mandag den 23. juli 2007

Saturday Oct. 28 - Another Paradise Road, Another Great Hotel

After more unsuccessful attempts to locate a copy shop competent enough to print a few documents from my memory stick, I ride north on the expressway for about 100 kilometers, to make up for the two lost hours. Then there’s 44 k’s of absolutely wonderful paradise road, so high up the mountainside that I occasionally have to go below the speed limit, to be able to fully enjoy the sights. Being not young but still stupid, I follow a sign pointing towards a waterfall (small, insignificant, and with so many steps leading down to it that I get postal flashbacks (I’m a mailman, and in Denmark mailmen do climb the stairs in apartment buildings)) somewhere to my left, and end up doing 32 k’s of knot-like road. As other many roads like it, it has stretches where not even a car and a motorcycle can pass each other. Again there are large mirrors at each turn, of which there are many, there being no straight stretches longer than 50 meters.

As the twilight sets, I ride along some more paradise road, and end up at an expensive looking hotel. They have no rooms available, nor do the other hotels they call. In the end the guy with the phone figures out, that they will not rent out the last large handicap-friendly room unless I get it, so – being the professional – he offers it to me for what I secretly have decided is my maximum price. 8,000 yen pays here for more space than the combined previous 8-10 smallest rooms I’ve stayed in. The TV has neither a coin box on the side, nor brochures for soft-porn channels, and even a safe stands there in one of the many closets. Origami figures everywhere, a breakfast buffet and the onsen is included, so tonight I will probably think a bit about whether to stuff my relative frugal way of traveling completely.

A bunch of old guys already sit in the outdoor onsen bath, and I hear a comment about ‘gajins’ – foreigners – as I enter, much to the others’ amusement. I laugh along with them, unable, of course, to understand them, with their coarse voices and a dialect much different from whatever Japanese I’ve heard so far. It sound like a cross between the grunting, when four or five guys have their heads down in the engine compartment of a large American car, and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of reciting his favourite poem. I could care less, as I lie here looking up at The Milky Way, listening to gentle jazz music from the outdoors loudspeakers. I laugh aloud about how enjoyable this is. Good thing I took the detour past that lame waterfall.

Today’s English-fix is unexpectedly saved by an architect, who sees the hotel staff go all cross-eyed when I ask for internet access. We end up in the hotel office, me sitting in my kimono, downloading various directions to some vintage bike rallies and swap meets in Osaka and Kyoto, that I may want to attend in the near future. The architect translates everything to English, and later, over a couple of beers, he tells, regrettably, that my favourite beer over here – the red Asahi – isn’t a real beer at all, but some artificial mixed product only made to avoid a government-imposed tax.

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