Zamami Lookouts

On day three I did the lookout route and burned through two bicycle batteries on the up and down course through the island (I got a second one as a spare from the hotel staff as a service ;-)). One of the open sea side lookouts comes with a mini tower for the whale watching season. A local sits in the tower and looks out for whales and radios their position to the whale watching boats. Some humpback whales usually come to breed around Zamami. They are around from January to April. Since it was only the first of January, it didn’t look like they had arrived yet.

On the bay side lookout I met a lady from the U.K. who is a teacher in Yamagata prefecture in the north and who escaped the snow there for some days of sunshine, only that there was no sunshine. But at least it was warmer than in Yamagata, which is drowning in snow this time of year. The lady was a muslim and wore a black veil. I wonder how the people in Yamagata react to her. I’m sure it’s not exactly easy for her to live in Japan.
After the lookout tour I had been to everywhere on the island and it is very beautiful indeed.

Is it a candidate for retirement? I haven’t ruled it out yet, despite only 600 people in the island. I “interviewed” some of the hotel personnel. Two are from Yokohama originally, one lady is from Iwate. One of the Yokohama guys is on the island for six years now and his family is still in Yokohama. Interesting. The lady from Iwate left her husband there. I don’t know for how many years. They were working over New Year, which is kind of holy for the Japanese as a family get together event, but… interesting. The guy from Yokohama who is there for six years said there is a doctor on the island on weekdays and if there is something serious, they fly you over to Naha with the “doctor heli” helicopter service. If the ferries don’t go but you must get off the island, you can charter a helicopter as well, it costs usually 90,000 yen, but depending on the circumstances they let you charter it for 30,000 yen. If five people board that’s only 6000 yen per person. The ferries don’t run on average once a month due to bad weather. Of course no helicopter flies during a typhoon either, but no planes from Naha also, so what. Hm! The island is still a candidate for retirement πŸ˜‰

On my last full day I went to the pirate beach once more and to town for lunch, but then escaped back to the hotel due to rain becoming more constant. Despite the far from ideal weather and the difficulties in getting to the island, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Naha and Zamami. The latter is a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Off to Zamami

I admit that the ferry ride to Zamami was a bit scary, the boat was swaying nicely and bumping hard against the currents and the swell. But nothing happened and I got to Zamami all right. Hotel staff picked up not only me but another ten guests or so and brought us the two kilometers to the hotel by car.
Zamami belongs to the Kerama island group, a collection of three inhabited islands and countless smaller and bigger rocks in between. Around 600 people live on Zamami, fewer on the other islands around it. I quickly borrowed a bicycle with battery assist and started exploring the island. There is one traffic light on the island at the port and also that one is not really needed πŸ˜‰ The things to do on Zamami are diving, snorkeling, swimming, fishing, whale watching and riding around with a bicycle.

There is one general store in the main settlement with food and shampoo and the like, plus t-shirts and beach sandals and that’s basically it.
I read about Pope Francis’s Christmas address, in which he said people should live simpler lives without accumulating mundane things. Come to a small island, there you can enjoy simpler life.
I bicycled around the island for four days and did just that πŸ˜‰

On my first full day on the island I headed north of the last settlement where I was staying, and there is “nothing” anymore but “wilderness”. The wilderness is still very civilized with a well maintained road that leads first to another lookout over a cliff to the north. Then a long and windy road leads to the north-eastern end of the island and on the map it promised a beach. I’ve seen quite a couple of beaches in my life already, but this one is one of the best for sure. It has just the right size, a fantastic view to uninhabited islands and rocks in the distance, great sand and a very rare feature, a small fresh water booklet that comes down from the mountain behind it. Now where do you have a fresh water booklet coming onto a perfect beach?

