Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cycling Fukuoka.

I'm probably preaching to the converted, but travelling by bike has to be one of the best ways of sightseeing. In a car, things zip by too fast, and walking is a slow and laborious way to get around. We're in Japan for a 12-day cycling tour in the south of the country. I'd allowed a couple of extra days either side so as not to be too rushed and we found ourselves in Fukuoka. Wanting to make the most of our stay I booked us in with the good folk from Fukuoka Bike Tour for a half-day adventure to get the cobwebs out of our legs.

There were only two of us booked on the Saturday morning trip, and we met our guides -Takaya Seri and Makoto Tanaka  outside their office just before 9am. A quick orientation and we were off along the footpaths and back lanes of Fukuoka. 

Cleaning our hands before entering a temple.

What a trip it was. Within a few hundred metres were were visiting a magnificent temple, then another and soon we were at the city's fish markets where we sampled some of the wares including some delicious seaweed from one of the suppliers. I was worried how we would go in the traffic of a crowded Japanese city, but our route wound its way through narrow streets and lanes which we would never have had a chance of finding on our own. 

At the fish markets.
After the fish markets we passed through one of the city's big parks and rode down to the waterfront. Fukuoka has a beautiful seaside area with a lovely promenade and the fresh sea breeze cooled us down as we watched an expert fisherman land Spanish Mackerel one after the other.

After a ride through the docklands, it was time for lunch and we stopped at a very busy ramen restaurant popular with locals. Ordering was via vending machine and people were seated at tables as seats became available. The turnover was frantic. The pork ramen noodles were very tasty, particularly with the addition of ginger and ground sesame seeds. It was an experience we would certainly have missed without our wonderful guides.

Delicious pork ramen noodles.

The highlight of the trip for me was seeing the ancient wall build in the 13th century to repel the Mongol invaders. Fukuoka has an amazing history, in part as a trading hub because of its proximity to China and Korea, a proximity which also brought invading hordes. What was also astonishing was how far the waterfront has moved in 700 years. These walls were on the seashore when built, now they are several kilometres inland. 

Remains of the old city wall.
After lunch it was time to head back into town. A final stop at a famous local cake shop topped off a most excellent day. Japan is a great place to ride a bike. My first impressions are of careful and considerate motorists and good facilities for people on two wheels. 
If you find yourself in Fukuoka and have some free time, I can highly recommend this excellent tour.

3500km so far this year.

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