Hello again! Its been another week since my last post, I cant believe how quickly the time is going. Tarn and I have left the northern part of Shikoku following the Iya Valley, also known as The Tibet of Japan, with its lush green forests, vine bridges, emerald green rivers and waterfalls. We hit the southern most tip of the island and have been riding along the coast which is also beautiful, rocky and alot cooler than the mountains. We have been travelling through alot of rice fields, cute fishing villages and passing some amazing old temples and shrines.
There is 88 shrines on the island, its not unusual to see pilgrams walking around the island to visit them one by one. The best thing about travelling along the coast is getting to go for a swim after a long days ride, its like heaven!
We camped at a cute little surfing beach and went for a walk when we discovered Dr Evils secret hideaway! It doubled as an aquarium so we went in and checked it out, was so cool, proper 1960s decor, felt like I was in a Bond movie.
The one thing Ive noticed about Japan is the amazing array of creatures, spiders and flying insects they have, I am forever noticing new ones that look even cooler than the last one. I can see where Japanese animators get their inspiration from, check this guy out, he looks like he should be starring in a Batman movie.
We ve had a couple of hiccups with The Wasp (the tandem) We had out first stack the other day, nothing major, we got caught in a rut on the road which gave us death wobbles and tipped the bike over, I came off, unfortunately my foot didnt. Aggrevated an old ankle injury but nothing too major. We then travelled 30km up a mountain pass that turned out to be the wrong road, it was a loggers track that turned totally rocky so we have no alternative but to go back. As we were coming down the mountain we realised the back brake was gone. Some oil from the Rohloff had leaked onto the brake and it was not gripping at all. Then the front brakes started to cook and were also slowly failing. I started to get somewhat nervous as Tarn was giving me instructions on how to put my feet down in case of an emergency. HUH?!!! My feet dont touch the ground!!! We were picking up speed and clocked about 62kph when we came to a flattened out section on the descent, luckily we were able to slow down enough to stop. We had to wait for the brakes to cool down and then made a very slow and careful trip down the rest of the pass. The only other section of the ride that has been particularly hairy was going through a tunnel that was 2km long. Parts of it was so dark I couldnt see my hand in front of my face, it was literally pitch black until a truck or car went past and lit the way. I dont know what was freakier, not being able to see or failing brakes.
The day wasnt all bad, we did have lunch at a great onimiyaki restaurant. (essentially you have a grill in the middle of the table and you are given a dish of fresh food that you cook yourself.) We had no idea what we were doing so the super cool owner cooked it for us. He then showed us his jellyfish in a jar!
For 500 yen you can have a jar of jellyfish, oh if only I could get them through customs! We then passed a junior school that was having its annual Sumo Championships, how cool! Even the girls got to have a go, ( they have special uniforms made ). We hung out there and talked to some of the teachers, found out about the rules of the game.
We had an interesting end to the day, we were trying to find a camp site and got told it was on top of the mountain. We rode 300 metres up on a 3.5km long road, ( I thought Bondi hills were bad) hairpin turns the whole way, arrived at the top to discover no camp site. We decided to camp in amongst some tall trees and got woken at 4am to the sound of nut bombs being dropped on our tent. We couldnt see what sort of creature was above us ripping nuts of the trees and throwing the scraps on us, so Tarn decided to shine the torch into the trees to have a look. We still couldnt see what it was, but lets just say it didnt appreciate the light. If it could speak English Im sure it would have made a sailor blush, it went off its head! Screeching and squawking, we got back in our tent and turned the torch off.
We dont have much time left on the island unfortuantely, we re making our way to the northern tip on the western side tommorrow to leave to another island, we havent decided where yet. Ill be sad to leave, I love it here. My only regret is not being able to speak Japanese, we have had so many locals approach us for a chat and Ive always felt so dissapointed at not being able to converse with them. Im going to miss our morning ritual of packing up camp and then making our way to the nearest village to ride around until we find the bakery. Im addicted to their happy face buns that have chocolate or custard in them, totally unhealthy but totally worth it!
Sayornara for now!