Hokkaido

It's warm again! Well, slightly. A farmer decided to make a lot of noise on his field this morning at 5AM, which just happened to be right next to the camp site, and my tent. I somehow managed to get a bit more sleep in and finally woke up at 6:30 ish to a beautiful blue sky with not a cloud in sight. The sun was already heating up the inside of my tent nicely, but for some reason my tent had decided to condensate lots and lots of water on the sides, and stuff started dripping down as I moved around. I had to let things dry out in the sun as I packed things up. Fortunately things were reasonably dry by the time I was done.

Yesterday I was very happy about myself for not having any butt ache from the saddle, even after 100km. Well, turns out that's because they arrived a day later. Today was quite painful :S.

I really should point out how fucking cold it is to cycle. This is seriously no fucking joke. If you think it's nice and warm outside, and even work up a minor sweat being out in the sun playing with your tent, you're still going to freeze your fucking nipples off if you start cycling. It's way, way colder on a bike than it is when you're stationary. I used to think of the sun as my enemy, burning my face off whenever it was out in full power, but now I'm starting to miss it. I'm going to need a lot of sun where I'm going.

So naturally, as I started cycling, the wind picked up, clouds appeared and I froze my nipples off. At least for a while. Then it got better. The road to Aomori city was surprisingly flat and empty. After the cold bit passed it was quite fun, and even the mini mountain stage wasn't too challenging, and offered a human fuel station at the toughest bit. Speaking of fuel stations, there's tons of electric car recharging points in Japan, even in the middle of nowhere. Quite well done. As I refueled myself, some random guy showed up and gave me a tiny energy drink bottle. It was quite rancid. I drank a bit of it, tried to dilute the rest of it with water but even that turned horrible, so I ended up throwing about half of it away :S. I didn't need energy anyway, I was heading downhill towards the ferry.

I did of course just miss the ferry by half an hour, as I always do, so I had to wait 4 hours for the next one. I decided to reward myself for finishing the Japanese mainland and sought out a Sukiya. But no! Not again! It was under construction.. This is the second time this has happened. It must be some kind of curse. This is where Aomori proved its shittiness, as there was nothing else around. The roads were bumpy and painful to cycle on, the smaller roads formed a maze that didn't quite match my gps data so I had to resort to following an old lady who turned out to be going in a useful direction. Eventually I found a McDonalds...

After lunch I headed back to the ferry port, again cycling blindly due to lack of major roads and crappy gps data. I made it well in time and had a break in front of the ferry building. It was just at that moment that another touring cyclist arrived. My first someone-like-me encounter! It was a young Japanese dude on a very sporty looking bike, carrying about as much luggage as me but without front panniers. He said he also came from Kanagawa and was also heading to Wakkanai, but that he would take a later ferry than me. Maybe we'll meet again in Wakkanai, traveler.

A lot of things go through my mind when I'm cycling. Music tends to help me focus on the road at hand, but even then my mind eventually starts to wander. I've noticed myself talking to myself more as the days pass, and I tend to grunt random words at situations, like "Come on sun, you can do it!" when I'm cold, or "Fuck you, asshole" when I'm passed by a dump truck. "Thank you, wind" also pops up sometimes when it pushes me up a difficult hill. But mostly my time is spent on delusions and/or fantasies. I imagine in great detail what would happen if somebody suddenly stopped their car and started punching me, or how a conversation with a police officer about cycling would go. Or various scenarios on how I'm going to get back to Atsugi and Narita after I've reached Wakkanai. It's quite free-flow and not unpleasant.

Everything went according to plan in Hakodate. The ferry arrived during sunset times, Google Maps was right about Sukiya for once and the cheapest hotel on my list was easy to find and had a room available (and is actually quite nice). Then I went out to shoot some nice photos, found the perfect peace and quiet spot to relax and enjoy the scenery and even found a conveniently placed conbini on the way back to the hotel. All is well. Tomorrow, I rest.

Posted in Spirit of Japan 2