The Global Convoy, an idea hatched from the Mongol Rally rewind on streets of Moscow by myself and Maxillian White over at Conquer Earth. The idea was simple we both shared the passion that the Mongol Rally was amazing. However, there are some things that could be improved. We decided we would take the principles of rally; stupid cars on a seriously stupid adventure, instead of Monoglia we would attempt the entire world with smallest budget and the worst cars we could find. The difference was would make it an open invite for anyone to join us on any section of the Convoy in our cars or to bring their own car.
After failing to hitch last night we had to spend another night in the services. We put our failure down to the fact that we looked rather too crazy for the people of Gotemba. The second failure was our inability to wake up… Instead of waking up at 6 as planned we both woke up at 10. On the plus side we both felt very refreshed at least.
We waited in the services for 3 hours, waiting for a kind person to pick us up. Then we met Tagahasi the coach driver! Yes, this gentleman gave us a lift in his coach, with the understanding that he would take us all the way to Osaka. We had struck some luck at last!
Or so we thought. Due to some miscommunication, we where left in a very small services in the middle of nowhere. However, Mr Tagahasi did take us another 120km towards our current destination, Osaka and we got to watch a film.
Closer to Osaka
When reached our new home we assessed the situation we had been left in. It appeared we where at a private service station, very small but very cheap inside. We went around getting some food and started again to hitch hike. As usual we positioned ourselves next to motorway entrance or the service area exit. However, the police had over ideas for us, making us move the motorway in the most friendly way possible, it was almost impossible to take them seriously. Undeterred we tried again, this time from the front of services and finally got picked up by Jizso, the hitchhiking lorry driver. Jizso explained to us how had hitch hiked through Japan and a few other countries, also, that it wasn’t common to see hitch hikers in Japan. This generous man also bought us coffee, nuts and some cigarettes and gave us a lift to Nagoya, another 100km down the road.
A long wait…
We arrived at out 4th services of the trip at 6 o’clock, buzzing from the very high caffeine content in the coffee. This gave much entertainment to the garage opposite, with us dancing and singing. Despite all our efforts, including being given a giant sign for Osaka from the staff at the garage, it was no good. We settled down to wait in darkness, kinda of stupid on our behalf, although we didn’t have much else to do. When we hit 10 o’clock we headed for bed to get some rest for an early start. Yet again camping in a service station.
All in all it was a fairly uneventful day, in comparison to the previous days, 2 and 3.
We woke up late, but it was worth after last nights adventure. We also had an amazing view of Mount Fuji. Or would have been if it was not for all the fog. It was also the day we decided to go for a causal stroll up a mountain.
Leaving our, car park we walked up to a local campsite where the kind receptionist lets us leave our bags for the day. Our causal stroll looking at the maps was 5km or an hour an half walk, how stupid us to think this…
The mountain, was in fact part of a large ridge line that steep in all directs, including having three huge saddles or dips in the ridge. At one particular point we dropped approximately 200 metres. This meant that we had to climb back up even higher, with ground getting steeper and some sections requiring us to scramble over tree roots. This continued for what seemed like miles, finally after 2 more saddles finally reached the summit 3:30 hours after leaving the hotel. At the summit we got some amazing views of the surrounding geopark and an active volcano across the valley.
The Mountain Lady
This was obviously a major tourist attraction as there was a shop and bunkhouse at the top of the mountain, we also discovered we where might be the only foreigners on the mountain! Being bestowed by gifts of food, souvenirs and many people taking photos with us. We also tried some mystery food, much to the amusement of many people. We had to leave the good willed people as we were very quickly getting towards nightfall.
The Long Walk… to a services
As started we our decent of our Mount Kintaki, we came across an section of open ground, which to our surprise was steaming. Now this was a slight surprise as it had not rained all day and wasn’t that warm either. Having seen the volcanoes around we assumed that this mountain must also be a volcano. But hey we are not geologists.
We made it back to our rucksacks just as the night was descending, we then grabbed our rucksacks and made our way back to Gotemba, to try and grab a ride further towards Osaka. Standing just in front of a toll booth we waited for 4 hours; dancing, looking like idiots and waving. However, it was to no effort as we where not picked up and standing in the cold. This is probably due to the huge amount of people driving past in there Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s.
Abandoning the idea at the toll booth after some research of the local area we found a service station some 3km away. An interesting walk, getting lost in a forest ended up having to walk through a think forest. Eventually we got back on to a road and made our way in to the service area. Again this would be be our home for the night.
Yesterday was very eventful. What is going to happen tomorrow?
We both had a terrible nights sleep, thanks to an inconvenient typhoon. Being a typhoon it didn’t let up until morning, however it did give us a lovely new swimming pool in the park.
Having taken shelter in the toilets, we did what we could only do when your stuck in a toilet in Japan and charged our phones, learnt some Japanese and harmonized with the rain. We also went around establishing The Republic of Toiletstan, an interesting country were the currency is high fives.
