Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by lightcycle, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    On our way out of Koya, we pass by this giant shrine on the side of the road

    It's getting very late in the afternoon and we're about an hour away from Wakayama, where we are meeting Michael's friend that we're staying with. We definitely don't want to be riding after sunset, especially up here in the mountains. We'll get hypothermia for sure!

    From Koya, it's just a single road that leads us back down the mountains to the big city of Wakayama. Because of the traffic, we arrive much later than we had anticipated and Warren has to find us in the dark after we call him up.

    Warren pulls up in a scooter and after some brief introductions (making sure that Michael hasn't referred a couple of axe murderers to him), he leads us back to his house.

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    In addition to his Honda scoot, Warren also has a cool Harley. The first one we've seen in Japan! (picture taken the next morning)
  2. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    After settling in, we hop back on the bikes and ride a few streets away to Warren's favorite izakaya where he treats us to dinner and beer as we talk about our trip. In turn, we quiz him on what it's like living in Japan. He's an ex-pat from Australia and he works in a local high school.

    "Oh, are you a teacher?" I ask.

    "No, I just hang around the school talking to students."

    Huh? That's an actual job? Warren proceeds to tell us about the ALT position in schools. ALT stands for Assistant Language Teacher. As an ALT, you don't actually teach lessons officially (although some ALTs do it), but you are what's known as a cultural and language ambassador. Basically, an ALTs presence in a school is meant to make the students feel more comfortable around gaijin, so they can practice their English and prepare them for dealing with foreigners if their future professions call for it.

    How interesting! And it's an actual paid position!

    I wonder if there's a Japanese job that pays you to ride around the country. So Japanese motorists feel more comfortable with crazy western motorcyclists not accustomed to riding on the left hand side...? I would settle for just free tanks of Haiku-Ramen-Gasorin.

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    Speaking of ramen, in the morning, Warren makes us his favorite breakfast dish - Nabe!

    Nabe means "hot pot" and is short for Nabe-mono (mono from the English word for one or single), so it means throwing everything in one hot pot. It's a popular dish in the winter months because the stew or soup is kept hot on a burner throughout the meal, as everyone gathers around it to eat. It's a very Japanese social tradition. Very cool to experience these little things. I like that Warren has adopted all of these local customs and practices. I think if we ever lived here, we would do exactly the same thing.

    Neda really likes the citrus Ponzu sauce that goes with Nabe. Also lots of vegetables in the broth, so Nabe with Ponzu is now Neda's favorite breakfast dish too!

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    After breakfast, we go riding around town and Warren introduces us to the guys at the local motorcycle shop

    He explains to them how we're riding around the world on motorcycles. I feel like such a celebrity!

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    Warren escorts us to the ferry terminal

    Because we're leaving the island today...
  3. DrydenRider

    DrydenRider Sun Seeker

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    Read on Ride dot Com that your motorcycle portion of the epic ride is now over. I must say that when i first started reading your story back in 2012 the one question I had was how will it all end? I even travelled all the way from Northern Ontario to Ajax just to hear you tell your story live back in 2015. Now I know and although it is a bit sad that we will not get a bit of the world through your once reliable camera lens and witty story telling, i can only wish you the best in your future and thank you for taking us all along for the ride.
    Max Wedge, Mofrid, Juanillo and 3 others like this.
  4. Max Wedge

    Max Wedge ADVenture mowing

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    Perhaps I missed it, but did you guys ever decide where you are going to live? How many miles on the BMW's?
  5. powderpig

    powderpig Been here awhile Supporter

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    I believe there was a post where they were planning to settle in Kelowna, BC.
  6. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Thanks for checking in on us!

    The blog is about two years behind, and surprisingly, we're still travelling as of today. In fact, we're celebrating our trip anniversary - seven years on the road - in exactly 30 days! :beer

    As you can imagine, there were a few plot twists and turns between where the blog is and where we are right now, which will quickly get addressed in the next couple of blog entries.

    So there'll be at least two more years of pictures, stories and short videos!
  7. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    It's been a few years since we actually rode the original BMWs that we started out on (I just checked - Nov 2016), so I'm not sure exactly how much mileage is on them.

    I recall my R1200GS last had 238,000+ kms on the odo, and I started the trip at ~110,000 kms. So Neda's F650GS, which was brand new for the trip, must be currently ~130,000 kms.

    We've rented and bought/sold several motorcycles since then, which muddies things a bit.

    By my rough calculations (since I don't really keep track of any stats), I think our total trip mileage is closing in on 170,000 kms.

    It changes all the time. Last place we really liked was Kelowna, BC. We stayed there for a couple of months, but also hit the road to snowboard some of the resorts in the Rocky Mountains. Turns out we love being snowboard nomads - Snowmads!

