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West from Japan

A couple leaving behind their life in Japan and heading west

15,042 km (9,347 miles) over 396 days from July 27, 2012 to August 26, 2013

Topic: Bicycle Touring  
Categories: Tour diaries, Equipment lists, Road bikes, Extended, World
Locales: Asia, Japan, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Europe, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland
Years: 2012, 2013


Copyright © 2012-2014 By Adam Dodge and Beth Hamilton - (contact)

Status: Completed Sep 2013Featured Journal #524
Last update: Tuesday January 7, 2014 10:14 (US/Pacific) (edited Sun 24 Aug 2014 20:25 (US/Pacific))
392,977 hits since August 9, 2012 (hitcounts updated nightly)
2,483 pics

Click here to see this page

More riding

Table of Contents

Final route and map: Where we ended up going


      Introduction: Who are we?
      Planned route and map: Going west, from Japan to Ireland
      Equipment: A mix of used and new
      Visas: Updated as we go


      2012 July 27 - August 1: Leaving Fukushima, camping at Aokigahara, then off to Osaka
      August 2: Arriving in Osaka and picking up our bikes
      August 3: Leaving Osaka, Alex, and after five years, Japan
      August 4 - 5: On the ferry and arriving in Shanghai


            August 6: Exploring Shanghai and hoping China has more to offer
            August 7: First day on the bikes and escaping the Shanghai metro area
      Jiangsu Province
            August 8: Waiting out the typhoon
            August 9: Seeing the aftermath of the typhoon and heading to Zhangjiagang
            August 10: More drab landscapes and a sudden thunderstorm
            August 11: Things aren't going quite as expected/hoped
            August 12: A much-needed pick-me-up day with a surprise ending
            August 13: Arrival in Nanjing
            August 14 – 15: Sightseeing in Nanjing
      Anhui Province
            August 16: Changing route, leaving Nanjing, and staying at an old lady's guest house
            August 17: Foiled again by stomach problems
            August 18: Staying put due to stomach problems
            August 19: Nice riding and a stupidly expensive lunch
            August 20: Leaving Wuwei and great day in the countryside
            August 21: Crossing the Yangtze again and more punctures
            August 22: Leaving plains behind and entering mountains
            August 23: First day of real climbing
      Jiangxi Province
            August 24-26: Flats, flats, and more flats! Flats for everyone!
            August 27: Being led around all day
            August 28: Bikes are not toilets
            August 29: Ups and downs
            August 31: Rough roads lead to a popsicle
            September 1: Short, hot day
      Hunan Province
            September 2: Worst hotel yet
            September 3: Puncture number 14
            September 4: An inconvenient puncture followed by a convenient puncture
            September 5: Changsha, touring of another sort
            September 6: Mt. Something or Other in Changsha
            September 7: Escaping the sprawl of Changsha
            September 8: A gift of patches
            September 9: Muddy muddy muddy
            September 10: Following a river and JLPT results *worried face*
            September 11: Rest day in Anhua
            September 12: Adam really sick, staying put for the day
            September 13: Slow and tired
            September 14: Beth really sick, staying put for the day
            September 15: Noodly noodles not needed, not noodly non-noodles needed
            September 16: Beth still feels nauseous, early stop
            September 17: Passing by mysterious cycle tourists, and Beth is able to eat again!
            September 18: Why's that guy taking our groceries from us?
            September 19 – 20: Short day to Fenghuang, an old town overrun by tourism
      Guizhou Province
            September 21: Goodbye Hunan, hello Guizhou!
            September 22: Getting on a train, not getting on a train
            September 23 – 24: Another day off, then Tongren to Jiangkou
            September 25: The makings of a bad day
            September 26: Nice people, short day
            September 28: Lots of climbing, great lunch, frustrating dinner
            September 30: Broke the unbroken streak of riding
            October 1: Buying bus tickets
      Chongqing, Municipality of
            October 2: Chongqing: Hotels hotels everywhere, but not a bed to sleep in
            October 3: Chongqing redeems itself, then we leave it
            October 4: On a train somewhere in western China
      Xinjiang Autonomous Region
            October 5: Arriving in Urumqi: No hotels available, redux
            October 6: Urumqi and all of its glory
            October 7: Urumqi bike shops and food
            October 8: Kazakh visa procedures
            October 9 – 14: Waiting for visa in Urumqi and switching to a Warm Showers host
            October 15: Visas, last minute preparations, bus ride from the '90s: Urumqi to Khorgas
            October 16: To Khorgas, a kilometer from the Chinese-Kazakh border: Khorgas


