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Goodbye, Sydney!

I came in Sydney without any expectation. So after more than 3 months living and working in that city, I was not that sad nor happy to leave it. My aim goal was to save money for my next travel. At that time, I had no clue how the rest of trip will be: Leave my bike behind « forever », or keep traveling with it? A little bit further? Or until the end?

By the way, the first thought you can have about Sydney is probably: « How the hell I can save some money in that over expensive city? ». Quite simple actually, just say goodbye to a social life, forget about a cosy private room, live as simple as you can and of course, work, work a lot. Well, I think I’ve reached my goals. I mean, as I’m getting older, it wasn’t that complicated, I didn’t feel that I was missing interesting stuffs. Of course, I haven’t experienced any of the crazy nights in Sydney, or made a lot of friends to hang out with, but I quite enjoyed my long riding days through Sydney’s busy street, delivering some food, watching people get wasted on the street,  and my long shifts at Cheekyburger.

Speaking of Cheekyburger, this is where I have met some very interesting people, backpackers or locals. I’m glad I’ve been a part of this adventure and I truly hope to meet some of them again in the future. Maybe because of my previous travels, I try now to not get to much emotional attached to the people I meet, even if I like them. I am pretty bad when it comes to say goodbye. But with time and experience, I’ve learned to never look back anymore: « Don’t be sad because it’s over, smile because it happened ».
I left Sydney after a night of few last drinks with some of my ex-coworkers, and took the train to Melbourne. My heart is light, my head full of nice memories, and my bank account full enough to face the upcoming challenges. There’re a few days left before heading to South Korea and I can feel the thrill all over my body again…Yeah I am getting very excited. But before that, a ton of shit to sort out in Melbourne. And when nervousness is getting mixed with excitation, it’s always a nice feeling, the feeling to be alive!

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Je suis arrivé à Sydney sans en attendre grand chose. Donc après près de 3 mois à bosser et à vivre dans cette ville, je ne suis ni content, ni triste de partir. Mon principal but était d’économiser au maximum pour continuer à explorer le pays. Mais à ce moment là, je n’avais aucune idée de quelle façon j’allais le faire: abandonner mon vélo? Continuer avec? Un petit peu? Jusqu’à la fin?

Vous vous demandez sûrement comment économiser de l’argent, dans une ville comme Sydney où le coût de la vie est excessivement cher? Eh bien, c’est assez simple en fait: pas de vie sociale, pas le luxe d’une chambre privée, vivre de la manière la plus simple possible et bien sûr, double ration de taf. Je pense avoir atteint mon objectif… Pour être honnête, je n’ai pas vraiment eu la sensation d’avoir manqué énormément de choses. Peut être que le fait de vieillir à mieux fait passer la pillule. Bien sûr, je n’ai pas expérimenté les nuits folles de Sydney, je ne me suis pas fais pleins de potes pour trainer avec. Mais j’ai plutôt apprécié mes longues journée à arpenter les rues de Sydney, faisant mes livraisons, ou regardant les gens se bourrer la gueule et aussi mes longues heures à bosser au Cheekyburger.

En parlant du Cheeky, c’est là où j’ai rencontré des gens vraiment intéressants, locaux ou backpackers. Je suis content d’avoir fais parti de cette aventure et j’espère vraiment de revoir ces têtes dans le futur. Mais à cause de mes précédents voyages, j’essais de ne pas trop m’attacher émotionnellement aux gens, même je les apprécie beaucoup. Je suis vraiment mauvais pour dire au revoir. Avec l’expérience, j’ai appris à continuer ma route sans plus me retourner…

J’ai quitter Sydney après une nuit à trinquer quelques verres avec quelques collègues puis j’ai pris le train pour Melbourne. Mon coeur est léger, ma tête pleine de souvenirs, le compte en banque assez rempli pour affronter mes prochaines aventures. Il ne reste que quelques avant de décoller pour la Corée-du-Sud et je commence à ressentir l’excitation parcourir mon corps. Mais avant ça, j’ai une tonne de conneries à faire à Melbourne. Et lorsque la nervosité se mêle à l’excitation, c’est toujours un sentiment agréable…le sentiment d’être vivant, tout simplement!

