Cycling Kyushu: Day 1 / by Ryan Mundt

MORE LIKE HIROSHIMA-YUCKY!

The alarm wakes me up nice and early and I’m super excited to get this trip I’ve been planning for months finally under way! I get out of bed, open the blinds to find not a cloud in the sky! Maybe the weatherman will be wrong today. I get the water ready for my coffee and hop in the shower! Feeling awesome!

However, what comes next is something I honestly couldn’t bring myself to share with a soul for the first two or three days, not my mom, my girlfriend or closest friends…it’s THAT bad!

So at some point, for whatever reason, while packing to leave I pull back the bed cover a bit. That’s weird, what are these crumbs? I didn’t eat anything in bed last night. I didn’t have any food in my pockets either. Upon closer look it kind of looks like dried ramen noodle crumbs…fast forward two seconds….

What the F**K!?! Could it really be?!?! No!!! Oh my god, it MUST be!!! I pull back the cover to see the underside, only to find a huge dried crusty spot on the bed spread. There is vomit in my f**king bed!

As I stand completely mortified, my first thought was, “No way, this doesn’t happen in Japan”. Could I have done this? I mean, I did go out and have a few beers and okonomiyaki last night. No way! One; any buzz I might have had would’ve worn off by the time I finished talking to my mom and girlfriend. Two; I think a middle-of-the-night upchuck would leave an impression in my memory. And three; it wouldn’t be dry! So there you have it… I slept in someone else’s dried ramen vomit. Thanks for coming, I’m here all week. Be sure to try the veal…. stay away from the noodles!

I’m LIVID at this point! Who throws up in bed!? Then, what cleaning staff decides to NOT change the sheets? I storm down to the front desk. I’m too pissed off to bother with speaking Japanese. The girl spoke English to me the day before. Plus my Japanese ability plummets once I’m either angry or panicking.

“You speak English… I want my money back! Someone threw up in my bed!” I say to the staff. Confusion. I try in Japanese. It’s not a language problem…. she, much like me, can’t compute how this could happen. Only difference is, she didn’t have to f**king SLEEP in it!

Still not fully processing the situation and the manager looking on at the angrier-growing foreigner, the girl comes with me to the room and has a look herself. Fast forward two seconds…. lots of sorrys and lots of bowing.

We get back down to the desk and she tells the manager… more bowing and sorrys. I get my money back, tell them to explain it to the cleaning staff and I get the hell out of the hotel!

Ready to rock and roll!

If anyone is planning a trip to Hiroshima… lovely city… just stay away from the Court Business Hotel ten minutes from the station!

ON THE ROAD AGAIN!

Day One: Hiroshima to Fukugawa  |  111km

Soooo, after the vomit episode, I walk outside to beautiful blue skies. After a short stop at 7-11 for water, a sandwich and a Snickers bar, I clip in and hit the road. It’s a Monday morning, and downtown Hiroshima is full office workers and students heading to work or school. Cycling through the lively street does just the trick to wake me up and put me in a great mood!

I head out on Route 2, which I will be more or less following until Kyushu. I head southwest toward the coast, getting a nice glimpse of the port and Miyajima. The first little break will be the famous Kintai-kyo Bridge, a mere 40km away. Around Iwakuni it starts to get green fairly quick and pretty much stays that way till the coast.

I stop in to another 7-11 and buy an onigiri and a chicken salad and go down to the bridge. Kintai-kyo is a classic Japanese style bridge with multiple wooden humps build on large stone pillars.

Even though it’s a Monday, the place is still pretty busy with tour buses bringing people in, presumably from Hiroshima. After eating a little, I walked down to the river bed and over toward the bridge pillars and snap a few pics.

My blue skies didn’t last very long at all! It’s now a bit chilly so I throw on my jacket. Back on the bike I head down Rt. 2, which is getting a bit hillier, but nothing bad.

The best thing about climbing hills is reaching the top. As it starts to level out, you switch the gears and get ready to speed down the other side! I think my top speed today was around 53kph.

As I come blasting down the curvy forest road near Takamizu, suddenly there are tons of huge koinobori flying in the wind. There is a big shrine as well and behind it, up the mountain I can see a waterfall dumping its water behind the building. Wow! I wasn’t planning on this but I got to stop! Huge tourist traps aren’t my thing but this one was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

I park the bike and get off to explore. It’s finally starting to sprinkle. I walk around this place and everything actually looks really authentic. It doesn’t look like the typical facade slapped together to lure you away from your cash. This place is cool! Around every nook and cranny was wood and stone that looks like it’s been there for ages. The restaurants looked super cozy. Imagine the perfect old Japanese house out in the countryside with a traditional fireplace, lanterns and shiny wood surfaces polished by years of human touching. Behind one of the buildings was a peaceful little koi pond with a Buddha statue in the center.

I contemplate stopping for lunch here, but I’m not really hungry and am eager to put some more k’s on the bike before I stop. So I head out of this mystical little place, through the parking lot and hop on the bike. Still got a lot of this downhill to enjoy!

The rain begins to pick up. I stop to put the rain covers on me and the bags and peddle on. After a while it’s just a bit too much, plus I’m hungry and the iPhone is in need of a charge. I find the nearest ramen joint, get the bike under a roof, go in and order up some gyoza and what turned out to be a so-so bowl of miso corn ramen. How often do you get ramen that isn’t awesome!?! Not very often, but it warms me up and fills my belly.

As I charge my phone I take a few minutes to share some photos on facebook. I wouldn’t normally be this active posting stuff on facebook, but got a lot of messages and people in Tokyo and back home to keep them updated.

While I absolutely loved all the comments and support, I really wanted to make sure it wasn’t ruining the actual experience in front of my eyes, you know. I’d hate to ruin a good time by stopping to tell people on facebook that I’m having a good time.

So phone charge and rain pretty much stopped I hit the road. Next stop, a beach I scoped out on Google maps just past the city of Shunan on the Inland Sea.

Shunan is nothing special, pretty grim actually, as are a lot of countryside towns in Japan. The rain starts to pick up again so I take refuge under an overpass. The GPS says the beach is due south. When I arrive at the beach it’s even better than I thought! But because it’s still raining I find a little shelter and make a hot cup of coffee.

I’m always a bit nervous about just setting up camp in public areas. Japan is either totally nonchalant or very strict. So I walk back and forth on the beach trying to find the least conspicuous spot. I drop my bags off and head to the super market for dinner…still raining….surely it will stop, right?

The rain still isn’t stopping and doesn’t look as though it will anytime soon. I am forced to seek shelter in the men’s room. Keep it classy, Shunan! I’m cold and wet, and cooking dinner on a urinal. What a shitty start to the trip so far!

Anyway, tonight’s dinner, franks and mushrooms in rice with a packet of tomato eggplant sauce mixed in. Actually turned out to be pretty damn good!

How long can I possibly stay in this toilet? I’m bored, out of booze, and miserable. But I am on vacation and doing what I love, so I am, in a way, enjoying it. The way I see it is, it’s all part of the journey and tomorrow’s a brand new day!

So around 9pm I crawl into my sleeping bag in my now soaked tent and fall asleep PDQ.