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

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

  1. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    That doesn't stop many people (and animals) from walking around the very pretty grounds and taking in the cherry blossoms

    [​IMG]
    Neda in her element!

    [​IMG]
    Shops and stalls outside Kumamoto Castle
    TwilightZone, mikegc, ross and 7 others like this.
  2. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
  3. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    Kumamoto Castle through the cherry blossoms

    [​IMG]
    Back outside in the city, we walk along the moat surrounding the castle grounds
  4. Spicciani2

    Spicciani2 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2015
    Oddometer:
    344
    Location:
    mobile AL USA
    "Us" or just you? we can see Neda, is still looking fine...
    danh600, ross, DunkingBird and 2 others like this.
  5. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
  6. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    It's lunch hour and people stream out from the office buildings nearby

    [​IMG]
    This is Hanami!

    Hanami is defined as the "Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of cherry blossoms". It is a national past-time during the early spring, where you grab a bento box, find a cherry blossom tree and sit underneath and enjoy your food and the view. If I could draw a parallel, it's as traditional as an American going to a baseball game and having hotdogs and beer.

    There's a funny saying around Hanami: "hana yori dango". It means "dumplings rather than flowers" and pokes fun at people who enjoy the eating of the meal more than sitting and admiring the cherry blossoms.

    That would be me. If I went to a baseball game, it would totally be for the hotdogs and beer...

    And the briefness of cherry-blossom season is about as short as the Maple Leafs playoff schedule. I don't know anything about baseball. Did I say that right?
  7. Cheftyler

    Cheftyler Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2015
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    Arvada, CO
    :drums:(
    gpfan likes this.
  8. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    Strolling along the moat surrounding Kumamoto Castle amongst the cherry blossoms

    [​IMG]
    Taking pictures of cherry blossoms is also a national past-time. Just like scarfing down dumplings,
    it's an activity that I can totally get on board with as well!

    We walk back to our bikes to see which one of them got towed. :)

    To our surprise they were both still there! Either two-wheelers get overlooked for parking violations or the Japanese just don't think anyone would willfully break the law like that...

    No matter, we head out of Kumamoto in the late afternoon to try to beat the big city rush hour. We're only a little bit successful. Although the GPS says it's only another hour or so to get to our next stop, we arrive in Aso just as the sun begins to set. We are starving and can't find a restaurant that's open.
  9. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 Knowledge is horsepower...

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    23,685
    Location:
    Moneyapolis, MN
    Nice photos! :bow
  10. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    After riding around a bit, we find this very small family-run restaurant

    The lady that runs it is very nice, but she doesn't speak any English at all, which we're totally used to by now. I don't think we even ordered anything, we just sat down and did a bit of sign language to indicate we were hungry and then these plates appeared in front of us after a little while. It was very tasty: grilled beef with rice and miso soup. I love Japanese food!

    Good thing we know the Japanese word for Asahi beer. It's "Asahi"... :)

    After dinner, we try to find our guest house in the dark, navigating through very narrow streets of the tiny community by headlight only. The housekeeper lets us in and shows us to our room:

    [​IMG]
    To our delight, it's a tatami room!

    Finally after almost a month in Japan, we are able to see some cherry blossoms for Neda. Had some great food today and we're sleeping in a cool tatami room tonight. What an experience! We are loving Japan!
    Just Adam, NaMi, Briggski and 13 others like this.
  11. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    gpfan, B10Dave and TwilightZone like this.
  12. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/403.html

    [​IMG]

    We are taking another rest day. Two in fact.

    The pace over the last couple of weeks since we left Tokyo has been relentless. We're just not used to this constant movement, especially in our fatigued state. But because we're on rental bikes, we keep pushing ourselves to make the most of it. Although we're enjoying Japan immensely, there's a lot of pressure to press forward and that's not very fun.

    I wished we owned these bikes right out instead of renting them. That way we wouldn't feel so rushed.

    [​IMG]
    Our guest house in Aso

    Thankfully, when we awake this morning, it's pouring rain. Yes, you heard right. We're actually thankful it's raining! Because now this justifies our decision to stay put for a little bit. During our stay, we meet other tourists who check in and out of the guest house. Many of them are hikers, who are planning to climb nearby Mount Aso.

    [​IMG]
    Rainy days means I get to stay in and work on the blog

    Since we've been on the move, there's been no time to edit pictures and write. So now I take the opportunity to type up some entries. Sometimes I get a bit discouraged that the blog is so far behind. Oh well, it'll get done when it gets done.