The whole atmosphere just shouted pirate beach to me. If I was a pirate I’d made that place my lair πŸ˜‰
On top of that there is the much quieter inner bay of the island just a fifty meter walk above a ledge. If enemies come looking for you, off you go over the ridge and into a second boat in the inner bay and they’ll never catch you. What a perfect place πŸ™‚
On the way back I rode down another path to the inner bay and came out at a cottage place, which probably only operates in summer, very nice getaway as well. Then off to another pirate cove over the wider ridge behind my hotel, a north-west facing small beach. Zamami is a truly beautiful island with lonely beaches that I suppose are not full even in high season.

On I rode to town and had lunch at a cozy little eatery, then rode again to the lookout point from the day before. There is another look out point further out, but my assist battery was running low, so kept this one for the next day. Hiding from the afternoon rain at the harbor, I finally rode home to the hotel but spotted an elderly couple nearby the hotel at a pier attempting to fish and chatted with them for a while. They were staying in the same hotel as I did and share the same hobby, they also have been to plenty of small islands already and live in Tokyo ;-). Like me they like places which are remote and lonely, I guess that’s because we live in a megalopolis of 20 million people πŸ˜‰

New Caledonian Diary – Part 1: Noumea

I think to remember that I got aware of the existence of New Caledonia for the first time around 2003, when I made my first trip to Australia. Some totally relaxed French people in light summer clothes were boarding a flight to a place called Noumea and I never heard of that place before or knew where it was. A quick Internet search revealed the island of New Caledonia and since I reportedly have a strong interest in Pacific Islands you’ve never heard of, I vowed to go there one day. It took a few years to realize the plan but now it happened.
The flight from Tokyo to Noumea takes eight hours and a bit. I arrived at about 23:00 and had ordered an airport shuttle bus. That bus drove a long while through a thoroughly dark countryside before arriving in Noumea. The La Tontouta airport is an astonishing 47 km from Noumea. New Caledonia is also probably one of the biggest islands you’ve never heard of. From Noumea at the south to the most northern town of Poum it is a whopping 425 km. New Caledonia has literally thousands of islands. The Grand Terre, which is the main island, north of it the main three Loyalty islands and the Isle of Pines to the south-west, plus thousands of tiny islands around the big atoll region. The mini bus dropped of some five parties before it was finally my turn as the last passenger and I arrived at my hotel only at 0:30. It was a boutique hotel three minutes from the Baie des Citrons and nobody was there at this time. They arranged to have my key in a safe and emailed me the number beforehand. Luckily everything went well and I got into my room all right.
On the first morning I inspected the Lemon Bay shortly, which has a lovely beach and promenade, then walked some 45 min into “downtown”.

The weather was glorious and the sun super intense. Without my full sun gear including Japanese long sun-protection gloves, I would have been burned in ten minutes. Downtown Noumea is a bit sleepy, but has a lovely Central Park. I’m not overly surprised that there are tensions between the French, the former colony overlords, and the local Kanak people. There are many more or less homeless looking locals while there is not a single French-looking homeless person. Also local youngsters hang out in troves, making the impression they have not much money to spend or things to do. Despite the big size of the island, the population is sparse, some 270,000 it seems and about 104,000 of them are Kanak people.

A cruise ship was parked right next door and a bunch of Australians swarmed town. The cruise ship looked nice but was several leagues smaller than the Independence of the Seas, which I boarded twice so far πŸ˜‰ Apparently an Australian cruise ship arrives in town more or less every day and there are many places where you can pay with Australian dollars. The local currency is, however, the fancy Pacific Franc.
On the way back to the hotel I stopped by a shopping mall and bought a bunch of groceries, since my hotel room luckily had a kitchenette. Prices are amazing in New Caledonia, a few categories more expensive than in Japan and no wonder the locals have trouble making a living. After a magnificent sunset I called it a day.

Amami Oshima Report – Part 3 – Fishing Villages and Habu Snakes

On the first of January I made a bicycle day again and had a lovely time on a very fine day riding around and going critter photo hunting on the beach. I came across numerous starfish and sea urchins. The full moon for New Year also gave a wonderful display over the ocean that night.

