strolling along

Uncle behind Rachel trying to camwhore

Uncle behind Rachel trying to camwhore

Heads up high

Heads up high

A closer look

A closer look

Keep to the line!

Keep to the line!

Get off my turf!

Get off my turf!

A naughty Gentoo Penguin straying from the formation

A naughty Gentoo Penguin straying from the formation

Bouncing along

Bouncing along

Rachel, me and the penguins

Rachel, me and the penguins

Rachel went totally gaga over the penguins, trailing them all the way, running down the path to catch them as they marched their way down. A few of the naughtier Gentoo Penguins got really close to the audience till they were made to fall back into formation by their zookeepers.

We left the zoo very satisfied and thrilled with getting to interact up close with penguins in their natural climate. Now, we have hunger tummies to fill. To accomplish that, we headed to a ramen town which is near to our hotel for the night – Loisir Hotel.

Japanese ramen are fantastic! Rachel and I had a very satisfying lunch. There are three flavours for Japanese ramen – miso, soy and shio (salt). I tried the miso ramen while she took the soy ramen.

After unloading our luggage at the hotel, we set off to do some shopping in Asahikawa. Following our routine the previous two nights, we made a stop at the supermarket to sweep some discounted food for dinner.

That night, we went to sleep feeling very full and satisfied with the food and experiences.

At the ramen town

At the ramen town

Some ramen shrine

Some ramen shrine

We ate at this restaurant

We ate at this restaurant

Inside the ramen restaurant

Inside the ramen restaurant

Our ramen lunch

Our ramen lunch

Miso Ramen

Miso Ramen

Soy ramen

Soy ramen

Marks serving with extra char siew

Mark’s serving with extra char siew

Loisir hotel automated multi-storey carpark

Loisir hotel automated multi-storey carpark

loading the car

loading the car

Up it goes for storage!

Up it goes for storage!

checking in

checking in

hotel room

hotel room

Shopping for fruits

Shopping for fruits

Nice Japanese fruit beverages

Nice Japanese fruit beverages

Our dinner spread

Our dinner spread

Some prawn that Mark likes to eat

Some prawn that Mark likes to eat

Ebi tempura bento lunch

Ebi tempura bento

Beef tendon

Beef tendon

sushi

sushi

giant barbequed chicken thigh

giant barbequed chicken thigh

Hokkaido grapes

Hokkaido grapes

Creamy sponge cake desert

Stay tuned for my day 4 blog entry. 🙂 Meanwhile, you can read my previous blog entries on the trip if you have missed them:

Day 1 – Kansai Airport, Hokkaido

Day 2 – Skiing, Otaru

Day 1 – Kansai Airport, Hokkaido

Day 2 – Skiing, Otaru

Day 3 – Asahikawa, Asahiyama Zoo

Day 4 – Sledding, Shiroi Koibito, Crab Buffet

Day 5 – The 60th Sapporo Snow Festival

Day 6 – Staying with the Asai, Shōnan

Day 7 – Ueno, Tokyo

Day 8 – Shibuya and Akihabara, Tokyo

Day 9 – Ikeda, Osaka

Day 10 – Kobe

Day 11 – Kyoto

Day 12 – Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and Dotonbori

Day 13 – Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge and Mt. Rokko

Day 14 – Return to Singapore

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