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Furano region with 4 days to play

Discussion in 'Japan' started by ACHAD, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    Hi all, wife and I have 4 days to warm up prior to commencing a power trip with black diamond. Arriving 28th December 2019. Considering Furano. Any accommodation anyone highly recommends? Was considering staying 2 days Furano and 2 days Tomamu but now thinking maybe best to just base ourselves in Furano and hire a car for 4 days to give us flexibility to head out to Tomamu and possibly Kamui for a day trip. Have done Tokachidake and Asahidake based in Furano previously yet not skied Furano! Given we have 4 days to burn what do people recommend? Will it be possible to ski Furano and transfer down to Niseko on the same day? Cheers for any advice.
     
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  2. grantn

    grantn Addicted

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    If you are hiring a car, which I think is a great idea, and staying in Furano then I don't think which accommodation you stay in is that critical. If you have a car and are a fair way from the lifts it won't matter - from memory the carparks at both bases at Furano are huge. We stayed at New Hakuginso. http://www.hakuginso.com/ It was a pretty standard Japanese pension, nice communal bath and cheap.

    I think another option to consider for a 4 day "warm up" is basing yourself in Sapporo and skiing Tiene and Kokusai. That way your transfer to Niseko may be easier and more efficient on your last day, simply because there are so many different bus companies that offer a Sapporo - Niseko transfer.
     
  3. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    Thanks Grant. Your suggestion of doing the local hills of Tiene and Kokusai make complete sense but we will more than likely be hitting these on our tour with black diamond that hits the road starting in Niseko. So I was keen to check out Furano for a couple of days and a day out to Tomamu and Kamui for something new. The only problem I am seeing is if I hire a car from Chitose it appears I can not drop the car off anywhere else and continue my journey. Looks like I need to return it back to the place of hire which is bit of a pain. Next problem I currently have is the last bus to Furano from Chitose is currently 6:20pm and our flight lands 6:30pm. We are on that new direct flight from Sydney with Qantas. Hopefully the bus company's will review their schedules based on these new flights. Might email them direct and inquire. Thanks for your help!
     
  4. blueandwhite

    blueandwhite One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Yes, we have this exact same problem albeit in late Feb. Hopefully they realise this flight exists and adjust their schedules when the season starts.
     
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  5. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    I am thinking of driving it now as I have found a rental that will allow me to drop vehicle off in a different location to the pick up. What is the travel time in winter that one should allow drive from Chitose to Furano at night time? If i plug it into google it comes up with 1hr 54min via E38 route. Is this realistic for winter and is this route ok to travel? The vehicle I am considering is Toyota Corolla Fielder. I am assuming vehicles they hire out in Hokkaido are suitable for the winter conditions?
     
  6. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    All Hokkaido vehicles in Winter have winter tyres -the entire region to the beach is blanketed in snow for most of the season. They’re not all 4WD, you need to drive accordingly.

    All routes vary due to weather and road conditions, but it shouldn’t be too far out from the google maps estimate. I haven’t driven Chitose to Furano, I went Niseko to Furano via Otaru. The highways are pretty incredible - I’ve often wondered how on earth Niseko took off with the shitty local roads when other resorts have these amazing raised highways to access them!

    They are toll roads, have your cash ready to go when you land if you are going straight there, including loads of coin.
     
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  7. grantn

    grantn Addicted

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    We have used a Fielder and it was fine.
    When we drove from Sapporo to Furano it was snowing heavily at times and it took us 3 hours, google estimated that at 2 hours.
    As LMB has said the freeways are excellent but give yourself more time than google says, in case its snowing heavily, poor visability or icy.
    Some car hire have ETC card readers and card hire which means you won't have to stop at the tolls to throw your coins in.
     
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  8. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Factor snow/blizzards into your travel time. We did a whole day between Furano and Niseko (via Sapporo/Otaru). It was white out conditions. I wouldn't bank on skiiing that day at Furano and then driving...eek. I'd allow 4 hours at least to drive.
     
  9. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Is he driving?
    I thought by transfer he meant a bus transfer...
    That gives even less time/flexibility.
     
  10. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Ohh, yes sorry, re-read and it states transfer. Any case, best allow the whole day as transit.
     
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  11. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    Sorry I actually meant self drive. Thoughts were to ski Furano until around 3pm and hit the road down to Kiroro so we can ski the following day.
     
