It has been months but I am FINALLY posting our last day in Japan! It is crazy to think that so much has happened since this trip! When we went on this cruise I had just moved to China and expected to live there for a year or so. Well, a month later we learned we would be moving to Malaysia while I went home to Florida then Italy for the holidays!
Now I am in Malaysia getting situated and trying to process this new experience. It is intimidating, stressful, difficult, but oh so exciting. Today I drove a car (British style I might add) and this weekend we will be parked on a beach in Langkawi, just off the coast of mainland Malaysia. You see? Exciting stuff. You will certainly hear about it soon.
After spending the morning on the cruise ship, we finally landed in Hososhima. As the ship pulled in towards the harbor, we watched the incredibly jagged coastline flow by and knew we would be in a for a treat that day.
Because we arrived later than expected at the port, our tour guide whisked away to our first stop as soon as possible. Although we had a bus specially for English-speaking people on the cruise, we still ran into the many overflowing buses of Chinese passengers at each stop. I am amazed I even captured the photos below after pushing through the throngs of Chinese tourists snapping away on their cameras. Let’s just say it is a good thing I am tall and can just hold my camera up high for an unobstructed shot.
The view was absolutely breathtaking. If you can see above, there is a large cross visible in the water between the jagged rocks. Pretty cool. Our awesome friends John and Berri accompanied us on this excursion and our little group had a great time. We could have rung the bell (below) but the Chinese had formed an enormous line for photo opps with the bell. I wasn’t too bummed.
Our next stop was, hands-down, the most memorable and amazing part of the entire cruise. It blew every other excursion out of the water and revealed the true beauty of Japan. First, we approached the rocky coast and were able to walk around on the rocks as the waves crashed at our feet.
The rocks were shaped like big rounded squares, fitting into each other like large and irregular legos. I loved the symmetry and wondered how these rock formations were created. Were they shaped by land or by sea?
A couple of beauty shots for the parents. I meant beauty shots of us, not the scenery ;-).
Aw we are such happy little tourists. I miss my long hair! Why did I cut it?? Oh right, it’s hot as heck in Malaysia.
We spent an inordinate amount of time at the beach, even though we had yet to visit the actual temple. I guess you can take the Floridian out of the beach but you can’t keep him out for long. We always long for the ocean. This Floridian had a little too much fun striking poses and collecting sea shells by the sea shore.
Reluctantly we left the beach and found ourselves at the main entrance to the shrine area. There were stacks of prayer cards under a small shelter next to a large wooden temple. I watched a couple whities (my term of endearment for white foreigners) walk up the steps into the temple which is not allowed! They were promptly chased out of the temple by the attendants. It was hilarious.
We then walked through the main gate and began sauntering along a maze of gravel paths towards the shrine. We weren’t sure where we were going until we found a wooden railing leading precariously down a steep cliff. It looked a little dangerous but it was obviously the path were supposed to take. Peter was cautious.
But then the steep stone steps brought us down and down until we were on a small beach and at the mouth of a great cave. Inside, a glowing red Torri beckoned us inside. We had arrived.
We walked along the damp sand which became jagged rocks as we ventured deeper into the cave. The roaring ocean quieted to a soft purr as we passed through the Torri and continued to climb towards the darkness. Finally we reached the back end and discovered a small shrine encased in the rocks. When we looked back towards the light, we could see a small sliver of light resembling a long dragon (at least that is what the pamphlet said). Dragon or not, the cave was a wondrous and unique sight to behold. It was difficult to leave.
After the coolest cave shrine in town (unless there are more??), we emerged from the cave and began to explore the gravel pathways. We found a few more Torri, some dead-ends and plenty spectacular views of the coast. Although I have never been to Hawaii, this is what I imagine Hawaii looks like.
However this place was unmistakably Japanese. I mean there were stone lanterns illuminating the night and life sized bonsai trees dominating the landscape. You can’t any more Japanese than that (except maybe samurai).
Oh man it was tough to leave the cave shrine. Such a beautiful place! But our excursion was not over just yet. For our final stop we were brought to a hiking area. However by that time it was absolutely pitch black outside. Undeterred, our tour guide decided to still lead our group blindly through the woods to an overlook over the ocean. Somehow I got a shot at the overlook even though it was literally black outside. Looks cool in the light!
Honestly walking through the dark woods was terrifying but exciting at the same time. I probably wouldn’t do it again though!
After a long but rewarding day, we were exhausted and ready to get back on the ship. As soon as we were onboard, the boat took off for our final departure back to Shanghai. Our last big night on the boat included enormous dinner, gambling, and more gambling. That’s cruise life for ya (especially on board with lots of Chinese people!).
Another full day at sea which was thankfully less nauseating than the first. We also may or may not have seen the topless show that night… so risque!! But not really. Anyways… By the next morning we were back in Shanghai. Back to reality!
Take me back to the cave shrine…