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Hokkaido – Part I

After 10 days of ride, I arrive in Aomori, from where I plan to take the ferry to Hakodate, in Hokkaido. Those first 10 days, from Tokyo to Aomori, along the east coast were quite exhausting: The heat (30°C around 9.00am, 35°C at noon), the rain (sometimes heavy), the endless rolling hills, the traffic jam (due to post-tsunami rebuilding)…But all the kind and generous people I’ve met along the way made me forget about those little « details ». I also can say that I have enough experience now to get over it. Plus, It is so easy and convenient to cycle in Japan. There are convenience stores everywhere, toilets (so clean) everywhere, you can camp pretty much everywhere… Don’t need to plan food and water for days, don’t need to look for the perfect spot to sleep for ages…Everything goes really smoothly! It is actually a good balance between easy things and things « a bit more challenging ». This the normal life on a bike after all.

I meet Charlie, a 50 ish years old English cyclist at the ferry Terminal. He is also about to board on the same ferry as me for Hokkaido. He has started from Kyushu, south of Japan, a few weeks ago. This guy is actually a legend. He has been cycling for 22 years!! I suddenly feel so small in front of this gun rider! We cross the Tsugaru Straits together, exchanging stories, experiences and good laughs…I don’t offer him to cycle together because I can feel his « solo spirit », so our way separates after Hakodate.

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spotted a small squirrel along the way

Hokkaido is the promised land of bicycles and motorcycles, and I can understand why. It’s quite different from what I’ve seen so far in Honshu, the main Island. Greener, cooler, less traffic, surrounded by beautiful landscapes…such a pleasure for the eyes. But in the other hand, it looks like the people here are less chatty than in Honshu. I mean, I’m not a curiosity for the others, probably because there’s way more cyclo-tourist and bikers here and I’m just one amongst the others. Which is fine for me, I admit.

The first days in Hokkaido are pleasant. And as usual, nothing’s planned. Following the flow, is what I can do the best. My first stop is Onuma Lake, a quiet Lake just a few kilometers away from Hakodate. It’s confortable to ride under such cool temperatures. The camping spot is nice, a few families on holidays, a few tourists. It’s so peaceful, I can’t believe I’m still in Japan. I meet a cyclist couple from Belgium in the evening. We exchange a bit and as usual, we have the same feeling about Japan…Amazing, so far. The next stop is Toya, an other Lake, with an little island in the middle. It’s a popular spots for Japanese people on holidays. I understand straight away when I arrive at the edge of the lake. It’s just beautiful. Luckily, it’s not really overcrowded. I take my time, explore the area, get off the bike to do some hiking. Sometimes you just need to relax and enjoy the present, don’t think about fighting against the passing time…Here, I pay for my accommodation for the first time during this trip. 700Y to pitch my tent next to the lake with a beautiful view despite the clouds! Completely worth it! Then, I’m heading toward Kutchan/Niseko. During winter, it is a popular ski station, specially for people from oversea. But during summer, it’s a beautiful place to explore. I have heard that Mt Yotei is a nice climb and watching the sunrise on the top of it is magical.

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Lake Toya

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Camping at Lake Toya

HIKING MOUNT YOTEI AND WATCH THE SUN RISING ABOVE A SEA OF CLOUD

Ross and Deb kindly accepted my Warmshowers request in Kutchan. It’s a lovely retired Australian couple originally from Perth, but living now half year in Japan, and touring the other half of the year in Europe. With their help, I can easily organize my overnight hike in Mount Yotei. It’s a 4hours climb to reach the top, at 1898m. The hut is on the 9th level. It’s about 10am when I start the hike. The sun is shining. The trail goes up gently for the 2 first hours. Nothing too complicated, my cardio is good, thanks to my « cyclist » condition. I sweat a lot though. My bag full of food and water doesn’t help either. It is getting a little more technical the 2 last hours. I’m not hiking anymore, I’m more like climbing. There are ropes on the side to help. The last meters seems endless but finally, after 3.5 hours, I reach the edge of the volcano. The highest peak is a bit further, the craters are impressive and what a view…it definitely worth the effort! But I’m wondering where the hut is…I was so focused on the climb, I probably missed the sign or something. It still early enough to enjoy the view, walk a bit around the craters, rest and of course, shoot a few pictures! There’s just a few others hikers, wandering around, like me.