  12. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    It’s all possible, absolutely. Me personally, I wouldn’t. By the time you pack up and leave at 3pm, then you are heading into night time driving (4:30-5:00pm) which is tiring, not to mention the day’s skiing efforts. Factor in likely snow and it’s a slog. I guess you could probably do a morning session, first lifts to 12pm, then drive would be better IMO if you are super keen on skiing. There is expressways which makes the drive a deal easier, however when we went it was hectic blizzard snow and these were close, so local roads were the only way.
     
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  13. nanami_JS

    nanami_JS Early Days

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    Hi guys, just booked flights for hubby and myself to Hokkaido. Will arrive in New Chitose on 30th Dec 230pm, considering driving up to Furano for 3 days skiing, and another 2 days based out of Otaru to check out Kiroro / Kokusai / Tenin. Is it a bit too ambitious?
     
  14. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Yes. Pick one area IMO.
     
  15. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    We did this trip a few years ago - 4 days Furano, 4 days tumamu

    You won’t be bored with 4 days just in Furano. It’s a big place.

    Car is good idea to get around as there are good restaurants down in the town.

    We stayed at Pension lavender - nice local run place, good breakfast, shared bathroom, nice lounge to relax in. Friendly and we met people we skied with whole there.
     
  16. nanami_JS

    nanami_JS Early Days

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    Thanks! Which one do you reckon? Furano or Otaru?
     
  17. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Furano.
     
  18. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    Thanks for all the responses! Trip is coming together. Hired a car and will be biting the bullet and driving from Chitose to Furano straight after we land so will not be hitting the road until 7:30pm! It is what it is......not ideal but I don't have many other options as our flight lands at 6:30pm and the last bus rolls out around 6:20pm to Furano. Will bring back memories of our late night drive from Calgary to Fernie through a blizzard. Will base ourselves in Furano for 5 nights for 4 days of skiing. Will have the car so will head over to Tomamu and Kamui for a day each and I imagine Furano will keep us well and truly busy for 2 days which probably deserves more. Decided to take the advice and take the heat off and use a full day for driving down to Otaru were we will drop the hire car off and head to Niseko for the start of our tour with BD. Does anyone suggest any good scenic things worth checking out on the way down? Is there much to see in Otaru? Also what is the best method to get to Niseko from Otaru late in the afternoon? Train or bus? Cheers
     
  19. blueandwhite

    blueandwhite One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I'd be very interested to get some feedback on this part of your trip when you get back. We're travelling in mid February and doing the same 630pm arrival flight into Chitose and then trying to head to Furano. Will have two kids with us (3 and 6) and we fly from Melb to Sydney, then change for the Sydney-Sapporo flight - so it's going to be a brutal day for the parents before we even arrive in Chitose. Tossing up between staying the night at Chitose and getting an early transfer the next morning or just getting a rental car and driving to Furano. If we stay at Chitose we effectively lose a day of skiing which would suck a fair bit. We're staying in Furano for 6/7 days and then having 4/5 days in Tomamu.
     
    ACHAD likes this.
  20. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    The train is also an option, but requires multiple changes and takes 200mins. I'd bit the bullet, get a hotel near the aiport and get a good nights sleep after your long day of plane travel. Then wake up fresh and early and get out to Furano for an afternoon or night ski!
     
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  21. LDJ

    LDJ One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I'm doing the opposite Tomamu first then Furano so when we arrive in CTS from BNE via Syd at 6.30pm we can get to Tomamu on the train that night relatively easily. I'm not missing a morning of skiing for anything...but we don't have kids so a lot easier for us.
     
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  22. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    Yes agree the more I think about it the more I wish I was on a bus after such a long day of flying also. I’m on the same flights. Driving at night through potential snow blizzard on unfamiliar roads is not much fun! I would be surprised if the bus company did not change their schedule for this new flight later in the year. Also I have just found out after booking my Toyota fielder wagon that there is no guarantee it will be AWD. They saying it will have snow tyres but can’t guarantee AWD. I am amazed that in such a country & conditions they would hire out 2WD vehicles full stop. Staying in a hotel at Chitose would be the logical choice but i am the same. Not going to forfeit 2 days of skiing. Looks like it’s going to be a long nights drive to Furano. Will just have to take it easy and be loaded on caffeine! Hopefully conditions are not brutal that night.
     
  23. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    IMO I’d only go to tomamu for a day if there is fresh snow. It’s south facing so cops the sun. Snow doesn’t stay fresh for long. Conditions will almost always be better at Furano.

    Going for a few days is ok as it’s worth the trade off for the drive.

