Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sapporo Snowmobile

It started snowing in earnest when I was at Hokkaido during my Hokkaido 8day tour. JC, our tour guide, suggested that if we wish to, he can bring us to the Sapporo Snowmobile instead of the ice-cream factory visit. We all agreed that the snowmobile is more interesting than the ice-cream factory visit, even though we need to pay this ourselves. I never imagined that it could be so much fun. :p


The above picture is the reception of the Sapporo Snowmobile. Rental of one seater snowmobile will cost about 10,000 yen. Rental of a double seater snowmobile is 15,000 yen. They actually ban girls from driving the double-seater snowmobile. Girls can ride the single ones, but the instructors there are afraid the girls will not have enough strength to handle the double-seater. You need at least one guy in-order to rent the double-seater. According to the tour guide, we have about an hour to "play" with the snowmobile. The instructors there will teach us how to operate it. There was a family who didn't join us so they went to walk around the area, and started building snowman. :D

Pay the rental, grab a helmet and a pair of gloves, and you're ready to go. Note that you must dress warmly for this occasion. Even with the gloves provided by them, my hands were practically freezing. I believe the temperature up there was close to -8 degrees that day.


The above are the snowmobiles I rode on. The ones in front are the one-seater snowmobile. The bigger one behind is the double-seater. Before we started, the instructors briefed us on some ground rules like no overtaking, keeping a safe distance, using the brakes, etc. One of the instructions was that no taking photos when you're driving the snowmobile. Oh well... :p The instructors all speak Japanese only. I can understand a bit, but luckily, our friendly tour guide was there to translate for us. After that, we were ready to go.

We were warned that we have to press the accelerator gently but one thing they never did warn us was that the engine takes some time to rev up. The trick is to press the accelerator until you feel your snowmobile move slightly. After that, just keep the same pressure. It will move off. If you increase the pressure, your snowmobile will lurch forwards. That's what happened to me. :p

We started off at a big field where we started to go about in circles. Turning left is harder for the double-seater snowmobile. Just needed some time to get used to it. We started turning quite a few rounds. The instructor snowmobile was in front and all we had to do was follow him. Suddenly, he veered off the circles we were going and started going up the mountain. I had no idea that the trip includes going up the mountains. It's hard to describe the fun I had going up the mountain. We also did some speeding across a stretch of flat land. Shiok...


The above picture was taken at one of the stops we had. Some of us in the tour group also started throwing snowballs at each other. :p We stopped at some places to take photos, and rest.


By the time we came down, the sun was shining once again. It was snowing slightly when we started. The experience is something that I will remember. In fact, I would say its the most memorable event for me for this tour. Its really money well-spent.

4 comments:

Yvonne said...

Chanced upon your blog while surfing on Hokkaido. Can I check with you whether is the snow-mobile easy to navigate? I will be going Hok with my mom next week and it's just the two of us. Was wondering whether we can navigate the snow-mobiles and snowtubing skiing stuff?

chantc said...

Like I mentioned in my post, both of you can only rent the single seater snow mobile. I'm not sure if there's a difference between the double seater and single seater but it was difficult for me to turn. I guess it's dependable on your strength. You'll also need to know Japanese because the instructors there don't speak a word of English. All instructions are in Japanese. The instructors will follow you though throughout that hour.

I'm not sure about the snowtubing. Didn't try that.

I'm assuming you're going to the same place that I went. :)

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