24 Dec 2013

[E:7] 1993 April 18 to 21: Beginning of the end of the project finding myself ~ Lessons from the re-starting ~

(Pre-proofread version)
日本語版はこちら(Japanese version is here)

When I listen to a particular song, I remember days I have listened the song which was my theme song in those days. Before coming to Australia, I could not speak and listen English at all. So, when I use an English song as my theme song, the content of the lyric often does not fit in my activities. For example, if I hear the "Call It Love" by POCO, I remember days reading a macho novel such as "a whistle will sound before long and then our youth ends (Yagete fue ga nari bokura no seishun ga owaru)" and, just running in the winter of the second year at the swimming club in my high school.

When I listen to "Just Like Starting Over" by John Lennon, I remember the days of the fresh start from Sydney, so it must have been the theme song at that time. When I was riding a bike, I was thinking about crap generally. I think I am a human mathematical and logical but, I remember the important things until die in sound and image. I may not remember whether I brushed my teeth in this morning, but I can recall old things endlessly when I look at the pictures and listen to the music of those days. After I entered the university, I figured out that this can be used for examinations at the university and my performance rapidly improved. I talk about this study method in another opportunity; I get back to the story about the east coast of Australia 20 years ago.

17 Dec 2013

[E:6] 1993 April 18 to 21: restarting ~ From Newcastle to Coffs narbour ~

(Pre-proofread version)
日本語版はこちら(Japanese version is here)

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1993 April 18, Fireplace around Raymond Terrace

Morning: bread
Lunch: bread
Dinner: Rice

Train $17

Today, I came near to Newcastle by train and started again.

Suddenly, a bolt o a rear carrier came out so that I fixed it with a wire. This fireplace is unpleasant as it is very smelly and there are huge ants.

ODO 37 km

12 Dec 2013

[E: 5] 1993 April 5 - 17: "Keep riding" ~Preparation for a fresh start~

日本語版はこちら(Japanese version is here)

My body and mind were very tired. I arrived at Sydney and stayed at the house of my father's friend.

1993 April 5, Sydney, the house of OXXXka-san (X is a hidden letter)

Morning: Butter Rice
Lunch: Sandwich
Dinner: Home cooking by OXXXka-san's wife

I cannot write well as my right hand is set in plaster. After I went about 40 kilometres north of Newcastle, I was involved in an accident with a truck. It felt like I was dragged for a long time, and I thought I would die at that time . I thought I hated going back the way I came when I was looking out from the ambulance. I do not want to even look at a bike now.

DST probably 40 km
ODO 257.9 km

Birthday April ☆ YuXXko
Birthday April ☆ ToXXko

Fight in good spirits, even when hurt!
Good luck

8 Dec 2013

[E:4] 1993 April 2 - 5: Beginning of the journey and a farewell to the red bicycle. ~A Climax suddenly~

(Pre-proofread version)
日本語版はこちら(Japanese version is here)

I walked to the town of Sydney to right and left. Prior to leaving Japan, 20-year-old-i thought, I would like to leave soon from Sydney. However, because I was overseas for the first time, I became wanting to see various things. Because I did not bring a guidebook, I asked tourist points with my awkward English, and walked around. However, I checked bicycle and camping supply stores, at least.

As one of the promises with my parents, I contacted "a friend of my father living in Sydney" and got him open a bank account. I brought some money that I had saved by washing airplanes as cash and traveler's check. The rest was saved in Citibank to withdraw from Australia. This is a tip of the trip abroad around that time, which was taught by a university student who had come to wash the airplanes. When I thank to the a friend of my father, I did not need to stay in Sydney any more. So, I crossed Sydney Harbour Bridge on April 2 to start round Australia.

The photo I put very first on the very first article was taken on the Harbour Bridge at this time. My pose and fashion remind Hikaru-GENJI (a Japanese musical idol at that time). And, this photo is the first and last photograph of this bright red Japanese bicycle.

4 Dec 2013

[E:3] Prologue 3: my "dot to dot" ~ Landed at Sydney ~

(Pre-proofread version)
日本語版はこちら(Japanese version is here)

I write the final prologue as my preparation except budgeting and a process until my arrival at Sydney. I will hand over to 20-year-old-me from the next. Here we go!

Around the time of a cherry bloom, I went to Australia from Narita (Tokyo) airport by the plane. An older boy who lived in the next room of Sanraku-so came to see me off to a station. I could not depart from Haneda Airport where I went through many nights for the airplane washing work. However, Haneda was not an international airport 20 years ago, so I could not be helped.

