Shikoku: Iya Valley, vine bridge, onsen and McDonald

Iya valley is situated in the centre of Shikoku Island, South of a Japan.

This was the first day I took the drivers seat and explored. It was slightly scary as it was a sensitive automatic car.

Iya Valley is a place, with staggeringly steep gorges and thick mountain forests. We were winding ourselves around narrow cliff-hanging roads while the icy blue water of the Yoshino-gawa shoots along the valley floors. At the top of the valley as we were driving, we saw monkeys running around, trying to hide in the trees when we got close to them. It was a surprising but incredible experience. I have to say while driving, it did feel slightly dangerous, as some of the paths were so sharp and narrow with no barrier that I thought we could fall to our death.

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Entering Oboke village, the clear, clean water flowed violently down stream creating rapids. It was a magnificent sight. One aspect Iya Valley is famous for it their vine bridges, which have been known for being notoriously difficult. They were formed by tying together wild vines over the deep gorges to create a wobbly bridge. I loved this experience as I am a slight adrenaline junkie. The view from this bridge was just breath-taking. While viewing one of the nearby waterfalls, I decided to immerse myself into the water fully-clothed. It was so much fun.

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After we decided to experience a traditional Japanese onsen, which is a hot spring bath. They are ver similar to a spa but you are expected to be naked completely. The baths are split into males and females but it is weird to see naked Japanese women with everything hanging out. It is an experience that needs to be done in a Japan to get immersed into the culture. The onsen we went in had an outdoor bath with clean water stream down, a large hot indoor jucuzzi pool, a small freezing bath, a scented bath, a powerful spray machine and a sauna with mats and TV. It was absolutely lush. The funniest thing was that we were not planning on going so we didn’t have a town but there were small, long towels to sort of cover yourself up. When getting out, there are stools in front of mirrors with individual showers to clean yourself before leaving. What an experience!

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In the evening, we thought you can’t really go to a different country and not taste McDonald. As they are literally everywhere, it isn’t hard to find one. The menu has some of the same product as well as different ones. I had a prawn fillet sandwich meal with cold tea and some fishy, vegetable, spongy nuggets. The meal didn’t make me feel gross like after an English McDonald. The chips were less fatty but more salty. It was good.

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