Hitchhiking to Osaka
When the rain parted we begun our hitchhiking, again. We were picked up in 30 minutes by a German gentleman called Stephan, a master brewer. What are the chances! Unfortunately for us he didn’t have any of his fine brew with him, as has been to an Oktoberfest. He offered us a lift to Fuji, whilst en route when we explained that we where interested in climbing Mount Fuji. Instead of dropping us in Fuji he then turned back to drop us off in a small town called Gotemba. Stephan explained that Gotemba was one of the starting locations to walk up Mount Fuji.
Stephan had dropped us right in the centre of Gotemba leaving us with no real idea of what part of Japan we where in, we searched for a tourist information to see what was to happening around town. and when we worked out he had also dropped us off right next to the tourist information. Thank you Stephan for the ride and for going out of your way.
The lady at the tourist information told us to stay away from Fuji as it was out of season for tourists, as much as I wanted to climb the mountain we didn’t have the right gear. On the other had we found out about a campsite at the base of another mountain and that there was a small Japanese festival starting in a few hours.
Festivities Japanese style
The festival started with a group of young drummers, who put on more of a show rather than just music for everyone to enjoy. The combinations of the different drums was incredible especially when some of the children were around 12.
Next up on the stage some kids entertainment, which was quite interesting a superhero and villains sketch. With a super surprising ending. Yes our hero won! At the end of the show I was stood watching everyone, children and adults alike surrounded the stage. To then have all of the performers and what I believe was the mayor throwing sweets in to the crowd.
Night time, a time for drifting
Reluctantly, we had to leave the festival and head off to our campsite. A 4.5km walk out of Gotemba up a mountain, as we walked out of town we saw and heard a lot of drift cars heading out on to the motorway and in to the mountains. We headed further out of town climbing all the way, were we discovered an old windmill over looking the town below. When we finally arrived at the campsite we discovered it was hmm. A bit fancy for us and we also needed to book in advance. So off we headed again to find somewhere to stay for the night luckily for us our Maps.me showed that there was a car park/viewing point just up the road. It was a great place to camp for the night, with toilets and a good view of Mount Fuji.
As we were relaxing charging everything up in the local toilets, a couple of drift cars pulled in to the car park and started to jack their cars. Us being slightly mechanical minded we went and offered our assistance. After much confusion between languages, we worked out that they raising the suspension. After everything was sorted and the wheels back on, asked go for drive with them which they where more than happy to do so.
As many people do my driver thought that it would be a good idea to show off to is new friend, in this instance me. All was good to begin with however, after a mile and a half we raced around a corner at 80kph (50mph) sideways. We ended up in a metal barrier, very lucky really, if there was no barrier we would be been rolling down the mountain side. After trying to start the car a few times, he gave up and we pulled his car out of the barrier. Instead we inspected the damage to discover that it was fairly serve and called up André who was having a much better time with his driver. There was a lot of damage to the right had side of the car, including the inter-cooler and headlights. We tried
to start the car with no luck. Unfortunately on these cars the inter-cooler is essential for them to run. Luckily for us though the drifters were out in force and it wasn’t long before, 4 cars hand stopped to lend a hand. Including one kind chap who gave us a lot electrical tap. With which and time a few hours we managed to fix his car, well in such a way he could drive it home. And give us a lift back to our camp for us to get some sleep.
Until tomorrow or check out what we happened yesterday.
As part of the Global Convoy – travelling around the world for a as cheap as possible – we got set the challenge of hitchhiking from Tokyo, Japan to Seoul, South Korea. Not an easy challenge when half the group have never hitched a “ride”, nonetheless we had a go and here is what my Team got up to.
So Team Muchantos a combination of myself and Andrè Correia a photo journalist from Portugal, started out on a very wet Saturday afternoon, not the best time to be hitchhiking. Our plan was to be in Osaka in few days time to met up with Team Highball and Team Sleepy Dragons.
We took the circular line around Tokyo called the Yamanote line, to Shiubya Station which was ideally located at the start of the Tomsei Expressway. From what we had read was one of the easiest roads to hitch on. As it is the major highway between Tokyo and the southern cities.
This started out well we where of high spirits having just eaten in the local Family Market and having wifi made time pass. Things quickly turned sour after an hour or so, as it turned out we were trying to hitch from outside of a very fancy 5 star hotel. After more research, we discovered that if we wanted to get a ride we needed to be in a services. Looking at the maps we saw that the closest services was several kilometres away, luckily for us though it was close Tocichiba train station, however, we still had a good 3kmto walk.
Camping in public…
We reached the services at 9 in the evening and having looked at the maps we knew that there was a large park close by, that we could hopefully camp in. On inspection it was rather fancy with toilets and running water. A quick tip on camping in Japan, if you can camp by a toilet you have electricity and drinking water both for free. The park was more like a jungle to begin with with huge spiders everywhere. Having battled through got lost a few times we eventually found the opening on to a playing field with several rivers around. We pitched up our tent, had a swing of our whiskey and settled in for the night.
We were feeling very confident for the day ahead to get to Osaka.