The day started like this:
Since the last post I followed route 220 from Miyazaki all the way south to Nichinan, which is where I am now. Nichinan is a silly name. Route 220 is beautiful, probably. I say probably because today was cloudy and everything looked gray. I realized I didn't really look around that much today, I was just focused on cycling. I'm sure if today had been a clear blue sky I would be blogging right now about how today was so great and about all the beautiful sights that I saw along the way, but the weather just spoils it for me. Not a big deal. On days like these I focus on cycling instead of sightseeing, and I'm happy with what I accomplished today: 120 pure and honest kilometers.
When you're cycling in the mountains it's very easy to lose your frame of reference. After some time of zigzagging up a slope, you start to forget which way is north or south. And if you're going uphill on the same road for a long time, you start to forget what is horizontal. Eventually you're just expending a certain amount of effort and going at a certain speed, but you have no clue whether that's good or bad. The slope could be very steep or your muscles might be tired, meaning you're going (t00) slow, but there's really no way of telling until the road starts to go down again. I'm training myself to guess the inclination of the slope based on the amount of sweat on my shirt. It still needs a little bit of tuning.
As the day went by my bicycle started squeaking more and more and all colors disappeared from the world, covering everything with a grayish blue haze. When it gets to 3PM everything just happens automatically and I stop thinking. I just cycle, and the world passes by. And when I wake up, I am at my destination. On occasion I have stopped at the top of a hill and wondered how I got there, because I didn't remember the uphill at all. And then my mind focuses and I realize that it was actually quite tough. I'm just automatically forgetting the bad parts, I guess. And the good parts, too..
I was in such a cycling daze when I cycled past some roadworks, passing a guy on the sidewalk while going quite slowly, when suddenly the guy yelled loudly: "HAI STOPPU!". That snapped me back to attention, and I stopped, wondering what he wanted. "I will give you tea!" and then he ran inside his shack to find me some tea. Nice guy. Then out of nowhere a woman appeared and gave me cookies. Seriously, I have no idea where she came from. We chatted a bit, and then I cycled on to Nichihan. At this point I had not seen a convenience store for several hours, and the only side road that appeared was blocked by a landslide. Well, the area is known as a 'quasi national park', so I guess that's to be expected. It was certainly one of the closest places to nature that I've seen in Japan.
Arriving in Nichihan it took me about 5 seconds to realize that there is absolutely nothing of interest here. A train station, a family restaurant, and that's about it. Somehow I stumbled onto a business hotel that was fairly cheap (for Japanese standards), and I decided to call it a day. When I checked in the owner seemed quite paranoid, and asked me a lot of details about my passport. He told me that, according to a new rule that only recently was created, hotel owners now have to ask all foreigners for their passport number and address. They did that already anyway. The owner also told me that if he didn't follow these rules, the police would come and 'make trouble'. When I asked him what kind of trouble he didn't answer, but if I had to guess then I'm pretty sure this person has never experienced 'trouble'.
As my trip is nearing the end, I am making arrangements to return, and as it turns out that's not always easy. I'll tell you all more about that next time, when I've confirmed the last detail that's still an uncertainty in my plan.
(This was actually pretty good >_<; )