Having hired a car for the second Saturday in a row, our plan was (we thought) pretty simple - drive to Goya Park for lunch, continue north for hiking near Hiji Falls and Cape Hedo (at the northern tip of Okinawa), before driving south back to OIST via Melody Road.
We fully expected hiccups to occur, but not so soon and definetely not as ridiculous as this; after an hour and an half of driving, having arrived at Hiji Falls, we realised we completely forgot to go to Goya Park. Goddammit.
Ravenously hungry (that morning I had given up completely on our homemade 'bread' and resorted to a can of tuna for breakfast), and narrowly avoiding trespassing onto US military property (the Okuma Beach Resort just looked so inviting!) we ended up at the Hiji Falls curry house.
Which was slightly disappointing; low on supplies, their beef curry turned out to be both rice-less and beef-less, and would have more accurately been described as a 'curried soup with chapati'. Ah well. To be honest I was too hungry to properly care and devoured what was there.
Hunger taken care of, we paid our entrance fee of ¥500 (although we probably didn't need to - Michael just walked straight in without realising, and the woman in the ticket office was too polite to say anything), and set off to hike to Hiji Falls, a 40 minute hike according to the front office.
The water was so clear, I was honestly mesmerised
The 'hiking' trail
A pretty neat (and somewhat unexpected) suspension bridge
'This is the place where the electric wave of the mobile telephone reaches'
Stopping to admire the crystal clear water and ponder the very meaning of life itself. Or perhaps we were just trying to avoid another set of stairs.
After a grueling 1km 'hike' - we made it!
Playing around with shutter speed. Out of 10 photos, this is the only one that came out okay.
Bonus! See my remaining over/under-exposed shots all combined into one glorious gif!
Next up: Cape Hedo, the northern most tip of Okinawa and home to some awesome (or so we'd heard) cliffs and rock faces. No-one we'd spoken to at OIST before leaving had ever gone far enough north to visit Cape Hedo, so we weren't really sure what to expect. After about 30 minutes of driving by almost entirely unpopulated forest and beaches, I actually considered turning around (Guys, this is pointless. There's nothing here!).
Luckily Tania and Michael pointed out what a ridiculously stupid suggestion this was 10 minutes away from our destination after 2 hours of driving, and we finally arrived at the stunning cliffs of Cape Hedo.
There were shrines and monuments dotted all over the cliffs
'I couldn't help myself!' I pleaded, as Tania lowered her camera, head shaking in disgust.
After the overly cautious warning signs/fences at other Okinawan tourist sites, I was amazed they just let you walk up to the end of the cliff.
An activity for all ages! Climb over the painfully sharp rocks of an increasingly narrow cliff as the rough seas beckon from below
I'm not exaggerating, these rocks were sharp. You barely wanted to touch them, it was a tad awkward.
Made it! ...um now what
The view from the other side
One of the many shrines dotting the landscape
Dai Sekirinzan Quasi-National Park
Eagerly wanting to get in and start exploring the trails, we were instead informed that no, you cannot walk in, you must pay ¥800 to take a shuttle bus 700m into the park. Strangely you can easily just walk out without taking the bus; with our limited communication skills we think the parking attendant might have mentioned something about the 'walk in being too steep'(?).
Ah well. I mean, it is a Quasi-National Park, that means it needs outside funding, right? We'll do our part and pay for the bus. Even though it does seem just a little pointless.
I later found out that a Quasi-National Park is simply a national park of slightly lesser beauty, size, diversity, or state of preservation. Ha.
Dropped off the bus, 700m from the main entrance
Once in, and slightly amused by the trail names (Strange and Big Rocks and Barrier free to name a few), we began our loop around the park.
These rocks better be sufficiently strange and big!
Some of the strangest and biggest rocks you'll ever see
Puzzled by some of the information panels, Michael attempts to view a possible fossil up close whilst I translate. We came to the conclusion it wasn't a fossil.
The view from the 'Beautiful Sea Course'. Cape Hedo looks so insignificant down there.
Sago palms. Sago palms everywhere.
The requisite sago palm close-up
For a while, I'd been egging everyone on due to our pathetically low (read: nonexistent) selfie output. Unfortunately it went a little too far than I intended and deteriorated into a selfie war. Tania, for her credit, did not participate and remains with a clean record.
In the process, I discovered that my camera has an inbuilt AI timer, that shoots when it recognises people smiling
Finally, as we exited the park, we passed by a couple of truly massive banyan trees.
Unfortunately, we arrived back at the car at 5pm. Just in time for a mad dash back to OIST to return the car before 7pm, adding Melody Road to the casualty list along with Goya Park.
Still, we had a pretty awesome day exploring the north, a feat not even achieved by some of the OIST researchers.
We have the car again all day next Sunday - tune in then for a riveting blog post detailing in (almost excruciating) detail the many varieties of goya consumed, followed by an engrossing tale of generating unusually pleasant vibrations with our tyres.
Until next time!
- May January
- Mon 29 December 2014Temples, shrines, and Irish pubs (oops)
- Sun 28 December 2014Temple run and too much sake
- Fri 26 December 2014Hiroshima
- Wed 24 December 2014Things I've noticed since coming to regular Japan
- Mon 22 December 2014Last day in Okinawa
- Mon 22 December 2014A very Okinawan Hanukkah
- Sun 21 December 2014Onna Industrial Festival
- Sun 21 December 2014Last week at OIST
- Tue 16 December 2014A surprisingly good time to go to Russia
- Mon 15 December 2014Cape Hedo and Hiji Falls
- Mon 15 December 2014Vires Acquirit Eundo
- Mon 15 December 2014Chicken skin (and other assorted delights)
- Sun 14 December 2014Bread 1.0
- Sun 14 December 2014More things I've noticed since arriving in Okinawa
- Tue 09 December 2014The Heart Attack Murder Burger
- Tue 09 December 2014Spongebob and the birthday pig
- Mon 08 December 2014Kourijima
- Mon 08 December 2014Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
- Sun 07 December 2014Americana teppanyaki
- Sun 07 December 2014Searching for yeast on a Friday night
- Mon 01 December 2014Pineapple Park
- Sun 30 November 2014Castles, pancakes, Naha and more
- Fri 28 November 2014Attempted drive to Ishikawa
- Thu 27 November 2014Walk through Tancha
- Tue 25 November 2014Things I've discovered since arriving in Okinawa
- Tue 25 November 2014Settling in at OIST
- Mon 24 November 2014Accidental business class
- Sun 23 November 2014Delayed in Hong Kong
- Sun 16 November 2014A Siberian adventure