11 May 2015
The buffet breakfast in the hotel was not as exciting as the others we had before. But who cared if it was included in the overnight package.
This morning we were again greeted by the warm and cheerful sun. We visited two waterfalls just outside the town of Sounkyo. Following the information we found earlier on websites, we drove to see the Kobako (small box) and Obako (large box) but we found nothing. The road to Kobako was long gone. As for Obako, it was more like an abandoned roadwork site.
Feeling betrayed by these websites, we decided to have some adventures on our own. Then we arrived at a dam where we saw snow capped mountains in a distance. It felt more like Switzerland than Japan!
The town centre of Sounkyo was very quiet during the day time. The business is not open until midday or the evening. No one wondered on the streets.
Our next stop was the Takinoue Moss Phlox Park. On the way to the Park, we stopped at a pump station to fill up the tank and took the chance to ask the serviceman at the station for recommendation for lunch. He said it would take only 10 minutes to the restaurant but we have spent over half an hour finding nothing! Luckily at the end it was an old lady speaking in Japanese (not English!) who gave us some hints so we were able to find the restaurant!
The restaurant was in a hotel, the only hotel in the town. They offer ordinary meals at very reasonable prices. Coffee and tea were free of charge. Service was excellent.
We only had very little time for the Takinoue Park because we have wasted over an hour looking for the restaurant! Entry fee was 500 yen per person. Even though it has not reached its full bloom, the Park already looked amazing with over 50% of it covered by pink mosses.
Seeing we still had a little bit of time left and we didn’t want to waste the gorgeous sunshine, we decided to go to see one more flower parks – the Tulip Park in Kamiyubetsu. Entry fee was 500 yen per person and we absolutely loved the park. The beauty is beyond words and you have to go there to see it yourself.
We checked in Okhotsk Palace Hotel at Monbetsu for the night. It is a typical business hotel with free WiFi everywhere, you can’t complain any more. Monbetsu is famous for drift ice, a yearly phenomenon which reaches the city every January or February from the northern Sea of Okhotsk. But we came in May and the weather has been quite warm. The hotel is not far from the sea but it was too dark for us to make a visit.
We have intended to venture to nearby restaurants, but the one recommended by the front desk lady was full and the others were Japanese pubs for locals serving wine.
We eventually returned and took our dinner in the hotel restaurant.