Everyone has dreamt of taking a year of work, and in the age of the casualised workforce more and more people are taking that leap.
Former Tamworth man Ross Michell did just that, opting to take seven months of unpaid leave from his job as an accountant to cycle 7000 km across a foreign land.
The Travelling Bean Counter, as he refers to himself in his blog, bought a mountain bike, packed a bag, jumped on a plane and landed in Japan, with a very limited plan.
“I have always been interested by Japan – I grew up watching Dragon Ball Z and Yu-Gi-Oh!,” he said.
“Five years ago I started learning Japanese, and while I could read and write I had no practice speaking it – so I chose a bike and went on an adventure.”
In March Mr Michell landed in Tokyo and started pedaling all the way to the northern tip of Japan, Cape Soya in Hokkaido, before turning around to head to the southern tip of Kyushu, and back to Tokyo.
The 7000km ride took four and a half months, three and a half of which he travelled alone after his companion pulled up stumps just one month in.
Amazingly he only spent $620 on accommodation, although there was no five star treatment, or even one star.
“I tried to plan my days riding between places I wanted to visit, but aimed at between 80 and 100km a day – my biggest day was 180 km,” he said.
“Generally I just pulled up where I pulled up, got up Google Maps and looked for a large green space, which was generally a park, and just slept there.
“Sometimes I would use a tent but it was so hot most of the time I just slept on a towel or something like that.”
Some of the highlights include riding the Shimanami Kaido, a series of bridges that island hop between the main island of Honshu and Shikoku, while he also climbed Mt Fuji from sea level, and returned in a solid 26 hour straight stint.
“On the bottom island I went on the Road to Laputa, from the Ghibli movies – the scenery there was amazing,” he said.
“All these places were great, but so were the people – A lot of people came up and talked to me, offered me food and water or anything to help me along, four or five times a stranger would just invite me to a barbecue at their house – they were very accomodating.”
Mr Michell returned to Australia in September, and is now looking forward to returning to work in October, after feeling “disconnected from reality” for the past seven months.
While it is something he would recommend to anyone, the Bean Counter won’t be rushing back anytime soon.
“It was amazing, but it was also extremely difficult and very lonely at times,” he said.
“It gave me a real appreciation of how convenience has been brought into every aspect of our lives.
“Hopefully some people might read my blog and develop a sense of adventure and an idea to do something similar.
“I am now looking forward to the next segment of my life.”
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