I'm off to the Shakotan Peninsula today. It looks like it'll be just over 2 hours to get there, so this will be my first long ride on the DZed.
The GPS has a bit of a jagged route for me to take, so I should get a good opportunity to see the countryside of Hokkaido.
As I'm fueling up on my way out of Otaru, I check my wallet to see where I'm at with cash flow.
The biggest challenge I might have on this trip is always making sure I have enough yen between cities.
Many foreigners may not realize this, but Japan is still a cash-based culture.
Regardless of the transaction that you're making, most shops here in the country do not accept foreign credit and/or debit cards.
It's very rare to have a shop or convenience store accept such a transaction. Fortunately, many places have ATMs with international access to foreign cards.
As frustrating as that is, at times, I suppose it demonstrates the charm of a foreign culture.
The joy of travel is experiencing something different from what you know and I suppose the currency here is a prime example of that.
The traffic was nearly non-existent on this route, which was great for my cruising speed. While the lack of a 6th gear is annoying, I've found that 5th gear is fairly tall on this bike.
I actually found myself cruising in 4th for short stretches during this route.
Since I was taking a long way around to the peninsula, I figured my cruising speeds didn't have to be as fast as usual.
As I get closer to the peninsula, there's an evident change in the wind. A warmer airstream begins to blow against the forces of the DZed.
Judging by the feeling of the breeze, it was clear that I'm near the sea. With the sea of Japan in my sights, it was time to see what this amazing coast has to offer.
The first stop of the day in the peninsula was to Cape Shakotan. I booked a boat tour along the peninsula and I'm sure the scenery will be a real treat.
I've heard that the sea around the peninsula has its own shade of blue, often referred to as "Shakotan blue".
After taking a slight detour to get to the port, I set my trusted DZed off to the side and climbed aboard the tour boat.
The tour was amazing. Two days ago, I was enjoying the top of a snow-capped Mt. in Sapporo and now, I'm taking in the mellow breeze off of the sea of Japan.
It's amazing to see such a contrast in climates, within a short distance of each other.
While the April winds still carry a bit of a cooler breeze, it's abundantly clear how much this peninsula resembles a tropical climate.
I wasn't able to see all of the marine life I was hoping for but I was able to see several dolphins, playfully swimming along with the boat.
The beautiful blue water just accentuates the charming, intelligent nature of these creatures.
After a few hours on the water, I worked my way back to a nearby hiking trail to take in the sights by foot.
The trail I took has a long, winding route that takes you up to the sea. As I'm walking through, I can't help but notice the lush green grass and shrubbery growing off the sides of the cape.
Coincided with the hunch-backed topography of the land, I couldn't help but think that the trail looks like a big dragon, sleeping by the sea.
As I reach the tail end of the trail, I'm met with a vast blue canvas that is the Sea of Japan. Again, I'm marveled at just how far away I feel from Sapporo.
I know that not every part of the country is going to have such a stunning contrast, so I took as much time as I needed to get the right photos and moments to take it all in.
It's a place I'd like to return to, someday. Perhaps a fishing excursion could just be the thing to bring me back.
One of the nice things about the peninsula is the number of free camping areas for travelers like me to use.
After I took in the sights of the coastline, I hopped on the DZed and found a nearby campsite to call home, for the night.
With my campsite set up and supper out of the way, I couldn't help but ponder about my life over the campfire.
This isn't my first solo trip, nor will it be my last, but I sometimes wonder how these experiences would be different if I had another person with me. Specifically, if I had her with me.
I'm so used to carving out my own adventures that I often forget what it's like to have a companion on a trip like this. I really wished that we were able to do something like this together.
I guess that just wasn't in the cards...
On another note, I have a very busy travel day tomorrow. In the morning, I'll work my way back east and head towards Furano.
I guess blue is the theme of this leg, as the big attraction there is their infamous "Blue Pond".
It'll be the longest day I'll have on the bike, up to this point, so I better get plenty of rest.
Have a good night and I'll see you soon!