I made a bit of a mess of things since the last post, but somehow it turned out all right. At first I got lost about 5 kilometers after departing the restaurant. Figuring I could just random my way into Mordor I followed my instincts (and my compass, a bit) and ended up nowhere. I thought I had to go south-west-ish but I ended up too far south and had to backtrack a bit. Then I got confused by the many different roads in here and ended up taking a road that started south-west-ish but then changed to head south-east-ish, away from my goal. I spent almost an hour getting back to the road I was supposed to take. Guh.
The traffic didn’t help me either. I traveled through an urban center with many 4-lane and 6-lane roads, but that didn’t stop people from cutting me off and turning left right in front me. That happened to me 3 times today, whereas on this entire trip it happened only once before. People suck at driving here. Pretty much anyone that’s about to turn left but finds me in the way usually waits for 5-10 seconds until I’m past the street they want to enter. Not here. These people go past me very slowly, then turn on their indicator, then put their car in such a position that I cannot possibly avoid them, and then they stop. Because it’s impolite to cut people off, so they’d rather block the entire traffic lane and create a game of who-goes-first with me. I always take the initiative in those cases because Japanese people are too polite to do anything.
Ok, frustration out of the way, let’s get to more frustration. Finally arriving at the train station that was supposed to be near the hostel, I found the road towards the hostel not very accomodating. In fact, today’s hill was by far the steepest climb I have made on this trip, and I had no choice but to push my bicycle up the hill, which took a good 20-30 minutes of pushing, taking a break, pushing again, etc. Today’s hill is the mother of all hostel hills.
For every bit of suffering there is a reward, and for every uphill there is either a beautiful view or an awesome downhill in return. No awesome downhill this time, as I would kill myself without even trying. I have to be very careful to get down tomorrow. However! There is a beautiful view! Let me show you where I am blogging from today:
Not bad, deshou? Youth hostels are the perfect place for scenery freaks like me.
I had a long conversation with a (sort of) famous person today: Masahiro Hamazaki, who played as a goalkeeper in the Japanese national football team in the 1968 olympics. Nowadays he’s running the hostel I’m staying at tonight. It seems that the hostel is quite popular with sport clubs of Japanese high schools and middle schools, as it’s run by a famous person. Tonight there will be an entire class of school children staying at the hostel, and they had booked most of the rooms already, but Hamazaki-san arranged a single room for me so I don’t have to bunk in with the schoolchildren. He likes talking to his guests a lot, and since I arrived early today we talked about a whole lot of things. He had more stories to tell than I did though: about the end of the war, the Americans coming, rebuilding Japan, playing football in all kinds of countries. I pretty much heard his life story. We talked quite a bit about how life is so easy nowadays, and that ‘my’ generation does not know war or hardship. How easy it is to be able to walk out of your house at 3AM and find a convenience store or a restaurant if you’re hungry. Hamazaki-san told me that when he was young, there was no such choice, but a car would come by where you could buy ramen, sort of like an ice cream truck. That actually sounds pretty awesome to me. I honestly can’t say that I know hardship, but I do know that a plain old bottle of water tastes a lot better after you’ve cycled 30 kilometers in the burning sun. Hardship makes you appreciate life more. When we finished our conversation Hamazaki-san told me that I could look up his name online, and if anything he told me was a lie he would give me back the money that I paid for the room. He did, of course, not lie.
It seems that I’m heading to Fukuoka city tomorrow although I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing there. I’m heading there kind of as a safety measure, as it might be rainy. It’s also a good starting point for the journey towards Nagasaki. In any case, I’m quite happy to relax today. I didn’t feel very well this afternoon, and it was my own fault again. I started out cycling this morning, listening to music that made me want to go faster and faster. By lunch time I was exhausted and wet with sweat. I then went to a family restaurant and ordered ‘drink bar’, which means you can drink as much (non-alcoholic) drinks as you like, and I drank way too much carbonated stuff. It’s a very satisfying end to the first half of the day, but it makes the second half a living hell. I’ll try to control myself a bit better from now on..