On Monday the 18th of November, I finally got shipping figured out. Katriana would be leaving on a boat the 28th of November. The boat was K-line "Adriatic Highway". It would get to Leam Chebang Thailand on the 12th of December. Direct flights to Bangkok from Tokyo were around $800. I wasn't about to spend that so I started searching for an alternative. I also learned that I would not be able to temp import my moto into Thailand on the 1 month single entry visa you receive on arrival in Bangkok. Don't ask me why, It is Thailand. So to kill 2 birds with 1 stone, I booked a flight to Korea for a few days then to Thailand. About $450 for the flights and I would be able to get the Thai visa in Korea way easier than in Japan. The Japanese love paperwork. Not as much as the Thai though. So with everything sorted I decided to do some more riding. I had to leave the bike at port on the 25th.
Tuesday Nov. 19. Andreas's house to Nagano. 232 km
I left in the afternoon and had relatively clear roads going toward Nagano. It got very very cold in the evening when the sun was going behind the mountains. Sunset was now around 5:00 which doesn't leave much time for travel. The road had many long tunnels and every time I went into one I was happy because It was so much warmer. There was no wind and the underground temp in the tunnel was quite nice. I found a hostel in Nagano but they didn't have anyplace to park the moto. But this is Japan. I don't feel bad about leaving her in a parking lot. I walked around Nagano and found a street festival with many different types of Japanese food. Dinner was octopus balls, chicken and some noodle fry dish thing. I slept great in the cold.
Nov 20. Nagano to Yoyama. 175 km
The days started nice. Brisk but sunny. Soon I was in the mountains and the sun was gone. This was making me worried as I could see the snow line above me. Around mid day I was riding in the snow but the roads were clear. As I came to the other side of the pass, the snow was falling pretty heavy but the roads were clear still. Soon the snow turned to rain and the wind got strong. When I reached the coast I hopped on the motorway to put on some kms and get to a hotel. I didn't want to ride anymore in the rain.
Nov 21. Toyama to Kanazawa. 98 km
I started the day in the rain but it cleared up mid morning. On the Noto peninsula you can ride on the beach for about 20 km. When I got there, the sun finally came out and it was good to get in some dirt. Unfortunately there was way to much trash on the beach. You couldn't really go flat out because you had to avoid all the crap that had washed up. Still quite fun. In Kanazawa, I went to a hostel that was recommended to me but they didn't have any openings. So I stayed the night in a hotel.
Nov 22. Kanazawa to Osaka. 317 km
I had a couple friends in Osaka I who wanted me to go out with them on Friday night. In order to get there on time, I rode expressway the whole time. This was about $50 to get 300 km. Again, about the same price as a train ticket from Kanazawa to Osaka. Once in Osaka I met up with Jesse who was riding a nice little XR 250. Over coffee she told me about a few problems with with the new-to-her bike so we went back to her place and I pulled out my multimeter. That's not a nerdy engineering sex reference. I literally went to work on her bike. We determined her bike was in fact charging but the battery was not holding a charge. I also helped her install some nice new hand guards. Then we met up with Nicolas (who was riding the KTM SM from a few posts back) for drinks and fun. I knew they were supposed to go riding the next day. So at midnight I asked them if they wanted to call it a night. "At one we will go home.. lets go to a club". As you can probably guess, 1:00 came and went. It wasn't until 3:00 in the morning that I was passing out on her couch with my cloths on.