      Almaty Province
            October 18: Welcome to Kazakhstan!: Khorgas, China to a bit past Jarkent, Kazakhstan
            October 19: Trading the tailwind of yesterday for a headwind: A bit past Jarkent to Tashkarasu
            October 20: Slight uphill and slight tailwind makes for easy riding: Tashkarasu to Kokpek
            October 21: Almost to Almaty: From Kokpek to 40 km before Almaty
            October 22: Final mad dash to get registered in Almaty: 40 km from Almaty to somewhere in Almaty
            October 23 – 28: Around Almaty: Almaty
            October 29 – 30: Out of Almaty: Almaty → a bit past Samsi
            October 31: Treated to a full moon for Halloween: Somewhere near Samsi to past (big) Qorday
      Zhambyl Province
            November 1: Amazing tailwinds turn into crosswinds
            November 2: The Cowboy
            November 3: Not much happened that day: From somewhere to near Tatti
            November 4: Social day
            November 5: Bad Kulan? No, good Kulan!
            November 6: Problem nyet: Maldibay to Taraz
            November 7: Taken in by a family: Taraz to some small village with a long name
      Southern Kazakhstan Province
            November 8: On the way to Shymkent: Some small village with a long name to 40 km before Shymkent
            November 9: (un)Welcome to Shymkent: 40 km from Shymkent to Shymkent
            November 10: (un)Welcome to Shymkent Part Two: Shymkent
            November 11: Get out of Shymkent: Shymkent to 45 km before the Uzbek border
            November 12: To the border but not quite: 45 km from the Uzbek border to 5 km before the Uzbek border


      November 13: One does not simply walk into Uzbekistan: Somewhere, Kazakhstan to Tashkent, Uzbekistan
      November 14: Necessary hassles: Applying for Azeri visa in Tashkent: Tashkent
      November 15: Necessary hassles: Applying for Kazakh visa in Tashkent: Tashkent
      November 16 – 22: Waiting and getting stuff done in Tashkent: Tashkent
      November 23: Leaving Tashkent: Tashkent to Gulistan
      November 24: Not what we expected: Gulistan to Jizzax
      November 25: A welcome welcome: Jizzax to 68 km later
      November 26: On the road to Samarkand: 56 km from Samarkand to Samarkand
      November 27 – 28: “It's the same as all World Heritage Sites,” quoth the Japanese man: Samarkand
      November 29: gheudjemdidkfhjeckje: Samarkand to near Kattaqorghan
      November 30: Three flats and a happy family: Kattaqorghan to Navai
      December 1: Arriving in Bukhara: Navai to Bukhara
      December 2: The horrors of Bukhara unleashed: Bukhara
      December 3: Venture out, rush back in: Bukhara
      December 4: Exploring Bukhara, take two: Bukhara
      December 5: Late-night train out of Bukhara: Bukhara
      December 6: Clown cars do exist: Bukhara to Kungrad
      December 7: Lively train to Kazakhstan: Kungrad, Uzbekistan – Beynew, Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, Part Two

      December 8: Back in Kazakhstan, welcome to Aktau: Aktau, Kazakhstan
      December 9 – 12: Hotel hoppin': Aktau
      December 13: Relocating to Aktau Port: Aktau Port
      December 14 – 15: Making ourselves at home at Aktau Port: Aktau Port
      December 16 – 17: Aktau Port: The Final Chapter?: Aktau Port
      December 18 – 19: On the 12th day of Aktau my true love gave to me / an Aktau – Baku ferry: Aktau Port - Caspian Sea


      December 20: Could this be it... are we actually on the other side?: Caspian Sea to Baku, Azerbaijan
      December 21: Excursions around Baku: Baku
      December 22: Writings of the ancients: Gobustan (outside of Baku)
      December 23: Green Bikers, Old Town: Baku
      December 24: You can't buy just one: Adventures in cycle shops: Baku
      December 25: A day of rest for Christmas: Baku
      December 26: Azerbaijan: Land of Mud: Baku to a field of mud 36 km from Baku
      December 27: Azerbaijan: Land of Wind: A field of mud to a gully 3 km away
      December 28: Azerbaijan: Land of Kindness: A gully 39 km outside of Baku to 28 km past Şamaxı
      December 29: Azerbaijan: Land of Unrepaired Punctures: Near Şamaxı to near Qəbələ
      December 30: Azerbaijan: Land of Surprise Hotels: Near Qəbələ to Şəki
      December 31: Azerbaijan: Land of Late Starts: Şəki to Qax
      2013 January 1: Azerbaijan: Land of Howling: Qax to Balakən


