A Travellerspoint blog

Where Do We Go... From Here?

Understand, we'll go hand in hand, but we'll walk alone in fear.

Drone, that is how to describe how I felt the next morning. It may also describe how I looked. Joe calls it my "Yoda eyes," the way they poof up around their tear ducts after I have cried myself to sleep. It was our last day at the hostel in Hiroshima, so we had to be out by 11am. But where were we going? I was supposed to have already planned that. I had vague plans of where I wanted to hit, but at the moment, I couldn't think of any of them. Joe took over, not out of want, but necessity. Beppu was on my list of maybes. It was on the southern "island" from this one, but in the north, so it was the next closest place. Mochan! told me to get a hold of his friend in the city next to Beppu and we could stay with her a few nights. However, we were doing this very last minute. We sent her an email asking not for tonight, but maybe tomorrow night. Tonight, maybe we would stay in Beppu. That city was known for its hot springs, one of the top three cities in all of Japan for its hot springs. The ride was going to be long however, maybe around 5 or 6 hours by
the bullet train, Shinkansen. We of course got a late start, leaving exactly as they were kicking us out, and then we waited a long while for the bus to come and pick us up. We had to let many busses pass us because we needed to pick up the JR bus, as our JR passes would get us on for no additional charge, or "free" as Joe puts it.

At the train station we discovered that we wouldn't be hitting Beppu until late in the afternoon, and by then many of the hot springs would be closed. "Well then, we better hurry." Was all I could think of to say. I didn't want to spend another hour working out where we should go. I just wanted out of this city.

On the train we sat in... normal conversation? I want to put silence here, because that was my mood. I didn't want to talk. I felt like shit. I felt that Joe felt that I was shit. But here we were, talking as if the past 3 days never happened. I hated that Joe could do that. I hated that I hated that Joe could do that. Why couldn't I just let it go? Holding onto it wasn't doing my mood any favors. But isn't he just brushing it under the rug? Won't that come back to bite us in the end? Did I care? Right now, I needed to worry about right now. The future could crash, burn, blow up, implode, whatever, just as long as right now I was taken care of. And right now, I needed a friend to talk to.

Once on the island of Kyushu we had to get off of the Shinkansen in Fukuoka and switch to the regular line. This train traveled gut wrenchingly slow. It stopped every few minutes, and slowly let passengers on and off. We were really not going to make it. But, eventually, as the sun began to set, we made it to Beppu. Joe actually led the way to the information desk, and he hurriedly looked to me and asked me to tell him how to say this that and the other thing. I was complacent, but I wasn't completely unhelpful. I turned to the woman and asked her what we should do in Beppu if we only had the afternoon to do it. She told me that we had to see the Red and Blue Hell hot springs. She showed us pictures, and one hot spring looked like someone pored blue Poweraid into it, and the other truly looked like Hell. "Demo..." she began, and then said something else, and then "Go-ji han desu." "But I think she said they cose at 5:30." We only had time for one, and even then, we would only get in maybe a half hour before it closed. "Arigato-goziimasu." I thanked the woman and we headed back out to the train. She informed us that the springs were actually closer to the stop before downtown Beppu, so we had to backtrack.

Once off the train again, we decided to buy a locker and ditch our luggage while we waited for the bus. "You can't miss it!" The train station operators told us after we asked which bus to catch to the hot spring. "Get off at the stop where you see the plum of smoke near the top of the hill!" It sounded easy enough, and it was. We made it to the Red Hell spring with just about a half hour to view it. We decided on the red hot one since we had seen things similar to the Blue Hell in Yellowstone.

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We paid about $5 to get in...

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But you couldn't actually "get into" the hot spring. It was a look only spring (bummer) because it is so hot, that it actually boils the red clay, which give it the red coloration.

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You could however, dip your feet in the natural hot spring pool they had going next to the hot spring. It was cute, they had the little hot spring demon sitting there with you while you boiled your feet in the cooler water.

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And from there you can look out at the hot spring and the demon table and chair set.

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They also had gardens and coy fish and waterfalls all around the hot spring, so the whole area was very beautiful.

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You can see Joe over there in the background, meditation between the hot spring and the waterfall.

And here is a video of Joe interacting with the Japanese tourist business men who apparently know the secrets of the magic fire.

Then the place was closing, and we had to leave without ever getting to strip down naked and take a really hot bath. This was upsetting to us, and some of the Japanese people there picked up on our vibe, and told us that there was a very nice Onsen just up the road that uses pretty much the same water that flows through this hot spring. Its not red of course, but its not a tourist place either, so it is very cheep and a good way to get to see the real Japan. Okay, we were sold.

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We basically followed this creek all the way up the road, and it was just beautiful. The Japanese really did know who to work some fung sue.

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Then, hidden off the side of the road, a temple gate:

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(The building behind the water shed is the Onsen: )

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And now, of course, I don't have any photos. Joe went into the man's side, and I the women's, and we stayed there for one hour, and it only cot $1.5 each. There were several baths inside, and one bath outside. I preferred to sit in the outside one b/c I was alone in the outdoor one, I could see the tops of the forest trees all golden and green, and did I really need any more reason than that? I almost passed out in the sauna (real log sauna outside next to the hot spring), a place I ducked into after 2 old women had entered about 5 minutes earlier, and they still stayed in there after I fumbled my way out. I was glad they were still in there when I left however, because I would be nervous to be left in there alone. I fumbled with the handle a bit, as the wood was held together quite firmly, but I managed.

Joe was bout 5 minutes late meeting me outside, even after he promised he would leave the Onsen early to make sure he was on time, but I told him I didn't care, and I didn't. It was behind me. Caring about making it to places, about not walking the streets at night, about anything, was beyond me at this point. I was back to being a drone, which was apparently better than who I was when I had a decent personality.

On the way back down to the bus stop Joe found a fruit tree (they are everywhere in Japan), and stopped for dinner.

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And, I can't forget to mention that there is always a vending machine selling drinks, even in the middle of nowhere.

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You'll never find one with candy bars or chips, but no matter where you are, you can always get a tea, coffee, juice, soda, or water, and yes, most of the time you can choose if you want the heated can or the chilled one.

Back at the bus stop we made a solemn pledge to each other to always check when the last bus was going to be running past our stop as we were about 10 minutes away from the last bus to head back to the train station, and we were up in the hills some where with no idea how to get back to the station with all of our things locked inside its lockers.

Luckily everything worked out, and we made it back to the train station with no problem. We got our stuff out of the lockers, and then decided to head back to downtown Beppu where we might be able to find a cheep hotel or hostel easier.

Posted by - Rain 17:03

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