2010 04 30 - Chitose day 1

Chitose Travel Blog

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At the service area near the Sendai highway the ground was very wet. I decided to sleep there anyway, but found an alternative to stay dry
I had a challenging day ahead of me. I had started considering Japan as a big country and not as an island. But today I would have to leave the "mainland" of Japan and take a ferry to the Hokkaido "island". I cleaned up my sleeping gear, washed myself at the "always present" lavatories and had some breakfast. While I was walking to my favorite hitchhiking point at service areas, which is the point where the road from the gasstation and parkingplace combine, I was asked to get inside a motorhome. That family had seen me arrive last night and had already discussed taking me with them. The man had hitchhiked a lot himself when he was younger and spoke English very well. Unfortunately his wife and daughter didn't. I got many hitchhiking tips from him but I had already figured them all out myself.
After reaching Hokkaido by ferry on a very different point than expected, this family brought me to their house and shared a great evening with me (and some cubes)

The second ride in the direction of Aomori was with a business man who worked for a Swedish grass/milk company. He had lived in the West of Japan where his family still lived but had to move to the east himself for this job. I was well on my way to Aomori where I would try to take a ferry to Hakodate with a truck (so I wouldn't have to pay for the ferry).

The 3rd ride was with a very rich and retired couple in a very luxury car. They brought me some disturbing news. Because of "Golden Week", a lot of free vacation days in Japan, the ferry to Aomori was closed. Fortunately they could bring me to Hachinohe from where they would take a ferry to Tomakomai and then they would drive to Hakodate where they would have their vacation. Before I could even ask if i could stay with them in the car they showed me their ticket. Tickets were not per vehicle, they were per person. All of this meant that I would have a ride to the only ferry, but would have to pay for it myself. When I heard the ferry would go for 243 km and would take 9 hours I was getting worried about the money. Fortunately it was only 4500 Yen (35 Euro). We arrived at the ferry 20 minutes before it left, I got a ticket and we said goodbye. Their ferry wouldn't leave for another 4 hours.

The ferry itself was very plain. There were no rooms, just floors to sit or sleep on. There wasn't anything to do except watch tv and buy food. But there was also a great Japanese bath on board where I spent at least an hour. After the whole trip was over I had no idea where to go. While I was looking for a map of Hokkaido a girl that I had noticed on the ferry asked me if I needed help. I explained the situation and she invited me to come with her and her parents to make a new travelling plan and spent the night. I couldn't believe my luck untill her father told me that he had noticed me in the Japanese bath. It wasn't untill then that I realised how easy everyone noticed and remembered me. I had first thought it was because of the backpack, but I finally realised that I was about 10 cm taller than everyone else and the only western looking person among a hundred or more Asians. I had heard that the people from Hokkaido where friendlier and less "robotic" than on the main land and getting invited to spend the night inside a house for the first time after a month immediately proved that. We had some fun figuring out how I had travelled and how I should travel next and when they found I was a cuber the evening became much longer than they had planned.
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At the service area near the Senda…
At the service area near the Send…
After reaching Hokkaido by ferry o…
After reaching Hokkaido by ferry …
photo by: ys484