用兩週時間去遊整個九州，又要去屋久島，又要去軍艦島，想登由布岳之餘，又要去東岸大分探老友，的確是一個貪心的行程。因為要好好利用五天的九州 JR Pass，我們唯有捨棄在熊本過夜這念頭，只從鹿兒島到長崎途中，花半天時間路過熊本。
不能進入熊本城，雖有點失望，但單從外觀來看，而感覺到它的非凡氣派。當天下著毛毛細雨，我們笑說，帶有地震傷痕的熊本城，更有一種凛冽的歷史感。對於熊本城的復修工程，我倆都看得嘆為觀止，他們就連掉下來的一磚一瓦，都寫上號碼，分批存好，務求重建跟原貌一樣。整個修復費將會用上 600 億日元，計劃在 2036 年完成。花 20 年去修復？難怪工人可以如此仔細地把磚瓦記錄。我們都在籌募箱捐奉，並誠心祈求熊本城在這 20 年間，不再遇上天災橫禍。
在熊本另一件要做的事，是去吃馬肉刺身。以前在哈薩克亦有吃過馬肉，幾個朋友分一小塊，印象中味道不錯，但價格不菲。熊本的馬肉刺身亦屬高檔食物，我點了一份 1,500 円的，只有十多片。Kim 誓死不吃馬肉，獨樂不及眾樂，縱是山珍海錯，一個人也吃不出味兒。
但在熊本城二之丸的商店區，一個街邊檔賣著 250 円的炸馬肉，燙口又多汁。相信是同場其他遊客即買即食的關係，比起先前的獨嘗馬肉刺身，好吃得多。
Volcano Climb and Sand Spa/Kimberlogic
Mount Kaimon is a dormant conical volcano located on the southern coast of Kyushu. We heard about this volcano from the 100 Famous Mountains of Japan book and decided to check it out. To get to Mount Kaimon we had to leave our hotel in Kagoshima very early in the morning to catch the train at 6:21. After changing trains once, we arrived in Kaimon.
I was a little apprehensive to get off the train when I saw there was absolutely nothing around. Kaimon was not even a station; it was a gravel drive with a small shelter for commuters. Luckily there was a map of the desolate surroundings which helped us navigate our way to the base of the mountain.
The climb was tough. Starting at sea level and going straight up to 924 meters, it took us almost three hours to reach the top. The scenery along the way was beautiful. Most of the stages of the rock cycle were visible along with lookout points where we could see for miles.
We were having a great time but at checkpoint 7 out of 10 our motivation and endurance were fading. Each lookout point gave our morale a boost, but the thing that kept us going was the thought of going to the Ibusuki Sand Spa after the hike. Reaching the summit we were rewarded with an amazingly clear view all the way to Yakushima. Feeling satisfied we perched ourselves on a giant boulder and ate our celebratory lunch.
With our bellies full and the excitement for the Sand Spa taking over, we decided to try and make the earliest train back to Ibusuki, which only gave us about an hour and thirty minutes to get from the summit to the train. We ran so fast down the volcano that we were passing people that we had seen heading down while we were still climbing. With only two minutes to spare, we caught the train just in time.
The hike had taken every ounce of energy we had. Our feet were so badly blistered and our muscles ached, but we had high spirits in anticipation of the Sand Spa. When we reached Ibusuki, it looked like a ghost town. All shops were closed and there were no cars on the roads. The only thing in that town was the Sand Spa.
We paid our entrance fee and changed into the Yukatas that were provided and headed down to the black sand beach. Because the beach is located on a geothermal spot and the sand is volcanic, it is naturally hot. Luckily the weather was cool that day which made the sand feel even warmer.
As we lay buried in sand, a man came around to check on the temperature. I asked him to make it warmer so he dug deep to the steaming hot sand and added it on top. Once our time was up we headed over to the hot spring for more relaxation.
I love hot springs and the sand spa was a great experience, but I believe the strenuous hike and the pain that came from it made our sand spa experience ultimately better than if we just did the spa on its own.