On the second of January I thought I had to appreciate the full size of the island and rode with two busses (one had to change busses in Naze) to the southern end of Amami, a town called Koniya. The entire ride took two hours one way. One guy from the hotel said, oh in the past it took even longer to get there because there were no tunnels yet. Indeed there are several new looking tunnels close to the southern end, the longest of them 4200 meters. In nearly every corner that has decent access to the sea there is a fishing village comprised out of twenty, thirty houses, even inland there are several villages like that mostly to farm citrus fruits. Koniya turned out to be a super sleepy place, all very Showa-era. The beaches and landscape are utterly beautiful but the towns are fishing and not tourist towns, since they are too far away from the airport and in the north of the island. Closer to the airport are as beautiful beaches and landscape as well. It was interesting to see the difference of the tourist side of the island, the north, and the working side of the island far from the airport. From my island study point of view (looking for the perfect island to retire to) it was an important trip to make this bus ride to the south.

On my last half day before flying back to Tokyo and Yokohama I borrowed a bicycle again and discovered also a sleepy fishing village in the north before spending some more time at my favorite beach on the Pacific side.
One of the hotel staff was bringing me by free shuttle to the airport and we were chatting during the ride. He was in his thirties, was born on Amami but lived in Tokyo for ten years and now he returned. Somehow the conversation came back to the Habu snakes. He said that if you catch a Habu and bring it to a pharmacy they give you 3000 yen for it. Especially kids are making a sport out of Habu hunting/catching. In the past you got 5000 yen for one snake, but that resulted in too many caught snakes, so they reduced the price money! When he was a kid a Habu entered the bed room of his parents and his dad killed the beast! Kya! Last but not least he personally knows only of one guy who got his leg amputated because a snake bit him and that was an elderly man back when he was a kid. I still don’t know how to kill a Habu πŸ˜‰ Personal Habu sightings during my trip? Zero πŸ˜‰

It was a lovely trip to Amami and the next target is already fixed too, Tokonoshima south of Amami, between Amami and Okinawa, which is much smaller and apparently more of a “real” tourist island. Let’s see when I’ll be able to get there, not for golden week this year, that’s already booked for a bigger and more exotic island, New Caledonia πŸ˜‰

Amami Oshima Report – Part 2 – Ferns and Habu Snakes

On the second day the weather was unfortunately not so nice with rain showers and strong winds which made it colder, so I was glad I booked a little tour to the so called Kinsakubara Forrest, a “virgin” Forrest that has not been once laid to waste by human hands or so they say. The forest is in the middle of the island and you are not allowed to go there by rent-a-car but are supposed to book a tour with a guide. The tour was three hours long and in the afternoon, so I rode by bus to the main town of Amami called Naze (a Japanese play on words, with different kanji (Chinese characters) it means β€œwhy” in Japanese) to explore the town in the morning. The date happened to be the 31st of December. Most shops in Naze had already closed for the New Year holidays but even if they were open the main shopping arcade of Naze made a rather sad and quiet impression on me. I found a cafe/restaurant which was very much what I like to call the Showa flair. The Showa era ended in 1989 and the cafe as well as the whole rest of the town made a seventies impression on me.

Then on to the tour which titled itself an eco tour. The guide was a bit odd, a guy in his fifties who kept on telling us how dangerous habu snakes are and went a bit ballistic on me when I asked, β€œcome on are there really so many around here?” He snapped it was not a question of how many, I wouldn’t ask if there were bears around how many there are either (uh? I would). He pointed out sticks in bamboo holders by the side of the roads every few meters which are for killing habu and snapped, you also don’t ask how to kill the habus, you just kill them. Weird dude! I definitely need to know how I’m supposed to kill a snake with nothing but a stick! Strange guy, maybe he was tired of the question or of naive foreigners? Nevertheless, after windy and lonely mountain roads, we arrived at the rain Forrest and took a walk down a fairly wide and well maintained path (so much for the β€œvirgin” forest. The main attraction of the area are giant fern trees which evoke a bit of a Jurassic Park flair and are very pretty indeed.

