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October 8th, 2000 · No Comments


Day 281

My time in Kyoto was much to short for my liking. There was so much more to see and do and we were only allowed one day. This morning we board a bus for the beginning of the Japanese bicycle leg from hell.

Bus rest stop in JapanThe bus trip was only supposed to be 3 hours, it turned out to be 6 hours. We stopped once at a huge highway “rest stop” for lunch. It was an interesting mix of traditional Japanese, American food, fruits vegetables, ice cream, dried and fresh fish.

Val and I the orginal survivorsVal and Al are sporting new outfits. Al the Shogun Warrior and Val the Survivor “Don’t Vote Me out!” What does it all mean?

It took 5 buses to carry us all to Amanohashidate. The buses rode together in caravan fashion, which drove me crazy because they would stop and wait for each other. It just didn’t seem the efficient way to do things. Each bus had a driver and a young woman who wore a uniform. It was the young women’s job to stand outside the bus and direct the driver via hand waving and a whistle when he had to park or back up. She also counted the passengers and stood by the exit greeting us all upon entrance and exit. That was her job.

We were taken to the end of a dead end tourist street and told to “please take all your belongings and get off the bus.” We did. In town there were hundreds of Japanese tourists and these 4 bus loads of American Cyclist (without bikes) roaming the streets. We were not given direction or communication of any kind. Some folks were grabbing there luggage and totting it off in various directions, one to include the Buddhist Temple at the end of the street. We couldn’t find a camp ground anywhere.

Karen Ann needs more information….where the heck is Tim?Finally after 25 minutes of confusion, Tim showed up. He gatherer the Japanese bus drivers into a corner and told them all at once, “This is a mistake. Get your people, get back on the bus and take them to the campground which is 1/2 kilometer back up the street.”

It was a pretty funny scene. Riders had to be gathered up from the corners of this town andBoat in the canal put back on the bus. These huge buses had to turn around on this narrow little dead end street, one by one made their exits, with the help of the bus ladies in uniform and their whistles.

Score one for the language barrier.

The bus drivers to their credit did get us to the camp ground. It’s no wonder they missed itEating breakfast in Japan the first time, I would have missed it too. Most people figure “International Cyclist” would stay in a nice fancy place, not a field or a parking lot. The campground was not fancy, it barely passed for a campground even though I must admit it had a couple tents on it. Within 30 minutes, every square inch of ground space had a tent within 1 foot of it. We packed them in.

Amanohashidate ~ October 9, 2000

Day 282 layover

We all chuckled at the thought of having a “layover day” after riding a bus for 6 hours. Just theMap of the island same, it was nice to have a day off. My temporary tent mate, Stephanie and I decided the wise thing was to do our laundry first and get it out to dry. So we did our loads, by hand and got everything hung up before we took a shower for the day. There’s nothing like doing a bunch of laundry to cause a case of home sickness early in the morning. When I get home I’m going to kiss my washer and dryer.

The laundry sinks were located next to the inlet. All the while we were doing the laundry,Marching hundreds of Japanese folks were doing a weekend “2 day march” for something or other. They passed by all decked out in walking shoes and back packs with little tags on the back. The march was a total of 40 kilometers over 2 days. Apparently it is a big deal thing today, because I think half of Japan passed us by this morning.

Alien Crossing JapanAl the Shogun Warrior sat on top of the tent watching the parade. He got more chuckles and smiles that day than ever before. He was the most photographed guy in the country.

Kristal Kraft on a rented bike in JapanMy chores complete, I set off for town to rent a bike. I discovered I wasn’t the only one missing my bike, dozens of other riders were doing the same thing as me. Of course we had to put the seat up and even with doing so, it wasn’t high enough for me. Oh well, I’m not going very far, thank goodness!

My exploration took me over the bridges and on the island with the distant shore on the other side my destination. The long island was a bicycle and foot path (see picture map above). On the opposite shore was the mountain where you climb to see the “stairway to heaven.”

I met Paula, a staff person on the other side and we went up the chairlift instead of climbingKristal & Paula the stairs. It was a cute little single chair lift, never going very far above the ground. The ride up took only a few relaxing minutes.

Stairway to HeavenOnce on top, hundreds of tourists were lining up to step on the platform, bend over and look at the view from between their legs. By doing this you would see the “stairway to heaven.” It was such a funny site to see everyone doing this. I was glad I had heard about it before seeing them do it.

Amanohashidate BathhouseAmanohashidate was an interesting place to spend a day. At night I and a huge contingent searched out a bath house in a local hotel. It was the most luxurious experience I have had bath housing so far. We enjoyed sitting in an outdoor pool made of rocks. It was esthetic garden pool with plants even a few benches to stretch out on.

Dickie came into camp that night with a can of Pocari Sweat, yummy?Sweat drinkDickie

Tags: Japan