Shikoku by folding bike – part 2

The wonderfully generous owners of I sat down at a table and ordered a bacon omelette from the friendly owner. He was a wizened but cheeky looking old man with blue eyes, which I thought must have been unusual for a Japanese person. He looked uncannily like something that Jim Henson might have created back in the 80’s. I digested my food and considered my predicament. It was dark outside, and I had to find a place to sleep. The restaurant owner sat down at my table as my eyes scoured my map for nearby campsites. I asked him if he knew about any campsites nearby where I might be able to stay for the night. He immediately gave me an offer to stay in the family’s spare room. At first I thought I had misheard, or misunderstood. But no, he took me to a room by the side of the dining area and let me put my bags there. Read the rest of this entry »

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Shikoku by folding bike – part 1

My trusty folding steed, The trouble with travelling around Japan is that it can be so unreasonably expensive. Although the land of the rising sun may be world-renowned for it’s fast, prompt and efficient train service (and deservedly so), it all comes at a terrible price. Every time you buy a ticket to travel somewhere outside your own post code you feel like you’ve parted with an unreasonably substantial amount. No, I’m not going to suggest that the hordes of expressionless Japanese businessmen who inhabit those packed trains day in, day out have sold their souls for passage to their offices. It’s just that every time I board a Japanese high-speed train I feel like shouting “Why don’t you take my belt too? It’s all I have left now! It won’t fit me in a couple of weeks anyway, now that I don’t have enough money left for food!”. When I travel in Japan, I feel like an orphan who has scraped enough money together to buy a ticket for London, where the streets are paved with gold and you have to claw your way through the throngs of people offering you a job just to get out of the station. Not knowing how I’ll get by in my new destination without cash for food nor board, I often contemplate singing to passers by in the hope that they’ll think I’ve gone crazy and give me a few coins of pity money. Read the rest of this entry »