It started raining heavily during the walk and I was glad for an umbrella borrowed from the hotel in anticipation of more rain. All in all it was a very nice trip though despite rain and a weird guide.
Another story about the snakes. When the island was returned to Japan after WW2 in the 1950ties, they made a massive settling drive and tried to do something about the snakes (their bite is highly poisonous, that’s why there is so much fuss) and they introduced mongoose for a while. Trouble is those eat everything, not only snakes, but also the local black rabbit. The guide guy said that at its peak there were probably ten thousand mongoose on the island, then they started killing them again and are now trying to get rid of them entirely. The guide said ten years ago one could be lucky to see one rabbit per night tour (they are night active animals) now luckily there are some twenty rabbits again per tour. I find it funny he pulled out all those numbers but none about the habu πŸ˜‰

Miyakojima Travel Report – Part 3

Weather still didn’t look great in the morning of the 30th of April. Cloudy again, but at least it wasn’t raining, so I set out to the last bridge and the last island to the north of Miyako, called Ikema. Really lonely there – nice! One ring road circles the island, and the ride by car takes maybe 15 min. On the northern edge is a small, inaccessible lighthouse. Inside the island is a wetland with apparently a lot of birds, but surely also a lot of mosquitoes. I got stung already once around my hotel and my foot was half swollen, so no thanks to wetlands.
Before the bridge back to the main island was a small resting area with a few booths for food and souvenirs. You could get onto the roof of one of the shops which serves as a viewing platform.

Having too much time at my hands, I rode again to the wind turbine area for a lunch break. Then – what to do? I had seen all there is to see around the islands and it was only noon. For a moment I thought to go back down to the big lighthouse yet again, but then I saw some sign with “marine park” that I had so far missed, made a u-turn and headed there. The road did not look promising at all, super small and between fields, was this gonna lead anywhere? But then, to my surprise, I arrived at a stately building that housed quite an attraction. For a 1000 yen you can walk down stairs into a cliff and at the bottom of the stairs you are below sea level and can see into the water through some 20 windows.
Underwater ocean viewing. Very cool. You don’t have an aquarium beyond the glass but real ocean and who’s watching who? The fish watch the weird humans or we watch them? Lol. Next to the ocean viewing building was a nice cafe where I had a giant mango parfait πŸ˜‰ Thus the trip through the back roads turned out to be quite rewarding.

On my last full day at Miyako and having seen “everything” I decided to go back to my favorite spot pn the island of Shimoji and the second trip there turned out to be only partly a repetition, I discovered three other places I had not been to at the first round. One of them another lovely beach. Next, a giant boulder that a tsunami from around 1770 (I forgot the exact year) has left on the island. The more or less inaccessible beach behind it is maybe another ten meters deep and thus the tsunami must have measured at least ten meters, probably more. gulp.
I went once more to the sink holes too and in one of them divers appeared. Wow.
I guess you must be pretty experienced to dive through those underwater caves and rock in presumably total darkness to emerge in that lake.
On I went around the airport once more, bolder this time, parking the car more often and getting out more often. The rock bay was also a surprise, the tide was low and left the rocks more exposed. It was still beautiful but it actually looked prettier with more water in the bay. I spent some time wandering around on the rock bay beach looking for critters but found astonishingly few.

