Bike Tour Beppu to Fukuoka: The finish line and the conclusion.
Bike Tour Beppu to Fukuoka: It was my final ride in Kyushu, Japan. My past six weeks in Kyushu and Okinawa cannot be justified in words. One can only feel, see, and experience it through a power of a bicycle.
In terms of roads in Japan, the conditions were simply superb, immaculate every inch on the road. Downside was that some roads were too narrow for sharing with cars, so it’s best to stay away from major roads and take side roads to avoid traffic.
The drivers here drive with a pair of angel wings on their back. They will never ever honk at you, they would rather crash their car into a tree before they honked at you. I remember perhaps twice where I was honked at because I had made a dumb move on the road that deserved honking and maybe a finger. The drivers in Japan regardless of how big or small their vehicles were, would only overtake me on the road when it was perfectly safe to do so, and would trail me for minutes until it was safe for them to go around me. I can remember on several occasions where I had no clue that a line of cars were trailing for who knows how long, until they thought it was safe to pass. I’ve had lines of ten cars tailgating me without my knowledge since I had earphones on. I would immediately get off the road for them to pass and feel a sense of guilt as all the cars quietly passed by. The driving etiquette in Japan is to pass a drivers test every time they were behind the wheel.
The people of Japan are some of the most wonderful, respectful, sincere, patriotic, and professional.The people who have offered me their houses to sleep, food to eat, beers to drink, all have left a memorable spot. From traveling on a bike, I learned that being hospitable, helpful, supportive, and being friendly to tourists are all very honorable ways of showing national pride and having patriotism in their country. And Japanese people treat their jobs as if the world peace was riding on it. The first experience with a customs officer who scrubbed my sandals with disinfectant cleaned like ebola was all over my sandals and I could endanger Japans with an epidemic if he didn’t clean it well. The severs at the restaurants bowed in 90 degrees as they served me a $5 meal. I would ask a guy for directions and a simple direction would turn into a lecture on how to get to your destination. And I’ve seen a local guy ask for directions and it would easily turn into long conversations. They will inherently go out of their way to help you in every way possible. They treated their profession or even part time jobs so seriously it was almost creepy at times. I mean every convenient store you walk into Korea, you see some college kid on their smart phone and his neck has problems of straightening up from bending down for so long. In Japan, the employees stand erect behind their registers and greet you immediately as you walk in and is almost robotic in the way they work. So sometimes it was too much to take. Also, keeping their country clean I thought was another way to love and respect your own country. I met a guy was kind of lived on the streets carrying a mobile ashtray for his cigarettes. Seven Elevens had recycling bins for every type of trash, and even a bin for plastic bottle caps. These guys knew how to protect their environment and this is definitely something everyone can learn from. Waving your national flag during the Olympics or the World Cup don’t make you a hero. Think again before you throw your goddamn cigarette butt in the ocean knucklehead!
As for the terrain and the environment, riding around Kyushu and Okinawa was a big time boot camp for bike touring. If you survive Japan on a bike, and wish to continue bike touring, you have earned your rights to do so, and is clearly infatuated with the touring on a bike if you still want to continue after riding up endless, hellish hills of Japan. The only flat road I remember in Kyushu was from Minamata to Kumamoto which was like a half day ride. All others were mountains and hills. They would test my character and my soul on every stroke of the pedal, but this is where I fully grasped the bible verse, “you reap what you sow.” Every inch you climb uphill is rewarded with the joy of cool ride downhill. And the harder the climb, the better the view from up top. The vibrant green forests of Japan and rice harvesting season was all nice to see while riding. The oceans were at times very violent due to the typhoons that passed by every week here. But on many occasions, views of the ocean from the hills were picturesque to say the least. Speaking of typhoons, it is definitely a major factor when considering touring in Japan. Okinawa is called a typhoon alley way for a good reason, and the winds and the rain would lock you up in a hostel for many days. Planning is highly recommended when touring in monsoon season.
In the past six weeks, I felt like I’ve seen enough of Japan and I was ready to move onto other countries. I had an unforgettable experience here and would definitely like to ride around the famous Hokkaido Island someday. Only problem is that it is little costly here but camping and finding places to sleep for free was fairly easy. Until next time, sayonara Nihon.
Thursday October 3, 2013
2013/11/15-11/17: Beppu to Fukuoka: The finish line and the conclusion.