Day 11: Aso, Kumamoto to Beppu, Oita

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Woke up feeling refreshed after crashing out on Dokken’s sofa as he played Final Fantasy in the next seat. Dokken is on the JET program and has signed the papers to stay for a fourth year in Aso. After meeting me at Aso shrine we drove (quite a long way) for ramen. I’ve not kept count but I think this is my 5th or 6th ramen of the trip. We met his friend Jeff who ordered on my behalf telling me this is the one I want. Who am I to argue. And I’m glad I didn’t, it was a good one! Thanks Dokken and Jeff!
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After climbing Aso-san yesterday I felt as though I could get up anything and I my legs were tested immediately as I climbed out of the caldera. Despite the haze the views across the crater were very special. Having looked on the map at where the rivers stop I knew I still had a big climb ahead and as Aso faded behind me Kujuren-zan started to dominate the view ahead. A climb to 1330 metres was rewarded with a blueberry and yoghurt mix ice cream.
From there to Yufu was all downhill but I still couldn’t quite break 60km/h. One more up and down and I was in Beppu, the town with the highest concentration of natural hot spring water in Japan.

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The Hells (海地獄) are a collection of boiling water pools that are constantly releasing sulphur and steam. They are not for bathing in but they do look pretty cool. If I needed any more convincing that Kyushu is essentially a giant volcano then this was the stuff to do it. Brown pools fizzing away and a cobalt blue pool hissing like a witch’s cauldron. It was all very evil looking.
Inspired by The Hells I went in (google) search of a bath.
The most highly recommended was the Tanayu at the Suginoi Hotel and it was worth every penny, or would have been had anyone asked me to pay. The lady behind the counter simply handed me a towel and pointed me to the changing room. I did as I was told. The huge tiered outdoor baths overlook Beppu down to the coast. Beppu sits on the Inland Sea and tomorrow I will cross it and begin my ride across Shikoku. But first, kimchi, beef and noodles!

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Thank you for your support so far. It means a lot to me to know people are interested in my trip and are following my progress. Please stay with me!

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