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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SuperSonicRocketship, Aug 20, 2016.
Well written - you are the envy of many of us stuck at home or in the office
Thanks again - Brucie for being so articulate.
I rather enjoy the pictures and the sense of experience my mind conjures from your words.
From Osaka we had opted for a 4 day layover in Seoul, South Korea, before catching the long haul flight to Canada to collect the bikes from port.
Kyla is not so bad, but I truly hate flying. The short hop over over the Sea of Japan was horrific. Heaving turbulance and sudden drops caused nervous utterings to spread back down the rows of audibly panicked passengers.
I'd never been so glad to touch down.
Korea's capital doesn't greet you like Japan's does. It's very different; loud, busy, dirty, rushed. The huge cultural influence of China seeps deeply into Korea. It is immediate and inescapable. The serenity of Japan is long gone, manifested bluntly by the barrage of suitcases and shoulders as the locals push and and pry their way in and out of gaps in the crowds.
We made our way to the hostel at the North of the City in a lively suburb that had the highest density of restaurants and food stalls I had ever seen. Within a tight 6 block area there were over 400 places to eat. You'd be hard pressed to find a business that wasnt either selling food, or cooking it for you. Our corner of Seoul has a real authentic hustle about it and no matter what time you ventured out the streets were lively. To top it all off we had arrived right in the middle of a major Korean national holiday called Chuseok, a kind of traditional harvest celebration, observed in both the North and the South.
Amongst all these festivities, it's easy to forget where you are. From our hostel we were just 17 miles from the North Korean border. Our plan was to visit in 2 days time.
But it wasn't to be.
The tension between the two states is as high as it has been since the Korean War. The days around the Chuseok Festival were deemed extremely high risk for border security and on the day we arrived all excursions to the Joint Security Area and Demilitirised Zone were forbidden.
Our visit to the DMZ was not to be.
The remainder of our time in Seoul was largely spent eating noodles in various forms and wandering the streets of the central and oldtown areas. If I'm honest though, I can't say I was blown away by Seoul, and the irony can't be ignored that other than a few lively sweetspots about the town, Seoul is in fact largely soul-less.
Our 4 days came and went in a flash, and in that time Kyla and I had formed a fierce rivalry at one of the local arcades where they had a basketball game. At 30p per go we killed more than a good few hours on the machine. I kid you not she beat me 21 games to 1. I tactically retired after my first and only victory much to Kyla's dismay.
"Whatever, basketball isn't a real sport anyway." - the best defence I can muster up.
On our 5th morning we were packed early and ready to make way for Koreas ridiculously large Incheon Airport. After 31 days without motorcycles it was finally time to make our way to Canada.
A new country, a new continent, a whole new chapter.
It's been a long time since I was this excited for anything, ever.
Seoul Skyline (NOT MY IMAGE - borrowed for effect - all rights to respective owner)
I reeeaaaally wish I had seen this before we got here haha
Thank you very much!
To be honest I am not much of a photographer anyway, so I must rely on the written word to convey these visions and views.
Before setting off for Canada we had done a bit of research on our point of entry, the Western port city of Vancouver. The news wasn't great. Accommodation options are extremely expensive, well beyond our measly daily budgets, and we were truly struggling to find a suitable place to stay in the city. Until we were reunited with the bikes it was important that we could stay close to the central public transport hubs to get about the city.
"Can we live in the airport seating lounge without anyone noticing?" - Kyla asks.
It was a grim prospect, but probably our best option so far.
Feeling a bit lost, I sent a message to a follower of the blog, Martin, a guy who many months prior had told me he stayed in Vancouver and if we needed advice we could ask him. Really at best I was praying for a nudge in the right direction, maybe a tip on a cheap dorm, or a good part of town to look.
But Martin was having none of it.
If there was ever a fitting example of the unity and kindness that exists within motorcycling culture, then Martin was it.
