Sunday, 31 July 2011

69. To Tokio

Two days before we were due to fly out of Vancouver I checked my email and realised that we were flying out a day earlier than I had remembered, so our second last day in Canada turned out to be our last and was a little more frantic than expected, including a last minute discovery that my seatpost has rusted to the frame and couldn't be removed for the flight. With help from my family and a very patient and helpful Brian and Barry at the Local Ride bike shop in Maple Ridge, everything came together and with a few tears and a hundred hugs at 2 am in Vancouver airport we flew to Japan via China.

Arriving into Tokyo's Haneda airport on Saturday afternoon we found a quiet corner to build our bikes and pull our pannier's out of our Salvation army suitcase and hockey bag, whilst dripping with the newfound humidity. A couple of hours later we set off across western Tokyo's neighbourhoods to find Sparky, a friend of my cousin, who had generously agreed we could share his bedsit for our first couple of nights in Tokyo. Trying to negotiate Tokyo's side streets with a printout from an online map and compare street characters with the tiny print on the map was a little tricky and following the train stations was an easier task. The towering clouds that had continued to darken all afternoon were now lit up by occasional flashes of lightening as they threatened to unleash a deluge. Coupled with the fear of getting all our uncovered gear wet was the added concern of getting more radiation than we'd like. A recent email from a contact in Osaka who has been working on understanding the health impacts from the radiation that was released when the reactor melted down in Fukushima Daiichi after the March earthquake noted that it was extremely important to remain covered up if we were out in the rain. The rain held off however and by nine o'clock we had made it to Setagaya-ku and found the landmarks marking Sparky's place.

After unpacking and having a quick wash before beginning the sweating process again we were off in Sparky's miniature Mitsubishi negotiating the small lanes across the city to where his friend Shin had a restaurant and then began an incredible feast of Japanese cuisine, including sashimi, very fresh raw fished cut into slices. We were all home by midnight, our jet-lag catching up on us in the car on the way home and both myself and Ellie managed to sleep through the 6.4 earthquake recorded further north in the country at 4am and which had woken Sparky up as the shelves shook around us last night.


Beijing airport



Cycling in from Haneda airport to western Tokyo


Saki






Tokyo, Japan
Pedalled: 48,024 km

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