IMG_0545 It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Japan for only 15 days – it feels like forever! The variety of experiences we’ve had has been mind-boggling. There have definitely been ups and downs (as you might expect from a 10 week cycling trip in a foreign country), but overall it’s been a truly amazing experience. Although I’m starting to miss many things about home (more on that later), I am very much looking forward to continuing our journey and seeing what unfolds over the next 7 weeks.

Kelly has been doing an amazing job of keeping daily notes and documenting each day’s adventures on the blog, which is going to be so nice to have when we inevitably forget a lot of little things and days start to blend together (actually, that’s already happening for me). I thought I’d add to his journal entries with some general reflections.

For those with short attention spans like me, here is a bullet point summary of everything so far (I love bullet points!):

  • Arrival & first couple of days (pre-biking) – Vicky in awe with absolutely everything because it’s all so new and different. Perhaps a little too hyper and excited. Kelly adjusting to being back in Japan after 10 years and having to do all communication because Rosetta stone only got Vicky so far.
  • First couple of days of biking & rogue camping – still super excited. We can do this! Piece of cake. We’re tough.
  • 4th day of biking – minor breakdown :( The physical and emotional changes are starting to catch up to us – our bodies are tired and sleep-deprived, we’re adjusting to being outsiders in many different ways, and nervous about camping in places we’re not supposed to. The result – we’re getting a little annoyed with each other over completely insignificant random things. My body is all black & blue from bumping myself with various parts of the bike because it’s so heavy I have trouble moving it around. I crash my bike at a tiny intersection because my hand is so sore from breaking that it cramps up. I cry like a baby. No longer tough. Complete wimp. Why are we doing this?
  • Kelly and I have a really great talk and figure out why we’re getting annoyed, what each of us can do differently, where we might need to adjust our plans, and how important it is to keep checking in with each other on a regular basis on a trip like this. Feel much better. Maybe this is why we’re doing this?
  • A crappy day turns into an amazing day that we will surely have a hard time topping on this trip. We meet Yoshida on the way to Tsuwano and he comes looking for us later to invite us to stay at his house and his wife cooks the most amazing meal for us. A very real, authentic experience that just makes you feel great about people in general.
  • An amazing day is followed by a tough day of the biggest climbs yet in pouring cold rain. Tough, but starting to feel stronger and better able to handle the physical challenge.
  • Next few days are much more urban. The cities are amazing, but the urban riding is tough with all the starts and stops and heavy traffic. We start to get used to staying in hostels and our daily spending climbs from about $40/day to about $90/day (total for the two of us). We’re having a really great time but know we’ll need to scale the budget back down soon. Feeling much more ready to start camping again now that we’re better adjusted to everything.
  • Currently in Kyoto taking a couple of rest days to get ready for some crazy climbing in the mountains. Loving Kyoto, staying at a nice hostel and seeing some incredible sights. (more in Kelly’s upcoming Kyoto post)
  • Overall favorite things so far – all the little kids saying “hello!” to us, the amazing food, meeting some very kind and interesting people (both Japanese and gaijin), the fashion, cleanliness, bidet toilets (Vicky only), cleanlines, amazing food, seeing such a wide variety of places, being completely self-contained on our bikes, not knowing what day it is, the freedom of doing whatever we want each day, not worrying about the future, not worrying about anything getting stolen, zen gardens, getting in better physical shape, did I mention AMAZING food?
  • Things we miss – being able to talk to and see our friends and families, pale ale and IPA (you can only get Japanese pilsner here), pizza, burritos, good cheese, our comfy bed, our apartment, fitting into society and not being stared at because we look so different, and being able to speak English to the majority of people (especially for me).

I think that about sums up the first couple of weeks of our trip. Overall, I could not be more glad that we are doing this together. I know there will be some tough times ahead, but that’s what makes the trip worth it.

To all of you who have been reading our blog and leaving comments – THANK YOU SO MUCH! We get internet access very rarely due to the nature of our travels, but since we are a bit isolated much of the time, seeing comments from you when we do check in absolutely makes our day. We don’t always have time to respond, but want you to know that it means so much to us that you’re taking the time to read and comment, as it makes us feel a little more connected.

We miss you, and looking forward to catching up soon!