Keeping in mind that we are two complete strangers hailing from an online blog, Martin, and his extremely pleasant family, opened their home to us. A brave act for a working family with three kids of 14, 17, and 20. After all, I guess we could be thieves, murderers, or psychopaths. Luckily Kyla and I are none of the sort. In reality we come in the form of one depository of useless facts (myself), and another who watches animal videos at every given opportunity (the good lady).
"You can stay with us for a few days. For free." - Reads Martins message. If only he knew how much stress, money, time and energy he had saved us.
We arrived at Vancouver airport fairly chewed up from jetlag of the 10 hour flight. We had crossed the International Date Line and so confusingly we had technically arrived at our destination before we had even left. Take off was 3pm Friday, and landing was 10am the same day. The body clock was so far out of sync it actually made us look suspicious to border control. In my sleep deprived state the story didn't roll off the tongue quite how I had hoped.
"Uuuhm, so we left Yester... no wait, Today, or later this afternoon in fact, to get here this morning, so tomorrow I can get my bike." - My speel to border control.
"What bike sir?" - A suspiciously well groomed border officers asks me.
"Oh we have bikes coming on a boat from Russia." - Not the best wording I admit.
"OK, Im gonna have you go right over there into secondary." - He says in a condescending and authoritive tone. If only he knew of the border guards I have dealt with these last 400 days. Kyla's unflinching and emotionless response took him by surprise.
Luckily 'secondary' took no longer than 10 minutes and we were free to enter Canada in no time at all.
Martin took a day off work to collected us from the airport and shuffled us back to his beautiful home on Vancouvers picturesque North Shore. His eldest daughter, the exceedingly charming Emily, had given up her room and bunked up with her younger sister in order for us to stay. We were given two blow-up mattresses, fresh sheets, plump pillows and made to feel more at home than you could ever imagine.
"You guys can join us for Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow if you like? The whole family is coming over."
I'm not sure they realise just how much this gesture means to us. When you live your life on the road full-time as we do; living out of a tent, eating only as and when it's possible, constantly battling the elements and the beaurocracy, then acts of kindness like this are essentially life altering.
We held out till 9pm, but we both succumbed to the exhaustion, and slept soundly.
Finally we were in North America, and it couldn't have got off to a better start.
GUESS WHAT GUYS!!!
I just bought myself a new phone. A much more modern Samsung Galaxy Note 5. Essentially a 5 year upgrade from the Original Note.
I should be able to access the photo uploader now, and perhaps backdate this thread with some images.
Welcome to North America! That is an awesome and heartwarming story about Martin and his family. Whats the plan now?
Honestly Juno, we are not sure. My plan was always to make it up to Alaska and see the North. I'm quite fascinated by continental extremes, and we already missed Nordkapp and Magadan, I really don't want to miss another one. Obviously the climate has already turned and that will force us South. I'm trying to plan out some kind of Horseshoe type shape that can have us come down the West coast and southern states before allowing time to pass so we can go North again. But thats ALOT of waiting around.
Another problem is factoring in a route where we can go to see the North and not have to backtrack too much on the same routes. Ideally a ferry service up the West coast so we could sail one way and ride the other.
Something like that!
So I went back and tried to re-upload some of the images from Page 1. Seems to have worked ok. Could you guys maybe just have a look and see if those images are appearing for you? I knew that before a lot of you guys were saying you couldn't see the photos even though they were loading for others.
It's a slow process all this retroactive uploading, so I'll probably do it in phases. Maybe by the time i'm finished the trip i'll be all caught up. Ha.
Houston, we have pictures!
Our First Thanksgiving
Like most Europeans the only experience I have with Thanksgiving is the rare brief mention of it on American TV shows. Canada has Thanksgiving too but it's about 6 weeks earlier in the year. Prior to Martin telling us, we had no idea it was happening, nor what it actually was.
But it's a big deal over here. It's a true national celebration perhaps second only to Christmas. Offices close, businesses reduce their hours, and families have large gatherings to celebrate with an impressive home cooked meal. Martins wife, Barb, tells me the tradional food is usually a huge Turkey. Barb had acquired one that weighed a stone and a half, a seriously impressive bird.