I finally find the hut a bit further back, isolated, on the west side of the mountain. Already a few people there. Some are already sleeping, some are hanging outside. The « hutkeeper » checks me in and asks for 1000Y an night. Oh s***! I didn’t bring any cash with me. I feel so confused and offer to pay with Ryo’s gift « ninja 1000Y banknote ». He kindly refuses and finally let me stay for free. What a great guy! I spend the evening with the other guests, all Japanese, drinking beers, wine and whiskey and eating a home made « Genkhis Khan » a typical lamb dish from Hokkaido. Yeah,when Japanese go for a hike, they take all their gears with them! It means cooking stuff, liquids, and all the hiking equipment. I feel ridiculous with my onigiris and my water but they don’t mind to share everything with everyone. I also appreciate the effort they do to speak English in order to include me in the conversation. It is a great moment, spending with total strangers but I literally feel like home…

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Happy Hiking Friends

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A warm meal cooked with love at 1800m high

The next morning, 2.30am, it’s time to get up and chase the sunrise. It’s an hour hike to the peak. Everyone is more or less awake. It’s dark and humid, I follow my new fellows but quickly we are loosing each other and small  groups are formed. It’s a race against the sun as we get higher and higher. Soon, the first sun lights appear on the horizon and reveal the incredible beauty of an unreal sea of clouds. I forget the tiredness, eyes wide open, mesmerized by this spectacular view. I even have some goosebumps. I don’t remember experiencing such a thing in my life. It’s just magical, speechless…I spend long minutes contemplating the rising sun, the changing colors, the light taking over the darkness. A million thoughts are spinning around my head. I’m happy, I’m just happy to be alive, to be here and experiencing what nature has to offer…

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A Magical Moment…

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…Sunrise, Mt Yotei

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…And Sea of Clouds!

 

 

« I tried to cycle through the restricted area of Fukushima! »

Thursday, the 20th of July 2017, 9.00am, somewhere before Fukushima prefecture, I am having a little break at the 7-Eleven. While eating a snack, I give a bit of news to a friend in France when suddenly, I feel the ground shaking. Am I dreaming or Something? A quick look around, I realize that the Windows are shaking too! My first Earthquake!! I mean, I already felt a tiny one when I was in Highschool but Nothing compare to this one. It did’nt last long though, but long enough to get a bit of a thrill…But wait?!…Am I just a few kilometers away from the Fukushima area? And did I just decide to camp by the beach tonight?…It’s almost 4.00pm when I reach Nakoso Beach. It’s quite. A few people are relaxing on the beach. I ask the old man from the little beach shop: « Tento, Sleep, OK? » He answers me with a « Yes » and a big smile. If the old man says it’s Ok, it should be Ok, I say, trying to convice myself! A few minutes later, I get a message from my brother warning me about the earthquake this morning.

– « I know! I felt it! And I’m about to camp at the beach for the night! » I say

– « Well, there’s no tsunami alert so It should be ok but still, be careful, we never know! » He answers

– « Don’t worry, I’ll be fine »

And the night went with no trouble. On the top of it, the old man gave me some Soba for dinner, I had a cool shower from the public facilities and an amazing sunrise over the ocean in the morning!

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Early Morning, on the Beach

 

 

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Getting slowly in the country side

Next morning, it’s already nearly 30°C when I start my day, around 7am. I’m getting slowly into the country side. I can see the mountains, far away, some rice fields, more trees…but also a lot of abandonned buildings where the vegetation grew back to cover them. I feel weird, it’s like to be in a postapocalyptic movie…I am definitely in Fukushima…Suddenly, I notice a police car, a few meters ahead. Huhh!! I bet it’s for me! What have I done?? Bingo, as I get closer, 2 police officer get out of the car. I pull over.

 

 

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Police, Police!!

 

-« こんにちは、申し訳ありませんが、このエリアを巡回することはできません! » One of the police officer says…(I mean, Something like that…)

-« Hi, I’m sorry but I’m not Japanese…English? » I answer

Surprised, the two policemen look at each other… »No Japanese?? »

-« No…sorry »

-« Huuuuh…Bicycle…No! Dangerous!! Fukushima!! »

Ok I get it…I can’t cross the area where the nuclear reactor exploded. it still not safe and apparently only « closed » vehicles are allowed to cross this 40kms radius zone. I’m not the best to plan stuff…so it never came to my mind that crossing this restricted area was still impossible by bicycle, even 6 years later…

