Occasional Dairy - Japan
Tuesday 12th December, Gifu, Japan
A day of rest today. Yesterday we spent the whole day cycling in the relentless, never ending rain. We were well beyond soggy by the end of the day. One of Richard's "waterproof" Ortlieb bags actually had a small pond in it when we tipped it out this morning.
We had arranged to meet our host from Couchsurfing at his workplace (no mean feat hunting that down - I think he wins the competition hands down for providing the worst information on how to find him out of all our hosts in the last 3 years - and he's had some seriously scary competition) - we were an hour early so stood there shivering like lost wet dogs until he turned up. His saving grace was the fact that when I asked if I could shower he immediately without any prompting explained how to run the bath - YES... a BATH! A few of our hosts have had them (well the miniature versions they call baths here) but none has ever offered anything beyond a shower before.
The reason that I'm labouring this point is not my delight at the bath (there's insufficient space on the server to give full justice to my love of a bath) but the actual bath itself - the first time I've ever seen anything like it.
Instead of turning the tap & the water running into the bath as in most baths I've seen to date (I'm excluding spa /whirlpools here) there's one of those scary boxes with loads of buttons and unintelligible Kanji (yes - dauntingly similar to the toilets). One of the buttons causes the bath to fill from the bottom and then it jabbers in Japanese at you. Probably great to practice your Japanese with!
Thursday 29th November, Sasayama, Japan
After a week of freezing weather, we've had a few days of warmth and occasional sunshine. As well as being famous for it's spring time Cherry Blossoms, Japan is almost equally famous for it's fantastic red foliage autumn display, which we are having the luck to experience.
We are roughly (very roughly that is - we haven't been following it for about a week but after Kyoto we intend to rejoin it) following a cycling route that we found on the Japanese cycling site www.japancycling.org. We're mentioning it as the site is very impressive and the parts of the route we've followed have been practically everything a cyclist could dream for - stunning scenery, quiet roads and plenty of tourist spots to visit. The only disappointment for us is that fact that the site recommends staying with it's members on route - just email them through the site...which we did but didn't get any response to :-(
So those of you interested in seeing where we are heading take a peek at the website - we'll follow through as far as Nikko/Tokyo and then back to Osaka or Kobe to catch the ferry back to Shanghai.
If anyone reading this knows if we can get a visa in Osaka for China we'd like to know that too as we'd rather do that then stay a week in Tokyo waiting for one to be issued. Japan is probably the hardest place we've experienced to find hosts and finding a host in Tokyo for a week is looking like a grim prospect.