    It's cold up here in the mountains! I sit myself beside a space heater, crank it up and start to type.
  13. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    Taking a break to go out and grab some lunch. Neda takes some pix of the flowers around our neighbourhood

    [​IMG]
    This is where we're staying for the next couple of days. Nice view of the mountains in the background
    SmilinJoe, B10Dave, ross and 11 others like this.
  14. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    We found a great restaurant just around the corner, funky decorations hang from the ceiling

    [​IMG]
    My little feast in front of me. Neda tries some "yama-imo" or mountain potato

    Yama-imo is finely grated raw yam. It becomes very gooey and then you can serve it over salad, soup or noodles, since it doesn't have a very strong taste. The Japanese love it because of it's slimy texture. Just like natto!

    In fact, there's a name for the Japanese love of slimey food. It's called: "Neba Neba". Other examples of neba neba are raw egg yolks served over rice or in a soup, slimy seaweed, okra, gelatinous mushroom caps. If you want to eat like a Japanese person, you have to embrace neba neba!

    Also, I've also noticed that the Japanese like to compartmentalize their food. They don't like different flavours touching each other, so they must each be served in individual plates or bowls. I'd hate to be a dishwasher in a Japanese restaurant!
    SmilinJoe, george248, thwak and 9 others like this.
  15. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    Another day, we venture further out to find somewhere else to eat. Still so cloudy outside, you can't even see the mountains around us.

    Our host at the guest house tells us that there is a market in town where we could get some food. Over the last couple of days, we've gotten to know her a little bit. Every day during lunch, she walks into town to take an onsen break, soaking in the hot mineral waters and then she returns back in the afternoon to check in guests.

    [​IMG]
    The little market in town, right beside the onsen. The triangle-shaped rice balls are called Onigiri and are very popular in Japan
    NaMi, Rich Rider, SmilinJoe and 8 others like this.
  16. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,502
    Location:
    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    I am really liking Japan through your ride and rest report. It was never on my bucket list, but it is now. Thanks.
  17. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Cool! You definitely should visit!

    There have been a few places that have become our favorites after we arrived, but Japan isn't one of them. We were both fascinated and pre-disposed to liking the country before we even got there. We just knew we'd like it and we weren't disappointed. The only surprise was how affordable and how much space and nature there is once you're out of the cities, which was contrary to everything we've read and heard.

    So Japan is #1 on our Favorite Countries list.

    But there were countries that really surprised us as we were riding through it, like Mexico and Colombia. Those are our #2 and #3 countries on our list.
  18. powderpig

    powderpig Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    118
    Location:
    Bend, OR
    Hokkaido is on my short list for a ski trip.
  19. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    It was good to take a small break from riding and touring. When we finally do check out of the guest house, it's still a little damp outside and the air is cold. Perhaps not the best weather to ride up Mount Aso, but this is the only opportunity to do it. We can't wait around forever waiting for sunshine.

    Neda wants to bypass Mount Aso, since we can't even see the top because of the thick cloud cover. I've got a case of FOMO, so I try to convince her, "It's kind of on the way, just a small detour. Maybe the weather will clear up when we get there..."

    We negotiate the long, windy road up the mountain. The summit is less than 30 minutes drive, but as we climb higher, the haze in the air turns to fog. It gets thicker and large water droplets form on our visors. Cold too!!!

    [​IMG]
    At the summit, there's a little parking lot and a lookout. Unfortunately, not much to see... :(

    This is a bit disappointing. There's supposed to be amazing views into the caldera of Mount Aso, but alas, it was not meant to be.

    Neda gives me the "I told you so" look.

    I hate that look.
    SmilinJoe, Smidty, ross and 7 others like this.
  20. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,443
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    We descend the mountain and head further west, back towards Kumamoto.

    [​IMG]
    Some kind of roadblock on our route. The sign is in Japanese and we don't know if the road is closed or not. There are hours listed...

    Neda pulls out her Google Translate app and aims the camera at the kanji characters, hoping for a good translation. All that comes out is gibberish.

    There's a long-ass detour that by-passes this road but it adds quite a bit of time and I'd hate to do that if it's not absolutely necessary. I wish I could read Japanese. What do those hours mean? I postulate that maybe the road becomes a single-lane and the hours dictate which direction you can travel in.

    Since we're on motorcycles, we can perhaps slip past oncoming traffic if we get the direction wrong. Feign ignorance if the police stop us...

    So we decide to ride past the road block and try our luck.

    15 kms later, we run into construction. The entire road is closed and that same sign we saw earlier is posted here as well. There's a ski resort and a hotel where we've stopped, so we ask someone if the road will open. They tell us that the hours in red are closures and the hours in blue are when it's open. *DUH* Of course... We just missed the lunch-time window for crossing and it would be several more hours until the road re-opened again.

    DAMMIT! If only Google Translate worked properly!
    ross, SmilinJoe, Smidty and 7 others like this.