In the Sticks

At first I was going to say in the bush, but learned that bush only applies to rural places with no buildings around whatsoever, and since I am in a house and there’s about 3 other houses nearby, my whereabouts qualifies as sticks. Australia I love your language.

Willy the koala
Willy the koala

I have been in the sticks, 26km from the town of Gympie, 2hrs north of Brisbane and an hour inland from Paradise Beach, for a week now. I returned from my New Zealand adventures a tad tired, and happy to be back in Oz. I have been taken good care of, fed well, and have just basically been taking it easy while contemplating my future, sorting out pictures, re-making my website and whatnot. The days have been filled with cooking and on the odd occasion we have ventured to the nearby creek to build a dam and side streams. Flashback to childhood.

Skilled fetcher
Skilled fetcher

One day we ventured out to the beach, which was amazing in the 30 degree heat. Swimming in rough waves, no sunburn and I drove a part of the drive out! What a lovely day, looking back on it. The only other occasion I’ve left the near vicinity of the house was yesterday, when I saw a real Aussie farm and met the lovely farmers (and their resident koala!).

King of the Hay
King of the Hay

It is always interesting to meet people from a completely different paths of life, and to learn about their lifestyle and motives behind their way of life. This couple was particularly friendly, and we got to do all the activities in few hours. Quad bike riding, climbing on haystacks, feeding piglets, shooting a revolver…now I can tick that Aussie experience off the list.

Billy the Kidd shootin' some balloons
Billy the Kidd shootin’ some balloons

Next destination: The Philippines sometime in March. Unless something crazy happens.

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Oh onsen!

In the promised town of Onsens, one simply cannot spend half a year without entering at least few of them. Today I visited rather different onsen than the natural ones I went last month.

 

Family onsens in Myoban

The original plan for today was to walk to Myoban, which is 5km from APU. Since the day was so lovely, we kept on walking past the family onsens and tourist attractions to Kannawa, the most famous onsen area in Beppu.

(Perhaps) rice drying in a hut with clay ground, Myoban onsen area

 

We found our onsen almost by accident, after deciding not to go to a public 100yen bath.

Onsen in Kannawa, no idea what it was called

 

This onsen featured a sauna-like room, where we wore a yukata and went to lie down on floor covered in strays. There we were for 10 minutes, it felt almost like being in a sauna at home (though our weeds are birch, and usually we don’t have rocks under our heads)!

Door for midgets, leading to the hot chamber with stray floor

 

After the steam “room” (height was about 1,2m), we went to bath in the super hot ofuro. 750yen for this fun, I guess it’s about the average price or a bit higher than others. My skin does feel softer than before!

It’s good to have visual instructions

 

Next time maybe the most famous “8 Hells” onsens, who knows?

Secret paradises

Some more traditional Japan!

Fields like in the middle of Europe

Rough bare stone terrain, traditional bamboo forest, pine tree forest, fields and various different vegetation was passed during a hike to the secret onsen. After hiking in the sun for almost an hour, the reward was tremendous.

 

Steaming hot mineral water

 

Beppu is known for its’ hot springs, onsen. There are several onsens around the city, most of which are spa-like and run by entrepreneurs. My first onsen experience here was different – these onsens were in the mountains, completely in the natural state, and free of charge.

We decided to pretend we don’t understand the several warning signs

A girl was killed in the onsen where we went a year ago, thus there was several sign warning about going to the onsens a)alone, b)with only women and c)during night time. In addition to that, there was another sign regarding proper code of conduct.

 

Beware of suspicious man and car!

 

After the first two onsens (one pictured above, plus a mud onsen next to it) we continued to a third one even higher up the mountain. The last onsen we went to was apparently rather popular among Japanese men, so as to respect their privacy (and private parts), I don’t have many pictures.

Steaming hot water, next to streaming cold water

The onsens would be perfect during night time, to watch the stars. Also in the winter I can imagine that sitting in the hot bath would be spectacular – getting out would not be so pleasant. The road to the onsens was very poor, so in the winter time it might be tricky to drive there by car. Walking in the dark would definitely not be an option, either. We had a chance to boil some eggs in a hole that had boiling water – next time we were thinking about having a picnic with more food to boil and steam. What a better way to spend a day, than hiking, and then chilling in the hot bath and eating food prepared in the nature.

 

Nature at its’ best