Yakushima - It rains 35 days in the month (Day 211)
Off to the Island of Yakushima - It rains 35 days in the month here!!
An early breakfast of our usual muesli and banana – but no bowls! We often find on our travels that we need to be flexible and creative. A couple of glasses and teaspoons will do. Off down to the port to find that Sakurajima was smoking a good ‘un. At the ticket office, there was a notice to say that the ferry may have to turn back. I thought it was because of the volcanic dust, however, it was due to bad weather. What bad weather? The 4-hour journey went smoothly, no turning back, and we met a very nice Swedish lady who arrived in Tokyo yesterday and sat on the train all day for her first destination in her 2.5 week holiday here. She loves islands and lighthouses (a bit random) and there are at least two on Yakushima Island, so we hope she manages to see them both. As we got off the ship, it was raining. We saw a sign “Mr Tim Reed” and there was Yuka next to a Mazda Bongo van – our home for the next 4 nights. Yuka went through all the legal requirements, checking our International Driving Licences and commented that we were not part of the EU now. We proclaimed that we are still! Tim took photos of the various dents and I had a look at the bedding. There was the plastic covered thin mattresses, a futon, two pillows and then what looked like a large towel. Where was the duvet or sheets and blankets? Yuka informed me that the ‘towel’ was, in fact, our bedding. It is summer time now and we didn’t need much. Mmm…I was sleeping under a nice thick duvet last night inside an Airbnb, I was nice and cosy. He said we could drive back to his and pick up some blankets – great. The rest of the van looked good, pots, pans, gas cooker etc. plus Yuka showed us that the itinerary included two “wee” bags! That will do us. We followed him in our little automatic Bongo van, waved to the Swedish lady and picked up two large blankets. Now for lunch. We’d passed a nice looking café called Aqua and stopped by. We were the only ones there apart from the waitress and chef. We ordered their ‘special’ lunch – sweetcorn soup, salad with marinade mackerel, then Tim had black pig burger and I had flying fish with garlicky spaghetti. The waitress was giggling most of the time, she was delightful. We chatted (using google translate) about the many vegetables and fruit we could see they were growing in the garden; watermelon, cucumber, lettuce pumpkin etc... all foods that need a lot of water! Onto a supermarket for some provisions for this evening and tomorrow morning. We ended up going to two as the first one had a very limited selection of food, mainly selling fishing equipment and wellington boots. It had been raining but then the heavens opened. The island is renowned for raining. In 1950, author Fumiko Hayashi was staying on the island and wrote a full-length novel “Uki-gumo”. She gave a detailed description of the rainy weather in her book including the famous line “It rains 35 days a month”. Oh well, it reminds us of home! We decided to drive to the other side of the island, I am sure I read somewhere that it’s not as wet there – who was I kidding. We needed to find somewhere to park and sleep. On a map in the car, it has a few places with ‘P’ and ‘T’. One looked a bit off the beaten track, so we aimed there. We drove through windy roads of huge ferns, moss-covered rocks and bamboo amongst other lush foliage and came across a parking spot with a small toilet block. Tim insisted that we needed to go further up the road, so off we went, the road was getting steeper and narrower. I knew that we should have stopped and even Tim was wondering how we were going to go back down, it was a long way to reverse with a sheer drop on one side and a steep bank on the other. Luckily we came across a bay and 5 point turn later, returned back to the parking spot. Three games of German Whist later, the loser had to get out to take a photo of Bongo the van – I’ll let you see who won by the smug look of the person’s face sitting in the dry van. Snack of sushi and half a can of gin and tonic each, it’s an early night for us. Good night.