I had worked the airplane washing job until the end. Because I did not know well the situation in Australia, I wanted to save money as much as possible. During the day, I went to the embassy and libraries to collect information for going round Australia by bicycle.  Some documents said desert becomes below freezing, so I bought a wrong sleeping bag for winter mountains (Koyama-kun: Thank you for buying the bag from me). I went to a local bicycle shop in the neighborhood and I learned the maintenance of the bicycle while helping his work. I became able to to fix tires and punctured tubes quickly, I also learned how to adjust wheels using brakes and how to replace of a chain. I learned also the adjustment of gears, but this did not go well, so I did not touch much on it while I was twirling Australia by bicycle.

3 Dec 2013

[E:2] Prologue 2: Lessons on "labor" and "social life" ~Squeezing the expenses of my bicycle trip~

(Pre-proofread version)
日本語版はこちら(Japanese version is here)

Before moving to a story in Australia, please let me write another prologue a little more. This time, it is the story of squeezing my travel budgets, but it is really lessons learnt on "labor" and "social life" and the story of this knife.

Last time, I wrote a story taking the consent of my parents, but my preparation had already been underway by that time. First, I started saving my travel funds at the beginning of my preparation.

To start the trip in April, I had to save about 1.5 million yen (i.e. 15,000 U.S. dollars) in six months. I had a passion, but because I had no experience and skill, to save 1.5 million yen in the six months, a hard physical labor is only my choice. A part-time work at a liquor store would not let me save 1.5 million yen in the six months. I was looking for a night-time work that gives me more than 10,000 yen a day. I found a vacancy of "aircraft body wash at Haneda (Tokyo) Airport". Sanrakuso of wooden mortar where I lived is close to Haneda Airport and the job gives me more than 10,000 yen as daily wage, and I can use the bath for free. It satisfied the needs of me who had no money and no bath. I applied the job from a public telephone immediately. They said "come here from the next day or today," so I started making travel funds.

1 Dec 2013

[E:1] Prologue 1: "Trigger the project of finding myself" ~ How I decided to go round Australia by bicycle ~

日本語版はこちら(Japanese version is here)

At first, I would like to write a story about the time before going to Australia for the bicycle trip as a prologue. This time, I wrote "the process how I decided to go round Australia by bicycle".

It’s 1992, and I am in Tokyo at the age of 19. I live on the second floor of Sanraku-so, four and a half tatami size (about the size of BMW Mini) room in a wooden mortar apartment. There is neither bath nor telephone, but it has a community toilet. There is a bay window, which I have called a loft. Friends say "Do not be optimistic!".

At that time, there were both good and bad things, but it is an age that I could not progress as I expected. As I do not want to remember, I am not talking about these days. So, please do not ask me about it ;-). It was the time I was interested in theater and film, and wanted to work in such a world. It is also the era I piled a sleeping bag and tent on my bike and traveled all over Japan.

Now, I may be taking an "easy-going" attitude, but my friends call me "the man is hotter than the Kondo match (a Japanese pop-ideal 30 years ago who was showing a passionate attitude)" in those days. My attitude came merely from "finding myself" as a youngster. Now, when I see younger people try to find themselves, I think that "it is not necessary to try to find as you are already here." However, I was also crazy about "A project finding myself", so it probably needs to have such a period when we are young.

I think that there are many themes of "finding myself" and mine was "how much I achieve my plan without compromising." I was a self-satisfying bastard, not working for a world peace, but instead I was challenging the limits of my abilities. The reason I was traveling all over Japan is because of my plans I made during my high school days: I decided "to travel round Japan by 20 years old, to travel round the Australia by 25, to go Africa north to south by 30." Of course, I enjoyed homeless journeys. I could not go to Okinawa, but I went around all of Japan by the age of 19 as planned.

I am often thinking like "What can I try next," while sitting on the bay window aka loft. Friends often come to stay at my 4.5-tatami size-apartment. I liked a song "the bridge of promise” by Motoharu Sano (another Japanese singer making songs youngsters like). One day, one of my friends bought the CD single, and we had a binge while playing the CD in an infinite repeat mode. Then, everyone get tired and is falling asleep. A refrain of the song "You up to now are not wrong! For you, I make the bridge of seven colors to cross the river" has been infinitely repeated in our heads. The next morning, "because I’m tired of this, I'll give you this CD," said the friend who bought the CD and left the CD in my room.

