26 days remaining 

Today we walked 1/3rd up a volcano into the clouds. Brad worked out that Poison Ivy leaves have a red tinge. This close to Siberia, snow still lies in deep gullies. On our way back down, we watched, amongst the trees, a battle between a crow and Black Woodpecker. The Woodpecker held her own, and returned to the source of fighting: her brood calling from a hole deep in a dead tree. Meanwhile, back at the campsite, crows were busy pecking holes in our panniers. Looking for our food. Which they got. 
 Five months and 5000km into our journey from Japan sub-tropical to sub-arctic we have accumulated many holes. Our tyres are so worn out that even small pebbles cause punctures.  Our clothes are worn out and many won’t make the return journey to Aberdeen airport. Heidi & Brad’s morale is also a bit worn out. Sam & Joe, meanwhile, are having a blast. 

The local speciality here is Sea Urchin. Fascinating watching fisherman leaning over their boats, face in ice-cold sea water, handling an underwater ‘litter picker’ to pull up Sea Urchins. Sam’s rear wheel picked up a puncture courtesy of a Sea Urchin spine. I don’t like Sea Urchins very much.

Tomorrow we will catch a ferry to the neighbouring island of Rebun, the more far flung of the pair. Famous for its wild flowers. 

LOCAL NEWS:  More stories of Chinese & Russian boats sailing into waters around islands claimed by Japan. Claimed by both China & Japan. China, Japan, South Korea & Russia squabbling. An EU equivalent for these big hitters simply does not exist. Just a whole lot of suspicion and fear. I find it interesting how European countries with their supposed ‘individualist’ (some here might call selfish) ways contrast with the zen like ‘peace & harmony’ ways that characterise Far Eastern cultures. Key is the idea of ‘saving face ‘: always mindful of others, don’t challenge directly lest you embarrass the other. Cultural methods to ensure peaceful societies. Oh, how western popular culture loves Confucius wisdoms. Yet there is no EU equivalent. They haven’t managed to find a way of sitting around a table and thrashing out differences, painfully, together. The result is superficial politeness face-to-face that lacks an integrity in actions. This Whinging Pom hopes the UK votes to remain. 

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