14-16/5/16. Saturday was a tedious day with final packing and then getting a taxi to take us to the new hotel out near the airport (we didn’t fancy doing the 50 km trip early on Sunday morning to make check-in for an 8.15 flight). Not surprisingly there was very little to see or do around the hotel so we spent the afternoon in our windowless room messing around online or sleeping.

Sunday was not much better with a 4.30 wake-up call to catch the shuttle bus at 5.00 being a less than desirable start to a day that seemed to be entirely spent travelling. Check-in went surprisingly well with the lady unphased by our multitude of bags. We checked in a total of 10 pieces of luggage, including the bikes, as Air Asia only have a restriction on weight. This avoided the use of our not very robust Ikea bags which are for use on those airlines which limit you to one bag.

However, the queues for passport control were horrendous and it took us 45 minutes to get through. Judging by the way some people were running on the other side they had been caught out by this.

Arriving in Osaka 6 hours later, we were surprised to see 8 or 9 people taking the luggage off the carousel and placing the bags in neat lines. Why? Because this is Japan. At least all 10 pieces made it through safely.

A search for an ATM meant that we missed the hourly shuttle bus to the hotel by a couple of minutes (damned Japanese punctuality!) but while waiting for the next one we were pleasantly surprised to discover there was free wifi in the terminal as we had read that Japan can be difficult for this “essential” of modern life.

After a leisurely breakfast on Monday, Stephen was relegated to the hotel car park on bike assembly duty (all tickety boo, thank goodness!) while Christine went for a walk to buy lunch and have an initial look round. The next big excitement was unpacking the wireless router which we have rented for our stay in the country – because of the reported difficulties in getting wifi and the near impossibility of foreigners getting hold of a SIM other than by renting a data only one. Voice capable SIMs are only available, by law, to those with a residence permit!

In the afternoon we went for a longer walk round the town of Izumisano. The temperature was much more tolerable than in KL being low to mid 20’s. Let’s hope this lasts! We were struck by how many cyclists there were around – no helmets, sit up and beg heavy bikes, and all ages – just like The Netherlands! And we also managed to visit our first Japanese Shrine with a traditional garden.

Cycling restarts tomorrow. It will be good to be back on the bikes after 6 weeks.

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