Kyushu is the third largest island of Japan, she fascinated me straight from the beginning. When the ferry arrived in Kagoshima I saw how the Sakurajima vulcano spit out big clouds of ash. I never saw an activ vulcano before and was excited about it. When I left the ferry and tried to find my way out of Kagoshima I got a lot of ash in my eyes. At first I wanted to escape from the vulcano but then I considered elsewhere and went directly to Sakurajima. Around the vulcano everything is covered with black ashes.
After Taiwan I continue traveling by myself. I’ve chosen Japan as my next destionation already last year. I flew on the 02.06. to Naha. Yen brought me to Taoyuan airport and made sure my biycyle comes with me on the plane. She booked the extra luggage at the counter. It was very easy to travel with her around Taiwan because I didn’t need to be worried about the language, Yen translated for me always. Before Taiwan I spent two years in Australia and New Zealand and could talk English to everybody. Now I’m going without any Japanese skills to Japan and Japanese have the reputation to have bad English skills. But I didn’t need to worry so much Yen wrote me an letter in Japanese so that people can help me to find a place to camp, she draw some pictures to point as well. The short flight was very scenery I had luck and got a window seat and the seat next to me was empty so I could stretch my legs. At the arrival there was a long queue at the customs for foreign passport holder, they are all Taiwanese tourists. Fortunately I contacted a warmshower-host in Okinawa in advance. Because for the immigration I need to give a local address and I can’t just write down “camp by the beach”. So I put the address of my host. Out of the terminal I assembled my bicycle. It was midday and very hot. I went back into the terminal and took money from the ATM that was good because most of the Japanese Banks don’t accept foreign credit cards, only at post office and 7-11. I bought a prepaid simcard from a vending machine. The simcard is for internet use only, foreigner in Japan aren’t allowed to own a simcard with an own number to make calls.
From Hualien back to Dongshi
After Hualien we cycled on the Suhua Highway. This Highway is kind of dangerous, the road is narrow, windy and busy with trucks. As we left Hualien it started to rain heavily. Yen wanted to take the train to reach our daily destination the Nanao Natural Farm where is a free campsite. At first I was against to take the train because I wanted to cycle all the way but then I agreed, it was only 40 km by train (from Chongde Station to Wuta Station). We found the free campsite in Nanao. I couldn’t believe this campsite is for free so I asked at the office and they said “no money”. The campsite is huge and beautiful, many campers coming here.
From Manzhou to Hualien
The road from Manzhou to Xuhai was narrow but quiet. It started to rain heavily around lunch time, we decided to stay in Xuhai, there are several campsites. From Xuhai the road leads into the mountains. We climbed to 400 m height. I had the feeling the road is more used by cyclists than by cars. The landscape is very green and we saw wild monkeys in the trees. What a change in compare to the high populated west coast suddenly we are alone in the jungle.
We stopped in a small village to eat something. We ordered noodles and the chef prepared us an flying fish, which was catched in the sea. I never saw such a fish in real, he has wings indeed. While I was wondering how much this special dish will coast some aboriginal (Paiwan people) on the table next us start talking to Yen. These guys work on road construction and carried bombs on their truck to blast tunnels. They were interested in our trip and where I’m from. Then one guy of the group said he will pay our meal. I didn’t accept but he insist. He said it will bring him luck to invite an foreigner, tomorrow he will win in lottery, he said.
To get to the most southern part of Taiwan we followed the Highway 1 along the coast line that turns into Highway 26 later. When we left Kaohsiung behind we came through smaller cities. The landscape became more interesting. We camped on a Saturday at a school. It was no problem. Toilets are always open and the locals coming here to make sport.
On the 19th April, after 3 years I started my trip, I discovered still new food. Yen bought some beans called water caltrop who have a black shell with the shape of a mustache. In Hengchun we ate in a Vietnamese restaurant. There are many immigrants from Vietnam.