Day 5 – Kamifurano to Fukiage – Steep road – Gate closed – Storm passes…
To repair the cracked pole I point it to one of the park maintenance guys, making a cutting gesture and uttering the words ‘typhoon’. He nodes with a sympathetic groan and pulls out a power grinder – easy fella… After a fruitless attempt, another guy shows up and we go to a shack where I see a metal saw hanging on the wall. I point to it excitedly making some sounds and they let me cut the piece right there on the floor. Then I ask the grinder guy to hold the machine while I smooth out the edges. That should work for the rest of the trip, if we don’t have another windy night.
The tent tries to get airborne and we hear a loud popping sound. Bengül and I jump to our feet (I mean, we sit up in our sleeping bags). One of the precious poles must be broken I am thinking. We scramble back and forth in all fours trying to look busy. In the meantime, the tent dome is somehow still in shape and we seem to be doing fine. I reluctantly go out to find out what happened. It turns out, the tip of one of the pieces is cracked but still holding. The same pole had been broken in the middle for a long time. A bit duct tape on it, four more strings around the tent fly and I’m back in. We spend the rest of the stormy night one eye open.
Day 3 – Lake Katsurazawa to Kamifurano – Ramen – Flowers – Storm coming…
With a usual early start we trace our steps back to hwy 452 with the morning traffic and continue north. After a short tunnel, there comes a scary long one with little to no shoulder. Bengul decides to walk. Her bike’s front wheel is touching the pedals if she makes a wide turn. Weather is sunny and wind is coming strong from east and then south.
Day 2 – Yubari to Lake Katsurazawa – Scenic route – Sunday crowd – Dragon flies…
I wake up at 3:30am and roll in my sleeping bag until 6. We pack and walk to the resort lobby to catch up with our journals. It’s easy to hit the road without breakfast. We go south to leave the town and to meet the sharp turn to the north, and briefly shop at one of the ubiquitous Seicomarts. These little convenience stores (along with 7-elevens and Lawsons) are a lifesaver and sometimes the only option to replenish your food, although their selection of stock is not the best kind. I like the small sticky rice triangles with seaweed in it. They also carry cereals and a kind of peanut caramel paste that we recently discovered.
Our flight to Chitose via Taipei is at 2am. Check-in is smooth and bicycles are included in our free luggage allowance, sweet! I recommend EVA airlines to anyone travelling to Japan or wherever they might be flying.
Bengül and I are almost ready for our Hokkaido adventure. We booked our flights two months ago and since then I’ve been trying to learn some essential Japanese phrases, such as “Where is the toilet?” and “I don’t understand what you’re saying”.
The Big Island is ideal for cycle touring if you don’t mind the price tag of shipping (or renting) your bicycles there. I did see a few places here where you can actually buy bicycles under $200 but I’m not sure if it’s worth it.
Food at the store is generally expensive, costing twice or more than it does on mainland, but fresh fruit and vegetable you find in the farmers market can be cheap (especially if it’s a bit bruised) and is well worth the price.
Day 12 – Kohanaiki back to Kailua-Kona – Turtles – Farewell
We go into the water one last time in the morning. The tide is really low so rocks are right on your face if you start swimming from the shallows. We manage to find a sandy spot to ease ourselves in but when the time comes I cannot find an obvious way to get out. The waves make it hard to avoid rocks and I am about to panic a bit; where is Bengul, I wonder. I stand on a relatively smooth coral to catch my breath. Luckily I spot Bengul already on the beach looking towards me. I put on my mask and carefully swim among and crawl over a bunch of rocks to finally make it to the sandy beach. I now have a few cuts on my fingers and on my big toe.