Rain was forecast for our departure from Nagasaki, it never happened. The rain that is, we did depart! It was hardly fun heading north out of town, Nagasaki is nestled between the hills, that means everything is crammed in the valleys, so it was a long drag out of town. The roads quietened down a little, but they were never they nice bay side remote roads that they looked on the map. The highlight was finding a Shinto temple that wasn’t even marked on the map, a big place (photo) with a big sack full of Yen thrown at it and nobody there. The pool was stacked full of hungry fish. We threw some food in creating such a frenzy that some of the fish were completely out of the water. After a pretty uneventful day we turned off the main roads onto a little deserted road heading along the shoreline. As I was heading down a hill at about 30km an hour I rode through what looked like a few leaves, but after the recent rainfall they contained little surprises in the form of rocks. I hit one full on, a hefty whack with both wheels. Thankfully I managed to remain upright and there is no visible damage to the wheels. We made our way down a steep track to camp at sea level beside some rice fields, complete with water running into them. The view across the bay to the sea on one side and hillside house was lovely. I seemed to be driving Christine mad, for some reason she doesn’t like me picking the scabs off my knee…..that will teach her to push me off my bike! The day had been dry all day, it was wonderful to be camping in decent weather again on dry solid ground. The evening was very humid, we stayed outside until the bugs forced us in. The outer sheet was kept undone at the back and front to let a little more air through. I woke during the night to see flashes of light, rain was surely on it way so I got up to pitched the tent correctly. Within half an hour the rain arrived, normal service was resumed, it was torrential and by the time it stopped half an hour later we were again lying on waterlogged ground. We had cleaned everything whilst we had been in Nagasaki, what a waste of time!
The following day was back to the main road bash. Most of the population of Kyushu live across the north of the island, there was no pretty, quiet route across, or at least we certainly didn’t find it. By afternoon the weather was deteriorating, drizzle set in, which turned to rain. At the supermarket stop we decided not to cook but to just buy snacks. We found a spot easily enough, on a small hill overlooking the bay. It looked an ideal spot, it had even stopped raining, we changed our minds and decided to cook. We hadn’t even unloaded the bikes before we realised we had a serious mosquito problem here. We changed plans again and abandoned the cooking. That was such a good move. By the time the tent was up we were both thoroughly bitten. Once inside we could at last relax in the knowledge that they wouldn’t be coming in through the mesh. I could hardly believe just how many mossies there were, there were literally dozens of them buzzing away at the mesh, trying to get in for their all you can eat buffet. A couple of guys were in vans around the corner from us, they came over and gave us some eggs. Isn’t that typical, the night we are not cooking and we are kindly given food that needs to be cooked.
By morning and a night of drizzle, it was time to make a move, there was nothing for it, we had to get out of the tent. We got packed as quickly as possible, but we still took a hit from the mossies. As much as I love camping, the desire to continue with it is wearing a bit thin. It is either too hot and humid, soaking wet, or full on bugs that want to take chunks out of you. Well, if you are really lucky you only get one of those, on an average day you will get any combination of two, on a bad day you get the lot! We only had a short ride into Fukuoka, a big sprawling city. We checked into a dry, mosquito free hotel with air conditioning and went off for lunch then to Canal City. It basically a modern shopping centre (photos) with the buildings in different and striking colours, set around pools of water. On the hour the fountain did different displays to music. There was a fountain there like I have never seen before, it was brilliant. Instead of pushing water up from below, this one dropped water from above. In doing so it made different patterns and shapes and even writing in both positive and negative, I cold have sat and watched it for hours, very clever. We also watched a guy doing a half hour juggling show. At the end everybody left, but we sat around for a while and he came over and talked to us. He was a Canadian, now living in the north of Japan. He has been here for 7 years now. He was a really nice guy, we sat and talked to him for about half an hour and found out a little of what it is like for a foreigner to live in Japan. As we had expected, the foreigners are never really accepted, they are treated well but are always viewed as outsiders.
So Fukuoka marks the end or our tour of Japan, our 3 month visas have all but expired, we have to move on. Japan and the Japanese people have been very good to us, we will both be sorry to leave. I will take away fond memories. I would highly recommend it as a place to travel, it is about as safe as anywhere could possibly be, there is a lot out there to see, it’s a very different culture and the lifestyle seems relaxed. We have not experienced or seen any aggression, not even in the driving. On one occasion we heard somebody on a mobile phone who was clearly angry, that is the only time in 3 months here that we have even heard a raised voice. The Japanese are not the most outgoing of people, but ask anybody even a simple question and they will do everything they can to find you an answer. It has been a pleasure to be amongst them for a short time, I leave with the utmost respect for them.