Our next stop after Hiroshima was Beppu. We caught an early train to make the most out of the day and arrived at the Ryokan we'd booked (a traditional Japanese guest house) to find the guest house owners looking all freaked out that we were early frantically trying to explain in Japanese (they couldn't speak English, obviously it being a Japanese guest house in a not particularly tourist town) that we couldn't check in yet. After a lot of hand gestures we managed to reassure them we were just there to dump our stuff and would be back later to check in, and set about getting changed into more suitable clothes for the pissing down rain outside (more freaked out looks).
We caught a local bus to the 'hells' area Kanazawa, the main attraction in Beppu, which was an area full of natural hot sulphur springs so hot they are classed as hells. When we got there the hells weren't as natural looking as we'd expected and had sadly been turned into tacky and not well looked after 'attractions'. We went to random one that bred crocodiles, and another one with a mini zoo and fed a hippo and elephant in a far too small cage, before giving up and going to find the other type of hot springs, Onsen public baths. I found it really relaxing sitting in different baths of (very) hot water and quite liberating being naked with other women. Its quite random striking up a conversation with someone sitting next to you when they're butt naked! I'd seen another onsen advertised that had mud baths and wanted to try it out so we got back on the bus feeling very clean and went to find it. This one was not so relaxing.... the hot baths were outside and were randomly mixed sex, very random for Japan who are so shy about showing skin off, and so all the men were perving over all of the women. Grant and I were the only couple there and everyone thought it was hilarious when we started chatting to each other over the makeshift rope fence. It was a funny experience but came I out feeling dirtier than when I went in!
When we got back to the Ryokan we found traditional Japanese robes in our room so dressed up and took some photos (I thought it was much more fun than Grant who didn't look that impressed but at least played along) and then got changed back into normal clothes and went out for a nice Italian dinner along the seafront.
Before bed we had our 3rd Onsen of the day as the Ryokan had a private one that you could reserve. It was very hot! Over 40 degrees. We stayed in it as long as we could handle, which wasn't that long! I over stayed our booking by about 30 seconds and totally freaked the owner out when he came into the Onsen saw me and totally panicked, luckily I already had my sexy robe on by then so didn't flash him but did leave him pretty flustered! Then it was off to bed to sleep on our traditional Japanese bed mats on the floor.
We were up early the next day for Japanese breakfast. It was quite cool (and very strange) as you cooked your own fish and egg at table on a candle bunsen burner thing but I didn't eat much apart from, the egg as the rest of rest it was all a but too weird for breakfast like rice, soup, sour vegetables and stinky fish. Hilariously you had an option of picking Japanese or European breakfast, and we had picked Japanese trying to be as authentic as possible, but most of the Japanese guests were eating European breakfasts! I would have much preferred croissant!!
After checking out we headed to the train station to catch our train to Fukuoka. When we arrived yet again we couldn't check in (these people are a stickler for rules!) so went to nice 'British' pub along river for lunch. At 3pm, and quite a few beers later, we went back to hostel to check in and choose beds. Mine was a bottom bunk next to a window with quite a lot of space around it, it was like little room - I loved it! I got very exciting about sorting all my stuff out in my little room!
Eventually we got back to pub for quite a few happy hour cocktails before getting hungry and heading home to make pasta dinner, chill on the room terrace for a bit and do some washing. Quite productive for drunkards!
The next day I was supposed to be going out on my own to do some shopping but it was pouring down with rain when I woke up so sodded about for a while and didn't go out til quite late. We were watching a baseball match later in the day so when I finally went out, went to shopping mall nearby. Sadly when I got there it was s***, with half the shops closed down. The stuff that was there didn't fit me again, as Asian women are so tiny, so got very depressed and eventually spoilt myself and bought expensive shorts from addidas and a PJ set from hard rock café, got to love the Americans for decent sized clothes! I met Grant for lunch in hard rock café before going to the baseball next door.
The baseball was good fun! It was quite slow as the teams weren't that good but I now know the rules to baseball where as I knew nothing about it before! It was just cool chilling in the stadium chatting and drinking beer while watching some sport. They did this random thing at 9pm where everyone buys long yellow balloons (we were kindly given ours by a couple that sat in front if us) and then everyone lets them off at once so they were floating everywhere - must have been a couple of thousand balloons. No idea if they do this every game and for every team but was fun to get involved. We left the baseball slightly before the end as we wanted to beat the hordes of people that would be getting on the tube and headed to a fast food noodle restaurant chain that we had heard of, Irchin. You placed your order on machine at the door, you basically had 2 choices of noodles then you could choose how spicy etc you wanted it, and you got a ticket printed. Once you had ordered you went and sat at a bar type table, with separate booths for each person (a bit like the visitors area of a prison, but much nicer!) And gave a guy in front of the bar your ticket. When he gives you your order, he shuts a curtain to give you privacy. Was quite cool and nice food. From ordering to leaving was about 20 mins! Very fast food!
A short walk back to the hostel and it was time to pack for Okinawa in the morning, we were more than half way through our Japan trip, where did that go?!?