Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Snorkeling at Yoshino Beach

It’s Wednesday AM, and this is our last full day in Miyako.  Our flight Thursday leaves at 730 PM back to Tokyo, so we can do a lot tomorrow, depending on the weather.

The wind is howling, and I’m pondering how to plan our day.  It isn’t raining now, but that could change. I’m surprised that it hasn’t been wet. My other worry is whether our flight tomorrow will be affected by the typhoon.

I’ll recap yesterday’s events.  We had the breakfast buffet again. This time, a bit more leisurely since we didn’t have to meet Happy. 

The buffet restaurant was bustling.  It was like this yesterday.  Probably overpriced at ¥2,000 per person, but our free tickets makes it a bargain.

You’ll notice an unusual food item on the tray on the right. Upon clearing our table, the waitress had to return Em’s phone.  Em is fortunate that her hands are attached to her body.  Otherwise those would have been left behind somewhere. We’ll have to somehow attach Em’s zories to her body.

Here is the Ube pastry.  It is quite purple! And delicious.

Here are some daytime views from our balcony.  The beach is so so, the snorkeling so so, and the pool is so so.  Fortunately, the rest of island has a lot to do.

After breakfast, we drive to Yoshino Beach.  It is one of the best snorkeling beaches in Miyakojima.  We arrive early, about 9AM, and we are one of the first there.  There is a cheesy looking guy on the road, waving us over.  I read that parking was ¥500, and then you’re shuttled down a steep, winding road to the beach. But he says, because of the weather, it’s free.  Not quite sure what is going on, we follow his direction, park, and get our gear into the van.

We’re taking down the aforementioned steep, winding road, in a rickety white van, and arrive at what looked like a homeless encampment run by someone who looks homeless.  

He truly is what we would call a Japanese bimbo (that means poor in Japanese, not a dumb blond). Here is a view of it from the beach.  

On our way, we pass another parking lot which had a sign saying ¥500, so we theorize that there are competing entities.  We’re shuttled to the encampment and asked to rent needed items.  I indicate that we have all the stuff we need, and he smiles and points us down a rickety wooden trail to the beach.  Kind of reminded me of a bridge in Mexico.  Connie makes it down ok.

Here is Yoshino beach, which isn’t much, but it is what is beyond the beach which gets us there.

I also read that rentals of chairs and umbrella are ¥1,000, but this is “sabisu” today.  It means free.  Connie and I are pretty jaded, and we question why everything is free today??  Oh well, it turns out that everyone there was just really nice.  Parking, van shuttle both ways, a place to keep our gear, all for free.

Em and I get in and we immediately are awed.  The water is quite clear, and the coral is in really good shape, despite the crowds that I suspect frequent the beach.  We saw several who would stand on the coral, and it made me cringe.

Here is Akira, who immediately befriended me. 

He came right up to my hands. He complimented Em and me on our snorkel gear, and I told him that Happy rented it to us.  He had heard of Happy before from prior clients, but Akira and Happy have never met.

Akira, also for free, told me he would guide me around the area. Though suspicious, we took him up on his offer.

He introduced me to some of his friends.  Above, meet Jun, Masato and Sho (in the background).  Sho is Akira's half brother.

He showed us some of the formations.

Akira had some shopping to do, so he says bye and disappears beneath a rock.  

I was going to give him a tip, but I didn’t have any ¥ on me, and he would probably be offended, so I just tipped my mask at him.  Mistake, as the ocean water quickly started stinging my eyes.

We were very lucky that the weather wasn’t bad enough to affect the visibility.

Here is a video of our visit.  I'm not a videographer, so no criticism, please.

You can see Em swimming about in this video.

Unfortunately, when I gave the camera to Em, since she wanted to take some pictures, she said it wasn’t working.  Upon looking at it, I immediately realized there was trouble. There was condensation on the inside of the LCD and the lens.  It’s an old camera, so I am not too disappointed with the probable catastrophic failure of the waterproof seals. I just hoped that my pictures and videos of Akira, et al, would be salvageable.  Once back on dry land, I dried the exterior thoroughly, and open the SD compartment, and the SD card was wet.  I dried it and put it in a spare zip lock, and hoped for the best.  As you can see it worked out. This camera has been a workhorse for many years, so RIP.

While there, we even got Connie to float with her life vest, mask and snorkel.  She was also amazed at the views, but she didn’t want to get to deeper areas to see the really neat views.

After about 2 to 3 hours, we decided to head back to Max Valu.  We got lunch (sushi, and other neat things), then shopped a bit in the small outdoor mall, had our obligatory frozen desserts, and returned to our rooms to clean up.  Em and I went to the crowded pool for the next hour or so.  The pool wasn’t that great, a bit crowded and only about 3 to 4 feet deep all around.

We had some difficulty with dinner.  We had decided to go to this Italian place for pizza (¥2,000 pizza!), since it was close and the weather wasn’t looking great. When we get there, it turns out that the nice looking, but empty, place wouldn’t seat us without a reservation.  Strange. Oh, well.

Since we couldn’t agree on things, we decide to go back to (drum roll) Hiro!

Soki Soba is Miyakojima’s special noodle dish.  It is a chewy udon like bowl of noodles with barbecue spareribs.  It is flavored just like Butakakuni.

More Kaki furai, and this day, we get some really good potato fries.

This day we share a bowl of Satou Kiba Kibi Ice Cream.  

Not quite sure what this is.  Kiba Kibi translates to millet in English, but sugar millet ice cream doesn’t quite make sense.  It was really good, with a subtle flavor. 

Addendum, Satou Kibi is Sugarcane, duh...

So, as I sit here on Wednesday AM, I see that the weather isn’t really that bad, that the weather maps show that the worst should have passed already, and that the hotel is still standing.  We’ll go out later.

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