Bike Tour Okinawa
Bike Tour Okinawa: I wasn’t sure if I was going to go to Okinawa when I set out to Japan. I knew it was a long ferry ride and wouldn’t be so cheap. At some point in Japan, I think in Kagoshima, I thought I couldn’t pass this opportunity up. Of course my reason for going was more for some world famous scuba diving. Riding the bike was not my priority.
Okinawa was definitely different from the rest of Japan. The people looked a bit mixed with Japanese and Southeast Asian. Okinawa was known as the “typhoon alley” and we would be hit with about three or four typhoons that were named #27, #28, etc. meaning that it was the 28th typhoon of the year. Okinawa is a beautiful island but I seriously wouldn’t be able to live there just because of the frequency of the typhoons here.
The roads in Okinawa was just as good as Kyushu. Outside of the major cities, there were hardly any traffic and we would be the only riders on the road. On the northeast of the island, I would be faced with the worst hills I’ve ever faced. And they were constantly up and down, up and down hills.
Bike Tour Okinawa: New Friends
This day was right after a typhoon had passed so the ferry wasn’t in operation for a few days. Therefore, there were a quite few bicycle tourists and one with a motorcycle that were also planning on touring in Okinawa. There was two dudes riding together for the past three months and started from Hokkaido, the most northern part of Japan, and same for another guy touring alone that started from the north. This dude rode an average 18 speed mountain bike with a roller bag tied to the rear rack. He said he walked many parts of the hills. If you can tour the full length of Japan with an 18 speed, nothing is impossible. I didn’t feel so bad for riding a 24 speed now. Older guy was riding a fancy dirt bike and also had started from the north. Motorcycle touring was the choice of touring in Japan, and I would run into and see tons of people on the road doing what he did. When I passed them by on the hills, I couldn’t help but feel jealous and envied them for the effortless ride that they chose. Last but not least, there was a Korean guy who went around the Kyushu Island and was going to ride around Okinawa. We jumped with joy when we first met and found out that each other were of Korean ethnicity. It would be a meeting that would be a lasting friendship.
Here we are in front of the hostel we stayed for the first night. Kim Seonjin was a computer engineer working and living in Tokyo in the past seven years. He was fluent in Japanese and seemed to love Japan with a passion. We clicked right away from the ferry and especially after getting intoxicated out of our minds with Japanese beers, which he educated me on, we would quickly become close and decide to ride together around the island. This would end up saving my butt.
Seongjin wasn’t so familiar or fond of stealth camping but would be pressured to join the crime on several occasions. Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Not once was I worried about theft or camping in public. This day, we would sneak into an empty baseball stadium.
Soba was the signature dish of Okinawa and Seongjin led us to the most famous Soba restaurant on the island. This dish wouldn’t be memorable when you first have it. After about ten bowls, you build a sense of taste for it. It definitely is an adapted taste, and would be one of our staples during our time here.
Bike Tour Okinawa: Seonjin Kim
Seonjin was an experience cyclist and had toured before in Hokkaido. Like a true Korean, he carried some of the top notch equipment you can get. On the contrary, I was a newbie that was seriously under prepared in every way. Running low on cash and carrying one credit card that weren’t accepted in many places, my touring buddy would end up loaning me money and I would have mommy save my butt by wiring money to his bank account. Without Seongin, I may have had to go right back to Korea with the money left or even possibly be stranded in Japan. This guy did a whole lot for me in Japan.