It was a relaxed Sunday morning, starting the day with pancakes at our friend’s house. We had a HUGE day ahead of us, so we didn’t waste too much time getting started. It was another sunny day, warmish temperatures and clear skies. Hard to believe how much it had changed in the last three days!
There were sugar cane fields surrounding our friend’s house, and as we were slowly riding past we saw an old lady inside clearing weeds. We pulled over because Risa wanted to try eating sugar cane. The lady obliged, and before we knew it she was hacking one down for her. She told us that it wasn’t really ready, but stripped it ready for us to try to suck some sweetness out of it. Results were mixed at best.
We buzzed along on the ‘cub for as long as we could stand, stopping occasionally to get blood/feeling back in our extremities. While it’s possible to travel long distances sharing a ‘cub, I don’t recommend it.
One great place that we stopped was a giant souvenir shop. Normally I despise them, but we were hungry and we went crazy with the taste samples. Plus I had to pick up presents for people anyway.
We were driving back up the same road that we drove down a few days earlier, so we had no inclination to stop. We knew that the majority of the beaches were private. We just kept charging north to try and catch a ferry to a small island called Mina-jima, though we did make another stop at the michi-no-eki to get a few more sata-andagi… Mmmm.
We’d been progressively getting closer and closer to missing a ferry this trip, and now was the time that we missed it all together. Frustratingly, if there was a single sign for the port we wouldn’t have had to watch it slowly pull away from us. And, it was the last one that we could catch. We wanted to go to Mina-jima because we’d heard that the tiny (less than 1km long) was a great place to go swimming/snorkelling. Shafted, 90% by poor communication and 10% by us not actually checking the ferry timetable.
There were other islands nearby, and these ones were accessible via (free) bridges, so we kept driving back around the peninsular, past Churaumi Aquarium which seemed to be absolutely packed, probably because it was a beautiful Sunday.
We were trying to get to Kouri-jima, which is via a bridge from Yagaji-jima. The area wasn’t anything special, there were no nice beaches that we could see (though, we didn’t explore). The bridge connecting Kouri-jima to Yagaji-jima was massive. I tried my hardest to hold my breath for while for the duration, but I couldn’t (and I like to think that I can hold my breath for quite some time). As soon as we arrived on Kouri-jima, we could see a sandy beach, with a few tourists. We weren’t that interested in swimming there, but we pulled in to have a look anyway. We’d been spoilt by Zamami, because apart from it being a little dirty (with weeds etc), there wasn’t anything wrong with this beach. We laughed at a pair of vacant-headed women taking photos of themselves then got on the bike.
We rode around the circumference of the island, pulling over once to have a look at a beach. Again, we’d become beach snobs. We walked around the (small) beach, had a look at shells and hermit crabs then gave up and left.
We were exhausted and in pain from so much time on the ‘cub. It really wasn’t that much fun today. It had become a chore.
We couldn’t find any CouchSurfing options in Nago, so for the second time in 68 days, we were forced to pay for accommodation. We were completely drained of funds, so we stayed at the cheapest option we could find, which was only ¥1500. The place didn’t have any signs, so finding it wasn’t easy. We’d expected budget (and we’d be dreaming to expect anything else), but we hadn’t quite expected a shipping container with four bunks, surrounded by other shipping containers and years worth of weeds. I tried to think of it as a nice experience, something a little more rustic and arty, but in a sign that I’m getting old, it just felt dirty, noisy and plain shit.
We didn’t want to spend much time at our accommodation so instead of cooking dinner at the backpackers, we ate out in a Brazilian restaurant, which we found to be a little random. Though, there was a fantastic Swiss restaurant in Yakumo… Anyway, this restaurant was great, we ordered a few plates, but it was without doubt the grilled chicken that blew our minds. I don’t know what it was coasted in (maybe pure MSG), but it was amazing!
We went back to the shipping container, showered and headed to bed early. The other guests continued to have fun and stay up all night drinking/talking, which made me feel like a grumpy old man. Our last night in Okinawa, which was sad.