November 03, 2009 GMT
Leaving Japan

I took Thelma to the shipper's warehouse, this involved a ride through Tokyo's finest traffic jams. Lane filtering alongside the scooter boys and generally being first away at the lights meant I got through in just one and a half hours. I was pleased to find that the warehouse was expecting me - in fact they had a picture of me in A4 on the desk and held it up to show me- I was relieved to see it was one of the more flattering ones. I had a minor "discussion" with the shippers about removing my front wheel. And for once I lost the argument, unfortunately this means the wheel stays on.

Now for those of you who are wondering why on earth I would want to remove the wheel (perhaps fondly imagining me carrying it on the flight with my hand luggage so that I could at least have a part of Thelma alongside me on the 747?), the reality being economics. I am being charged by the cubic metre for the shipping costs- so the smaller I can make Thelma the less I have to pay. A sort of breathe in and hold it while you get measured activity. With a motorbike it means:

Lowering the height by:

Removing the windscreen- though in Thelma's case it rather unfortunately came away in three pieces in my hands due to the rough and ready treatment and falls in Mongolia and Siberia, the look of horror on the Japanese warehouseman's face was worth it!

Taking the top box off

Making the bike narrower by:

Removing the handlebars and strapping them onto the bike whilst being careful not to disturb the brake fluid line which could be nasty.

Reducing the length of the bike by:

Removing the front wheel and standing it alongside the bike within the crate.

The veto on the wheel removal is frustrating and I'm waiting to see how much extra it will cost me.

I then filled the top box with the extras that will not fit in my flight luggage and hauled it to the Post Office on Kawai's trolley to send it off -a heavy 16 Kg that will hopefully catch up with me in America.

Everything else I crammed into my tankbag and small back pack, I said goodbye to Kawai who has been such a great host and who has uncomplainingly eaten the weird and wonderful english-style vegetarian concoctions I have been cooking up in his makeshift studio kitchen. In fact it seems the meals have been what he has focussed on with his blog- he assures me he has only said favourable things about the food but he also knows I can't read Japanese so he might well have written anything.

For those who can read it, or want to see how the meals look

Before I took Thelma to the warehouse, we had a photo shoot, though the photographer seemed to focus a lot on the bits that are wrong with Thelma- the scars, dents and missing bits that are all evidence of her chequered history and which the Japanese bike riders with their immaculately turned out bikes find inconceivable. The photos were followed by an interview over cups of tea about Thelma, me and our travels. I'll let you know where and when that interview appears.

So now I am in the strange position of wearing bike gear and no bike to ride - all dressed up and no place to go.

Posted by tiffanycoates at November 03, 2009 09:03 PM GMT

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