-« So, what are my options? » I ask

After checking my identity, the conversation is getting funny, my Japanese skill is close to 0 and their English skill is just above 25%. My translator App is doing suspicious translations. They finally call some backups after a few minutes of non-comprehension of both side. So here we are, 2 police cars, 4 police officers, a tourist and his bicycle, trying to sort Something out on the side of the road, with a big map, nearly impossible to handle. My only option is to do a 4 hours detour by car, through the remotes mountainous country side. 4 hours by car, it’s a least 3-4 days cycling! And through the mountains? And no Convenience stores? No way…I’m not ready for that yet! No trains? No bus? No? Nothing? Really? I’m desperate…After a few minutes of negociation, they invite me to the police station, 8 kms away in Tomioka, to find a solution.

While I’m riding to the police station, an idea comes to my mind. Why not just try to hitchhike? Once at the police station, I submit my idea to the policemen.

 

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Hitchbiking!

 

-« Yes, if you want! » one of them says. « But we suggest you to take the detour, it’s safer »

– « Naah it’s ok I gonna hitchhike! »

-« With your bicycle?! »

– « Yeah, why not? »

-« Come back to see us if you give up. »

After a big lunch and a beer (I always eat alot when I’m frustrated…), I’m standing on the side of the road, thumb up, waiting to be picked up Under a terrible burning sun…15min, 30min, 45min, 1H, 1H30…No one. Holly cow, I need to think about a plan B, just in case I have to spend the night in this half desertic town!! But just when I was starting to look at a park to sleep in, a van stops a few meters ahead! Youhou! I’m saved!!

-« Hi Sir! I need a lift to get out of the restricted area please! »

-« Oh, you’re not Japanese?? »

-« …, I’m French… »

– » Oh…sorry, please get in, you’re not the first one! »

Ueoka, a 40 years old guy, is working at the nuclear station. He is from Misawa, in Aomori prefecture and originally own a pub where the american soldiers use to hang out, this is why he has such a good English! When I ask him it’s safe to work at the station he just answers me: « No, we have protection, and it’s good money ». Fair enough. We are talking during the whole ride of different topics.

-« When are you gonna spend the night? » he asks me

-« Oh just drop me at the first Michinoeki after the restricted zone, I’ll camp there… »

-« No way, come and sleep at home, I’m about to move back to Misawa, so it’s a bit messy, but if you don’t mind. We’ll get some beers and some sushis! »

-« Euh… »

-« Don’t worry, I’m not gay, I have a wife and a daughter! »

-« Haha, Alright, I’m in!

So we spend the night at Ueoka’s appartement, enjoying weird japanese snacks, sushies, drinking beers and whisky, listening to some Japanese and international Rock and watching some Babymetal videoclip! He’s actually a guitarist in a band, quite a « rock’n’roll » guy with a good philosophy of life. Before he picked me up, I was thinking, japanese people are so kind and generous, there’s no way I will sleep outside tonight. I was right. I even decline a drink out at the local pub because I was too tired…

It’s was a great night! This is how I’ve crossed the restricted area of Fukushima.

 

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With Ueoka (Middle) and his friend (left) before I set off 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My current situation/location

The 25th of December, year 2017.

Let’s jump a little bit in the present. It’s not a easy task to keep that blog updated. Does anyone read it anyway?

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It’s been almost a month now that I’m in Brisbane. After my little mechanical issue, I felt it was maybe time for us to have a break. Brisbane is surprisingly pleasant, so why not try to get a job and have a bit of a social life back. Tassie can wait.

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I spent my first 2 weeks with a helpX host, Pam, helping her with a bit of painting at her appartment. Meanwhile, I was looking for a job and doing some ubereats deliveries to earn a bit of money. But I quickly felt that I needed more freedom, so I left the HelpX job to find my own room and try to do more deliveries. So I found it, a private room in Westend, the funky area of Brisbane, for 145$ a week. Not too bad, if you look at the Sydney’s standard.

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So yeah, it looks like I will stay there for a little while. I mean, it depends of the job. It’s been a month already and I’m still looking. I had a few interviews, a trial but Nothing really conclusive. I’m still doing some deliveries but it’s a bit quiet at the moment because of the school holidays and everything but I earn enough to survive. I’m starting to built little by little a social life, thanks to my japanese housemates (yeah looks like Japan is still following me, or I am unconsciously following Japan…).

