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Reisverslag First days, first kilometers, first impressions!
10 april 2014
First days, first kilometers, first impressions!
My bike survived the flight (AWEsome) and although I got quite some "are you an alien-looks" from the Japanese customs-guys I was allowed to enter the country with my bike. After some mechanics I headed off into the dark, on my way to the hostel I booked for the first night.
Finding my way off the airport-premises was quite challenging, and it was VERY dark. I felt like a neon-circus pony with all my reflective stuff but I guess more visible is more better. The hostel was nice and simple, and after a good night's sleep I headed off!
The first day of cycling contained a lot of sun, quite some kilometers and a small struggle with the lady from the gas station who was not willing to fill up my fuel bottle for cooking (apparently VERY unsafe). Not very good timing, I was tired and hungry and NOT willing to get into an argument, so when I had made clear that I left relatively unhappy (finally) her Japanese humility showed up. Luckily, the next gas station service lady was not bothered at all by my fuel bottle and happily filled it up. I found a cool camping spot some km's down the road, and after pitching the tent and enjoying some pasta I slept a-ma-zing.
Day two was characterized by hills. Oh my, this country is not flat. At all. The weather was yet again very sunny, so regular sunscreen-stops and making use of the ubiquitous vending machines, that sometimes even contain ice-cream! xD
There were a number of times where I thought, PLEASE can this hill now stop going uphill? I felt the weight of my luggage and the energy from the food I was consuming seemed to vanish immediately after consumption. However, I took my time and just turned and turned around the pedals, trying to at least stay on the bike (which I managed - hurray!).
After an interesting section through a 2.8km-tunnel I had an awesome ride downhill, touching and even crossing the 60+ km/h (thereby thoroughly exceeding the speed limit of 40km/h, oops), and making up for the effort I had put in uphill.
I spent a day sightseeing the beautiful temples and shrines in Nikko (world heritage!), together with Iris and her father Jean-Pierre, two lovely Belgians.
That evening I found out that the originally planned route would be difficult to follow: the pass I was supposed to cross will be closed until the 25th of April... Although Nikko and its surroundings is really pretty I do not have that much spare time. Also, any alternative routes to Numata would mean a crazy amount of extra altitude and kilometers, on top of missing out most of the beautiful scenery. Furthermore, the Konsei pass is only around 2050m high and in later stages (which would follow in approximately 1 week) I would be cycling through the proper Japanese Alps and there the problem of closed roads would probably occur even more frequently...
So, after a lot of brain-staking route seeking and thinking of alternatives, I decided to skip this part of the route for now and cycle back in the direction of Tokyo. I will take a more southerly route to Kyoto, and then go to Shikoku and Kyushu as soon as possible. Or maybe not, but at least I will ride in the direction of Mt. Fuji and Kyoto in the coming days and then I'll see what to do next. =)
Because I was put off a bit by the fact that my awesome route-setting didn't turn out to be as awesome (I could have known about the closed roads, had I actually read the descriptions of all the stages more thoroughly...), I decided to stay in the hostel near Nikko for an extra night and go for a hike with Kitty, an Australian girl that also stayed in 'Space Riverhostel'. The hike was wonderful although the Japanese vegetation is quite weird and has not yet recovered from winter.
I planned to cycle in the direction of Utsonomiya, and Scout (the hostel owner) said that he has always wanted to cycle that bit of road. So tomorrow we will bike there with the three of us (Kitty will also join) and from there I will continue my journey.
The route I have cycled so far is shown here: http://www.afstandmeten.nl/index.php?id=1299342,1299344,1299340. Day 1 is in pink, day 2 is in blue and red (blue = to Nikko, red = from Nikko to the hostel where I'll leave tomorrow).
- I always thought people were exaggerating when talking about Japanese toilets. But, they are right. Japanese toilets are awesome: many buttons and the best of all is the heated seat!
- Sushi is good, but sushi in Japan is awesome. Although I haven't experienced a proper sushi train in a restaurant, even the supermarket-stuff is amazing.
- I was kind of proud with myself having learned the Kana-characters (supposedly 2/3 of the Japanese 'alphabet') but the folks use SO many Kanji (Chinese characters) that it doesn't actually help me an awful lot...
- If you are ever in/around Nikko, make sure to plan MORE than two days to properly enjoy both the cultural heritage AND the super-amazing nature by making some day-hikes. And, stay in 'Space Riverhostel', run by an American guy called Scout who will literally try to do everything he can to make your stay as enjoyable as he can.
- Sakura (cherry blossom) is really pretty. Really really pretty. And there is still quite a lot of it, yay!
- There is a lot of work-provision here, quite effectively. Police officers appear at the most random (and useful?) locations to arrange the traffic, albeit on busy road, a cycling path or even empty roads...
- Somehow I could only upload pictures from the last two days. Earlier ones will follow later, or can be found on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/nic.clerx).
Foto's bij verslag (5)
11 april 2014 20:43 | Door: Maurice
Wow. A nice great story. And many more nice stories to tell soon.
Nikko seems awesome...but believe me. .Kyoto. .wow. you gave advise to go Nikko for more then a day.
That same advice goes for Kyoto. But in 10 times. Haha.
I don't know if you will visit Kyoto?
If you do then kinkaku-ji temple is highly recommended. Beautiful in gold covered building.
But I am sure sure you can find out yourself perfect.
and funny indeed about the kanji.
Shall I add another fact....
kanji kana is a writing of over 10.000 characters. The kana you talk about is probably hiragana. That has 48.And katakana also 48.
But of these more then 10.000 characters 3000 are said (by japanese government) as daily use. So every japanese civilian should know and or recognise these.
3000!!!!! In our own alphabet( same as japanese romaji kana) we cannot understand a language like that.
hey enjoy and be safe(although japan I very safe country).