today was quite a short day compared to the previous days. we checked out of the hotel prior to 10AM and picked up by Hitomi-san and Jessi by car. we went to the Tenjin station and dropped our bags in a locker, that way we can walk around Tenjin area before leaving for Beppu by bus. Hitomi-san was very helpful in buying the tickets. she got us three tickets to Beppu, and two tickets back to Fukuoka, for the day we’re flying back to Singapore. we then bid farewell to Hitomi-san… we’re hoping that we could do the same thing for her when she visits Singapore…
as we walked around Tenjin, we realized that everything was closed. no department stores, no small cute stores… nothing. well, the first of January turned out to be a national holiday, and everyone took a day off…
so, we had brunch at the only place open besides McDonald’s. i don’t remember the name but it was a cozy place that sells mostly spaghetti. i had, of course, spaghetti mentaiko. he he he.
we then continued walking around the dead city of Fukuoka, starting at Tenjin area and almost reaching back to Hakata. we noticed that there were so many crows and seagulls. there was a lady in a bike feeding the birds. it was a pretty neat sight seeing her with twenty something crows flying around her.
it’s finally 1:45PM and it’s time to leave Fukuoka for Beppu. the bus ride took about two hours. we basically slept almost the whole way, i woke up about half an hour before reaching Beppu and was surprised by the view out of the window… the landscape was amazing! i have never seen anything like that. it’s just… different. the mountains forms sharp angles instead of nice roundy slopes. there were mountains that looks green furry (i think it was covered with bamboo trees) on one side and rough yellow parts on the other. and whenever there is a valley in between the mountains, there is always a few houses and small farms. i woke ari up and we spent the rest of the bus ride admiring the view.
Beppu is located right between a beach and a row of mountains. the bus came from behind the mountain and as it climbed up, the view slowly reveals a small city right on the edge of water. ari and i went, whoa…. this little city is also known as “the capital of Onsen (hot springs)”. supposedly, there were over 2000 hot springs around Beppu. so, we could see the towers of smoke from the onsens spread around the city… the view from the top of the mountain makes the city look like it is on fire, except that the smoke is all white.
when we arrived at Beppu, we walked to our minsyuku (Japanese style bed and breakfast), which was only two blocks away from Beppu Station. Jessi made the reservation, so we weren’t really sure how it would look like… but, to our surprise, the minsyuku was so cute and wonderful! it was definitely the best accommodation we’ve ever had in Japan, counting the time we went to Tokyo a few years ago.
the house was full of knick-knacks from all over the world. quite a collection. and it has an onsen in the house and the family that runs the minsyuku was friendly. they even let Jessi visit our room, which was far larger (and warm!) than any other rooms we have stayed in the past few days… we couldn’t ask for more.
we rest for a little bit in the room before went out to Beppu Station to go to APU (Jessi’s school). once we got to the bus station, we realized that since it’s a public holiday, the bus that runs between APU and Beppu stopped after 7pm… and we don’t really want to get stuck in APU… so, we canceled the plan and went to have dinner instead.
just like in Fukuoka, there were only a handful of restaurants open in Beppu. everything in the downtown area was closed, even the only mall in Beppu has its doors locked. so, as soon as we found a machi-ya open, we got in and ordered ourselves dinner.
i was craving for a katsu-don, so it was perfect. we stayed there for a while and watched another weird Japanese New Year’s TV program.
after dinner, Jessi left to go back to her dorm in APU, while ari and i went back to the minsyuku and tried their onsen… it was my first time trying an onsen, so i was quite nervous. this onsen, however, is a family onsen. we can reserve the whole place for half an hour. so there, i learned what we need to do… first, strip. second wash and clean yourself in the shower (sitting down on a small stool). then, we can go into the bath… naked.
i didn’t realize how HOT the bath was. it took me over five minutes to get myself completely submerged into the water (with my head out of the water, of course). and even then, i couldn’t move my body under the water without feeling this tingling sensation. i have to admit, my first time in the onsen was uncomfortable. i thought i was being boiled alive.
we stayed in the water for less than 10 minutes. i was red, flushed and feeling too hot. after we got out of the water, we dried ourselves and put the clothes (or in this case was a yukata) back on and went to our room. then it started to feel good. i felt sooo relaxed. and the cold winter weather do not have any effect on me. i was so warm for the rest of the night. now, i want to do it again the tomorrow…
meanwhile, since everything was closed, we spent the rest of the night watching a physical challenge program on TV. sorta like American Gladiator, but much larger with crazier stuff on it.
photo album: Japan Trip: Day 9 (1 January 2006).