So what about cycling in all of it? Did I give up? As I said, Tasmania can wait a little bit more. Cycling around Brisbane for the food deliveries keeps me fit enough. I didn’t expect such hills in that city though, some are just ridicolously steep…My plans are not set in stones anyway. I think I will just need to get some winter gears for Tassie. But that’s fine, it’s gonna be a whole new experience.

 

 

 

From Tokyo to Aomori (Part1): Happy People, Rain, Heat and Hills

– « You should carry a sign saying you’re cycling around Japan like I did », Ryo says. « Then people don’t think you’re a homeless »… »Oh, and don’t forget to write that you’re from France, because it’s not that obvious… » Haha.

 

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It says: « I’m traveling around Japan by bicycle, I’m French ». I mean, Something like that!

 

He’s right, actually. It’s a good idea, I’m agree. I don’t know yet, but this sign is gonna be quite useful during this trip. « Arigato, Ryoma-San »! So Here I am, with my beautiful sign, written with Kanji, ready to set off.

I choose to ride to Aomori along the East Coast, from Tokyo. This is a bit of a special ride. This is where, in March 2011, Japan has been hit by one of the worst earthquake it never faced. This powerful earthquake caused terrible tsunamis and the fail of the Fukushima Nuclear Central…A lot of coastal towns have been wiped away, more than 18000 people died or went missing…One of the worst natural catastrophe in Japan ever.

It’s time to leave after 4 pleasant and relaxing days at Ryo’s. It’s always hard to leave the confort of a home, the delicious food of a mother or the smiles of new friends. Experiencing the Japanese family lifestyle with the Iihara’s was an incredible experience. But every good things have an end, right? I am heading to my new adventures, across the country of the rising sun, the country of the 7 Dragon Balls.

Getting out of Tokyo is not an easy thing. The traffic jam, the heat, the signs in Japanese and my half broken GPS make thing more complicated. Even a hundred Kilometers out of Tokyo, you feel like you’re still in Tokyo. I manage to catch the route 6 who will take me to Sendai, 300 kms north of the capital. I ride half on the road, amongst the traffic, and half on the walk way, amongst the pedestrians. I don’t really know if it legal, but I feel safer. And it looks like everybody does it.

 

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A dry place to spend the night after a day riding Under the rain!

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I swear, rain doesn’t affect me…

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Cloudy Sky in the japanese country side

 

I am amazed by the kindness of the people. In 10 days of ride to Aomori, every single day, someone stops to offer me water, soft drinks, food and even money once. I mean, I don’t mind to accept food or drinks from people, but not money, specially when it comes from an old lady. But she doesn’t give me the choice, put the money in my hand and close it…The magic of the sign, according to Ryo. And yeah, I think it helps. People stop to chat with me, most of the time with very limited English, are very surprised when I can’t speak Japanese and even more when I tell them I’m from France. Kids cheer and encourage me with some « Ganbatte Kudasai! ». I smile. I feel good.

 

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A guy gave me those Soba, on the beach

 

Aside of it, the weather is quite terrible. But I can just blame my-self because I knew it will be that way. When it’s not freaking hot (Almost 30°C at 7am) and humid, it just rains like it’s the end of the world…Just like in South-Korea, actually. It rains so much that my « waterproof » phone got wet in my « waterproof » jacket! Conclusion, my phone died, it means no more GPS and no more social connections. I know, It’s sad to be that dependant from technology. I feel powerless against the weather condition. First, I was complaining a lot, but I have learnt to accept it. It is as it is. Lower your head and pedal!

 

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No pain no gain: a steep ride to reach this nice view point.

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Another climb, another view but here, the clouds left for a clear blue sky

 

Another difficulty is the terrain it-self. The route 6 is flat-ish. Easily manageable. It’s getting more complicated after Sendai when I reach the route 45: Rolling hills, crazy traffic jam with a mix of cars, buses and trucks, and scary dark long tunnels. My knees are seriously challenged by the endless up and down and my mental stress is tested with the endless flow of motorised vehicles! But I’m strangely not so discouraged. This is probably what we call experience right? No time to complain, I need to keep moving, no matter what…

 

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Seawalls to prevent Tsunami?

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« To infinity, and Beyond! »

 

 

Family and Friends reunion in Tokyo, and others little delights !