Nov 23. Osaka to Nagoya. 208 km
Jesse was a wreck in them morning and she didn't make it riding with the others. I felt a little bad but at the same time, I was not the one drinking whiskey. I stuck to beer all night and didn't feel that bad. We had a burger and I got on the road. On the way out of Osaka, I passed by a motorcycle shop that had a decent selection of tires. As it turns out, the Michelin Sirac rear was quite warn after only about 8000 km. I knew it would be harder to find one in Thailand so I got what I could. $100 got me a Dunlop D604 in a 130/80 R18. Not ideal but it seemed like a good tire. Better then the Sirac. They would have charged me $30 to mount the tire so I put on a demonstration in the parking lot of the moto shop while a crowd of Japanese motorcyclist gathered to watch whitey. After 15 minutes I was back on the road. I stopped at a 7/11 to use the bathroom and get a snack and coffee and I noticed a shop across the street had some nice American muscle cars. They had a couple RS Cameros, a 55 Chevy, a supercharged C6 vette (I think), and a few more. The odd car of the group? A 1985 Delta 88 station wagon. I learned to drive in a 87 Caprice Classic wagon. I asked why why why was this car imported into Japan when you have all these other amazing cars? He said his dad owned this very car when he lived in the US and wanted it in Japan. I guess. On second thought, it is probably the only one in Japan. I had trouble finding a place to stay in Nagoya because it was a holiday. Finally I found a hotel room for about $70. It was a smoking room but I didn't care at that point. Open the window and turn the bathroom fan on while you go out for dinner. Most of the smell is gone when you come back.
|Almost shot Michelin Sirac with only 8,000 km.|
|New Dunlop for South East Asia. I should be able to make this one last.|
|I was looking at the flat tracker tire but a quick internet search said they don't last long on a heavy bike|
|A cool custom scoot|
|The 4x4 Suzuki Jimmy. Its smaller than a Suzuki Samurai and has a solid front axle.|
|Some of the cars.|
|Owner of 6 degrees on the right.|
|This car was inside for some reason. My dad would be proud.|
Nov 24. Nagoya to Andreas's house. 417 km
Again it was another day of motorway. I needed to get back "home". It was sunny and a little brisk. Great fall day for riding. I changed my oil at Andreas's house that evening and went to bed early. Big day in the morning.
Nov 25. Andreas's house to Yokohama Port. 80 km.
I woke up early and packed everything I would need for the next few days. Most of my camping and moto stuff I needed to leave at Andreas's house because I could not leave it on the moto. I also did not want to bring it with me on the train from Yokohama to Tokyo. I had a few days till my flight on the 30th to Seoul and I wanted to be in Tokyo for that so I booked a relatively cheap hotel about 2 minutes walking from the Ueno station. I left the house around 10:00 and made it to the port around 12:30. I took a wrong turn on the motorway so I had to ride through Yokohama down town and I had trouble finding the Diatha corporation lot. But after I was there it went smoothly. I left the bike with the guys that did customs for me. Cost of customs leaving Japan was $200. Shipping cost, $600. Still under $1000, I'm doing well I think. I had a quote from a Thailand customs agent for $800. This had many pieces to the quote that wouldn't apply to me like "unpacking container", "moving container". I thought I would be able to get some of this cost taken down once I got there. My contact at Diatha Corp drove me to the Yokohama station and I took a train to Tokyo. Over the next few days I would call Ueno my "home"
|Leaving my bike at the port. This is the last picture I have of my moto when Cheburashka is still riding on the handlebars. Somewhere over the next few weeks he was removed or fell off. Its quite sad.|
|The last week in Japan|
|Tracks from my almost 3 months in Japan.|
On the morning of the 29th, I met with Gen one more time to give him his phone back. We had a great breakfast at a restaurant near his hotel. Again Gen helped me out. This time he called the Diatha Corp and K-line to verify that the boat did leave and Katriana was in fact on the boat. After that I hauled ass back to the the Hotel. Got my bags and got a ticket on the express train to the airport. My flight was around 2. Since I couldn't leave any of my equipment on the bike, I bought a huge rolling luggage to put it in. At the airport, they said the bag had to be under 25 kilo and it was about 30. I moved a few things around from one bag to another and I was able to get them both under weight. Since I had 2 check bags instead of 1, I had to pay an extra $100.Thanks again to Gen and Andreas. I owe both of you big time.