Aso – Isahaya
The descent from Aso was dangerously dicey, and because I’m a ridiculous person, exciting. I blazed along the heaving Route 57, mere inches from self-destruction; the accelerating speed only adding to the intensity as I shot past trucks and slower road vehicles like a man possessed. Coming down from the mountains with the aid of speed, allowed me to make my mark at a greater rate, making it down to the flats of Kumamoto in a little over 2 hours – almost halving the time it took me to ascend. From the city I rode further west towards Kumamoto Port. There, a ferry to Shimbara, Nagasaki Prefecture would await me.
As I reached the ferry terminal at 13:32, I saw a notice board indicating that the next ferry would be departing at 13:40. Once again, I was cutting it fine as I raced into the terminal and over to the ticket counter. Initially, there were no queues, but then suddenly a man appeared from nowhere. We both ended up awkwardly approaching the ticket counter at the exact same time. We then had a silent stand-off, glaring into one another’s eyes, my determination to go first rife, as I knew that I was about to miss my ferry and I’d have to wait another 2 hours for the next one. And so for a solid 3.2 seconds we eyeballed one another intently, before the man no doubt sensed my desperation and urged me ahead of him. I nodded a thanks and stepped quickly forward, only to find that I’d completely forgotten how to speak Japanese. The lady at the counter asked me what I wanted and as my jumbled brain failed to recollect any words of relevance, I simply pursed my lips together and made a weird, mostly sad sounding noise. I needed to take a few moments to collect my thoughts and question whether or not I’d just had some sort of stroke.
I took a step away from the counter and ushered in the man who had kindly let me go ahead of him. He nodded in kind and asked for one ticket to Shimbara. ‘Shimabara made ichi-mai kudasai.’ He was served his ticket immediately and left the premises with his dignity intact. Mine in tatters and smeared all over the waiting room floor, I stepped up to the counter for another shot.
‘Shimabara made ichi-mai kudasai,’ I said, like a boss. And, like the previous customer, I was served a ticket within seconds, yet when the lady behind the counter handed me my ticket she tapped her finger upon her watch to express that I didn’t have much time left. Then she grabbed a walkie talkie and shouted into it something about an alien wanting to come aboard.
I dashed outside and into the car park where one of the ferry crew would greet me. He also tapped his watch. I hastily jumped onto my bike and as the crew member raced ahead of me, I followed him all the way up and into the glum hull of the ferry. Within seconds, the drawbridge was raised and the hull secured, and at 13:40 – on the dot – we were off to Nagasaki.
Dates: 10/09/2014 – 13/09/2014
Total miles traversed: 5,327 miles
Total time in the saddle: 535 hours and 2 minutes
For a more gratuitous insight into my journey please take a visit to your respective Amazon store or contact me directly for a signed copy and colour map: