technology fail…….

(in the land of technology)

Day 8 – Busan, South Korea – 8464km travelled, 0km on two wheels

Well, today I left Japan bound for South Korea. In some ways, I feel it’s gone way too quick and I want to stay longer to see so much more of this beautiful country. Yet on the other hand, my days have been so full on that it feels a lot longer than 7 days since I kissed my wife and kids goodbye. I’m currently travelling on the JR Kyushu Beetle ferry across the Korea Strait so I thought with about 3 hours to kill I’d finally get the opportunity to try and get everything in my head into some sort of written word.

I’ll start off saying that my intention was to update this blog way more often (and still is) but as the title of this post suggests, my laptop decided it didn’t take too kindly to me plugging in a non-proprietary USB device (i.e not Apple) into one of its slots and proceeded to shut down on me on day 3. I mean dead, nothing. No light on the charger, no response to any trick. Like a dead flat battery but plugging in the charger doesn’t work. I know the battery’s got charge in it. I was just using it. Having this happen 3 days into a 5 month world adventure is not really what I needed! So the hunt was now on to find the solution. Thoughts of a fried motherboard and an expensive trip to a foreign Genius Bar scared me. I also didn’t want this to eat into valuable time I had while I was in Japan. So I decided to turn my back on it and shove it the corner so it could have a good hard look at its behaviour for 2 days.

I know full well dear reader, that this is a highly dubious form of high tech computer repair but I couldn’t exactly use the ‘turn it off and turn it back on again’ fix now could I?

During my frantic researching on possible fixes that fateful night, it was apparent there was actually a fix that may be the equivalent of the classic IT No-Help Desk suggestion. Although not officially made known by Apple, there seemed to be more than 1 forum poster who has succumbed to the same fate and had success with unplugging and plugging in the battery. It was the best lead I’d had so it was worth a shot. All I needed to do was to find somewhere that sold the tiny screwdrivers to remove the back off the laptop. Now where am I going to find an electronics store in Japan?

The fact you are now reading this kinda gives away the fact that this trick was a success. A huge weight off my mind. For those interested, it sounds like it has something to do with the order you plug things into a MacBook Pro if its not a Apple product. If you didn’t know like me, now you do. If you did know, thanks for the heads up, jerks.

So now I can get back to sharing my experiences as they happen. Rather than think back at what happened 5 days ago and have to park up for a day or two to write a behemoth post that no-one would have time to read anyway, I think I’ll start off from today and every so often I’ll add in a bit into my posts about my memories of Japan.

So today, what happened today? Ah yes, of course. South Korea. I said goodbye to the Land of the Rising Sun in Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu. I didn’t get to see much of where I’d stayed in Hakata unfortunately as I had arrived around 4pm and had to be at the ferry terminal by 7:30am the next day. I did enjoy the palm trees down the centre of one of the main streets though. Very Miami. There was also a particular subway station that caught my attention that I had to record for posterity and use when ever the need arises to tell someone what to do.

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The JR Kyushu Beetle ferry is a jet powered hydrofoil that can cover the 200 odd kms across the Korea Strait in around 3 hours. It an interesting old tub, little bit daggy around the edges, windows needed a good clean but it was comfortable and smooth for something that big crossing open water. It essentially just feels like being in a plane on a bumpy flight and that constant jet roar all around. It was relatively cheap too, I think. A one way ticket was about 8400yen which equates to a bit over AUD100. Another first for this trip occurred today too. First time crossing an International Border without using a plane. Might not sound like a thing to you international readers but my fellow Australian travellers will know what I mean.

So Busan is where I am reunited with by bike which should be tomorrow and the main part of this adventure can begin. Those of you following my exploits daily on social media will know that this process is the part giving me the most grief at the moment but I’ll leave that diatribe for the next post.

Stay tuned.

the time has come….

Day 1 – Coolangatta to Tokyo – 7220kms

Well, today’s the day. The culmination of 18 months of planning is upon us. By the time you read this, I’ll have landed in Tokyo for the first part of the great adventure. A few things have changed since I first convinced myself I could do this but this first part has stayed the same. I’ve started here in Tokyo and will spend the first 7 days exploring the southern part of Honshu, the largest of the 4 main islands of Japan travelling down to Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu. This is going to be a more traditional backpacker type experience sans motorcycle until I catch the ferry from Hakata across to Busan, South Korea on the 8th.

Sitting in the departure lounge of the international terminal this morning I was filled with a weird kind of nervous anticipation. I usually find these times waiting to board at airports the most boring, each minute seeming like an hour and nothing much changing on Facebook since you last checked it 3 minutes ago. Today was different. Pretty easy to understand why I guess. I had said my somewhat tearful goodbyes to the family only minutes before, I’d messed up using the fancy electronic gate thingo at customs (helps if you insert your passport into the scanner on the right page, dummy) so had to go over to the counter to get my passport scanned again and have the friendly border security man give me that ‘is this guy dodgy?’ look. Sigh.


So I find myself sitting wide-eyed and buzzing waiting for the call to board. There were plenty of others in the aforementioned zoned out state, reading, yawning, checking their phone or their watch but I couldn’t seem to keep still. I’m glad boarding was only delayed by 10mins or so.

This was my first time flying out of Coolangatta Airport (actually I think it’s called Gold Coast Airport but same same) so another thing to add to the list. This was also the longest flight by far I’ve been on, my international experiences limited a few skips across the ditch to NZ. A bit over 9 hrs to get to Tokyo direct so paying an extra 9 bucks for entertainment helped pass the time.


I arrived at Narita airport a little after 7pm local time to a light drizzle. First job is to find an ATM and get some Yen. For those that don’t know, it’s currently about 72 yen to the Aust dollar so denominations are a lot larger. I took 40,000Y out of the ATM which is about $550 thinking that should go close to the budget for the duration. Bit of whirring and the familiar electronic chimes of all things Japanese and out spits 4 notes. 4x 10,000Y notes. It’s gonna take me a bit to get this right in my head I think. The hilarity came later on when I bought a bottle of water at a Family Mart to break a note. The equivalent of buying a packet of chewing gum with a hundred. But I digress. Back to Narita. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and a little help from other Aussies looking for the same thing, I found the Japan Rail (JR) office to exchange my Japan Rail Pass voucher for the actual pass. This is a pretty good way to get around Japan, only available to tourists and allows you to use about 90% of all JR trains and buses including the Shinkansen or Bullet train. It’s about an hour on the Narita Express train to get into Tokyo, then from there taking two more trains on short journeys to get me to my bed for night 1. All sounded pretty simple right? Remember when I said the Japan Rail Pass looks after most trains? Yeah, well the last one was different. I needed to jump on the Tsukuba Express for my last little train ride to Asakusa and needed a ticket. The young guy at the little booth at the gates just shook his head at my JR Pass and pointed back upstairs. Now, as you all know, when you’re in airports or heavy touristy areas, information is displayed in several different languages. Japan is no different. Easy to follow what I needed and where to go when leaving the airport. Obviously, once you get into the real world, it’s time to figure it out the hard way. Hence the need to be be one of ‘those guys’ breaking a big bill on something small to get change. I made my way to the bank of ticket machines with not a single English translation in sight. Knowing how much the ticket was by the board above the machines, I started pressing buttons and with some blind luck, my little stub dropped out of the machine. Win.

I’m now kicking back in my little capsule at the Khaosan Tokyo Samurai Hostel struggling to stay awake. I’ll tell you more about my capsule next time.


Today’s Top Tip – if you’re ever flying on a Boeing 787-8 with Jetstar (and quite possibly all the others using this same plane) seats 44 D,E and F are the go if you want the legroom without the extra cost. Row 44 is an exit row but only the 3 seats on the left and 3 on the right are classed as exit row seats (which they charge for). I was in 44D and its directly behind the bulkhead in the middle of the plane and I’ve easily got half a metre from my knees to the bulkhead. Nice.


the path to discovery…….

So if you’re reading this it means I have captured your attention long enough in my first post to pique your interest in this adventure I’ve decided to embark on. Well done to you and well done to me.

So let’s move on. As you might have guessed from the map, my trip this time will take me across 20 or so borders exploring the largest land mass on the planet, Eurasia. As the name suggests this is the conglomeration of Europe and Asia which stretches from Siberia in the East through to Portugal in the West. Technically it includes all the islands surrounding as well like Japan and the United Kingdom but for all intents and purposes let’s just say it’s all the bits you can ride a bike on.