      January 2: Azerbaijan: Land of... Oh wait, we're in Georgia now: Balakən, Azerbaijan to Bakurtsikhe, Georgia
      January 3: I don't remember much. Uh, there was a dog and a cafe?: Bakurtsikhe to Sartichala
      January 4: Entering Tbilisi: Sartichala to Tbilisi
      January 5 – 7: Christmas in Tbilisi: Tbilisi
      January 8 – 9: An unexpected journey: Tbilisi


      January 10: Day trip to Yerevan: Yerevan, Armenia

Georgia, Part Two

      Janaruy 11 – 23: Taking it slow in Tbilisi: Tbilisi
      January 24 – 25: In Tbilisi, out of Tbilisi: Tbilisi → Gori
      January 26: Stalin. Hirohito. Roosevelt. Churchill. Mussolini.: Gori → Zestaponi
      January 27: Cheese pies: Zestaponi → Lanchkhuti
      January 28: Welcome to the Black Sea: Lanchkhuti → Sarpi


      January 29: Karaoke and coastlines: Sarpi → Hopa
      January 30: Gas station treasures: Hopa → Cayeli
      January 31: Adventures in tunnels: Cayeli → Arakli
      February 1: Trabzon awaits!: Arakli → Trabzon
      February 2: Trabzon, oh Trabzon: Trabzon
      February 3: The setting sun: Trabzon → Cavuslu
      February 4: An evening surprise: Cavuslu → Bulancak
      February 5: A daytime surprise: Bulancak → Ordu
      February 6: Greek mythology in Turkey?: Ordu → Unye
      February 7: Home of the Amazons: Unye → Samsun
      February 8: Rest day at the truck stop: Samsun
      February 9: Goodbye sea, hello mountains: Samsun → Kavak
      February 10: Interrupting a soccer game: Kavak → Gumushaci
      February 11: Free food day: Gumushacikoy → Hacihamza
      February 12: The Abandoned Gas Station: Hacihamza → Ilgaz
      February 13: Undulating inland: Ilgaz → Kursunlu
      February 14: Tailwind down, headwind up: Kursunlu → Gerede
      February 15: Day off in Gerede: Gerede
      February 16: Snowy dereliction: Gerede → Bolu
      February 17: Into the snow, out of the snow: Bolu → Hendek
      February 18: Sleet and city on and off: Belek → Korfez
      February 19: D100 into Istanbul: Korfez → Istanbul
      February 20 → 26: Week off in Istanbul: Istanbul
      February 27 – 28: Still in Istanbul: Istanbul
      March 1: Sneaking out of Istanbul: Istanbul → Kestanelik
      March 2: Up down up down up down shower: Kestanelik → Chakilli
      March 3: Derp dogs, derp Adam: Chakili → Demircihali
      March 4: A quest to find the lost items: Demircihali → Derekoy

Asia Awards: Let's subjectively judge entire countries!


      March 5: Bulgaria, finally: Derekoy → Burgas
      March 6 – 7: Hanging out in Burgas: Burgas
      March 8: Mind. Blown.: Burgas → Lozarevo
      March 9: “Oh my shit!”: Pozarevo → Shumen
      March 10: Rolling greenery: Shumen → Pisanets


      March 11: Across the river: Pisanets, Bulgaria → Bujoru, Romania
      March 12: POP: Bujoru → Turnu Măgurele
      March 13: Just hanging out in the hotel: Turnu Măgurele
      March 14: Magazin de bicicleta?: Turnu Măgurele → Bechet
      March 15: To find a rim: Bechet → Măceșu de Jos
      March 16: Nothing special. Just more wind.: Măceșu de Jos → Cetate
      March 17: I'm Italian, not Romanian: Cetate → Drobeta-Turnu Severin