    So for next winter, we were mulling over the idea of grabbing an Epic Pass and travelling up and down the West Coast Mountains. Live in a van for a while and just hit up places like Whistler, Vail, Breckenridge. The Epic Pass also includes a few resorts in Japan, which is an attractive proposition, so we can visit all the friends we made there.

    Kelowna is nice, but the job opportunities are fairly limited. While we're being snowmadic next winter, we thought of using North Vancouver/Squamish as a base for a little while, see what life is like out on the coast. Seems like there are better job opportunities and you still get the outdoors lifestyle. Plus real estate prices are currently falling off a cliff in Vancouver, and if it gets cheap enough, then that'll be a good place to put the sidestands down.

    But all this is just idle chit-chat, there are many, many months between now and our proposed Snowmadic Adventures, so plans will probably change.
  8. Max Wedge

    Max Wedge ADVenture mowing

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    Well if you ever want to check out Michigan, (east or west coast) hit me up. I have room.
  9. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Thanks! That's much appreciated!
  10. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    But, do you have cats?
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  11. Max Wedge

    Max Wedge ADVenture mowing

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    No, no cats. I like breathing, and I can't do it around them. But, (as incentive for Neda) I do have the world prettiest Golden Retriever. She is the best dog ever.
  12. DantesDame

    DantesDame Ridin' Fool Super Moderator

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    Cool people have cats. :bmwrider

    Too bad I'm so cool, because I'd love for Gene and Neda to come and visit me. Maybe Neda will, and Gene can hang out in France for a while :thumb
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  13. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Just reading this thread makes me want to

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    ridgerunner1061 and rubline like this.
  14. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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  15. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    I had you two winding it up in the end in Thailand.
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  16. BruceT

    BruceT Been here awhile

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    Come to BC, you'll never regret it...although I may be a little biased :)
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  17. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    We love it, really we do.

    Unfortunately we found out that BC stands for "Bring Cash"!

    We need to live in a province called MC...
  18. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/398.html

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    You may know that Japan is made up of many different islands. You may not know that there are a total of 6,852 islands in the Japanese archipelago!

    Here are some more interesting numbers: Only 430 of the Japanese islands are inhabited. However, the entirety of the population (97%) lives on just 4 islands: Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu and Hokkaido.

    All this time, we have been riding around on the main island, Honshu, where Tokyo is located. Honshu is the most populated island. 80% of the population resides here, concentrated in the large cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and Nagoya. In fact, close to half of the entire Japanese population is packed into just 17% of the land area!

    This last statistic is borne out by our motorcycle travels through Honshu. Once we are out of the cities, the landscape opens right up. Vast tracts of mountainous land lay out all around us with few people or vehicles around to be seen. The myth that Japan is super-crowded is only applicable to small pockets of tight urban centers.

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    This ferry takes us to the next island, Shikoku

    Although we've already taken one ferry, it was to cross Suruga Bay to bypass the Fuji megapolis. Ferry-bypasses are a fact of life when traveling on the big island because the cities are just so congested to attempt to drive through, and the route across the water seems to be priced about the same as taking the ETC toll expressways.

    However, now that we are leaving the island of Honshu, we're really looking forward to experiencing a lot less traffic and more open spaces!

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    Bye bye, traffic! Farewell ETC!
  19. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Neda pretending to be an anime character on the ferry

    Sometimes if you catch her at the right moment, Neda has this anime smile that she does. It looks like this:

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    Not a tatami room on the ferry, but the Japanese people love sleeping on the floor! Neda grabs her Kindle and does like the locals do

    It takes about a couple of hours to get from Wakayama on Honshu to the city of Tokushima on Shikoku island. Plenty of time to catch a nap on the floor! Japanese people are so used to sleeping on the floor in their tatami rooms at home that the ferry companies always have to have a sleeping area on their boats, even if they're not lined with tatami mats. There's even a little raised platform on the edges that you can use as a headrest or pillow.
  20. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    We arrive at the island of Shikoku! They let out the cars and trucks off the ferries first, which is both unusual and sucky... :(

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    What that means is that all the motorcycles are stuck behind the lineup as we ride into the city of Tokushima.
    Oh well, plenty of time to idle and look around... at nothing particular...


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    An American car in Japan. A *VERY* unusual sight!

    You can see, behind the Corvette, the everyday cars of Japan. Very boxy, very utilitarian. *Very* space-efficient!

    Just the other day, we were chasing down a cool-looking black coupe racing down the expressway. It was a car I've never seen before, and when we pulled up beside it, I saw that it was some kind of Mazda. When I checked online later, I found out it was a hardtop version of the Miata called the RF. They just announced it a few months ago. I don't even think it's available in North America yet! I wish I had taken a picture of it.

    I remember in Thailand, we saw the CRF250 Rally when it first came out a couple of years ago. Because Honda manufactured them right in Thailand, we got to see them on the road before the rest of the world did. I love being at Ground Zero when new cars and bikes come out!