October 29, 2004 GMT

We certainly felt Wednesday's 'quake. Not bad enough to spill the coffee, but it rattled pots and the ceiling lights swung for a few minutes. Glad I wasn't riding at the time.

In fact, if I hadn't consumed so much of Peter's firewater on Tuesday evening I probably would have been. Japan is feeling a bit battered - first Typhoon Tokage devastating the south, now the two earthquakes. The death toll isn't massive (but still too much) and there are thousands of injured and tens of thousands homeless. I'm definitely paying more attention to earthquake drill now - what do do, where to go, where the torch is in the hotel room, all that stuff.

Anyway, Peter's been totally wonderful with helping me to arrange shipping the bike to Bangkok. Mr. Asaumi at Nippon Express speaks excellent English and is very helpful, but no-one else involved speaks any and Peter's done all sorts of deals for me in Japanese. The BMW dealer up the road is giving me a crate in which a K1200LT was delivered, and a local company is taking it to the warehouse for me on Monday. I'll be there on Monday to crate the bike (there's a first time for everything), then I have to go back on Tuesday to do Customs and pay everyone. It's going to work out at around 170 quid altogether, which seems pretty reasonable.

The bike will be on a ship on Thursday (Wed is a public holiday here) and will arrive at Bangkok port on Nov 19. I then have to uncrate it and do the Customs thing with the Thais (which will cost more money but by all accounts not very much).

Meanwhile I'll fly to Bangkok (maybe via Taipei) and be getting very unsober with my cousins in celebration of my half-century, and sorting visas for Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Talking of which, if anyone fancies a winter break and can get a cheap flight, the drinks are on me. I'll email around as soon as I know which hotel the bash will be in - it's on November 16th.

Back to Mt. Fuji. Off the Wow-scale. I was luckier than a very lucky person indeed, as a) there was a nice dusting of snow, and b) there wasn't a cloud in the sky (although cold, but never mind, the roads are heated. Really).

Has a cracking ride around the lakes north of Fuji-san. Fantastic benderies, with a surface so good even the ancient G/S (now called Paddington as a result of the TransSib adventure) felt like it was on rails. Amazing view around every bend - must have used an entire film. As soon as I can do a bit of uploading I'll post a pic or two. Which reminds me, I succumbed to a decent digital camera in Tokyo. Produce your passport and sign bits of paper and you get stuff tax-free with English manuals. So, the latest Panasonic with Leica lens, 4x optical zoom, loadsa features (A/V, O/P to TV, yadayadayada). And a 256Mb memory card cost around half what a 64Mb one costs in the UK (ye gods are we ripped off).

If you haven't got bored with GPSs yet - I almost always update the group front page with the latest position, and tonight I'm in Nara which is the ancient capital, at the position on the group homepage. Tomorrow I'll be a good girl and do all the temples and shrines (no less than eight Unesco World Heritage Sites within a mile of where I'm sitting).

Posted by Cynthia Milton at October 29, 2004 05:11 PM GMT

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