      March 18: Entering the Iron Gates: Drobeta-Turnu Severin, Romania → Donji Milanovac, Serbia
      March 19: From rain to snow to sun: Donji Milanovac → Veliko Gradište
      March 20: Back across the Danube: Veliko Gradište → Starčevo
      March 21: A rainy meeting in Belgrade: Starčevo → Belgrade
      March 22 – 27: Belgrade: Belgrade
      March 28: Sausage Fest: Belgrade → Novi Sad
      March 29: Good cities, bad drivers, muddy roads: Novi Sad → Backo Novo Selo
      March 30: Bumpy roads and flashbacks (aka Adam breaks everything): Backo Novo Selo → Apatin
      March 31: Stuck in Apatin: Apatin
      April 1: Inching out of Apatin: Apatin → Bezdan


      April 2: Welcome to Hungary, land of coldwindyrainymuddy: Bezdan, Serbia → Dunafalva, Hungary
      April 3: More dirt roads: Dunafalva → Dunaszentbenedek
      April 4: Oops: Dunaszentbenedek → Dömsöd
      April 5: Binding bits to bicycles in Budapest: Dömsöd → Budapest
      April 6: Sadly leaving Budapest: Budapest → Pest
      April 7 – 8: Rest in Pest: Pest Megye


      April 9: A brief foray into Slovakia: Pest, Hungary → Muzla, Slovakia

Hungary, Part Two

      April 10: A brief foray into Hungary: Muzla, Slovakia → Gyor, Hungary


      April 11: Three countries, one day: Gyor, Hungary → Wildungsmauer, Austria
      April 12: Accommodations here suck: Wildungsmauer → Tulln
      April 13: I'm still having trouble believing that a country this perfect exists: Tulln → Melk
      April 14: More along the Danube: Melk → Au
NOTE: Sorry about the lack of updates!
      April 15: To a campground we go we go we go!: Au
      April 16: Slow day with dilemmas


            April 17: Are we in Germany yet?: picnic spot, Austria → Passau, Germany
            April 18: Good weather, good food: Passau → Straubing
            April 19: Where did spring go?: Straubing → barn
            April 20: In a barn: a barn
            April 21: Festival day: Kelheim → Neustadt an der Donau
            April 22: Not so great day: Neustadt an der donau → Nördlingen
            April 23: On to the Limes: Nordlingen → Abstgmund
            April 24: Schwalbe vs. Continental. Fight!: Abtsgmünd → Gaildorf
            April 25: The results are in!: Gaildorf → Schwigern
            April 26: Ticks: Schwaigern → Speyer
            April 27: Shpaya: Speyer → Eisenberg
            April 28: Finally: Eisenberg → St. Wendel
            April 29 → May 5: Meeting kin: St. Wendel
      Rhineland-Palatinate, Part Two
            May 6: The thunderstorm that wasn't: St. Wendel → Borfink
            May 7: The thunderstorm that was: Borfink → Kirchberg
            May 8: Welcome back to the Rhine: Kirchberg → Spay
      North Rhine-Westphalia
            May 9: On the Rhine: Spay → Bonn
            May 10: Bonn the birthplace of Beethoven, cathedral country in Cologne, campgrounds catering to caravans, and MSR missing meals: Bonn → Langenfeld
            May 11: Directioners directioners directioners directioners!: Langenfeld → Herten
            May 12: In which Beth's bike breaks: Herten → Datteln
            May 13: Fixing things: Datteln
            May 14: “I really don't know how I picked Saerbeck”: Datteln → Ladbergen
      Lower Saxony
            May 15: Not much of an entry: Ladbergen → Bohmte
            May 16 – 24: Taking another week off: Bohmte and Hamburg
            May 25 – 29: Surprise visit to Berlin: Berlin
            May 30: Close, but not yet: Bohmte
      North Rhine-Westphalia, Part Two
            May 31: We're off!: Bohmte → Mettingen


      June 1: Last day in Germany: Mettingen, Germany → Oldenzaal, Netherlands
      June 2: A windy day in The Netherlands: Oldenzaal → Deventer
      June 3: On to Amsterdam!: Deventer → Amsterdam
      June 4 – 7: Waiting for Caturday: Amsterdam
      June 8: Hopscotching from Amsterdam: Amsterdam → near The Hague
      June 9 – 10: To the North (Sea)!: near The Hague → Hellevoetsluis
      June 11: That time Beth got lost and (almost) messed everything up: Hellevoetsluis → Breezand


