It's difficult, perhaps even rude, to make up your mind about a place in only one day, but it's just something that comes naturally to me. I know I'm heavily biased by the weather, bicycle mishaps and all kinds of other things that don't have anything to do with the place I'm in, but it all gets jumbled together in the end, leaving me with just the simple thought of 'place X was good' or 'place Y was bad'.
So yeah, Sado. I'm currently waiting for the ferry back, so I've got some time to type this. Sado has always been a place that I wanted to visit while I was living in Japan, but somehow never got around to it. There's nothing insanely famous around here so I never had a good excuse to go there (or a good reason to promote the destination to other people who might go on a trip with me). This time the ferries lined up almost perfectly, and Sado was simply a must visit.
The hostel was hilariously bad, really. When I went to the toilet in the morning, the doorknob broke off. It was a nice looking western toilet, but as I flushed it I realized it just dumps into a hole in the ground rather than a proper sewage. I didn't need the air conditioning, but if I did, I would have had to insert 100 yen coins to get 30 minutes worth of air conditioning. What a way to profit off of your guests. Definitely one of the worst hostels of the Japan Youth Hostel association I've ever been to. Note that even the worst Japan Youth Hostel is still in a completely different league from any filthy Eurotrash hostel in Europe.
After starting cycling I had a bit of a mental meltdown. Many things did not go as I expected. There was supposed to be a reasonable climb up to 100-ish meters and then a fairly flat road over a ridge that would take me to the center of the island. Instead, the climb was insanely steep and after reaching the 'ridge' the road kept going up and down. I made two mistakes that severely hurt my enjoyment: I put on moisturizing cream on my face for my poor skin, which currently looks like crumpled paper due to the sun, and after that I put on sunscreen. I usually only do sunscreen. The second mistake I made is that at one point I thought I was done climbing and put on my coat because I was getting cold, and then the road turned and started to climb even more, steeply. I sweated like hell, and all the sunscreen sweated into my eyes, causing severe irritation. It took over an hour until my eyes started becoming less painful, even after splashing them with water.
Another huge mistake I made: I did not wear my base layer. This was so stupid. I thought it was going to be a warm day so I wouldn't need it, but even on warm days wearing your base layer is a real comfort, especially when it's windy. Which leads me to my next complaint about Sado: it's a huge fucking wind tunnel! The island is basically two mountain ridges with an extremely flat part in the middle. The winds over the flat part are just insane. Fortunately for me I was heading in the right direction, but still had to face some nasty crosswinds. Very frustrating when you know you can go faster physically but can't because the next gust of wind would blow you off the road. Wind is definitely my new enemy this trip.
More Sado oddness: with the sole exception of the one big road on the island, I could not find a single conbini or even chain restaurant. That is just incredibly un-Japanese and unexpected. What is this, fucking North Korea? Anyway, I eventually made it to the one big road across the island and it was similarly average to other average roads in Japan. Still no chain restaurants though. I'm now always a big fan of chain restaurants, but at least give me the choice so I can feel better about myself for not going to them.
Sado is not nearly as nice as what I'd expected it to be. The built-up areas are less nice than built-up areas in mainland Japan, and there's actually way less non-built-up areas than I imagined a small island like this to have. I have to conclude that Sado might be a damn nice place to live in, but I can' get enthusiastic about it as a tourist. Maybe that's a good thing. Let the locals have their island pure and uncorrupted.
Odd body note: my body is still changing. It seems to have given up burning the high energy fuel, instead just consuming my fat to make me lighter. Much lack of energy.. Also, the places that I sweat have changed from my back and my forehead to my underbelly and my eyelids. WTF. Now whenever I sweat it immediately goes into my eyes and it looks like I wet myself. THANKS, BODY.
Meh. Off to Niigata. Get on with it!