HOMELESS - LOST - ENLIGHTENED
It is a path of contrasts as we pass The River Oriental Hotel then past the homeless, under bridges, living in neatly organized plastic and paper built 'homes'.
There are even a couple 'gaijin' (foreigners) camped in their dome tents, under the bridges next to the homeless, just off the exclusive Shinmonzen area known for priceless antiques.
Steve does a great job navigating up on the dykes along the river cycle path until it is time to exit in Nara.
|We ride for another 2
hours into residential areas, then back on main highways, GPS batteries
getting a work out and we never do find the camp ground. We finally ask
several people, all also very confused even though we seem to be right
in the area. Finally we find a young girl who actually calls the camp
ground and they tell her we must have a reservation!!
WHAT??? Things seem to be very different in Honshu.
She ends up putting our bikes in the back of her truck, us in her boyfriends van, and drives us 3km to a Youth Hostel. Oh No...there goes our budget again.
The YH has a private traditional tatami mat room for us, storage for our folded up bikes inside our room and a real
In the Daibutsu-den Hall of the Temple of Todai-ji sits the enormous bronze Buddha (16 meters high, consisting of 437 tons of bronze and 130kg of gold) an image of the cosmic Buddha believed to precede all worlds and their respective historical Buddhas.
If you can squeeze through a hole in a large wooden column, which is said to be the size of one of Buddha's nostrils, you will find ENLIGHTENMENT!!
Of course Steve must try, and finds he must exhale completely least he remain stuck forever in the nostril of the Buddha. Fortunately he does not have to sneeze on the way through knocking down the column which holds up THE LARGEST WOODEN STRUCTURE IN THE WORLD!!!
On to the Kasuga Temple which is lined with hundreds of lanterns and hundreds of sacred deer along the path waiting for a hand out.
In Naramachi, an old residential area with narrow streets, we went through a typical merchants house then ate in a very traditional Japanese restaurant, in typical Japanese style, with a lovely garden view.
NARA....SUGOI....we are both ENLIGHTENED!
Day 8 52km A horrendous day!!! It all started quiet nice meeting two Swiss girls on bicycles in a French bakery cafe. The girls had done the bike path from Kyoto as we did only they ended up camping beside the path but did not sleep....too scared! They had a plan to cycle south to a ferry bound for Shikoku Island, as is our plan, only we will go north through Osaka, Kobe and Himeji.
The road to Osaka was jammed with traffic, narrow shoulders with telephone poles, barricades, ramps, ditches, grates, curbs, holes, drop offs and even a turtle with his head tucked in. I could identify completely. Reminded me of the quote 'a turtle makes progress only when he sticks his neck out'.
From here it got worse!!
The National Hiway #308, a recommended route, took us up into the hills where the road became narrower, steeper, then a path through a bamboo forest, up steeper and steeper to the point where we could no longer ride.
We had to get off and push our bikes!! Up and up we went pushing (Puff Puff) into what looked like a Nepalese village above terraced rice fields on top of the Himalayas.
We were exhausted beyond belief. Never have I seen such a steep road.Ahhhh but we can always depend on a great ride down! Not this time!!
The ride down was a nightmare!
It was so steep we almost went over the handlebars, our little trailers nudging us down faster and faster to the point where we had to stop 3 times to cool off the rims of the tires.
By the time we got to the camp ground in the middle of Osaka it was dusk. Only after we set up our tent were we approached by a police officer indicating
Well, it is another day and we are never sure exactly what happened or what they are doing but we ended up with a permit to camp in this one and only campground. We decide to make the best of it and spend another night.
At least we are not homeless sleeping under a bridge or along a bike path. Besides there is a sento a block away across from the 'Friendly' restaurant.
|The first English we speak is to a Japanese lady
who lived in Evanston Illinois. She sets us off on a path to visit the 'Amerika-Mura'
to check out the hordes of colorful Japanese teens
living out the myth of America.
We are in the middle of Osaka, a huge city, riding buses and trains, not exactly sure what we are doing here or where we are going but it seems to be the norm lately.
Frankly I am sitting alone in a cafe somewhere underground out here among thousands of people all moving like little ants in a maze of halls and shops. Steve has ventured off looking for a book shop.
........he does not have his GPS!