The big clean up


We wake the next morning the fun is over and it’s back to the grindstone. The front tyre is due at Maki’s so we return midday to fit it and continue our clean up. The bike is supposed to be in the docks at Osaka by the end of the tomorrow so we are against the clock now.  We are putting everything back on the bike but even this is incredibly time consuming as everything has to be cleaned before it goes back on. Added to this we are packing two drybags to go to New Zealand and trying to work out what we will need to take to survive for a month without the bike whilst travelling light enough to be able to carry it easily and meet strict aircraft baggage criteria.
It’s over a 3hr ride to Osaka and we don’t make it on schedule but promise that the bike will definitely be at the docks first thing tomorrow morning.
By about midnight I am absolutely spent, days of long days and late nights have caught up with me and we still have stuff to finish off. Karen can see how tired I am and packs me off to bed to catch a few hours sleep and then does an all nighter to get things finished. What a star !
She wakes me at 04.30am she couldn’t get the roof back on on her own and a few other minor things. I am on my way to Osaka port at 6am on my own as the train fare back is expensive and Karen wants to fall into bed now she deserves it. It is bitterly cold and I am really gratefull for my heated clothing which is on almost maximum. The traffic is light until the outskirts of Kyoto where I swallow the expensive toll and get on the expressway. This speeds things up no end, I can cruise at 110kmh for the first time in Japan. I cover a lot of ground fairly quickly until the bike unexpectedly runs out of fuel and I have to switch to reserve way earlier than normal. I can’t understand it at first but then remember I have been draining fuel out of the tank for cleaning for days. I carry on for as long as I dare looking for fuel on the expressway but none materialises so I have no choice but to jump off into the outskirts of Osaka to find fuel. I manage to find a gas station fairly quickly and its only when I pull up to the pump that the next problem rears its ugly head. We deliberately left with the bare minimum of spare keys(ignition and panniers) as I have to leave them with the bike for customs purposes. Neither of us were expecting it to run out of fuel and it has a locking fuel cap. A moment of panic sets in, how the hell am I going to get out of this one?
Suddenly I remember the emergency tank, it is drained in preparation for sailing but it doesn’t have a locking cap and I can plumb it back in fairly quickly. I get the attendant to put in 6 litres, that will get me there-phew! To add to my problems I can’t seem to get back on the expressway where I got off so I am now dumped into Osaka traffic which is now in rush hour. My previous good progress evaporates and I am back to stop start traffic, Osaka is the second biggest city in Japan and is absolutely vast. I am utterly dependent on Doris our GPS, she throws me on a few spurious routes and I’m missing Karens navigating skills but eventually I  get there. Without the GPS I would have had no hope, when I get to the port I follow the GPS coordinates that Maki worked out for me. First to the office, Doris announces “you have reached your destination” I pull over and look around, it doesn’t look like it !   I am surrounded by warehouses but as I turn around again there is an office up some steps, could this be it ? I grab the carnet and our Japanese paperwork and go in, the lady on reception speaks no English whatsoever, I draw a picture of a boat with a bike inside it and write the name of the shipping company and there is a spark of understanding. She disapears off and comes back with a guy who speaks a tiny bit of English, I show him the same picture and write Madame Butterfly (the ships name) and a contact name we have. He recognises these which is a relief so I leave the carnet de passage and all our Japanese documentation with him plus a fowarding address in New Zealand to send the carnet on to. Although its only a few sides of A4 paper it cost us £2500 to get and just getting the paperwork replaced is over £100 plus all the hassle of getting a replacement  sent from home. I am not keen on this arrangement but we have no choice as the bike must be stamped out of Japan and it won’t actually leave for another 5 days. Paperwork sorted next up is dropping the bike off at the port. I have coordinates for this also but Doris appears to want me to jump a large body of water so I backtrack and get to the right area without getting wet. The GPS point is just beyond a big building which contains Osaka international car auctions, I drive past it but it turns into a construction site and a guy motions no entry. It could be the right place as the company we are shipping are specialist car transporters so I go in, only Japanese is spoken so I try the same tactic of drawing a ship etc and this time I add the name of the shipping company and an arrow pointing to NZ. They are all desperate to help but the language barrier is too great, I notice that they have wifi so I email our NZ contact with the shipping company and explain my predicament, about 10mins later the penny finally drops with the staff at the auction at the same time that someone from the shipping company appears outside to show me the way.
