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Since I was coming back from Rebun Island on a late ferry, the thought of making the steep hike to my beloved hilltop campground wasn't all that appealing. Walking it after a long day of sightseeing, or with a full belly from stuffing my face at one of the great foreign food restaurants in town was one thing (I recommend Pechika, Namaste Nepal Curry, and La Seine), but dragging my luggage and hiking-weary toes up there was another.
Last time a kind soul had given me a ride up there in their car. But I wasn't about to try and hitchhike at such a late hour; there are various difficulties associated with this: Firstly, there are less people around to hitch from at night, and those that are around are either out for dinner, drinks, etc., or in a hurry to go home. Not an ideal hitching situation. On top of that, it's dark so you're not likely to be spotted by many, and if you are, who is gonna be able to read your hitchhiking sign stating your destination properly? You'd be forced to ask someone to give you a ride, and since many Japanese people are unlikely to say no even if it's a hassle to them, this is one line I generally never cross. The act of hitchhiking with a thumb and/or sign alone is asking for charity, but to actually force someone to give you a yes or no answer? I guess it's tantamount to demanding charity.
Although I spent over a month hitchhiking in a foreign country, I still have some ethical issues with the act. I suppose I mainly did it for the experience, and it certainly has been one. But I do have guilt trips when someone who's picked me up does more than they have to do for me; for example, when they go out of their way to take me somewhere farther, or when they shout me a meal, etc. I know that these are the cases where people just want to give, however, so I shouldn't feel guilty. I'm still working on that.
But one thing I can rightfully feel guilty about is not buying into Japan's public transport, right? Sure, I ain't rich, and sure, it's damned expensive here, but I'm still doing some activities that a tourist would do, so technically shouldn't I buy into the general transport for tourists, too?
I would probably feel zero guilt hitchhiking and traveling in my own country. But when it's a foreign country, it seems like I'm just sneaking my way out of supporting their tourist industry.
But on the other hand, I would still be doing the same in New Zealand, right? Kiwi or not, if I'm doing a tourist activity in NZ, doesn't that mean I should be paying for transport as well?
So you see, logically you could argue that this guilt is also unjustified. Buuut... that doesn't mean it's not still there.
Anyway, maybe I should continue that debate in another post. Getting on with my camping adventure!
I didn't want to drag my luggage up the hill to the local campground, so I decided to do another thing I generally try to avoid: Freedom camping in town.
I was pretty exhausted after plenty of hiking that day, so after walking out of the port to Wakkanai Station, I literally just looked around and picked a spot right by a park bench and tree.
There's a kind of park alongside the station, but it mostly consisted of concrete and some patches of grass, so a patch of grass for a campsite it was. Actually, I did initially think a little about where I was gonna camp after Rebun if I had to come back at night, but I didn't really click that the park had so little grass, even though I'd walked by it a couple of times while exploring earlier. I'd also considered the Michi no eki, which was actually right here at the station, figuring where there's a Michi no eki there's gotta be no problem camping. But the Michi no eki area itself was again, concrete—just a couple of large parking lots.
I sure felt awkward clambering into my tent as a couple of old men sidled along the walkway having a chat. But eh, whatever. It was only one night. And you can bet your bottom dollar first thing I did the next morning was get up and get packing!