Unusually for heading east we had to put our watches back two hours after leaving Russia- I'm still trying to work that one out. The main disadvantage is that I was wide awake at 5.00am on my first morning in the tent. I met the others getting off the ship- the landcruiser was getting shooed away from every spot that it tried to park in, apparently there are a lot of restrictions for cars but not so with bikes as I had been leaving Thelma parked at all sorts of places in town.
Despite Fushiki, the port I had docked at not appearing on a single map, I was able to work out roughly where I was and so said goodbye to the others and went northwards and then cut across the mountains past ski resorts and amazing mountain panoramas whilst also keeping a worried eye out for snow. Thelma's lights have not been working since the Vlad accident and so I was having to ride the mountain tunnels with my thumb pressed on the high beam switch the whole time. It was either that or no lights- a risky business in the dark tunnels with speeding drivers coming the other way.
I am loving Japan, not just the fact that I am back to riding on the correct side of the road - they are such friendly smiling people here and even when they don't understand me (which is often as I am even worse at Japanese than I am at Russian) they are still going out of their way to help me.
I stayed with Chris and Misagi (Horizons contacts) in Miyota-Machi - in a lovely house set amongst trees and even a little pink garage for Thelma to park in. They have been great hosts, answering my myriad of questions about life in Japan ranging from are you allowed to overtake within a yellow line to why are the toilet seats heated?
They also proudly pointed out the live volcano that dominates the landscape and is just a few miles away, it has a constant plume of steam escaping from it - note to self, keep Thelma parked facing out ready for a hasty exit if the volcano erupts.
Whilst staying with them I took the opportunity to wash the Siberian mud and dust which was coating Thelma- this revealed a two inch chunk missing off the pannier rack. Another trip to the welder and what a great guy he was, full of Japanese "oohs and aahs" at the condition of Thelma's racks - he did an excellent job.
"The calendar is magnificent!"
"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"
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