Then I rode to a viewing spot from atop Irabu island (the neighbor of Shimoji). I had missed that one too at the first trip and am glad I went there after all, since it is rather high and offers a fantastic view of Miyako, the bridge between Irabu and Miyako and also the island of Irabu itself. In total I rode over that big bridge 4 times and 302 km around the five islands of Miyako, Ikema, Irabu, Shimoji and Kurima. If I need to pick a favorite it’s Shimoji and Irabu (after all they are more or less one).
It was a wonderful trip and next on the menu will probably be Ishigaki island, some 140 km further west from Miyako. πŸ™‚

Miyakojima Travel Report – Part 1

Arriving at Haneda airport, I realized that it’s been a hell of a long time that I would board a domestic flight. Last time was probably a flight to Osaka on a business trip a good ten years ago. All other domestic traveling usually happens by train or to all the islands off Tokyo via ship.
Therefore I found it kinda weird that nobody even wanted to see my fresh, new 48-page passport when boarding the first plane to Okinawa. I also heavily miscalculated how long it takes to get to Naha. I thought the flight takes 90 min, oh…. It takes two and a half hours, not one and a half. Japan is bigger – longer than you might think.
From Naha then it took another 40 minutes to get to Miyako island. Well, it’s sort of next door to Taiwan already, where I was last year for Golden Week.

Riding a car is still a major challenge for me and I was very nervous because of it and woke up early. Now what? I was supposed to pick up my rental car at noon. (Since the return flight was also around noonish, I didn’t want to pay for an additional day for a few hours and thus rented the thing from noon to noon.) Going to the rental place by taxi would have taken fifteen minutes… So I walked the five kilometers to the car rental! It made me appreciate going to have a car and it also gave me a nice first impression of my surroundings.
I arrived at the rental place at 11:30, had a bit of downtime, then got the car. It was my first time in a Honda N-Box of course and I drove the first hundred meters with hand break on, parked at the side and searched for the bloody thing! Lol. It was a foot break, so no wonder it took time to find it.
Then I was ready for adventure and drove north to a beach called Sunayama, very pretty, and then on to the lonely cape of the main island, then back home, in total some 40 km, not bad for me. Most of the roads were easy and traffic was sparse, max speed limit I encountered was 50 km πŸ˜‰ This island proves to be the same or even worse than Izu Oshima, no way to get around without a car. It’s too big for getting around by bicycle, at least for my pace and stamina.
The parking back at the hotel was a nightmare. I almost hit another car, and almost a pillar. there were maybe three centimeters left before hitting something! I needed a good fifteen minutes of maneuvering before I stood somehow right. Jeez! Nice practice!
I met the lady who is in charge of the premises later and we discussed about the parking and she said, oh, I had thought you’d park in that spot nose first, while I had tried back first! Lol.
We negotiated another spot (the pic below) and that proved to be not much but at least a little bit easier to get into, especially because of no danger of hitting another car, just pillars and walls. I must admit that it helped immensely that nobody was watching my parking endeavors! Lol.

After riding some 40 km on the first day, it was 55 km on the second. Apart from the island of Miyako itself, there are four inhabited islands around it which are connected to Miyako by three bridges. I tackled the biggest bridge and the biggest separate islands first, which are called Irabu and Shimoji. Those two are only a stone throw apart from each other and three tiny bridges lead from Irabu to Shimoji. Heard around 800 are people living there. Shimoji even has an air strip. On both islands it was for the most part very lonely. That’s how I like driving, with no one else around!
Lol. Very nice scenery with lonely beaches and sink-hole-like ponds and my favorite spot, the rock-dotted bay. To the north of Irabu are maybe 50 meter high cliffs. Wandering out there, I fell and bumped my knee pretty bad, sigh. Back over the bridge I had still too much time on my hands and went to a small mangrove forest. But then I got tired of driving, it still costs so much of my energy, and rode home.
More pics on Flickr later, at the moment there is upload trouble, hmpf…

A few words about the island people.
Many still greet you in the streets and not only because I am a foreigner. Then I twice met a 70 year old grandpa from Saitama prefecture on his bike who even spoke two sentences of German. Next I met a couple from Kanagawa, where I live too on the lookout parking bay on top of the bridge, then two elderly men at the Irabu cliffs. Not only the tourists talk to each other, also the islanders greet you. Very nice, that didn’t happen in the Izu islands I so far visited, nor on Ogasawara. Must be outer Okinawan island flair πŸ˜‰ More next week πŸ™‚

Niijima Travel Report – Part 1

Short summer holidays only for me this year due to work issues and so I went off to yet another island. Japan has 7000 of them, so there’s still a lot to explore. Just joking, the figure 7000 includes all sorts of tiny uninhabited rocks like some of those in the photos you will find on flickr.
This time my target was the island of Niijima, some 200 km south of Tokyo and one of the Izu island chain. Formerly I have been to the biggest of them, Oshima, home of Godzilla, and Hachijojima. A thousand kilometers further south, are the wonderful Ogasawara islands.

