Saturday, July 7, 2012

Japan 6: Hitch Hiking Mix Up




"Where you go?" 


A kind elderly man must have noticed my extremely confused face as I stepped off the 2 hour long local train journey from Matsuyama arriving in a remote town in the middle of nowhere. After lack of planning I had arrived in a situation where I regretted not knowing more than three Japanese words.


"Um, Beppu"


By the look on his face I could already tell it was going to be a long journey.


"Yes, yes, I take you"


Once again Japanese people constantly surprise me with their absolute generousity and kindness. After a half an hour car ride out of his way, full of broken conversations of "I like udon noodles" and "I have no children", the only phrases I could try and pronounce from my phrase book, we arrived at the ferry port and I presented him with the little koala souvenier, the only thing I had to thank him for his kindness. But of course Japanese will go above and beyond to help you.


The kind man, carried my backpack inside the ferry terminal and proceeded to organise my ferry boat ticket across to Beppu. After a long discussion and many charades it was sorted and my ticket to Beppu was booked, or so I thought.


After getting comfortable on the ferry enjoying the variety of vending machines, casino gambling slot machines, massage chairs, indoor cinema, free internet and of course the awesome view outside I looked up to the destination sign on the wall displaying "Uski", a place I had never heard of, but knew that it wasn't the destination I wanted. 





I arrived bewildered and lost in translation with no one around me speaking English. The trip to Beppu from Uski was a lot of running around talking to people who knew no English and playing charades. The train conductors were literally running with me from each of the different trains I had to catch. I felt so hopeless but it was a lot of fun and after 10 hours on three trains, a tram, a taxi, hitch hiking, a ferry and lots and lots of walking i got to Beppu still in one piece.  


Luckily Beppu was a delightful little town with many onsen, natural sulphur pools and water spouts well worth the long journey there.

The many chimneys in Beppu releasing the natural steam from the earth
Natural sulphur springs

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