Beers & chicken skin
To celebrate our last evening on Hokkaido we met up with Tai, a cyclist/mountaineer from Kobe who uses his bike to get from mountain to mountain and then hikes up them really fast. We first met him in a rider’s house somewhere in East Hokkaido, and now we were meeting again for beers, Japan style: ice cold in huge quantities and with a choosing of fried things-on-sticks on the side, such as chicken skin, chicken kidneys, liver, but luckily also ‘normal’ chicken, fried tofu and grilled pepper. Good times! However, our usual schedule of bedtime somewhere between 20:00-21:00 proved quite firmly set because at 22:00 Tai and I were quite tipsy and sleepy, while Antonio was only tipsy (something he will probably deny ;)) and would have preferred to hit the all-you-can-drink place next door but alas, we have places to go tomorrow!
Because Hakodate, the town we were in, is quite big, doesn’t have a camping nor a lot of parks where we can sneakily camp, we opted to check one item off our bucket list: spending the night in an internet café!
Uuuhh, what? In my experience, internet cafés all over the world are pupulated by teenage boys shouting at their videogames and/or each other, high on a rush of energy drinks and adrenaline. Not a great place to relax and nap, right? Not in Japan. Any reasonable sized town has an Internet café, many of them open 24/7. This particular one offered 10, 12, and 15-hour overnight packages for a very reasonable price (~€14 per person for 10 hours) and you could choose between a reclining chair or futon, in individual cubicles just big enough to lay down in. You can slide the divider between cubicles aside so you can still game (or nap) with your friends. With a cozy reading light, soothing classical music playing in the background and no shouting teenagers at all, they are not a bad place to spend the night and certainly much cheaper than a hotel, and it is not uncommon to do so either. They also come with an unlimited supply or coffee/tea/hot chocolate and softdrinks, so naturally Antonio tried all flavours available. And of course, he was floored with a stomach ache within 15 minutes…
This café also came with thousands and thousands of manga’s in every imaginable genre (all in Japanese) as well as a wall of magazines to read, of which a substantial amount had, eehh, very voluptuous ladies on the cover. I try not to think too hard about whatever happens in these cubicles, but at least there were also beauty and cooking and cat (!) magazines so something for everyone at least.
I’ll be adding these cool visualizations of our ride to the end of every blog, to give you an idea of the landscape we are cycling through. They have photos 🙂
Day 26: Yakumo to Hakodate