I had about a week to kill before my girlfriend flew in to meet me at my final destination on Hokkaido, Hakodate. There was about 100 kilometers between me and there so I was in no hurry. My next stop was Onuma, a town known for its quasi-national park that boasted beautiful lake vistas, small islands connected by cute bridge and a volcano background.
My first impression of the place, I have to be honest, wasn’t so hot. I had finally caught a ride after 2 hours of trying from the outskirts of Onuma with a young couple headed to see the night view from Mt. Hakodate and by the time I pulled in a blanket of clouds had descended graying everything out.
The campground, I found out, was about 7km from town, a little bit farther then I liked. I also found out that to get in and out of this town, other then by car, required precise timing and a willingness to get up early or wait a long time. Trains headed to and from Onuma came about once every hour few hours. Buses to Hakodate were even worse, three a day; in the morning, 8:55, afternoon 12:15, and at night 5:35. But all of that was nothing compared to the next town, Shikabe, but that came later.
As luck would have it was in time to catch the last early evening train, 5:45, for the campgrounds. This left me no time to look about and explore but after my first impression I wasn’t too concerned about that.
It was a bit of a surprise when as I was walking toward the train station a shout came from across the road. A man stood beckoning me to come over. I looked around to make sure he was waving at me and cautiously crossed the road. ‘Are you going to the youth hostel?’ he asked tilting his head slightly to the left. I shook my head, ‘no, I’m headed to the station to catch a train to the campground.’ ‘Huh, okay. Just wanted to check because that hostel went out of business a few years ago and some other backpackers have been pretty confused because of it.’ ‘Really, thanks.’ We exchanged a few more pleasantries and I resumed my walk.
‘That was a really nice him of him to check’ I was thinking to myself when suddenly another shout came from behind. I looked back to see the same man beckoning me once again. As I approached he disappeared around the corner of a building for just a moment reappearing in the driver’s seat of a car. A few minutes later I found myself being ferried to the campground while listening to a bit of history about the place.
I have to say the view from the campground was excellent and combined with the fact it was free I couldn’t complain. There was just one thing, or rather hundreds of little things buzzing around my head, landing on my skin, and vainly attempting to drink my valuable blood that I did seriously consider complaining about. Mosquitoes drifted like clouds around the edge of the lake reminding me that it was that season again and I should really buy some insect repellant.
Most of the evening was spent hiding in my tent, safe from the swarms of bloodthirsty beasts outside, engrossed in a book I had recently purchased for my iPod Touch, ‘Kim’ by Rudyard Kipling. It was a bit of preparation for the things that were to come and an aid to help open my eyes to the endless possibilities of adventures that can be had. I cannot recommend that book enough and if you ever want to get a good idea of how crazy the east can be read it.
Another day, another bunch of kilometers under my feet. As I set my alarm for 4am in the hopes of some interesting early morning scenery I felt a bit unsatisfied. So far the trip had been a roller coaster of ups and down with very few days of anything in between. Those days in between, those days of not much, were an inevitable part of my journey but after so many of them over the last two years I spurned their existence. Maybe tomorrow would be more interesting.