Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taking a Break in Sapporo

We're now in Sapporo. The biggest surprise so far is the fact Wifi does not exist outside of the large cities which means I have not been able to update the websites with pictures. Let me start by saying that I am thoroughly enjoying our bike tour of Japan. I only wish that I could speak the language so I could converse with the locals who have been friendly and very curious about us. Andrew and Jay have been doing a great job getting us around and helping us deal with the language barrier. Even the simplest needs can be an issue when one doesn't speak Japanese, especially dinner menu's without pictures. Their help and patience is invaluable and much appreciated.

We are now on our 18th day of the tour and we have been active every day. Our short riding days usually involves catching a ferry to another island and our rest days involve hiking a mountain; Mt. Asahidake in central Hokkaido and Mt. Rishirifuji on Rishiri Island. Our total mileage to date is approximately 800 miles. We're all tired at this point so we'll probably take a few days off in Sapporo. So far, the roads of Hokkaido are very clean, the scenery is fantastic, the people are very friendly, and the food is tasty. The Japanese diet seems to agree with me. No surprise there! We usually end our day soaking in hot pools (onsen – natural mineral hot springs or sento – heated water) and resting in the tatami room until it's time for dinner. Our group of five is getting along very well. However, the young people, Andrew and Korey, are usually leading the way on the bikes and full of energy.

We are camping most of the time which is very inexpensive or free. Most of the campsites are on nice green grass with very clean facilities. About half of the time, there is a western style toilet. One does have to get use to floor level toilets if traveling in Japan. We've also stayed at Youth Hostels and Rider Houses. Rider Houses are series of places set up specifically for motorcycle and bicycle tourist traveling on a budget. They are inexpensive ($5.00 or less) or free offering one a place to sleep with very close quarters. At times your space is the size of single futon pad. The Rider Houses so far, have been an old train car, a 15' x8' freight-box-like structure, a house, and a funky warehouse loft. It has been interesting to say the least.

For some pictures, go to my Pbase picture site. Herb

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