It is literally just around the corner barely 100m as the crow flies and I could have got to it on this road if they weren’t digging it up. I follow the shipping guy as he takes me another way around into a massive compound full of cars. Here they check the chassis number and sticker the bike up front and rear then it’s on to another yard. This is where I leave the bike, its the New Zealand MAF quarantine compound and once it goes in that’s it. This is where the bike will be inspected for insects, pollen, grass seeds, mud etc, I show the guys there how to get into everything and leave the spare keys. Again I am not that comfortable with this but they can’t inspect it if they can’t open it I suppose. We just hope that everything will still be there when it gets to Auckland just before Christmas. They seem like  good lads and our bike is nothing like their normal cargo of Japanese cars for export, they all stop what they are doing and come to take pictures and have a look when I roll in accompanied by the usual chorus of segoi. Now after 7 months and nearly 19000 miles together I have to just walk away and leave the bike with a bunch of complete strangers who have all the keys. The guy who led me up here kindly gives me a lift to the station and I start to make my way back to Maki’s. She wrote out all the instructions for me in Japanese and English as I have to change several times. This makes it a lot easier as all I have to do is show my piece of paper to get tickets and wave it at someone if I get lost.
I get back to Maki’s around 4.30pm it been a long day but it’s not over yet Shu and Isao wish to say goodbye to us so they are coming over to Maki’s this evening along with Isao’s new girlfriend who is the lady who runs the Hull cafe.Maki returns with Takash and Sakashita san. Everyone brings a heap of food and beer and we have Nabe (and another nice evening) together as our farewell party.
Next day we have to go into town to pay for the Japanese customs and shipping charges. Maki kindly lends us her scooter so two up on a C90 we head off to find a bank. Later on we found wifi at the Chinese garden and as Karen hadn’t seen it we killed two birds with one stone. The town is twinned with another Chinese town hence the Chinese themed garden. It is while we are sitting on a bench checking our emails that a gentleman from the neighbouring workshop comes over and says “come inside we will make you a coffee you must be cold”.
We follow him across a bridge over a little canal which contains the biggest Koi carp I have seen to date, there is one black one in there that’s like a fresh water shark it must be four feet long. Inside we discover that the workshop makes signs and he is the boss and chief designer. He is a lovely man and makes a fuss of us while we warm up next to a fabulous table that has a parafin heater built into its base. They give us coffee and cake and a little while later one of his friends turns up, he got a phone call saying are you busy ?can you come and translate ? Luckily for us he was at a loose end so we are able to explain what we are doing and some of our experiences more clearly. Also luckily for us his wife owns a bakery and he arrives with a big bag of cakes for us, I like him already !
We spend a really nice couple of hours there, during the conversation he asks where we are staying and we explain about Makiko. He doesn’t know her so we promise to send her in next time she is passing to say hello as she is only five minutes away. I hope it is the start of another friendship for her as he is a nice person. Eventually we have to go, we need to pack and get ready to leave tomorrow. Maki is cooking tonight but at the last minute Takash gets a text saying she will be late as a culled deer has been bought to the farm and they must butcher it tonight. I cook dinner instead, pork stir fry with rice which is tasty. Maki gets in just about the right time to have a bath then we eat. She brings home bag fulls of venison and the deers heart which she cuts into slices and fries, it is suprisingly nice !  After dinner and a few beers we hit the sack, its going to be a long day tomorrow.

  1. #1 by Jane on December 9, 2010 - 8:42 am

    Hi
    Great to finally catch up with your adventures. Hope you are surviving OK without the bike in NZ, at least you have lots of time to type! We have had lots of snow in the UK with everything disrupted as usual, it has more of less gone now but is still very cold, hopefully you are much warmer now. Love Jane x

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