I arrived in Miami, USA on the 31st of March. I will cycle to New York and to Canada.
Below, you will find an article that was published in the Kaieteur News in Guyana (South America).
66 countries and 54 tires later, cyclist still going strong
Georgetown- Japanese Daisuke Nakanishi aged 34 of Osaka Japan is a traveler in search of new friends and world peace world wide. Possibly by the time this is read he would have started his journey to his Sixty Seventh Country (Venezuela) on Bicycle.
Yesterday, he stopped by Kaieteur News after riding to Georgetown three days prior. He told Kaieteur News that his journey is one to fulfill a dream to travel the world, make new friends and hopefully achieve world peace. This desire started 15 years ago as a student Of the Osaka University majoring in Economics. "I visited twenty countries by bicycle and while in the USA I met very good friends then I developed my desire to see the world on bicycle". Four years after completing his University Education (1992) he worked at a construction company for six years to make money for his journey to 120 countries around the world.
After six years with US$ 50,000 saved he started to ride from Anchorage, Alaska on July 23, 1998 and has since rode 79,438 KM or 50,000 miles.
His journey has seen him riding through humid jungles, the hot and dry Sahara desert, the very windy Patagonia, Argentina and Chile to the high altitudes of the Andres mountains.
His wild animal encounters are many including not being able to sleep because Hyenas patrolled outside his tent in one of the Namibia deserts, standing still for over half an hour as over 15 wild Elephants crossed his path in Zimbabwe and the bites of unusual sizes of mosquitoes in Alaska. Yet he continues the pursuit of his dream.
The journey thus far has had its up and downs but the ups are many as while some dream of meeting famous people he has along his journey.
"I've met Edmond Hillary, the first man to climb Mount Everest in New Zeeland 1953, Fernando Parrado, one of 16 survivors of the Avalanche of the Andes Mountains between Argentina and Chile 1971, World renown footballer Pele in Brazil, the world famous marathoner Juma Ikangaa in Tanzania". He also met Heinz Stucke the Guinness world record holder for pedal cycling around the world (he traveled for 43 years and is still going).
The experiences saw him meeting with cannibals in Rio and celebrating the in Berlin Germany the 10 anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin wall. In Zimbabwe he saw the total eclipse and has over 5000 pictures of the many cultures and experiences. "These pictures I sell to make money to continue my journey."
My most memorable experience was staying with a Chilean family for four months where I learnt Spanish and how to make Chilean Cuisine. "I sometime miss my family but I want to finish that which I started and fulfill my dream", he told Kaieteur News.
The Guyana experience
Thursday last he rode through over 20 km of the flood waters along the East Coast and as he puts it "this is his first experience of so much flooding for me. I have seen the Tsunami disaster on TV but this is the fist time that I see in real life so many houses under water. But as I rode I saw that while the people were suffering they still can smile and laugh at the 'Chinese man on bicycle'. The people (Guyanese) are very strong and must be of different mind set from Japanese. The water was up just below my knees in some parts of the main road."
To him he said that Guyanese people are very aggressive but nice. They look at me and many people shout, hello Chinese man but they never attack me. They call me to talk to the strange man. Within three years he plans to complete his journey and head back home to Japan. But for now he survives through small sponsorship and the Goodwill of people on the road.
"The journey has served as therapy for me and for the people I encountered as we have each shared our cultures."
"The general consensus from the people who I've met is that they too want world peace. Some want to know about Japan and the many experiences."
"My worst experience was in Kenya when I got Malaria and almost died but the pharmacists there give me medicine and I got better. After one month I was back on the bike. In Africa many people die of Malaria. People need help in the country sides because they are poor."
His money is almost depleted and so soon he'll have to find a job along the way to make some more to continue his journey to the 120 countries. He says that he encourages all to dare to dream and stick with it and you'll truly be happy.
I cycled about 1600 km from Miami. I am in Warner Robins, Georgia right now. That is about 160 km south of Atlanta. The warm season is starting and there are fewer rainy days.
The USA is one of the greatest economies in the world. It is very different from South America where I was just 2 month ago. The roads are perfect, without holes, no bad asphalt and with good roadsigns. There are many nice cars in the streets. Even the out-of-town local small roads have a 80 km/h speed limit. Nobody walks. There are only very few cyclists. The houses are nice. There are many big supermarkets, like Walmart and so on. I see a lot of fast food restaurants: McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chiken, Taco Bell and so on. Everything is very expensive! The cheapest but no-so-good food in a restaurant is more than US$ 5.00 dollar. State camping grounds are around 20 dollars. Nobody says "Hello" to me. Nobody wants to talk to me. Nobody comes to see my bicycle. So, it means nobody helps me.