Eurasia covers around 55,000,000 square kilometres (21,000,000 sq mi), or around 36% of the Earth’s total land area and approximately 70% of the world’s population live there. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and by Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Indian Ocean to the south.

Version 1 (I say that because there probably will be many) of the plan is to ship my bike to Busan in South Korea from Brisbane where I live in the May of 2017. While it sails the 26 odd days through Indonesia to Singapore then the South China Sea and East China Sea to South Korea, I’ll fly to Tokyo, Japan to begin my travels with a bit of traditional backpacker sightseeing. I’ll travel south any way that suits down to Fukuoka where I’ll catch the ferry over to Busan to be reunited with my two-wheeled travelling companion. From here, I’ll take the scenic route through South Korea via Seoul to Dong Hae on the west coast for another ferry ride to Vladivostok.  This is where the rubber hits the road for real and apart from the ferry across the Caspian Sea, my wheels will continue to turn all the way to London.

I think listing the specifics of the route before I begin is both lengthy and time consuming (and probably a bit hard to follow for you the reader) and maybe even a little bit fraught with danger by jinxing it. What I will do is talk about some of my must-go places that will make this whole journey truly memorable.

Lake Baikal, Southern Siberia

Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, holding approximately 20% of the world’s unfrozen fresh water. It’s also the deepest at over 1.6km down. Clearly visible from space, it stretches over 600km long and 70km wide and is considered to be the world oldest lake at around 25 million years old. Being landlocked also means it is one  the clearest bodies of water in the world with visibility up to 40m on clear days. Frozen in the dead of winter from January to May, I should arrive soon after the thaw.

Lake Baikal Collage.PNG

Pamir Highway

Known today as the M41 highway, it traverses the Pamir Mountains through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan before dipping into Afghanistan. I’ll be jumping off before I get to Afghanistan though for obvious reasons. I don’t think appearing on CNN as the latest Taliban trophy is the sort of publicity I need. It’s one of the highest altitude international highways in the world at over 4500m. As you can see from the pictures though, the term highway means different things in different countries!

Pamir Highway Collage.PNG

Caspian Sea

It’s the world’s largest inland body of water and is often listed as the world’s largest lake, though it is not a freshwater one like Lake Baikal. Due to the large inflows from rivers in the north from Russia, the northern end of the Caspian Sea is fresh and the southern Iranian end is about 1/3 the saltiness (if that’s a word) of seawater. It’s best known however for being one of the oldest oil-producing areas in the world, with extraction dating back to as early as the 1870’s.

Caspian Sea Collage.PNG

Moscow, Russia

Not the first destination in mind by many when planning an overseas holiday but a rich and diverse history nonetheless and I have a real interest in learning more. Growing up in the 80’s in the midst of the East vs West Cold War era, all the bad guys in movies were Russian and our perception of Russia and Moscow were one of a cold and bleak existence where your life consisted of vodka, ushankas (you know, those fluffy ear flap caps) and driving poorly made Ladas. I hope to be proven grossly misinformed.

Moscow Collage.PNG

Nordkapp, Norway

If I’m going to cross the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland on my way around the Gulf of Bothnia toward Sweden and Norway, I may as well detour the extra 700km to Nordkapp, the northernmost point of Europe accessible by road. All of Scandinavia really is going to be a highlight I think. I have been compiling a list of what is considered to be the world’s greatest driving/riding roads and many of them are here.

Scandinavian Collage.PNG


Being a certified car and bike nut, I can hardly go anywhere near Germany without visiting the many manufacturers originating from here. I’m also looking forward to digging further into my own Eastern European ancestry while in the area. Chasing the ultimate ride once more through the world’s most famous and picturesque mountain range of the Alps before more automotive nirvana in Italy with some fanboy sightseeing of the supercar marques.

Europe Collage.PNG

The Destination

One of the real reasons for getting this adventure off the ground with the blessing of my ever understanding wife is the end goal of meeting her in the UK when I arrive. Having family there, I know she has been desperate to get back there to reconnect with her brothers and their families. So this brings me to the first of what I expect to be many ‘Top Tips’ in planning and executing the trip of a lifetime.


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So there you have it. Next post in the can. During the next 12 months of planning, I will be regularly posting more route planning, bike prep, gear selection and general all-round ramblings. Once the journey starts, I will post more regularly and whenever wi-fi allows to take you all with me. So tell your friends, bookmark this page and stay tuned.