Niijima lies between Oshima and Hachijojima and can be reached via the jet ferry, if it runs, that is… We had typhoon 11 of 2014 crossing Japan on the weekend before I was scheduled to leave and even though Tokyo and its islands were not in the direct path of the typhoon, we had very high winds and lots of wind means high waves.
I had, luckily, planned a normal weekend at home, before heading out to the island on Monday. Of course I frequently checked the homepage of the ferry operator, Tokai Kisen, and on the Saturday and Sunday there were zero jet ferries going and even the normal ship did not sail. I was actually not expecting to be able to get to the island on Monday. My ferry was the noon one leaving Tokyo at 13:10, and after getting up, I checked Tokai Kisen’s homepage and there were signs saying, depending on the weather we might not go. I called them and the dude on the phone said, the morning ferries had left Tokyo port. Well, um, eh… that means I better go to the harbor, right?

The ferry was almost full and off we went. Even in Tokyo bay the waters were choppy and outside Tokyo bay of course even more so. The jet ferry travels at around 70 to 80 km per hour and rises above the waves on its wings. That had the nice advantage of avoiding up and down movements, but you still see the up and down from your window and the impact of the waves makes the boat jolt as if someone boxed it from the side. It’s rather unnerving and the sounds are scary too. Water is hard at 70 km per hour… An elderly lady behind me was sighing and pressing a handkerchief to her face the entire time not looking very happy. I was a bit apprehensive, but did not feel sick or anything. The ride took about three hours. We passed Oshima and Toshima to our right and both islands were huddled in clouds. Especially the cloud over Toshima looked like a giant Cthulhu-like beast intending to swallow the island. This cloud hugging phenomenon would continue the entire week.

At first the ferry goes past the goal, making a brief stop at a smaller island south of Niijima called Shikinejima. Then it goes back past Niijima and we landed in its northern port.
There my landlord waited for me with a car. We also picked up a family. This family turned out to be not guests but the landlord’s son, his wife, her mother, and two young children of 5 and half a year. I was the only guest of the place that night, since several people had cancelled, unable to come with the ferries over the weekend.
There are two main settlements on the island. The northern one called Wakago and the bigger one called Honso.

Niijima consists of two mountain areas much like Hachijojima with a rather flat plain between them. Again in a copy of Hachijojima there is an airport on that flat part, if a tiny one. Regular (smaller) passenger jets can fly to Hachijojima. To Niijima the biggest planes are small propellor craft with up to twenty passengers only, which leave from Chofu airport in the greater Tokyo area.
I had dinner with the family then and it turned out that my plans to explore the island via bicycle were no good. There is a tunnel through the biggest mountain connecting Wakago and Honso and it prohibited to walk through it or go by bicycle, only by car or bike.
The hotel has the incredible custom to let its guests borrow their cars and they offered me to drive around with their little Daihatsu Move.
I explained my driving status and experience and the landlord offered, well, I can drive you around a little bit on Tuesday morning and then you can decide whether you dare to drive the Daihatsu or not.