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One of Kyoto’s Shrines

So I am about to see 2 familiar faces again. Ryoma that I met in Albany, Australia and Yvon, my little brother who just spend the last months in Japan with a Working Holiday Visa. Ryoma will host me during my stay in Tokyo, the time I need to get ready. It was a bit more complicated to find a Schedule with Yvon. But finally, we have managed to catch up, for an evening, before he flies back home.

I rode the little 50 kilometers between Osaka and Kyoto. My first real ride in Japan. Quite easy and enjoyable, mostly on a cycle path along a river. Kyoto is quite a popular touristic destination. And I can easily understand why. The city has kept a very old school vibe, surrounded by a hundred of temples and shrines. It is so different from Osaka. Here, no tall buildings, almost everything is still traditionnal. When you walk through the small back Streets, you almost feel like a samourai will get out of a house and challenge you. True. Takuya, a Warmshowers Japanese cyclist who has toured a bit in Europe, hosts me during my stay. A really cool guy. On the menu, a night ride through Kyoto by Mamachari (a traditionnal Japanese bicycle), my first Hamburg, my first « Kyoto Ramen », a big help to book the night bus to Tokyo, an even bigger help to carry all my stuff with me to the station, a lot of stories and a Rinko bag…

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Riding around Shinjuku

Shinjuku, 6am the next morning. I have to put all my bike back together and it’s already bloody hot! Streets are gettting busier and busier. I can’t believe it, I’m in Tokyo! The lights, the smell, the noise, I wander around, eyes and jaws wide open. I litterally feel like in a big « real life » anime. Ryoma and his family welcome me as a member of the family. Yeah it feels like home, good home made meals, sake and japanese whisky, first time in a traditionnal Izakaya…oh wait, it’s even better than Home! I am touched by their kindness and generosity and really hope I will have the opportunity to give them the money back in the future.

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Izakaya restaurant with Davide, Ryoma and Otaru

So we manage to catch Yvon the day before my birthday. He flies home the day after. It’s always nice to hang out with familiar faces. Ryo takes us to the heart of Tokyo, in Asakusa area for dinner and of course a few drinks.  We eat weird stuff, we eat good stuff, we drink weird stuff, we drink good stuff. I enjoy those times of relaxation at the fullest, knowing that in a few days, I will be back on the road again. And it doesn’t bother me at all actually! I am really excited to ride this beautiful country and experience what it has to offer!!

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With Ryoma and Yvon, in front of Asakusa Gate!

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Cheers!

I also have a very nice birthday dinner with Ryo’s family: a special Wagyu meal! I finally have the opportunity the taste the delighness of the famous Japanese beef. And what to say? It goes way beyond my expectations!! I have no word to describe the taste and the texture, it is just melt into your mouth…sorry for my vegeterian friend. As a whiskey lover, the 18 years ol Yamakasi Japanese Whiskey is one of the best I ever tasted. Strong and soft at the same time…Once again, I have no word to describe it. I mean, just try it, if you have the opportunity!

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Wagyu Hotpot!

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More Wagyu!

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Home made Sushi!

And what about cycling in all this flaw of delicious food and drink? Yeah, because I almost forgot why I came to Japan during those days. I mean, the main thing who brought me here! It’s kinda difficult to get back to cycling after all of this. But I have to. I know that biggest things are coming! More food, more drinks, more encounters, more asphalte, more incredible sceneries, more climb, more rain, more heat, more everything!!So I got my bike ready, readjusted a few stuff. And once again, I thrown my selfelf to infinite happiness of the unknown!!

First Steps in Japan: A Kid’s Dream comes true!

Aaahhh!! Japan! When you grew up with the most famous Japanese Anime, obviously, visiting this country has a little special meaning. I’m not crazy about Japan but it was in my bucket list since a while. When I decided to come here and cycle around the country, I obviously contacted my good friend met in Albany a few months ago: Ryoma! The first thing he said to me was: « July and August, forget it. Very hot, humid, rain then typhoon season. » It didn’t feel really appealing at the first sight, but I wanted to escape the Aussie winter. So yeah, here I am.

