May 01, 2002 GMT
How Pedestrian!

I'm still in Japan. Tomorrow, I head for Hong Kong, with a follow-on visit to Shenzhen, China to visit a company that has asked me to consider hanging up my helmet and consulting with them for a while after this tour is over. Little do they know I bought a BMW F650GS Dakar prior to leaving the States from the good folks at Ride West BMW in Seattle, WA, so that I'd have a smaller, "somewhat more nimble" adventure-tourer in the wings for future rides in the Americas, and maybe Africa! Helge, are you reading this (hint, hint)?

However, in the continuing flow of email leading up to our actual embarkation, the following gem of a thread manifested itself today. The "chat" is between our intrepid tour leader, Helge Pedersen, and Liu Lifeng, who works for the Chinese tour operator helping us with arrangements in China. To set the background, recall that Helge is perhaps best known for his excellent photo essay "10 Years On 2 Wheels" - a chronicle of his remarkable 10 year, 250,000 mile solo ride throughout 77 countries on his BMW motorcycle. Here is a verbatim cut and paste of email between Liu and Helge:

----------start----------

Liu Lifeng: We have got the number plates for all the bikes, but for the driving license, all of you are requested by the authority to take an exam on computer in English about some traffic regulations. The exam will take about 1 hour. We could not persuade the authority not to do this. So we might arrange this exam on 9th in the morning. There are only about 6 computers, so 12 of you will take 2 hours in total for the exam. That's all so far. See you. Best regards Liu Lifeng

----------reply----------

Helge Pedersen: Liu, please let me know if there is any way that we need to prepare for this test. I would hate to have some of the people fail the test :-( It could be me and I would have to walk. Helge P.

----------reply----------

Liu Lifeng: Dear Helge, I think none of you will fail the exam, don't worry. From my understanding, the exam is not difficult and maybe they only wanted to charge us some money, so if we pay, you will get the license. But everyone has to take the exam. If you fail, you can write a new book - One Month in China on Two Feet. Liu

----------end-----------

And, although it has nothing to do with the journey, or the above, I've set a goal to try and include at least one image in every update. As I leave the land of ramen, wacky AC adapters, and in truth, the land of my birth (I was born in Yokohama), a final parting image of Aoyagi Risako-chan, in ceremonial finery, and a cultural lesson:


risako.JPG

[Risako-chan is the daughter of my kind and incredibly generous hosts in Japan, the Aoyagi family - here she is in her ceremonial finery for "Shichi-Go-San" - the cultural lesson is below.]

Shichi-Go-San - the literal translation is "7-5-3". As was common throughout the world long ago, Japan suffered a high infant mortality rate. I recall once hearing that children weren't even named for a number of days after their birth, in case they didn't make it throught the first critical days of life.

Shichi-Go-San is a celebration of life. When girls are 3 and 7, and boys 3 and 5, the tradition was to dress them in the finery of the times, and have the family visit a temple near the place of their birth to thank the local gods for the children's continued good health. This ancient custom is still observed today. So, a picture of a VERY serious Risako-chan, dressed in her kimono, captured with a Nikon digital camera, tweaked with software running on a Fujitsu laptop, uploaded to this BLOG via the world wide web - a perfect blend of the old and new that very much mirrors Japan today.

Posted by Mike Paull at May 01, 2002 09:35 AM GMT
Comments

Mike,

I'm laughing about Helge's possible new book, "One Month in China on Two Feet." Liu Lifeng obviously has a good sense of humor. Good luck with the Chinese driving test!

Also, thanks for the cultural anecdotes along the way. Fascinating. Please keep 'em coming.

Dale

Posted by: Dale Oliver on May 1, 2002 03:21 PM GMT

Mike,
Seriously, I think you should consider writing a book as well. Your gift with language as well as Dale's assessment of your grasp of cultures makes for superior reading. Not a damn boring bit yet!! Have a sake for me,
Wayne

Posted by: wayne on May 1, 2002 07:40 PM GMT

Mike, I have a question: which digital camera are you using during your trip?
And what about the batteries?
Hoe are you going to keep them charged when in remote areas?
Ciao

Antonio

Posted by: Antonio on May 2, 2002 09:03 AM GMT
Sorry, due to heavy form spamming, Comments are OFF.
 

Grant & Susan's Europe Ride 2014.



Renedian Adventures

HU DVD Summer Special!

The weather has finally turned, so Gear Up for your motorcycle travel adventure! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - Gear Up! 2-DVD set until June 30 only. Gear Up! for your motorcycle travel adventure! Get all the info you need to hit the road!

Which bike, how to prepare it, what else to take, how to pack it all in! 6 hours!

"It's another great job, informative and entertaining."

"It's really professional and full of useful information, a must for any traveler."

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'GEARUP' on your order when you checkout.

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!