Saturday, February 14, 2009

Aurora Ice Breaker

An icebreaker is a special ship (or boat) that can travel in ice-covered waters. It has a strengthened hull that breaks the ice when it moves through these waters, thus carving out a trail for itself. In Hokkaido Japan, there is such a ship which also acts as a cruise ship for tourists, and its one of the more memorable journeys one can experience in winter Japan.

The Aurora Ice Breaker is one of the major attractions in Abashiri, a town in north-east Hokkaido. It will take you onto the frozen sea of Okhotsk, and you will enjoy a hour or so of cruising, witnessing the crashing and crushing of ice as the ship ploughs through the drift ice and ice floes. If you're lucky, you can see sea eagles and seals, but I only managed to see the multitude of sea gulls sqawking away. However, it was still quite an experience looking at the ice covered sea and the trail of "destruction" as the ship moves through it.

Be prepared with reliable cold and wind gear, as the winds on the cruise ship is fantastically strong. I had to make do with shooting with my thick gloves on, as it was impossible for me to take out my gloves, as the cold is really biting! Also, if you have multiple lens with you, changing lens is quite challenging as well, so if you really need to, I suggest going back into the cabin to change lens. Once adequately equipped, I'm sure it will be quite an experience!

Tickets to the cruise ship can be bought at any travel agencies in Abashiri itself. Of course, do check out when the Aurora runs, cos obviously, it will only operate in certain times in winter. Enjoy!

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