Okinawa 1 - Miyako
Most visitors of Okinawa make their first stop on the main archipelago. But since I knew what to expect (I spent a couple days there in 2003) and I didn't have much time on my hands, I skipped that part and went straight to Miyako, the central archipelago.
It didn't start off really well with my plane being delayed (which is very rare in Japan) and I finally reached the island in mid-afternoon. Furthermore, the weather was a little cloudy and according to the taxi driver, it had been like that for a dozen days...but fortunately it was going to change from the next day.
Despite the clouds, it was really warm and the temperature wasn't comparable with that in Nagoya, which is already pretty mild in october.
The first thing I did was to rent a car and set my first destination on the GPS: the nearest beach. I had not been to the sea for several months and I was all the more impatient. It only took a mere ten minutes:
Of course I swam! But it was already late so that's all I managed to do on that first day. I had dinner at a restaurant, then took a walk in town (nothing exciting) and played it cheap for the night by sleeping inside the car at the parking of another beach.
The next morning, I was really sore but at least I was ready for my first snorkeling session because the beach I had chosen was famous for that. Unfortunately I didn't have a waterproof camera, which I regret because there were so many beautiful fishes. But you can see what the beach looks like:
The island is not very large and it is therefore pretty easy to get around, provided you have a car because the bus system is underdeveloped. Also, there is so little traffic out of town that I even came across a dog resting in the middle of the road:
In spite of that, the speed limit is incredibly low, only 40kph (yes, kilometers)! But the scariest part is that about half the drivers actually respect the limit!!!
Because it is humanly impossible to drive that slow, you have to beware of the policemen at some of the crossings:
Although they're not that scary when you get closer:
Miyako is connected to the closest islands by bridges:
The sea is beautiful everywhere, and some areas are particularly gorgeous:
It's a real pleasure to relax on one of the numerous beaches with hardly any tourist:
Once again the manholes feature one of the local specialties and in Miyako, they display the local triathlon:
The lighthouse area at the southeastern tip:
Apart from its sea, Miyako doesn't have much to offer when it comes to sightseeing. Here is the main (only?) attraction:
This stone was used around the middle of the 17th century for a very peculiar purpose: tax calculation. The law stated that every person taller than the stone had to pay taxes! Also, I don't remember the exact height but it's quite low, no more than 4'6"!
The second day, I decided not to sleep in the car again (my back wouldn't have liked it very much) and found a really nice guesthouse. OK, I know the entrance looks crappy:
But the atmosphere was just one of the best I've ever had at a guesthouse. Everyone was super friendly and I had the opportunity to try awamori, the local liquor:
We then had a few drinks at a bar and I spent the rest of the night talking in the common room. I did not sleep because I had to catch a ferry around 5AM to go to the next island: Ishigaki.