The end

31 degrees latitude

The sign notes other cities on this latitude: Cairo, New Delhi, New Orleans, Shanghai and Karachi.

The road to this sign was one of the most dreadful experiences I've had on this trip. Being so near the end, my mind was already there, but my body still had to climb several incredibly steep hills. I can only remember the road to Mount Fuji ever being this steep, and I was weaker and heavier at that time, so this might be worse. I cursed at anything and everything. The weather, the road, the monkeys, the monkey shit on the road, Cape Sata, my bicycle, the trip, and so on. The road signs kept lying to me, saying Cape Sata was 20 kilometers away, then after cycling 20 kilometers a new sign appeared with a subtle difference, saying that the real Cape Sata is still 10 kilometers further ahead. This really pissed me off. There's a Cape Sata area, natural park, village, and then there's the actual southernmost point, which is perhaps 20 kilometers further away than the first sign made me think. Curse you sign-making-person.

The wind is the strongest ever. It's blowing me off the road sometimes forcing me to stop. It's slowing me to a halt on downhills and making me sweat and curse on the uphills. There's no land to block the wind here, as the land just stops. Can't go any further. This is the southernmost point, and I did make it here on my own strength. I am proud of my achievement in general, but I am very disappointed and frustrated at today's events. The weather was sunny for 5 minutes and then became darker and darker again. Then the wind picked up and it's still getting worse. My tent is not very good against wind, and I'm worried about tonight. I'm camping out in the open this time, no roof to cover my tent. I'm pretty confident now that it'll be okay against the rain, but the wind might be an issue.

I'm going back. Finally. After cycling over, through and between mountains to get to the southernmost point, I finally reached a one-way road that would only go to Cape Sata and end there. There were barely any tourists or other human beings, and I had the entire road to myself. Well, except for the monkeys, which were everywhere. I saw more monkeys today than people. Finally I could go no further and had to step off my bicycle, pay 300 yen for an entry ticket and continue my journey on foot to the southernmost point. I passed a small shrine (or temple, whatever) where I bought an omikuji (fortune telling slip), which is very uncharacteristic of me. I usually despise those things but today I felt like getting one. I haven't opened it yet, and I'm not planning to open it until I feel like it.

Finally I reached the real southernmost point of the Kyushu island, and it was shit. Passing an abandoned restaurant building I reached a concrete building with an old lady inside screaming "NI HYAKU EN! NI HYAKU EN!". I had to pay another 200 yen to climb up a boatload of stairs to get to the lookout point, and as expected, I saw nothing but ocean. It is the southernmost point, after all! It's surrounded by water.. Perhaps it would have all felt a little bit more glorious if the weather was sunny and nice, but the sky looked very angry at me and I quickly ran away back to my bicycle.

I cycled back to the nearest village and had my first conversation in days with a normal human being: a guy from Tokyo about my age, who used to work in image recognition and just quit his job because he didn't want to do the same job for the rest of his life. He's now hiking around Kyushu. Imagine that. Substitute the word 'hiking' for 'cycling' and 'image' for 'voice', and there's my story. He also told me how to get to the village to buy some food. It turns out they really don't have a lot here. At the grocery store I picked out some random bread snacks as they didn't have regular bread, and the old guy owning the shop threw away half of them. Past the expiry date. Yup, this is countryside. I went to another shop and bought some more, but still no plain bread. Oh well, it's snackfest tonight then.

I'm feeling slightly relieved, I guess. I'm on my way back now. I felt this change in mood very strongly right after I walked to the stupid concrete building at the southernmost point. Walking out again, I realized "I'm going north again. I'm going back now". Thanks to that I've received a new superpower: clairvoyance. I can see the path that I will take from now and I know more or less how things will turn out. I'm staying at a camping site at the nearest village to Cape Sata. When I first decided to take the ferry on the 31st I made great plans, thinking of going back to the west coast of Kyushu and catching a ferry to some random island, then passing by Kagoshima on the way back. I'm not doing that. After reaching Sata all my motivation is gone, and I only want to go back to Tokyo. I still want to cycle, but I'm not going to create more distance between myself and the ferry place. Instead, I'll just cycle slowly and explore a bit more along the way. If the weather is good, that is. If not, I'll shut myself in in my tent and sleep for the whole day. I'm done.

Side note: my brakes are completely fried. They're barely working and I need to tighten them up a bit before going back. I really need to replace the brake blocks, but there's no bicycle store anywhere near here, so I'll have to put up with it until I get to a more populated area. Too bad it's the unpopulated areas that have the highest mountains and require the most use of my brakes...

I dunnit! Meh.

Posted in Spirit of Japan , Uncategorized | Tagged