China was always going to be difficult for us to ride, but where there´s a will there´s a way.
To share the significant costs of this adventure we invited four good friends (two couples) to come along … Jude & Peddals and Penny & Johnny
We were rewarded with 35 days of wonderful memories thanks to the wonderful people whom we share this amazing adventure with …….. and the people of China who welcomed us with open arms where ever we went.
Tibet to follow…………
China with Friends from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.
On our last day in South Korea we took a guided tour to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone.) This is a border barrier of 4 kilometres in width, which divides the Korean Peninsula roughly in half. It was created by agreement between North Korea, China and the United Nations in 1953.
The first thing we noticed was a single North Korea soldier standing on his side of the border facing three South Korean solders only a few meters away.
Within the DMZ lies a small blue building of which exactly half is situated in North Korea and the remaining half in South Korea. When you are in the room you can freely cross into North Korea, even if it is only by 4 meters. At each end on this modest structure is a simple door. One door will take you to the north and the other to the south. In the centre of the room is a table with 6 chairs. This is the location where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement which “paused” the Korean War was signed and where negotiations until this day take place between the two Korea’s. It was really quite surreal to be in this very same room.
The tour ends with a visit to the Dorasan train station, currently unused. This station symbolize the South Korea´s dream of unification of the two Koreas, Situated 56 km from Seoul and 205 km from Pyongyang (Capital of North Korea), it is described not as the last station from the South but the first station towards the North.
There is a dedication site from Germany with a digital clock showing the time when Germany was split and then reunified. Beside this is the Korea clock ticking away until the two Koreas finally meet again …
South/ North Korea and a Dream of Unification from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.
If you want a 5 minute introduction to Tokyo, head straight to the Shibuya Crossing. Thousands of people (up to 45,000 in a 30 minute period) – cross at a time, coming from all directions but remarkably, it’s orderly like everything else in Japan. There’s no pushing and everyone is polite as all manage to dodge each other , well….. except for all those tourists that get scrambled in the middle while trying to take selfies ….
There is also the Kawaii, meaning “cute” or “childlike”, culture in Japan. The term is used for the phenomenon of Japanese obsession with cute characters, toys, foods, games, and fashion. This affinity for kawaii, mostly from Japanese women has grown at a tremendous rate over the past three decades and has become an integral part of Japanese society attracting a fair share of criticism. Some women, such as the wife of Japan’s prime minister said in a recent interview “Japan’s women are being held back by pressure from men to be cute, rather than capable.
We’ve seen many young women walking “pigeon- toed” (which at first we though was due to a medical condition) on purpose,purely because they beleive it is cute!
It would appear that the physical appearance of being weak, submissive, childish, helpless and some times dumb, is very appealing to some Japanese men ….
KON’NICHIWA TŌKYŌ from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.
Five years after the Tsunami hit the east coast of Japan , the area still faces a long road to recovery. Entire towns were obliterated in a matter of minutes meaning that many places had to endure years of debris clearance before a single new building could be reconstructed. After spending years cleaning, the workers are now busy raising the ground level several meters. You can see truck after truck bringing fill dirt and cranes working everywhere you look.
If there is one thing we have learnt about the Japanese culture in the short time we’ve been here it’s their resilience and resolve and their ability to work together to reach one common goal. They really are quite remarkable how they can reach a consensus so quickly, move on, and get the job done.
JAPAN ROAD TO RECOVERY from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.
To everyone’s delight, cherry blossoms in Japan are now just blooming!
We went for a walk on Sunday to a park in Tokyo and we were overwhelmed by the number of families and friends that were gathering for the highly anticipated, centuries-old tradition of hanami (cherry blossom-viewing).
But the meaning of cherry blossoms in Japan goes deeper, and makes the country’s national flower a cultural icon well known around the world not just for its breath taking beauty, but for its enduring expression of life, death and renewal.
Tied to the Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness and living in the present, Japanese cherry blossoms are a timeless metaphor for human existence. Blooming season is powerful, glorious and intoxicating, but tragically short-lived — a visual reminder that our lives, too, are fleeting.
Although we do not identify ourselves with any religion , we certainly do advocate the reminder!
Blog video 100 from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.
We´ve be back in Vladivostok Russia for just a week now and ARE quickly reminded why we find this place so special:
ONLY in Russia would you find sunbathers before the ice has even melted
Finish a training session off with a quick DIP
Find a group of bikers who will do ABSOLUTELY anything to give a fellow biker a hand (thank you Russian Samurai´s)
AND find an official BMW mechanic willing to offer his help on a saturday afternoon when he was relaxing at home.
If that was not enough, the component we required to enable us to start our journey to Japan was not in stock in Russia. Not a problem, the manager of the BMW motorad dealership offers the part from his own personal motorcycle.
Thank you RUSSIA
Japan will now wait until early next year as we have since decided to leave our motorcycle in Vladivostok (Russia) for the winter and return in early April 2017 to continue our journey.
With just one hour left before boarding our plane we’d like to share a couple of pics of our last days in Russia.
Many thanks to the guys who have followed us over the past 6 months and to those who have posted a comment every now and then.
We’ll also treasure the many friendships we made over the past months, particularly those in Russia and particularly those who shared our adventure riding the BAM Road and Road of Bones. We’ll miss you guys.
Always a nervous moment as anything can happen during transit!
Great to be reunited with Principessa again.
The final dinner with our Bam and R.O.B friends. Also with Nikita and his wife, a local biker who helped us find storage for our motorcycle.
After battling with the mud and clay for a few days, we finally made it to Magadan!
We’ve since packed the motorcycles into a container and sent them on a ship bound for Vladivostok. From there we’ll depart for Japan.
Russia has been great to us and sits high on the list of our most favourite countries ever!
Road of Bones from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.
The BAM road in the far east of Russia is not for the faint hearted nor for the adventurer motorcyclist looking for a few hours of tough off road challenge’s. What you have instead is 1380 kilometres of obstacles which nature has created over time, to ensure that only the very determined, fit and mentally strong, reach the end of this track that was once called a road. There is also an element of luck, as one strong down pour of rain, a fall from the motorcycle, an impassable river, can bring your adventure and dreams to an abrupt end.
We thank our five companions for their unconditional support, friendship, and many many laughs during this unforgettable eight day adventure!!!
We also take with us many fond memories of the Russian people who live in the forgotten BAM villages along the way (only connected by rail). Although they have very little, they are amongst some of the most helpful, generous and friendly people, we have come across in all our travels.
Blog Video 97 from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.
It is every adventure motorcyclists dream to ride the BAM road in the far East of Russia but only a few dare to try each year. We we’re fortunate to be able to team up with 5 other motorcyiclsts to try our luck at completing this 1380km epic journey on a gravel road which has not be maintained since 1996.
It took us 6 days to complete it, riding 12 hours each day and have only just arrive to the end (a town called Tynda). As we are both too exhausted to compile a video of this adventure just yet, we have instead provided a little taster of us crossing the Vitim bridge two up.
To the best of our knowledge and from what we’ve been told, we are the first couple (two up on the twin cylinder motorcycle) to ever complete the BAM road.
We hope to get the full video up sometime soon.
Blog Video 96 from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.