Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Journey

Friends and family: here is the trip I will be taking. This is to provide you all a rough sketch of where to search in case I never return. When you find a little dive along my route with puffer fish hanging alongside wicker monkeys, Patsy Cline singing on the jukebox, and an old man dressed in a Hawaiian shirt - pull up a stool and make yourself at home.

On August 5, I will be leaving O'Hare and arriving August 6 at Kansai (located somewhere off the coast of, well, Kansai, Japan). From Kansai, I'll be taking a train to somewhere on Honshu (the "mainland") Island.
Don't ask me where, as I always tend to get on the wrong train in Japan. But preferably somewhere near the coast. At the point in time, I break out the bike and begin the adventure. Over the next three weeks, I will be bicycling northeastward toward Kyoto, then west toward Onomichi. From there, I will cross the various bridges and islands to reach Imanari on the island of Shikoku. I will then bike to Kito where my friend Takuya will be staying with his parents. This meeting will occur on approximately August 28. After a few days of R&R in Kito, I will be heading to Takushima to begin phase two. The hike.

The hike is the Shikoku Pilgrimage of 88 temples. Some other good webs sites on the Shikoku pilgrimage are here, and this one, which I found just recently. This hike will take me about 8 weeks to complete. Hopefully not much more as I have a flight on November 3rd from Kansai to...sunny Bangkok, Thailand.

Phase three is the bike tour. Roughly, I will bike from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City (that'd by Saigon for y'll who think we won the Vietnam War (which BTW, is called the American War in Vietnam) to Hanoi and then back to Bangkok.

Leg 1, Bangkok to HCMC: Arriving in Bangkok, I will stay there a few days to see te sights and process my visa for Vietnam. From Bangkok, I will head straight east to Cambodia. After crossing into Cambodia, my next stop is Siem Reip and Angkor Wat. After spending a couple days there, I will head south to Tonle Sap (the big lake in the middle of Cambodia) and take boat to Battambang. I will then proceed along Rte. 5 to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. After a couple days of sightseeing, I head south and cross into Vietnam at Chau Doc. Meandering through the Mekong Delta, I will make my way to Ho Chi Minh City.

Leg 2, HCMC to Hanoi: From Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, it's a pretty straight shot north up the coast along Highway 1. I'll probably make a few layovers along the coast at places like Nha Trang and Danang.

Leg 3, Hanoi to Bangkok: Unless they now have a crossing into Laos in the northwest corner of VIetnam, I will have to backtrack along Highway 1 to Highway 7. I believe that there is now a border crossing along that route. Heading into Laos, I will bicycle west along Highway 7 until I reach the junction with Highway 13 at Muang Phu Khun. If my schedule (and legs) allow it, I will head north for a sidetrip to Luang Prabang. From there, I just follow the road south straight into Bangkok. Another potential sidetrip will be up to Chiang Mai in Thailand.

I then return to Chicago on Feb 2, 2005.

Plans after that are undecided, but I'll keep you updated.

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