Monday 17 October 2022

Part 4. Hachinohe to Tomakomai by Silver Ferry.

Overnight in Hachinohe.

It was already dark when I reached the Hachinohe ferry port. While cycling through Hachinohe city I took a quick glance at the google map and saw there is a Lawson convenience store on the junction leading into the ferry port. When  I was about to reach the ferry port my eyes got sight of a Lawson's convenience store. Hooo, this is the one I saw on google map earlier. I remembered. 

I then headed straight for it and parked my bike outside. I walked into the shop feeling excited because I had just completed 100km cycling for 10 hours. I walked through the food aisles and collected the foodstuffs like a king. Later I went to the checkout. At the checkout, I could not hold my eagerness to tell the store clerk about my trip. I said in Japanese. Even though my Japanese was not good  I went ahead and gave my best shot. 

こんばんは。 わたしは せんだいに いきました。 わたしは じてんしゃで いきました。 あつい コーヒーを のみます。 だから、からだは あたたかいです。

After having a conversation with the store clerk. I paid for my dinner and left. I bought a packet of bread and a cup of coffee. I then remember I still have a can of fish in my bag. I took it out,  opened it and emptied it onto my bread, and ate while drinking my warm delicious coffee.

I recommend you buy coffee from a convenience store whenever you travel. The convenience store's coffee is delicious and comes in different flavors and sizes. But that's not all, the best part is, you can add any amount of sugar and milk you preferred. 

While  I was standing and eating I looked toward the northern corner of my eyes. There I saw the ferry port and just opposite the road from Lawson`s convenience store is Hattaro park. In fact, Hattaro park is part of the Hachinohe ferry port. It is basically the front extension of the port towards the main road.

Hattaro park is where I am staying for the night. The park is part of the port. There are no trees in this park. There are few benches in the park but are in specific sections of the park. The middle of the part is covered with a soft algae-like carpet. I think the algae grew and covered the middle ground in the park because of the Hachinohe`s summer. Summer in Japan is hot and humid therefore giving the algae a suitable condition for them to grow in abundance.

Toward the eastern end of the park are the toilet and a small shelter with a table-like bench in the middle of it. I did not have the chance to see the park clearly when I arrive because it was dark. I saw the whole park the next day in the morning.

The Silver Tiara.

Hattaro Park and the ferry port.

Looking for shelter.

Around 9pm that night  I crossed over to the park from  Lawson convenience store and started searching for the shelter. I only saw the pictures of the shelter on google map so at this point I am not sure if it is still there or not. It was dark so I could not see where the small shelter is. For a good number of minutes,  I searched for the shelter. I was looking at the wrong end of the park. 

Finally, I decided to check the eastern end of the park. As I  cycled toward the eastern end of the park. Through the dark shadow of the night, I can see what appears to be a small shelter. As I got closer I realized it was the shelter I am looking for. Then just a few meters to the right of the shelter  I saw the toilet as well. 

The toilet and the shelter are at the end of the park where there are no lights. Both are only made visible by the dim lighting from the nearby port facilities. I was so happy because this is where I am going to sleep tonight, right on the shelter's square bench.

I parked my bike and unpacked my sleeping bag. The night's weather was warm. Warm breezes blew in from the Pacific ocean. I decided not to use my tent because it was warm enough to just sleep with my sleeping bag. By the way, there are no mosquitoes to worried about. 

My sleeping bag is a  Colman 200cm x50cm sleeping bag. Fit for all weather conditions. I bought it for 5,000 Japanese yen(K150). Tonight I will test it and see if the price is worth the money. I spread my sleeping bag on the bench and tried it out, and it was perfect. All my doubts regarding the sleeping bag are gone. The inside of the bag is soft and warm. It`s also very spacious inside.

Before going to sleep I quickly went to the toilet, relieved myself, and then made a video call to my partner in Sapporo. Letting her know that I'm at Hachinohe ferry port and tonight I am sleeping under an open shelter in my sleeping bag at Hattaro park. 

After the call, I crawled into my sleeping bag. It was warm and comfortable. I pulled it up over my head and within minutes fall asleep.

Daybreak at Hattaro Park.

             Silver Ferry can be seen in the distance docking on the other side 

            of Hattaro Park.

Silver ferry.

Japan is a very scheduled society. Everything has to be planned in advance. Things like holidays, plane tickets, and hotels have to be booked and paid for in advance at least a month earlier. I booked my ferry for at least a week before cycling to Hachinohe to cross to Tomakomai.

My Silver ferry was scheduled to leave at 11 am the next day. By the time I woke up around 7am the Silvery Ferry was already docked at the port. The morning was cloudy and dull. A bit cold too. I did not want to get out of my sleeping bag because it was warm and comfy inside. But at the same time,  I was so excited. In my life, I traveled on ferries only a few times, less than 5 times I guess. So, this was the most exciting day for me.