      June 12: Into the wind, out of The Netherlands: Breezand, Netherlands → Hoeke, Belgium
      June 13: A half day in Bruges: Hoeke → Nieuwpoort


      June 14: Whoops: Nieuwpoort, Belgium → Oye Plage, France

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

            June 15: The Mother Country: Oye Plage, France → Canterbury, England
            June 16: Where do we go?: Canterbury → Sittingbourne
            June 17: Into London: Sittingbourne → outside of London
            June 18 – 20: THE SMILEY FACE CUP: Hatfield and London
            June 21: Farewell!: Hatfield → Roxton
            June 22: Another one of those days...: Roxton → Peterborough
            June 23: Headwind into the countryside: Peterborough → Billingborough
            June 24: Musings: Billingborough → Kirton in Lindsey
            June 25: To York! (Almost): Kirton in Lindsey → Naburn
            June 26: Train day!: Naburn ↔ York
            June 27: To the Way of the Roses: York → Ripon
            June 28: Yorkshire Dales: Ripon → Settle
            June 29: More hills: Settle → Fairy Steps (Bentham)
            June 30: Into the Lake District: Fairy Steps → Chapel Stile
            July 1: Let's go for a walk!: Chapel Stile
            July 2: Almost out of the Lake District: Chapel Stile → a bit away from Keswick
            July 3: Into Scotland: a bit away from Keswick, England → somewhere after Gretna, Scotland
            July 4: Return to Yorkshire Dales: somewhere after Gretna → somewhere after Dumfries
            July 5 – 6: Welcoming the sun: Thornhill → Dalmelington
            July 7: Hmph: Dalmelington → Brodick
            July 8: On Arran: Brodick → Catacol
            July 9: Saying goodbye to old friends: Catacol → Kilmartin
            July 10: Cycle Route 78: Kilmartin → Benderloch
            July 11: Mostly a rest day: Benderloch → Barcaldine
            July 12: Taking the sneaky route past Fort William: Barcaldine → 30 km past Fort William
            July 13: Traffic into the Highlands: 30 km past Fort William → Inverinate
            July 14: “The mountains aren't very big, but they make you feel insignificant.”: Inverinate → Annat
            July 15: Meandering through the Highlands: Annat → Poolewe
            July 16: On the way to Ullapool: Poolewe → ~20 km before Ullapool
            July 17: Ullapool: About 20 km from Ullapool → Ullapool
            July 18: Where're we goin'?!: Ullapool → near Callanish
            July 19: Crossing Lewis and Harris: Callanish → Urgha
            July 20: Beaches: Urgha → somewhere on Berneray
            July 21: Four islands, one day: somewhere on Berneray → south South Uist
            July 22: Four islands, one day: the sequel: south South Uist → Vatersay
            July 23: Return to Oban: Vatersay → Oban
            July 24: Island hopscotching back to Kintyre: Oban → Kennacraig
            July 25:前編: Kennacraig → 20 km from Campbeltown
            July 25:後編: Kennacraig → 20 km from Campbeltown
      Northern Ireland
            July 26: Ferry to Northern Ireland: 20 km from Campbeltown, Scotland → Larne, Northern Ireland
            July 27 – August 1: A few days off: near Larne
            August 2: A day of unexpectedness: Larne → Randalstown
            August 3: thump thump thump dum: Randalstown → Seskinore

Ireland, Republic of

      August 4: Republic of Ireland, our final country: Seskinore, Northern Ireland → Fenagh, Republic of Ireland
      August 5: More green hills: Foxfield → Kilkerrin
      August 6: The arrival: Kilkerrin → Gort
      August 7 – 19: WWOOFing: Gort
      August 20: Whoops, someone's bad at math: Gort
      August 21: East from Gort: Gort → Shannon Harbour
      August 22: Weeds: Shannon Harbour → Edenderry
      August 23: That's all she wrote: Edenderry → Near Dublin
      August 24 – 25: Dublin and final preparations: Dublin

United States of America

      August 26: The End: Dublin, Ireland → mid-sized city in the Midwest, USA

Euro Awards: Where shallow first impressions last the longest!


      Equipment: What we liked, what we didn't, what we'd take again, and what we wouldn't
      Finances: So how much does a trip like this really cost?
      Cycling as a couple (and a little bit of personal introspection): Beth's final impressions

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