I’m sat in my apartment in Beppu writing this… first really quiet night of the trip
What to say about Beppu? Well firstly Janet said, and I quote
Don’t come back without visiting Kyushu
So I had to go!! I got here at about 3pm and promptly hiked round everywhere listed on Wikitravel as places to sleep. Eventually I checked into the Beppu Guest House, which to be honest, as nice as the owner was, felt sterile and a bit prison like. Still, I decided I wanted my own room for the evening so I got one for 2500 Yen. The same price as the Miyajima dorm room and a bit less than the Hiroshima one.
Once checked in I headed straight out, putting my towel and washbag in my bag (I’ll explain later).
After taking these I safely secured my camera in the darkest, most inaccessible parts of my backpack and headed for the traditional Japanese style Onsen near by.
For those not familiar, this means public bath, usually heated by geothermal means and using mineral rich waters. The mean thing most Westerners think of having been in one is that you go into it starkers. No clothes, no swimmers allowed. You have a small (30x60cm at best) towel to cover your modesty when not in the water, but you also use that for drying yourself.
Anyway, after going in there, I got over the nerves that everyone has quicker than you’d think. Think of gym changing rooms, no one is looking at anyone, so what have you got to worry about? That being said, I know a lot about the ceiling in there! Some fella was taking pictures before I got changed! I waited until he left.
The idea is that you go in, get changed and head to the baths where you have some thing to scoop up the water (or perhaps a shower) and wash yourself before entering. Then you hop in (this one was 42C! Apparently the locals like it hot), prune up a bit, hop out and rinse off in the same way as you got in.
It’s actually really nice and relaxing once you get past the nerves. It’s not a sausage fest or some sort of strip show, everyone is there to enjoy the water. A lot of the Japanese were even having conversations! There was another guy who looked like he could speak English but I didn’t feel like chatting…
Well, the whole experience, as nice as it was, gave me a killer headache! Guess it was the heat since my arms/hands were tingling when in the hot water.
I went out to get some Japanese Curry and some Asahi to wash down the Ibuprofen, and found Japanese Curry is the greatest! I had had it (unknowingly) before at Wagamama’s in the UK, but it’s great over here! Especially with sticky rice!
I chilled out for the rest of the evening in the hostel room (was late anyway after dinner) since there didn’t seem to be a lot of places for a night out. I realised that evening that I didn’t have enough time to make it to Mount Aso and then get back to Hiroshima to meet Janet on Saturday evening. Gutted. Another active volcano I haven’t seen.
So I decided to stay in Beppu and see it properly, get a 1000 yen bus pass, and do the Tour of the Hells in Beppu. But first to find a cheap place to stay for the night, just somewhere small to lay my head, 2000 yen or less…
Yes, that place of a place I found (Happy Neko in Beppu) should do!!! I have a huge apartment for the evening! You can’t see the kitchen which is nearly as big as the lounge. No shower though, everyone uses Onsens.
The Hells are volcanic ponds which are vibrant colours. I bought the 2000 yen pass for all 8.
See what I mean? They are great! Can’t bath in these though
This one is so hot that they turned the local area into a zoo for wild animals…
They seemed happy enough…
When I got to the next one they let you actually get close to the water. So I ate a rice cake (not sure what they are actually called) which had been steamed with the water (so they say) and had a relaxing…
… Footbath!? This place is turning me into a woman!
A few more pictures…
You see that bamboo pole with something hanging from it? It’s for boiling eggs!
After all this fun, it was time to go try some of that mud. So I headed for the local mud baths.
1050 yen later (ouch!) I headed in there. It wasn’t 1 bath you took, it was 5. There were 5 different ones! Firstly a normal mineral water bath, cloudy though. Then your first mud bath that wasn’t that muddy. Then a proper clay mud style on that was nice and hot., the mud properly stuck to you and you chilled out there for a while. Then you headed for the 4th bath, this is the first mixed gender bath.
Your probably all thinking that this was a great knocker watching opportunity. Bollocks it was. Although the men and women shared the same water, it was still segregated. And even if it were not, remember this is cloudy water, covering more than a conservative swim suit ever does!! And that being said, both men and women sort of went to the bits where the other gender could not see them… does anyone see the point I’m trying to make here!?
Oh.. then after that nice mud bath you go back to the normal water bath and clean off. It’s nice! Very relaxing outside!
After that I tried, but failed, to get to the Ropeway up Mt Tsurumi… but missed my chance, it closed at 5! Gutted.
Headed back to my great apartment, looked at the restaurant map for somewhere to eat, but they didn’t look like somewhere a non-Japanese speaker could manage that well (not many places round here are). I headed for the local supermarket and came out with this:
What gets me is, those cans are 128 yen each, the meal was 398 and the single apple was 152 yen!!! Its the size of a softball, but 152 yen!? The whole thing cost me about 1050 yen, or ~£7.50…. going through money quick here.
Anyway, tonight I’m sat here watching Dark City and writing this. Tomorrow I’ll do Fukuoka before heading back to Osaka!
And a short update tomorrow from the Sonic Express
I’m not sure I’m supposed to be using the Kyushu Railway on Japan Rail, but they didn’t complain when I came down from Kokura… conductor just arrived and didn’t complain!
I forgot to mention, the trains here are fantastic. I’m in standard class and this is miles better than even UK first class! Loads of leg room! Probably a foot of extra room! Nice!
Now, back to Austin Powers in Goldmember…