I think that I was humming "You up to now are not wrong!" Because I will have a legitimate employment, I was thinking "Maybe I go to India next" before going to be employed. There were many events that triggered my determination to go to Australia, but it is basically because of "project finding myself". I remember that I wrote "80% is not enough, so I will do 100%" for the short essay of the employment examination. My mother was saying, "80% is enough." Now I know she was right. However, because I was carrying out "project finding myself uncompromising", she did not convince me.

It is vague because such a thing happened 21 years ago, but perhaps when I was humming the song from Motoharu Sano at the so-called loft, I remembered three goals I had decided in my high school.

"To travel round Japan by 20 years old, to travel round the Australia by 25, to go north to south through Africa by 30."

"After all, the next step should be Australia."

29 Nov 2013

[E:0] About this blog ~Strength of diligence ~

日本語版はこちら(Japanese version is here)

I travelled round Australia by bicycle, about 18,000 km in eight months, in 1993. I will be publishing the story on this site.

It was 20 years ago when I did this bike trip. Gradually, my memory becomes blurry. When I talked about the old tale to my friends, sometimes I mention something like "flowers were blooming all over the desert" or "I rode a bike for 500 kilometers between water replenishment stops, so I carried 40 liters of water". On July 9, 2013, when I temporarily returned to Japan six months ago, I had a similar conversation while I was enjoying drinking with friends in their 20s. It was my hope that I did not say the same things over and over again in my middle age, but it told the old tale to them.

Mr. Nagashima, one of the fellows there that night, said "This is interesting a story. It is good to write a book about it" Other fellows also told me that "I would definitely buy the book once you publish it." As a researcher, I had been publishing articles in academic journals, but I was not so interested in writing a book. Also, I have never written a lengthy text in Japanese, so I am not confident about writing a book in Japanese either. On the other hand, I also began thinking it might be fun to write a book before all my vague memories of the bicycle trip disappear completely. It might be a good subject for my first book. Self-publishing is getting easy these days..

I was thinking about this when I returned to my parents' house in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, four days later to attend the first anniversary of my father's death: that was the real purpose of my temporary return to Japan. The anniversary proceeded smoothly, and we heard the appreciative speech of a Buddhist monk. Last year, I did not not even expect to lose my father at the end of my 30's. I am sure my father also did not think about going to the other world in his 60s. This one year, I have been thinking how short a life is. I’m always muttering in my mind "I cannot guarantee that there is a tomorrow." My father had secretly planned a trip with my mother, but it was never realized. During this one year, I was asking myself "What about me? Is there anything I would like to try?"

Somehow, I ended up in the room that used to be my room in my parents' house. There is a shelf that was packed with books. I did not study at all in my high school days, but I read many books. These books are still stored from those days. My eyes caught my old diaries that I would sometimes open when I would go back to the house. Some of them are diary books on the bike trip in Australia.

I was a twenty-year-old boy trying to be "cool", so a stickerof topless women and a label of an Australian beer are on the covers of the diary books. "What is this!" I thought: I do not understand this coolness when looking at the covers 20 years later. I guess 20-year-old-I would have desperately tried to look cool. Then I opened one of the diaries and read it randomly.

"It's really interesting."

Because it is already 20 years later, I can read the diary objectively. In 1993, Mr Clinton became a president and the Japanese football league, J-League kicked off. In Japan, the pop duo "Chage & Asuka" sang a disturbing song like "YAH YAH YAH! Together now, Together now, we can go and beat them up". To me, it was the year, What's Up by 4 Non Blondes stuck in my head. It is the era when there is neither mobile phone nor internet (for me at least!!). I was always backpacking alone. When riding a bicycle in the outback of Australia, it is a completely closed spiritual world. I did not know who they were when I met Gypsy and Aboriginal peoples. I had only my brain to determine who they were and what is right and wrong. Reading my diary now, I wanted to comment "What are you saying! You are wrong!" However, after 20 years has passed, 20-year-old-i has become a stranger to me, and I am not ashamed to read about it.

I can read it objectively. "I may try to make a book?" "No, I will make this as a book!" I made up my mind. At this time, I had already decided not to extend the JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) expert contract. The JICA project was interesting, but I had a feeling that I should do something new because of my family circumstances, and because of the death of my father. My wife will start a villa business, I may have a spare time, and I will be free! So, I promised myself that I would do a collaborative work with 20-year-old-me at this time. "Let's write about the Australia trip 20 years ago!"