After a sweaty night, the air conditioning in my room was out of order and I slept with the door and window open, an electrician came at 8 in the morning (!) and started to work on my air conditioning while I had breakfast. Then, the landlord ushered me into his big Toyota Granvia and brought me up a small and very serpentiny bad, small road to the highest spot from where you have a nice view of Honso settlement and the islands Jinan and Shikine and the southern mountain.
Next we drove around that southern mountain, when it started to rain. He drove then through the “jungle” at the foot of the southern mountain and said, oh there is a well in here, you wanna see it? Sure. So he entered a tiny dirt path, not realizing that there were some drainage gates at the side of the path. The left tire broke in there and we almost got stuck and the landlord forced the car out of it and blew his front left tire in the process. Kya! I took some pics of the well while he phoned the garage, then we turned around and hobbled back onto the road.

Torrential rain started and we waited for a while, but then he drove on somehow and we crept to the garage, which was luckily only a a kilometer or so away. Now I know what it’s like to drive with a blown tire. I shall refrain from doing so if I can avoid it! At the garage, they changed the tire within ten minutes and off we went again towards home, passing by the most famous beach, Habushiura, on the eastern side of the island.
We were back home already at 11:00 in the morning and I sort of had no choice, go by car myself or be bored to death in the Wakago settlement, which sports two tiny supermarkets and a shrine, a temple and a school. Well, there is a beach and a harbor, but that’s it. Island life!

So, some minutes later I sat behind the wheel of the little Daihatsu and off I went.
At first through the long tunnel where you are not allowed to walk or bicycle. Well, the tunnel is some three kilometers long, I can understand that you are not allowed through the tunnel without a motor under your butt.
I went to the most famous beach again, which is rather close to the tunnel to relax from scary driving! Lol. The tunnel is rather new by the way, about ten years. Some thirteen or so years ago when the volcano of nearby Miyakejima decided to become active, several local earthquakes accompanied the activity. Acording to the landlord, they crumbled the old seaside serpentine road around the mountain. After that, the city of Tokyo decided to invest into that tunnel.

I walked a bit up and down the surfer beach, which is a total of seven kilometers long, until the next massive shower came down, which I sat out under a picnic shelter.
On went the car journey to Honso and the main ferry terminal past the only two traffic lights of the island πŸ˜‰
There are several attractions close to the main ferry terminal. Another beach, more for young children, then a rocky beach, good for snorkeling and shore climbing. Further an onsen with a foot bath, and a real bath under fake Greek ruins, in which you are supposed to wear swim suits. That’s rather rare for onsens, but since it’s visible from the road, it makes sense to have people wear something, not that the drivers are plunging down the cliff distracted by naked people ;-).

Next to the Greek onsen is a big rock that has some World War Two ruins to offer, after a bit of a hazardous climb. Up is much easier than down as I noticed yet again. But since I am writing this, I survived the climb πŸ˜‰
During a rest at the foot bath, I was the only one who noticed another guest of the premises. A rather big rat rushed around πŸ˜‰ It was too quick for a photo. After this break I went on by car, still following the bigger, two lane roads and rounded the island once. Beyond the tunnel, in the smaller north of the island and “close to base” I decided to get a bit adventurous, thinking I could still walk back to the hotel in case something happens, like putting the car in a ditch! So I drove a small curvy road down to a “secret” beach, that the landlord had recommended. Thanks to no oncoming traffic, I got down the road quite fine and was rewarded with an amazing lonely and utterly beautiful beach, whose pics you can find here. At first I was completely alone there, then a small group of elderly people showed up for five minutes and two surfers, who tried their luck, but rather unsuccessfully, with the waves breaking too close to the shore.

Luckily, I had no oncoming traffic on the way back up either and got more adventurous and drove up a mountain road in serpentines in the hope for a good view, which I got πŸ˜‰


The road is a cul de sac (I found out later it was actually the start of the old road around the mountain leading to Honso). Just before the end where you have to turn around, a big, at least one meter long, if not longer, brown snake crossed my path. I noticed her in time and could break and she vanished unharmed into the woods, unfortunately too quickly for a pic.
The car mountain climbing accomplished, I rode back down to the hotel, pretty damn proud of having done my first island exploring by car. More to follow πŸ˜‰