Day 2! Ice ice baby! We wake up early and get some breakfast before we head out on the Aurora, a special boat for drift ice tours in the Okhotsk sea. For a tropical born like myself, this sorta stuff is totally exotic and cool. Actually, I always felt like I should never be a tropical person. I hate the heat, I hate perspiration but I love it when it’s cold and frosty and chilly and you can see your breath in front of you. Experiencing the snowscape that is Abashiri really makes me feel comfortable. Perhaps it’s the grass is greener concept: I haven’t seen or lived in enough snow to hate it but I’ve seen and sweated in too much sun.

In any case, this is one of the reasons why I liked the drift ice boat trip. It’s so simple, the boat just leaves harbor and comes back in like an hour or so? You just take lotsa pictures and crowd around with the mostly Chinese/HK tour groups. Me, I just stared endlessly at the water and the birds and then the increasing amounts of ice. First there was just little bobbles of white dotting the water, a smooth and luscious deep blue. Further along, you get bigger and bigger specks then chunks, turning the sea a navy melange before finally, it’s almost like totally white. I look behind the boat and we can still sorta make out Abashiri town but it’s mostly white drift ice sea with a blue trail from the boat’s wake. Quite beautiful.

It’s not like the most moving natural experience I’ve been privy too. I think that one would be eating mud playing football in the rain but I really like this drift icey thing. I kinda wanna plunge myself into the icy cold but then I remember it’s icy cold and my camera is brand new.

After we come back ashore, we grab some coffee at this glass blowing shop nearby, where you can watch the boats leave harbor or watch people trying to make vases. It’s super touristy, full of tacky glasswares. It’s still better than say if you went to some random South East Asian island with dumbass keychains with your name on it but it’s still touristy. My dad bought this ice cube looking vase/lamp thing? It looks a lot better than it sounds after he stuck some dried flowers in it when we got home to SG.

For lunch, we were much enamoured by the quality of the local chicken, so when my parents heard me squawking about this chicken shop, we decided to go. It’s located on the residential side of town, across the bridge over Abashiri river, about 5 minutes from our hotel. I didn’t have much of an idea of the place just that I found it on tabelog and we thought last night’s chicken was so good, we should have more chicken!

When we step in, there’s 3 older peeps sitting around this gas stove with a pot of water as a pseudo humidifier/heater/hot tea setup. There’s not much of a menu and they’re totally surprised to see us. We try our best to communicate with totally broken nihongo and manage to throw up the notion that I had found this place off the internet. “Aahhh! Intanetto! Subarashi!” Or something akin to that came outta the old lady’s lips. So anyway, we decide to order 2 half chickens. Here, they only have a single deep fryer that looks more like a sink than a fryer. There’s no stove! We sit and wait whilst trying to summon up some kinda convo. They offer us some free breaded chicken. I grab the wing and it’s cold but the chicken is there, that same full flavor as last night. I sip my tea and watch the cook as she drops the chickens into the fat. She pulls it up halfway and slits it if I remember correctly, to make it cook more evenly, then drops it back it. The first drop crisps the skin evenly. When it comes out, it’s a gorgeous golden. She then puts this sheet of thin wood atop a sheet of wrapping paper. We’re curious about the wood. I guess it helps the oils stay away from the paper so you don’t carry a soggy mess of a lunch but in the end we can’t arrive at any conclusion as to what type of wood it is. They give us a free sheet and do their darndest to make sure it’s whole. My mom carries it in her backpack and when it’s back to the hotel, we find it’s sorta broken haha!

At this point, we realise the shop is totally takeaway. I think we were just too paisei to ask if we could eat there, so we hurry along and try to find somewhere to sit and eat. Unfortunately, we’d already checked out so it felt a little bad to eat in the hotel. Our second choice, a park bench, was like uh obviously totally covered in snow. After a little too much hesitation, we settle for some steps and then finally this electrical box. People arriving in coaches or the train pass us by and stare slightly, attracted by the aroma. The chicken is superb. It smells great and it is delicious. I like the fine salt used to season the chicken. There’s bits of it forming crusty crumbs that aren’t super salty, just really tasty. The chicken is tender and juicy, a little cold :((( but still awesome. I think it’s close to one of the best fried chickens I’ve ever had in my life. I wish I could go back right now.

Un/fortunately, there’s more than just Abashiri and we’re booked in the Kushiro Prince tonight, so we bid this little frozen town adieu with the everlasting memory of chicken etched into my mind.