After waking up, I washed my face at the water tap next to the shelter and crossed over to the Lawson convenience store for a  delicious cup of warm café latte. The café latte made my body warm and my sleepiness was gone. Now, I am ready to kick-start my day. After having the café latte I went to the Silver ferry's ticketing office. Parked my bike at the building's entrance, went inside, and waited for the ticketing office to open.

While waiting for the ticketing office to open the clouds opened up and it started raining. I thought, man I hate the rain. But for now, I am safe inside the Silver ferry`s ticketing office. The counter usually opens at 9am. 

When the counter opened at 9am I went and showed my booking reference number to the lady at the county. I also can`t hold my eagerness to tell her my story. I said in Japanese .`Hey, guess what?  I cycled 600km to get here. I am going to Sapporo. Look!, that is my bike`,  pointing to my bike parked outside through the glass window of the building. She said something in Japanese which I don`t understand but I can see her face`s reaction. She was amazed.

She proceeded with my ticket and gave me instructions to bring my bike to the ferry early. The only problem is she said every in Japanese but I did understand a little bit. I went too early to the ferry port and waited. Wrong move. 

As I was waiting the rain poured on me like cats and dogs. I wore my raincoat so my body was not wet but my shoes and socks were soaked in water. My feet were wet, cold, and terrible. I stood there in the rain for what seemed like hours because I lost count of time. I just wanted to get on the ferry and get to Sapporo.

Waiting in the pouring rain to board Silver Ferry through the loading area.

Silver Ferry`s starboard and the loading door.

My bike was tied onto the side rail in the Silvery ferry`s loading area.

All aboard. 

I boarded the Silver ferry at 11:30am after all the trucks have been loaded into the ferry loading area. I boarded through Silver ferry's main loading door. After entering the main loading door. A loading crew took my bike and tied it to the side support rail. A Silver ferry's crew came and led me to my cube in the second class of the Silver ferry.

The cabin crew led me through a narrow stairway from the loading area up to the first floor. Then we entered the Silver ferry's main lobby. It was spectacular. For a moment my mind switched to Titanic's main lobby where Jack was waiting for Rose at the bottom of the staircase. It looks kind of similar. 

There are also a few expensive pieces of jewelry on display in the lobby. The most spectacular one was a diamond neckless. Secured in a solid glass display. Wow! sparkling, I thought as we passed it.

We then climbed up another staircase and arrived at the top floor. The crew then led me into a corridor that looks like a hotel corridor. Then he opened the second door to the right and led me to my cube. There is a total of 10 cubes in one room. Each cube has a double bunk bed. The double bunkers have their own light, curtain for privacy, charging port, futon, bed sheet,  billow, and a coin locker. 

I never experienced such a relaxed private space on a ferry before. The last experience I had with a ferry was in 2005 when I went to Vanimo. A small town on the northern land border of Papua New Guinea with Indonesia. I slept on the back deck of the ferry under a bench next to a bunch of piled wet ropes and watched the ferry`s propellers make waves.

After the ferry crew left I quickly unpacked my stuff, removed my wet-socked shoes, and jumped straight into the bed. I went outside on the deck one or two times to see the ocean. But for the rest of the trip, I slept. I had to have a good sleep because I still have 75km left to cycle after I get off the Silver ferry.

The ferry trip from Hachinohe to Tomkomai took 8 hours. I was so eager to get to Sapporo. So, the 8 hours of doing nothing feel not right. 

I checked my GPS navigation app and it showed the Silver ferry is traveling at a speed of 80km -100km per hour on the open sea. We went past the  Tsugaru Strait. It is the sea between Aomori, the North part of Japan's main island, and Hokudate, the Southern tip of  Hokkaido Island. 

                           Silver Ferry`s Second class cubical.

Silver Ferry passing through the Tsugaru Strait into Tomakomai, Hokkaido.

Getting Off Silver Ferry.

At 8:30 pm Silvery docked at  Tomakomai city`s ferry port. Tomakomai city is a port city located on the southeast end of Hokkaido towards the Pacific ocean. A fairly large city consisting of port industries and services.

Once the final departing call was made on the Silver ferry PA system. I packed my stuff and left my cubical. I usually bring minimum stuff when cycling, like today in my backpack, I have my wallet, 2 power banks, one extra shirt, and chocolates.

I left the cubical and went down to the loading area of the ferry. Following the same way I came. I went through the lobby, past the ferry's canteen, and then took the left stairway which took me to the staircase leading down to the ferry's loading area. 

The ferry has two loading areas for cars and trucks. The first loading area is at the bottom of the ferry and the second is above the bottom loading area. My bike is at the second loading area. When I reached my bike after coming down from my cabin I untied my bike from the side rail and waited for 10 minutes for the main door to open. When finally the door opened I was given the go by a loading crew. So, I jumped on my bike and rode off the Silvery onto Tomakomai port.

The Tomakomai port.

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