Then, I closed the diary and reopened from the first page. "What's this sh_t! It is not interesting". This is all I wrote on the first day.

Breakfast bread
Lunch butter. Honey lemon
Dinner Chicken Set $4.50 cents
I have not yet made the cards I should have made ​​today. I passed through the route of the great up and down. 55.4 km first day for the time being.

However, as twenty-year-old-i wrote more pages, the amount of text continued to be longer. Its content also became more interesting. Then, my handwriting became neater: I can grasp the growth of myself. Ichiro (a Japanese baseball player I like) said, "I feel that repeating small things is only the way to go to a place that is outrageous." It is not comparable to his feats, but I can grasp it.

Compared to these two photos, I understand well the degree of my growth. The first photo was taken on the first day I left Sydney. The second photo was taken when I was crossing the Nullarbor Plain six months after the first photo. In six months, things coming from the photos changed so much. This is "the strength of diligence"

"Strength of diligence" is what I learned from traveling round Australia by bicycle. If you ride a bike 100 km, you can cycle 700km in a week and 9,000km in the three months. So…anyone can cycle round Australia. If anyone could not do it, it is because he or she had quit in the middle. Before coming to Australia, I could not speak English at all. I will write about it later, but in the wake of an accident immediately after I started the trip, I decided to study English in the light of a candle every day in my tent. Now, I probably speak English better than Japanese (as my Japanese is very bad too). Since then, I have retained this attitude.

After this Australian trip, I diligently studied English after dinner, and I’d take a bath while listening to conversational English radio programs every day. I saved up my living expenses and tuition fees to go to a university in New Zealand. I studied everyday during my undergraduate days and got economics, statistics, and biological science degrees in 3.5 years. Because of that, I got a full scholarship from the University of Oxford, to study an MSc and DPhil (PhD). I also did the research and wrote a thesis everyday during my PhD. I decide to finish my PhD in 1000 days and I made my viva (final oral examination) on the 999th day. These days, I get up at 4:30 every morning and go surfing before breakfast. It is important to continue something everyday. If you continue something everyday, you can go somewhere. If you do something everyday, it is not necessary to put your effort in it as it becomes your habit.

Returning to the story of my bicycle trip in Australia, I lived like a robot. I get up at 4:00 in the morning before sunrise and eat breakfast which is the leftovers of my last dinner. I pack my tent and begin pedalling a bicycle as the sun rises. I eat a half loaf of bread as a lunch. I travel 100-120 km per day. I stop pedalling at 4:00 pm whatever the result, and camp in the bush where car lights do not reach. I put up a tent and start cooking. I usually cook pasta or something like a pilaf. While cooking rice, I repair my bicycle, tent, or clothes. I need to repair something almost everyday. Whatever I cook, I say to myself as "delicious , delicious." It is a time of bliss. Since I cannot take a shower, I sprinkle baby powder all over my body or wipe sweat lightly with a sheet of toilet paper. During the daytime, it is very hot in the outback, but it is very cold at night because it is basically desert. When everything is done, I am exhausted and dive into my tent and sleeping bag. EverydayI study a high school textbook called "English syntax II" that my parents sent to me. I make a hole on the tent with a candle sometimes, but I do not stop studying. And then, my world falls to end. In the next day, a new world begins from 4:00 in the morning, before sunrise, and I repeat the same things like a robot.
For anyone who continues this life for eight months, they can go around Australia by bicycle. Because it was before the Internet era, and mobile phone do not really exist, I did not know what lies ahead on this road. I was worried, but I was also able to go around Australia by bicycle.

Because I'm thinking of trying something new now, it is good to go back to the origin of myself. I do not know what would happen to me. I think there is a need to proceed with my life hell-bent and diligent once more. To do this, it is not a bad idea to face an innocent kid of 20 years old/ago. I think it will take sometime to write about the eight-month-diary, but I am happy if you follow this blog.

Lastly, I am not a native English writer and this is a draft of my book project, so it will be great if you correct my English and tell me how to improve English sentences by commenting this blog or Twitter https://twitter.com/TakeshiTakama

Best regards,
27 Nov, 2013

Dr. Takeshi Takama, at Bali Island

I update photo, maps, and other post in the Facebook page.