My original plan was to start my Japanese trip from Fukuoka, South of Japan and cycle all the way up to Hokkaido. But Ryoma scared me a little bit with his heavy rain and typhoon stories. So I decided to skip half of Japan and start from Tokyo. It will also be the opportunity to catch Yvon, my little brother, before he flies back home.  So I caught the ferry from Busan to Osaka, an overnight trip. From there, I will find a way to reach Tokyo. The ferry trip was nice: a 6 people cabin for my-self, an « all you can eat » buffet, a bar, a spa, a convenient store and even a lady who welcomed us with the melody of the movie « Titanic » played on the piano. Just hoped to not ending like those unfortunate people…But I survived!P1020058P1020068

Around 10am the next day, I was in Osaka. With my bicycle, I stayed a little bit longer than the others at the custom service. They asked me so many questions, specially why I didn’t book any flight back. Finally, they were nice to me and I was able to get out of there and ride to my hostel. Ryoma didn’t lie, it was hot that day. Terribly hot. The 15k ride to the hostel felt like an eternity. How will I be able cycle with that weather?P1020070

My stay in Osaka was pleasant. I met nice travelers, mostly from the hostel. One of them, a french guy, told me it was quite easy to get the working holiday in Japan! Dammit, if only I knew! I remember I read somewhere we need a minimum of Japanese language skill to get the visa…hum, it’s too late anyway. Fate led me to Australia, where I started this bicycle adventure, so let it be.P1020073

So Osaka was extactly what I expected from Japan: traffic, people, lights, big buildings, crazy food, electric…It was a good sample of the Japanese city life but I knew that Tokyo will be much more! I spent 2 days walking and cycling through the Streets, eyes wide opened, like a kid in mall before Christmas. But I had no time to wander around forever, because like I said before, I had to reach Tokyo Asap to catch Yvon before he flies home…

Bicycle Touring in South Korea: Part III

When you are traveling by bicycle, people look at you in a different way. They probably think that you’re a bit crazy, that you’ve lost your mind or something like that. And they’re not completely wrong. It’s always funny to see how people are staring at you and your fully loaded bicycle when you pass in front of them. But this is what I like. I’m just not a simple tourist for them. And it changes all the relationship between me and the locals.

The 4 rivers trail is quite popular and it was built for cycle touring. I think locals are used to see foreigner people riding this trail in its entire part. This is why just only a few people stopped on the way to chat with me. But also, Korean are usually shy and they don’t do the first move. And the language doesn’t help too. As I’m not a big talker myself, I haven’t interacted with that much people during this trip. I mean, less than expected. Nevertheless, I’ve met nice people on the road. Like I said in the previous post, those people who gave me that massive lunch after these big climb, that was absolutely priceless. There was also that old lady motel owner who took care of my dripping clothes after a terrible rainy day, without any extra money. Or that old man who gave me some milk and a hard boiled egg while I was changing my flat Tyre. Those little encounters added something special to the trip. So yes, even if sometimes Korean people seem a bit cold, some of them are very kind and generous.

This was also not that easy to free camp on the way. I heard some people did it. But the nice spots are few. I probable camped 3 times in total: one time under a pagoda in a park, one time under a bridge and another time in a kind of park under a shelter. No one came to kick me out so I guess it’s allowed. The other times, I slept in proper accomodation: hostel, motel or guest house…because I had no choice, caught under the rain or wanted a bit of comfort. Well, I would say that accomodation in Korea in general is not that cheap but pretty clean and it does the job.

Did I say something about Korean food? Less famous than Japanese for example, this is probably as good as it. Korean BBQ, Korean Fried Chicken, Bibimbap and others delicious meal that I forgot the names are what I ate along the way. Instant noodles saved my life a couple of time and meals ready to go from convenience store were my friend during this time. Yeah I didn’t cook at all. It was quite different from the trip in Australia where I ate a lot of cans, breads and pasta. At least, I didn’t have to carry a lot food, which is good for my bike already too heavy…But yeah, as usual, food is a big part of my trip…I can’t stop thinking about food when I’m riding! It’s getting obsessional!

To sum up, this warm up in South Korea was a blast. I didn’t expect such beautiful landscapes. The trail is well built. I had a few hard times because of the rain, the heat and to much flat tyres. But I survived. I’ve met old friends and spent nice moment in their companies. The food was incredible and the people I’ve met on my way were very kind to me. South Korea definitely deserves more spotlights. I think it’s gonna be a fancier destination in the future, specially for cyclists. I will be back, for sure!!

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