This. Is. Really. Happening. We will go to Japan on motorcycles. Every once in a while, this thought comes into our heads. And it always puts a smile on our faces.
When we had the idea to do this trip we were thrilled straight away. But there were also a few doubts, obviously. What about our jobs? Our flats? Our family and friends? Can we leave all that behind? Will we get along for such a long time? What happens if something happens along the way? These and other questions were ringing through our heads but we found out that they all evoked similar answers. In short: Why not? Yes, we can. The time is now.
So when we had decided that we want to do a big a trip, all the practical things popped up. Where do we go? When do we start? Which bikes do we take? We were sure we want to go east again. Last year went to Georgia with our friend Henrik (who got us excited about motorcycles in the first place – eternal thankfulness for that, mate!) and loved the country. The landscapes are incredible, the people are friendly and the food is delicious. Seriously, if you own a motorcycle, go to Georgia. If you don’t, take a plane. Going back there seems like a good idea since we missed out on one of its biggest highlights: taking the old Military Highway north. Last year we missed out due to an overly punctual ferry. This year, we might get lucky. It’s also a good idea because of what lies beyond Georgia. We‘ve never been to Azerbaijan. And everyone we ever met who’s been to Iran has been raving about it being one of the most exciting countries to visit.
From there it’s easy: Picking up the old silk road is a classic biker dream that we cannot resist either. The Pamir Highway is one of the highest roads in the world and supposedly very very beautiful. We thought, it would be great to find out about that ourselves.
But where to go after the Stans? Our initial plan was to visit Tibet and Nepal. Turns out, there are a few problems with that. While it’s easy to enter China by plane it’s different for overland travelers. You’re obliged to get a guide and pay him day by day. Usually, the guides accompany the travelers in their cars. But since we’re riding motorcycles, we’d also have to pay for an extra rental car. Not a good option. But it’s not only about the costs. Having a guide from the local authorities goes against pretty much everything a motorcycle trip is about.
So we decided to let go of the dream to explore the Tibetan Plateau which gave us two options: take a southern route through Pakistan into India or take a northern turn through Russia. We’ll follow our weird fascination about Siberia which first emerged looking at maps as a kid and was fueled by documentaries in Geography classes. They drive on frozen rivers in winter! How cool is that? And every once in a while they dig out a mammoth. Maybe we’re talking clichés here. But that’s why we’ll go. What did good old Mark Twain say? “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” It’s also a cliché to quote Mark Twain in a travel blog. Sorry. Won’t happen again. So when we’re talking about Siberia, there’s three places that would make a worthy follow-up: Alaska, South Korea or Japan. Crossing the Bering street might be tempting but it's almost impossible. Taking a ferry to South Korea is not a problem, but for some reason we wouldn't be allowed to ride our bikes there. We’d have to leave them in the harbour.
So Japan is our only option and what a great one it is. At the end of our trip we’ll not only get to know a culture that’s distinctly different from everything we know, but also one of the biggest motorcycle nations around. We can’t wait to get there. But we’ll certainly take our time. Which brings us back to the start. This is really happening. If you recently saw one of us smiling for no apparent reason, now you know what’s up: WE'LL GO TO JAPAN ON MOTORCYCLES!!!