Thursday, 1 June 2017

Japan Tour (3-11 May 2017), Day 1 : Ain't No Mountain High Enough!

Comradeship!!! Cyclists speak the same language...we made friends with 4 Koreans at Kansai airport
Taking the ERL to KLIA2
Multilevel carpark at Salak Tinggi, just next to the train station only costs RM3.00 per day
If you are taking Airasia, be early as the check in queue is very long
Time check....1 hour to clear immigration!
Sim cards have to be posted back to the service provider upon exit or risks losing the security deposit
5 Day's Rail Pass
The gate to our House
View from the garden
Our room is on the far right...
...premium pool view...
...and a river view below!!!
Checking out the water...
View from the road
Car park below the garden
Enough wood to cook us!
Chilling out after a walk in the river
Living area
Living area
Our bikes at the store
Coop Supermarket next to our restaurant
Car park view
Our restaurant

We landed in Kansai airport at 9.30 am in the morning. Going through immigration, we had to follow 2 separate and equally long queues. The first queue was a biometric scan followed by a photo shot manned by smiling personnel. Passing with flying colours, we were ushered to a second queue where we meet the immigration officers on duty. They seemed to have good job satisfaction, smiling as they asked questions before stamping their approvals. Indonesians though, were tasked with more questions than others!

By the time we arrived at baggage claims, our bikes were already hauled up on trolleys waiting for us!!! Such was the good hospitality of the Japanese folks. Or perhaps we took too long to pass immigration, our baggage was blocking the conveyor belt???

We could not leave the airport immediately. Initially, we had to visit the post office to collect our Sakura SIM cards, purchased online a few weeks ago. Then, we had to unpack our bikes and transfer them into soft bags for train travel. Thereafter, a visit to the JR Office was called for, to pick up our 5 days' train pass!!!

Buying our takeaway lunch at Shin Osaka station
Lunch on board
Taking the train for Hiroshima, we had to change trains at Shin Osaka. Bernie was wise to suggest packing our bento lunch on board as it was a long, 3 hours journey including the transit. Our lunch though, looked more appetizing than the actual tastes. Everything was cold!

Arriving at Hiroshima station, the lugging from train to exit was again, a DREAD! It was a long walk and the bikes plus baggage at 23 kg hauled on one's shoulder could leave one almost asthmatic!!!

Calling it quits right after the gates
As soon as she passes the gate, Claudine ignored all cautions from previous tourers. She unpacked her Brompton midway to roll it out!!! VT followed as well. Suzie and Bernie though, had to continue hauling and lugging all way out of the station as Dahons and Terns are not commuter friendly. They do not come with rolling wheels. 
Once outside, we set up our bikes. Bernie and Suzie had their fair share of bike problems. Strange that Bernie had brought 10 sets of clothings but no pumps nor tools!!!

Claudine's fender was rubbing against the tyre and it took a lot of banging and bending before the trouble disappeared. The problem returned when they set off but readjusted itself after a few kilometers!

VT had a near heart attack when he found out his rear tyre was completely deflated. He had never attended a day's lesson on tube changing for a B and everyone had forewarned how troublesome it can be. Hoping for the best, he decided to pump up the tyre and was relieved it required nothing more than that!!!

Riding out at 2.30pm, the streets on Hiroshima was strangely quiet. There were hardly any cars let alone people on the street! We navigated passed shops, a fire station and Setouchi high school.

Right after that, our ascent began! We had to climb 40 m over a short distance of approximately 800 m!! Housing became more sparse and with our lack of speed, comes observation. We noticed a few stonemasons at work but further scrutiny revealed tombstones and sculptures for the graves!!!

Arriving at the top of the hill, another road, running down to our intersection was beautifully decorated with flowers! We only knew later that it led to a cemetery on top of the hill!!!!

Downhill and on flats once more, we passed a few blocks of housing for the poor. They looked cramped and basic but with a fire station just next door; and Sukiya, a cheap Japanese food chain plus a supermarket opposite; the location cannot be more convenient. 

Just a little ahead, we turned left and began another ascent! This time, we passed Sparks Supermarket, a hospital, Coop Supermarket and Fujisan Fresh Market. When we saw a river flowing right in front of a block of hotel, we began to wonder why we had not made the booking instead! 

The hill climb at more than 3% grading, over a continuous distance of 3 km was a real challenge!!! It was made worse with our 16 to 20 inches wheelsets. Just as we were about to give up the fight; we saw, first, the signboard; then, the House down below. It was pure joy!

Kengo San was tending to his tool shed when we arrived at 4 pm, 2 hours ahead of our estimated time. He spoke good English and helped us settle down in our rooms, running us through the house facilities. Living on the adjacent property, he could be easily contacted with a buzzer at the reception. A trusting nature, any purchase of chocolates, food and beer can be done by dropping the right change in the money box. A mechanical cat will paw its way out with a "Meow-ish" Thank You!

Verandah outside our room
While Bernie and Suzie were bent on taking an afternoon nap, VT had settled himself outside his room's verandah with a cup of tea, compliments of the house. The room was glorious with the sound of the stream gurgling down below. At spring time, the river was quite shallow and the water, not very cold.

Waiting to be seated
That night, we rode 3 km downhill to look for food and huffed and puffed our way back up! The restaurant next to Coop Supermarket served fantastic Japanese food but their specialty lies in their barbecued chicken thigh in bamboo skewers.

Returning to our House, we had a short get together at the kitchen before turning in. Kengo San was buzzed in just before bedtime when Claudine found a giant spider in her room!!! Thank goodness it was caught and returned to the gardens or she would not have been able to sleep the whole night!!!

Salt and pepper ....the best!!!

Our room
Small dressing table
Door way
Fully equipped kitchen
Free Coffee and Tea
Downside to shared toilet! There's only ONE, with no bidet!
Bernie's theory is that, this toilet is converted from an original squat toilet, hence the the unusually large hole and the water does not run down by the side walls. It became an ISSUE....not to be discussed here...

Photo credits :

1. Suzie
2. Bernie

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