Thanksgiving also had implications for us too. Although the port was operational, the administrative side of the import companies were closed for a 3 day weekend. It meant that there was nothing for us to do but to put it to the back of our minds until the coming Tuesday. Which was fine by us, as it made way for a very memorable experience. It gave us an intimate insight into the workings of a real Canadian family on this special day.
The whole setting was so foreign, and yet so familiar, Just like you see in those American movies. Most of Barbara's side of the family had come over and in the end the feast was to feed 13 people. As I let my ears slowly tune into these gentle Canadian accents, the whole atmosphere starts to feel festive.
The next day was the Thanksgiving Holiday Monday and Canada was still largely non-operational. We were treated to an in depth tour of the city by means of Martin and Barb having organised a day for us to be whisked about the sights of Vancouver.
First we went for a morning family walk, in which everyone was present- even the dog and the family horse. With the encouragement of Emily, Martins eldest daughter, Kyla mounted the steed with no saddle. She looked truly terrified.
As the family splintered off, and now in the company of just Martin, Barb and their especially charming middle daughter Nicole, we were taken to Granville Island market and harbour, then to the Stanley Park Totem Poles, past English Bay, and even to a salmon hatchery. We were even treated to the Canadian national dish - Poutine; it comes in various forms but is essentially chips, or indeed French Fries as they say here, with cheese curds, gravy and spices. It's a really dense meal, and tastes good too.
All of this as a gift to us from the Vondruska family. They would not take a penny from us - we tried. Our protests fell flat against their adamant resolve. They had fed us, put a roof over our heads, let us sit at the family table during a special holiday, they were our tour guides and friends for life. Most importantly they let us see something that we never otherwise could have; an intimate slice of this part of the world.
By Tuesday we were met with a dilemma, the national holidays were over, the family went back to work or school, and the city port finally opened again. Our container had landed 2 days previously, but the holiday had meant they not yet been processed. Vancouver Port was actually 20 miles South of the city. Plus we were starting to feel a touch of guilt for hogging poor Emily's room for the last 5 night's.
It was time to get back to reality. We booked a hostel to the South of the City, Much closer to the port, and set up an HQ to get our bikes free from harbour beaurocracy.
But first we needed some lunch.
It's strange how life's chapters are all tied together; each day like the turning page of a book. Whilst sat in the food court of an enormous local shopping mall, we wrote a few messages to some old faces who we had traveled with earlier in the trip, whilst I rambled on about those very days back in Summer, where the sheer Chaos of Central and South Asia was now serving as a perfect dichotomy to the civility of Canada. Mid-speech I was sharply cut off by the sight of something through the crowds. A face.
One I recognised.
"Aah Charlie! No waaay!" - Catching the attention of my target, as well as at least 20 other onlookers.
Bear with me.
It was Charlie and Herv. Two guys who we had met in Russia when making our way to Vladivostok. They were riding a pair of BMWs around the world and had spent the last month in Vietnam and Thailand. Seeing these guys here set of a chain of seemingly impossible chance meetings in my head;
Charlie and Herv had bumped into the French couple we crossed Mongolia with, who in turn had run into Suzanne and Roger, the English couple we met in Khazakstan. By chance those guys had all met The Icelander who we had actually run into twice on the same trip 13 months and 2 continents apart.
But it gets stranger.
Not even a minute previously, whilst munching into her food court burrito, Kyla had sent amessage to none other than that very same Icelander. Who was himself now on route to Vancouver too.
And who had I just send a message to?
You guessed it. Herv, who was now standing right in front of me.
Life on the road is odd.
Capilano Salmon Hatchery
Poutine with roast duck, fried egg, spicy salt, gravy and cheese curds
L ot R : Aqua the Border Collie, Brendan 14, Nicole 17, Barb, Martin, Emma 20, Mercy the horse! (incase you didn't notice)
Martin prepares to end world hunger
I am glad you got to experience thanksgiving. That is amazing running into those folks in a food court!