    Having a car means you can drive into Furano every night for dins which is where the good places are
     
  24. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Who did you book the Fielder with? 90% it will be AWD or 4WD drive regardless, most cars are in Hokkaido. But I consider re-booking with a company that can guarantee its 4WD
     
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  25. telenomore

    telenomore One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I'd have to disagree with some of that. Plenty of good stuff in Tomamu for families and general skiers for 4 or more days IMO. Although I agree that "some" aspects are south facing, most of the resort inbounds doesn't get sun and the sidecountry skiers left superb north facing. Also colder than Furano in all weather reports. Tomamu base around 600mASL whereas Furano base 2oomASL. In most locations at Tomamu, snow conditions stays good with temps well below zero for days after a snow fall. One big exception is side country skiers right of the gondola, which is seriously south facing and best avoided if a day or two after fresh snow. Furano also has some south facing issues, particularly on the Furano (not Kitanomine) side. Always wise to ski the area skiers left of the big cable car early morning after a snow fall as direct sunlight, even in very cold conditions, can impact that area. Also a big shout out for the nearby BC at Tomamu, truly superb terrain. I do agree about eating out though as plenty off great options in Furano, although 2 very good restaurants in the actual town of Tomamu (need a car anyway for them) as too far from the resort to walk to.
     
  26. telenomore

    telenomore One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Change your rental booking to guarantee 4WD/AWD. Pretty important and bit poor of the rental company not to confirm it for you. Does seem a bit unusual to me. Once your on the road though you'll be right. Straight down the expressway from the airport to Shimukappu, exit expressway there, then north on Route 237 then Route 38 to Furano. Well sign posted but use GPS to gain access to the freeway from the airport. Won't be any food in Shimukappu that late so get some 'Kombini' food from Lawson's at the airport before you depart.
     
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  27. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    I’m getting the sense you haven’t driven in Japan before...apologies if I got that wrong.
    One thing I will warn you about - traffic lights!! They are bizarrely placed on the opposite side of the intersection, so in poor light in the snow it’s pretty easy to find yourself in the middle of the intersection thinking you’re stopping at the intersection. Just be aware of it and drive super slowly until you’re on the expressway (which should not be long). Chitose itself always freaks me out a little as you’re trying to see the road, upcoming turns AND follow the GPS after just getting off the flight. 15 minutes in it’s a doddle, but that first adjustment is key. Be on your game. (I’m usually headed through Chitose toward Niseko - I believe there route to Furano is easier)
     
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  28. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I think I’m jaded as we had decent Furano conditions but wasn’t great in tomamu.

    Still... with only 4 days in Furano I don’t think it’s worth the travel to do a day in tomamu.
     
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  29. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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    Good plan with base in Furano + rental car.
    But in my opinion the night drive is not a great idea.
    I would stay in Chitose for the night (hotels are cheap there except right close to airport). We arrived a bit later than that (maybe 10pm) and stayed in Chitose, woke up the next morning, got the car and was in the slopes for an epic day by 11am...
    The driving at night part is unnecessary and dangerous
    With above suggestion above you could have minus 1 day on the car hire too

    Both are good! Furano is not small but you are rural Hokkaido, Otaru you are connected to Sapporo and can experience the Japanese city buzz. Skiing wise I would say more snow in Otaru but higher quality dry snow in Furano. For a short trip you might be more snow sure if you go to Otaru, for longer probably Furano + visiting Kamui, Asahidake or others...
     
    #29 pedub, Jun 21, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
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  30. grantn

    grantn Addicted

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    I was thinking the same thing as pedub - leaving at 7.30pm at night for a 3 hour drive, arriving at 10.30pm is not leaving much, or any room for error.
    If you heed pedubs advice you could stay in the accom in the actual airport at Chitose - it has a proper indoor and outdoor onsen as well. You could stay there and leave early in the morning and hit the slopes by mid morning the next day. Just an alternative idea.
     
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  31. Mike Pow

    Mike Pow One of Us

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    Mt Racey, Yubari

    Not been, but heard good things about Hidaka Kokusai

    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/hokkaido/hidaka/hidaka-kokusai
     
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  32. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    Rentalcars.com. Never used them before so hopefully works out. I was able to arrange pick up in Chitose & drop off in Otaru. Cost was around $710 AU for 6 days + additional $123 for full insurance (up to 100,000.00).
     
  33. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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    I have driven in the dark on the Hokkaido expressways before and it can be done, but I also drove during the day in a heavy blizzard and that was really nail biting at times...
    If you got the combination of both.... near impossible to drive I think
     
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  34. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    Thanks for the directions! That’s great. How much time should I allow for the drive? Chitose to Furano. Already paid up full with rentalcars.com. I put the request in for AWD so hopefully it comes through on the day.
     
