Well stage one is complete! 450 miles down the coast from Tokyo and I’ve just arrived in Kobe! Ready for a few days off the bike to say the least. It’s been a busy few days! I went through the concrete jungle that is Nagoya.
Spending hours sat in the shade of one of the many huge raised main roads that enter the city was monotonous to say the least, it’s easy to think your getting no where when everything looks the same as 15miles behind you! I can’t really judge the city though, I only passed through, places to be and all that! But I did get to stay in a great hostel! Very bohemian, the first proper “backpackers” hostel I’ve found in japan! Although still full predominantly with Japanese there were a handful of us from further afield. But mainly I’ve been the only westerner for miles!- the sunburn and freckles is giving me away.
From there I took short cut through the mountains to Osaka. Yes, it was a bad move. They are bloody massive!!!! The first day was an experience to say the least! Now hills I can manage… I’m from Yorkshire, I’m used to them. But the last few days have been another level! I guess we’ll start with going up.
Setting off in the drizzle was probably not the best omen but despite a fleeting thought to hide in the hostel for another day, I powered on!… Well, by 12 I was contending with torrential rain and massive inclines.
On the plus side the rain was spurring me on to ride faster, so you know, pros and cons. BUT THEN, on rounding a corner we came to it… The “Japanese cyclist death trap” that I’ve read so much about, the tunnels through the mountain. Now to begin with it was a slight relief to be out of the rain, but once I was 1km in and the echoing lorries weren’t sufficiently being drowned out by my blaring headphones I decided it was time to hurry on up and get out! BUT that day deffinatly wasn’t to be on my terms… The tunnel just got steeper and steeper, luckily the road was quiet so the experience really could of been worse, never the less I was relieved when I could finally see the “light at the end of the tunnel!”
HA you think that is the end of the drama!? OH NO, on leaving I quickly discovered not only had the torrential rain previously experienced graduated into a thunder storm! – but also I’d climbed so far up in the tunnel that I was now just under the cloud line and it was SO SO cold. I tried to power through but eventually with soaked feet and frozen fingers I took shelter in a bus stop. Believe me, had the wether not finally stopped having a hissy fit at me I probably would if just stayed there for the next few days!
(Still managed a selfie in the bus shelter though!)
But finally let up it did, and so finally I descended back to the land of normal temperatures and with still soggy feet I rolled into Nara!
One hundred percent my favourite Japanese city so far, arriving into Nara turned one of the worst days into the best! It is the ancient capital and here they have a peculiar set up with the local deer, traditionally considered messengers of the gods, they weren’t hunted and so their population here is MASSIVE. They roam the streets and are stalked by both Japanese and foreigners trying to get pictures and they really couldn’t look less blaze… Unless you invested in some crackers in which case you will be mobbed by a horde of twenty deer relieving you of them.
How I managed to sit and eat my dinner in the park in peace I don’t know, perhaps the group if dads trying to lead the deer away for pictures with their terrified looking toddlers had something to do with it!
I had no idea of the popularity or history if Nara until I arrived there, it’s really just lucky chance that I decided to stop there! I scraped the final bed in a hostel, convincing the land lady that I would be fine in a mens dorm even though she seemed horrified at the idea! I had a great stay chatting with an Aussie and some English fellas all night, and then a traditional Japanese breakfast complete with home made miso soup! Can’t be beat! (Even though I do still miss my full English!)
For the first time I’ve been asked for a photo, it’s an odd thing. While I was getting ready to leave a group of Malaysian women saw me and attacked me with questions! Before whipping out there camera, nicking my helmet and glasses- giving them to the elderly mother to wear and then we all posed around my bike! Deffinatly different! And so somewhere a lovely group of Malaysian women have me in their camera. I’ve had small kids running up to me shouting “harrrow” and adults wishing me well in both Japanese and English, peoples responses are always funny to see. I do wonder when people will stop asking me how old I am and then being shocked at the answer!… Ha, but I bet it’s just as annoying (if not more) for older people who get it!
Form Nara I dropped down to sea level in Osaka, a terrifying ordeal, it was steeper going down than coming up! But eventually and in one piece I’ve made it to Kobe! I’m going to hibernate here for the next few days, repair my wounds and eat a hell of a lot!…and then it will be onto Fukuoka and Korea! But now I think a well earned pint is in order!