It is very difficult to make friends in this country. I have only friends in USA that I contacted by e-mail before or that I met in other places before. Not only white people but even the South Americans, the African-Americans and the Asian-Americans are not so friendly. It is quite sad. I got homesick!
Someone said: "America is the home of Freedom!" It's not true. People are attendants of the law and money. They have Federal laws, State laws, Traffic laws, National and State Park laws, Comunity codes and so on. "Do not drink alcohol on the beach!" " Do not enter by bicycle!" "Don't do this, don't do that..." "1000 dollar fine dor littering!"
If you want to drive, you must pay to get drive license. If you want to park, you must pay for parking. If you want to fish, you must pay money to get a fishing license. If you want to sleep, you must pay motel or camping ground. Wild camping is not allowed, because all land belongs to somebody. Some forests belong to private people, some belong to governments. But when I'm not with friends, I always sleep in the forest to save money. Whenever I go into a forest, I am always weary of American people because they are a bigger problem than wild animals. While I was Florida, I laid down on a nice bench near the beach. It was in front of a big house. Twenty minutes later 2 police officers come to me and asked: "Are you homeless? Move on!" I was on a private property. I was unhappy at that time. The people who live in that house did not ask me. They called the police. Is that the American way?
Many hotels in Florida cost more than 50 dollars a night. Entrance fee of Kennedy Space Center is 28 dollar. World Coca Cola Company admission fee is 6 dollar. Walt Disney World is 50 dollar a day. National Park fee is about 5 dollar. Even small museum, they charge you. I think the cheapest food is a hamburger at Mcdonald's, which costs around 80 cents. There are almost no discounts. It is not a friendly country for a poor traveler.
I have been in my friend's house in Warner Robins for a week. It's an American and Taiwanese family. They are so friendly to me. They said "You can stay here as long as you want!" I like those words. It sounds very nice and comfortable for me! But one of my friends is coming to see me at Washington DC, June 10th, so I must leave here soon.
We went to Plains to see mr. Jimmy Carter yesterday. He was the 39th US President and also the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He is a very friendly man. We took a picture of him and his wife. I shook hands with him. But many people waited, so I did not have a chance to talk to him. That was a pity...
I arrived in the capital of the USA 5 days ago. It is already summer season and it is very hot and humid here. I think it's more than 30°C. My friend from Taiwan came to visit me in Washington 5 days ago. His name is mr. Ming Jim. He is a Taiwanese cyclist. He hopes to try to cycle around the world by bicycle in the near future. He came to see me 3 times during my 7 years journey. The first time was New Mexico state (USA) in 1998. The second time was in London in 1999. And this time, he invited me to stay in a nice hotel with nice food and a city tour. It gave me energy and power! Thank you my friend!
He went back to Taiwan and I moved to the house of a cyclist. Mr. Kent is a member of the "Warm Shower List" and he hosts cyclists. It is a very useful list for bicycle travellers in the USA. Because there is nobody on the streets in almost all parts of the USA, it means that it is difficult to talk to people and it is also difficult to make local friends. Many cyclists in USA join the list. But Washington is different from other places on the road from Miami to DC. Many people walk on the street and also I saw some cyclists inside of this city.
Lots of traffic passes me everyday. Almost nobody talks to me and almost nobody stops for me. Only a few times nice things happened. In Florida, an old car stopped and a man gave me 5 dollar. In Georgia, a family stopped in front of church and gave me 5 dollar. In South Carolina, a old car stopped and waited for me. The old man in the car gave me 10 dollar. In North Carolina, a young beautiful lady drove up to me early in the morning and she asked me: "Are you hungry?" She gave me a big cup of soft drink and Chicken burger. I tought that she bought that for her husband, but she smiled and gave it to me. Also in North Carolina, young two boys came by car and they gave me 2 bottle of Gatorade drinks and also 20 dollar. I see, some of them are very friendly in this country, but it is very difficult to meet them. Because their life is busy, car, society, ...
The road in Florida was almost flat. But the other states have almost all hilly roads. The driving manner is better than any South American country. Also the road condition is better: good asphalt. People use cell phones while driving. Sometimes they drive dangerously. There are also some bad drivers here. I must be careful, as always.
I can stay at the house of some cyclists, sometimes at an old friend's house but otherwise I sleep in my tent in the forest. It is not difficult to find forests out of the city. At that time I cook for myself but I have no shower. Sometimes, I cannot shower for a week. And still I spend about 5 dollar a day, almost all on food.
I think the most interesting things in the USA are to know friends and people's life, and to visit national parks and to see nice architecture.
There are many nice buildings and nice museums in Washington D.C. Many museums are free. It sounded great, but the only problem was that I was not allowed to bring food into the museums and the restaurant inside museums are always so expensive! But I enjoyed to see such nice museums very much even while I was hungry... My favorite museum is the Natural History museum. I enjoyed Washington D.C. during these 5 days. I will move to New York tomorrow. That will take 3 or 4 days. Then I will head to Quebec. My friends Janick and Pierre are waiting for me!