  35. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    I’ve done a day in Tomamu but it was in the BC for the day. Was fantastic. Didn’t get to ski the resort besides using the Gondola at the start of the day.
     
  36. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    First time driving in Japan , 5th trip returning. Done plenty of long driving trips in snow in other country’s but not Japan. Agree it’s the initial roll out getting used to the new vehicle & conditions whilst looking for those signs to head off in the right direction are always the hardest. Good thing is Japan is left hand side of the road like here so that’s not an additional element that you have to get your head around. Last trip to Canada we had a late drive from Calgary to Fernie in a Dodge Ram 1500 in blizzard conditions. Was interesting...got bogged on side of road when stopping for a pee & lost rear end on acceleration on first night. Thankfully made destination unscathed. Once worked out that the vehicle wasn’t in constant AWD and engaged that, got comfortable with the vehicle rolled into Fernie at 1.00 am in the morning. This was all after our flights from Melbourne....long haul. Still got up for first tracks that morning :) Completed around 2000k of snow driving on that trip in various conditions. Was pretty comfortable by the end of that trip. Just a matter of taking it easy

    Thanks for the heads up on the lights....great advice. Hopefully have a English GPS!
     
  37. telenomore

    telenomore One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    We do it regularly in 2 hours in winter. 130km via that route. I'd say allow 2.5 hours comfortably. Some gratuitous advice most likely, but accelerate and brake gently, allow plenty of space between other cars, use gears to slow down where possible. Also that area is less prone to blizzards from prevailing northwesterlies. Can still happen of course.
     
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  38. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Twice I’ve requested an English GPS and twice it’s been useless. I just use my phone, so make sure you’ve got a decent data roaming package or buy a data sim at the airport.

    When we did the full season I bought a data sim for the first 3 months (can’t buy one for longer seeing as a visitors visa is only 3 months), then just switched to roaming on Telstra for the remainder. Cost comparison: worked out about the same.

    What I did remember to take with me and have readily accessible this time was a phone charger and lighter USB plug, and a suction cup phone holder thingo that attaches to the air vent that I had tested previously at home with my phone.

    Re: Rentalcars.com app
    I used them last year. Was fine. And the no guarantee thing freaked me out also. But it was fine.
     
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  39. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    Great thanks for the info and advice Gives me confidence that the trip is very doable departing at 7:30pm ish from Chitose. I see that I need a international drivers permit to drive in Japan. Do you recommend any particular company to apply through?
     
  40. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki One of them Ski Pass: Gold

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  41. Rick Ross Da Boss

    Rick Ross Da Boss One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Tocoo
     
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  42. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    Thank you...will definitely go down the path of getting a data roaming sorted. Will source a mount also as you suggest. Great to hear someone else reporting that rentalcars.com is good. Wasn’t sure...just stumbled across them online & booked. Got the app loaded ....cheers
     
  43. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    You get the IDP from your local motoring body...RACQ, RACV, NRMA, etc, etc. whatever your state you live in. About $40 or so for the year.
     
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  44. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    I use Sygic. It’s an offline GPS system that uses no data after you download maps. Pretty handy.

    Also, ask the car rental company to show you how to input phone numbers into the GPS when you pick up the car. It’s odd, but somehow most places don’t rely on street address, rather a phone number. If you get the phone number of the place you are heading it’ll guide you there, even if the GPS system is Japanese.
     
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  45. Rick Ross Da Boss

    Rick Ross Da Boss One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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  46. telenomore

    telenomore One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    NRMA if you are in NSW.
     
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  47. telenomore

    telenomore One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Slightly of topic but just on the address issue in Japan. Pretty much every official address is a block address, not a street number. We live in a little town and every house is the exact same address. The postie gets to know who lives where, hence the importance of fixed lines when using a GPS to find someone or some place.
     
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  48. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    Thanks all...some great info and advice there. Much appreciated!
     
  49. ACHAD

    ACHAD First Runs

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    I found your trip report a week ago and was engrossed from start to end! Was a great read and clearly a ripper trip! Enjoyed reading it thoroughly. I’m pretty much doing the same but much more condensed. 15 days. Once I start the black diamond power trip it’s basically get on the bus and hold on. I’ve done one before and they are ripper. No set itinerary. Every day a new location based on weather and snow conditions which determines next destination. Mostly earn your turns BC / or slack country off the sides off resorts. No stress required about having to self drive through the snowy nights to the next location, guides know the terrain off the back of their hand. Listen, follow, repeat. Thanks for sharing your trip report....was very useful and gained a lot from it for areas I am planning to self visit prior to starting our black diamond tour.
     
    DidSurfNowSki likes this.