Fukuoka to Nagasaki: Hills and rain welcomes me

Bike Tour Nagasaki

Bike Tour Nagasaki: I would quickly learn that Kyushu is not a place for novice cyclists like myself. It was fine until I got out of Fukuoka and hills and mountains are endless on Kyushu. I was faced with quite a few mountains and hills on the way to Nagasaki, and not having a map that worked on my phone or a physical map, I used the tourist map that I got from Fukuoka which indicated roads very vaguely, and in turn, I would get lost a few times and ride up a good portion of a mountain for nothing, well, besides the jaw dropping view.

I took the conditions of the roads for granted in Japan but I noticed that there are designated bike lanes made for bikes and pedestrians which was good for a few days but I would eventually stick to the main road since there would always be small bumps going on the sidewalk and getting off the sidewalk. This in the long run would be bothersome. The streets are very narrow in Japan and lot of times, they were single lanes. Everything in Japan is actually smaller in scale and cars were smaller, hence, the small roads were big enough.

Drivers in Japan have the best driving etiquette hands down. When tractor trailer trucks are tailing you for a couple of minutes doing 20 km/h, waiting until it is completely safe to overtake me. With earphones on, I wouldn’t even be aware of them following me since they will never ever honk at you. At times, there would be multiple cars behind me, a trail of vehicles tailing me waiting for the right time to pass me up, and the whole time, not one driver dares to touch their horn. Driving etiquette in Japan is perhaps 150 years ahead of Korea. Culture shock while pedaling.

Nagasaki was definitely a memorable place. I felt like there were so much history and places to visit. I couldn’t load the fifty photos I wanted to upload because it took too long to upload.

 

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First stealth camping in front of some beach. It looked nice, but I would have to deal with rain, sand fleas making their way into my tent. The shitty tent I bought for about $20 had parts where it was netting and the holes were big enough for small creatures to trespass and say hello to me while I was asleep. It was an unpleasant start for the camper.

 

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This wasn’t an aquarium.

 

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My first biiru. Foam at its best. I’ve never been a big fan of Japanese beer. I thought it was just above average beer and never had craved for it. This would all change and I would place Japanese beer on top of my favorite beers. I would become almost addicted to its signature flavor of hops in its beer.  I would come to fall in love thanks to my Okinawa bike buddy who taught me a lesson on Japanese beers.

 

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Japanese Transformers

 

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As you can see the roads here doesn’t have a designated bike lane or even a sidewalk. In the rural areas, the streets would mostly look like this where you have to share it with cars and trucks. The bright side is that the drivers are very respectful of cyclists and the roads all look like they’ve been completed the week before.

 

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Rice terrace on the mountains. Going on the 498 road, past Imari, there are many generous mountains of Kyushu. These hills would kick my ass, but I would able to calm my nerves once I looked down the hills and the landscape of countryside would help me find inner peace.

 

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This is a point where I discovered that I went the wrong way which was to keep riding up the hill, at least for 500 meters vertical climb. I would run low on water and had to start digging into my emergency food. I spotted an old couple enjoying the scenery and asked them for directions in my minimal English. Not only did they carefully direct me in the right way, they gave me few bags of bread to take for the road. I did try to politely refuse but I ended up giving in and boy was the bread good on top of this mountain.

 

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Kittens crying for their mother in a park. I was close to abducting one of them in my pannier. Japan is cat’s heaven. Even stray cats looked like they were ready for the cat show.

 

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Traditional Japanese houses were commonly seen throughout Kyushu.

 

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Sasebo burger in Sasebo

 

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Road 202 bridge. The view from my tent at a park.

 

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Their style of rice harvesting seemed very ancient. Being there in time to see the luscious rice fields was great, made the landscape that much better.

 

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Nagasaki city night view is supposedly one of the best in the world.

 

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Nagasaki pier

 

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Nagasaki peace park and remains of the cathedral church.

 

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Hypocenter. This is the location of the atomic bomb that was dropped by the US. I got to this park at night not knowing that it was the hypocenter, and I swear a sudden chill spread out throughout my body as I entered the park with my bike.

 

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Peace Statue, there were thousands of high school students that came on a school field trip and they all paid their respects here.

 

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Hand made cranes and origami were hung all over the parks. They weren’t just a few pieces, there would be hundreds of thousands of these. It was clear that the past is certainly not forgotten here.

 

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The remake of the bomb that was dropped in Nagasaki

 

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I was extremely fortunate to be in Nagasaki for the Kunichi festival. This was the best feature of Nagasaki. These guys knew how to have a festival.

 

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The festival was heavily related to the fishing culture of Nagasaki. The two lobsters on this showcase were humongous.

 

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This was a famous Ton-Katsu restaurant in the arcade, and was the best I’ve ever had.

 

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There were many Chinese temples here built by the Chinese couple of hundred years ago.

 

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This performance/ritual was the most entertaining where these guys kept rotating the model ship repeatedly in both directions while the kids on the boat and old men on the side played traditional music. These guys continued this for about an hour or more and was drenched in their sweat. The media was there to interview them afterwards.

 

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I paid to see the same old temples around the city which got old very quickly, and then I discovered this authentic Japanese temple where many people came to pray was very impressive and was culturally educating. Every country has their own style of praying.

 

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Ladies in kimono for a performance. Many people were in kimonos for the festival.

 

Bike Tour Nagasaki
The embroidering of sea creatures was extremely detailed and realistic. I felt so lucky to witness this festival and learned that festivals is the place to be while travelling.

 

 

 

This is a guest blog post by Dae Choi
Tuesday October 1, 2013, 193 km (120 miles) – Total so far: 223 km (139 miles)
2013/09/30-10/05 Fukuoka to Nagasaki: Hills and rain welcomes me

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