I arrived in Canada June 26th. I have cycled for about 3 months in the eastern states of the USA. I pedaled about 4000 km from Miami to Quebec, Canada. The weather was almost always nice. I did not have many rainy days except in the Atlanta area. When the summer summer season started it would be hot, but it was not too bad. The road conditions are almost always nice. But sometimes the road is narrow and has bad asphalt, especially inside towns or cities. It wasn't difficult to find a forest to pitch my tent at evenings. I have never seen any dangerous animals (so far). I could cycle about 140-160 km a day easily. But I did not enjoy cycling in the USA very much, because nobody uses bicycles on the road, because there are few pedestrians but just a lot of cars passing. The manners of the drivers are very bad sometimes. Some drivers use their big horns to me to drive me off the road. I was angry sometimes. It is difficult to ask the way because no cars would stop for me. It is also difficult to communicate with local people.
People in USA are shy. They do not want to talk strangers like cyclists. Many of them can not understand a bicycle traveler. Many of them are religious and believe the newspapers and the TV. Once, a (female) police officer came to me and she checked my passport. She asked me "Are you homeless?" I was disappointed. I told her that I am a bicycle traveler and cycled many places by my human power. But she did not understand me. She just wanted to kick me out of her territory.
There are many museums in Washington D.C. The nice thing about it is that they are almost all free. Most museums check every tourist's body and bags, pockets and even belt, cap and so on. They checked me more than others because I am a cyclist and my skin is tanned and dark, and my clothes are not beautiful either. I do not even look Japanese anymore. They were afraid of a strange man.
To cycle in the Eastern USA is not fun. But I made some nice friends. My longest stop in the USA was in Boca Raton, Miami. I enjoyed to swim at nice beach with mr. Brad for a month. In Warner Robins in Georgia, I stayed at Suei's family for 2 weeks and I enjoyed to eat her Taiwanese food. I met former president mr. Jimmy Carter and his wife.
Philadelphia is an old and beautiful city. But I was in a traffic accident there. It was a narrow road. I cycled slowly, suddenly a driver opened the door of car, just as I passed. The door touched my front pannier bag, I fell on the ground, but I was not injured and my bike was not damaged. New York City is one of my favourite places in the Eastern USA. Many immigrants live there. They sell cheap food in some areas. I met some friendly people and also I saw many cyclists and pedestrians on the road. New York city (Manhattan) is bicycle paradise. There are some nice bike paths. The car drivers behave more careful towards cyclists and pedestrians.
Canada is different from the USA. I saw many cyclists in Quebec state and even more in Montreal and Quebec City. There are nice bike paths here. Canadians are more friendly for cyclists than the people in the USA. Some car drivers waved at me. I can not speak French but some people wanted to talk with me. Once, a Canadian police woman stopped me. She checked my passport, then said: "Bienvenue, bon voyage!" (Welcome. Have a nice journey!).
I am staying with Janick and Pierre. They are Canadian cyclists whom I met in Los Andes in Chile 2 years ago, in the house of mr. Eric Savard. Pierre and Janick live about 100 km east from Quebec city, next to a river and close to the mountains. There are many black bears and mooses around here. It is a beautiful place. It is summer right now. In autumn, the trees will change to a beautiful yellow and red color. In the winter, there will be snow everywhere. I will stay here several more days. I am thinking about and preparing for my next journey. And I'm relaxing.
Pierre travelled by bicycle for about 15 years of his life time. He is a professional cyclist. He took many wonderful pictures and wrote articles in several magazines and he presented slide show in many places. Their recent project is to travel the "Ring of Fire" by bike. The next stage starts November 2005: Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, and Russia.
If you'd like to see a slide show, consider looking at Velomag's website.
I am still staying with Janick and Pierre in Quebec, Canada. I have decided to go to Europe. I will fly from Quebec to Paris next Sunday (July 17th).
I will cycle many European countries this year. Paris - Geneve (Switzerland) - Liechtenstein - southern Germany - Austria - Hungary - Slovakia - Poland - Belarus - Lithuania - Latvia - Estonia - Finland - Russia - Ukraine - Mordovia - Roumania - Bulgaria - Greece - Macedonia - Albania - Serbia - Bosnia-Herzegovina - Croatia - Slovenia - San Marino - Italy - Monaco - France - Andorra.
If you could please introduce me to your friends in these countries, or if you have some information (with nice places to visit, interesting people, nice food, history, roads, nice mountains to climb and so on), please write me! Your help and e-mail is always welcome!!
"Volcans et vélos"
"Ring of Fire part 2"