the wait…..

Day 11 – Busan, South Korea

In my last post I mentioned some stresses currently with regards to my bike so this time I’d thought I’d explain a little more. Let’s go back maybe a year or so when I first contacted Bikes Abroad, a company in Australia that facilitates exactly that, getting bikes overseas. I found their details through my months of researching which came with many recommendations from fellow travellers using their services. Communication was great with Ivan throughout the ensuing months and as the leave date got closer, everything seemed to run smoothly. He gave me some options as to which ship to use for the journey depending on my timetable and we decided the ANL Warrnambool would suit our needs.  A 249m container ship sailing under the German flag, she’s not a pretty vessel but I’m sure she’s got plenty of nautical miles under her belt since the wife of some CEO of a ship building company broke a bottle of champagne across her bow back in 2009.

So with the booking in place, the only thing left to do was get the bike crated up and prepped for its 26 (give or take) days on the water, sailing from Brisbane to Singapore then onto Busan. I was able to luck onto grabbing a steel crate from the local Suzuki dealer for free. I think it may have been for a large cruiser-style bike as the length and width were right but I had to extend the uprights another 130mm for the height of my bike. I was working to a certain cubic capacity as that’s what shipping rates are calculated on and Ivan had given me quotes based on 2.6cu.m. At this dimension all I had to do was remove the screen and unbolt the handlebars to turn them sideways as with full width bars and Barkbusters, they were a bit too wide. I could however leave the front wheel on which is a bonus. Some others choose remove it to reduce the size but its a bit awkward due to the weight to get it back on by yourself. One less thing to worry about. So we delivered the bike to the shippers facility after I rode it over there with my wife Trina following in the car with the crate on the roof racks and the luggage in the back and packed it all up one last time for it to be loaded and set sail on the 8th April.


Fast forward to last week. It was my second day in Japan and I was checking in on the progress of this ship thinking how close it would be to arriving in Busan. I’d been using the Vessel Finder website which tracks any and all commercial ships all around the world the last week or two to follow it on its journey. The last time I looked which was around the 20th April, it had just left Singapore as scheduled and, as I’d thought at the time, was continuing on its journey to Busan. When I checked on the 2nd May, it was showing as sitting back at Port of Brisbane preparing for its next sailing to NZ.

Huh? Hang on. Wait, what? OK, so that didn’t make sense. What happened to Busan? Was there a problem with the ship? But more importantly, where’s my bike? All these questions were running through my head along with scenarios of what would happen next. I emailed Ivan straight away to check in but understandably would not know an answer straight away. As the days went on not knowing, the anxiety levels were rising and Ivan hadn’t gotten an answer either. To make matters worse, I’d picked up a bad cold along the way due to probably running myself ragged, not eating properly, the flight over or a combination of all 3. So Friday comes and still no word from Ivan. I assumed I’m not going to hear anything over the weekend either so resigned myself to continue with the plan, get the ferry to Busan and hopefully Monday I’ll hear something. Monday comes, ferry ride is done and I check my emails every chance I get. Luckily free wifi in Korea is in abundance it seems. By 3pm I hadn’t seen anything so decided to call Ivan back in Australia hoping he had some news for me. Which he didn’t but was confident by the end of the day of Tuesday he would hear back from his contact at the shipping agency. He’d forwarded on my email from last week to chase the info up and when he himself hadn’t heard anything by Friday, he had to harass them again. See where this is going? Ask a question to one person, they have to ask the next, then the next and so on. It all takes time.

So to assure I get any communication as it comes in, I confine myself to the guesthouse in Busan. Luckily its an awesome spot with all the wifi I can use. I’ve been the lone boarder since I arrived so I have just been extending my stay each day until I can leave on two wheels. Then Tuesday I finally get the confirmation I was waiting for. My bike did in fact change ships in Singapore and was aboard the KMTC Shenzhen and was due to arrive in Busan that day. Hooray! Technically 6 days later then we had all planned but confirmation it wasn’t lost or sent back to Australia was good enough for me!! Now the wait began to see how long it takes to be made available. I assumed nothing would happen until Thursday at the earliest as it would’ve needed to be unloaded, move from warehouse to warehouse and so on which was cutting it tight as I need to be half way up the east coast first thing Sunday morning to catch the once a week ferry to Vladivostok.

Thankfully, I received an email from Wendy, my shipping broker yesterday saying I needed to go to the Customs office today (Thursday) to start clearing the bike through customs. Hopefully that means I can ride it back here to the guesthouse this afternoon and we can get this adventure going proper.

So that, dear reader, was the additional grief I had been having with the bike shipping. I’m sure to all involved, it was just the normal thing that happens all the time and in the big scheme of things, I’ve maybe lost 2 days? of riding in South Korea. It’s just the additional grey hairs and ulcer I didn’t need!








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.