Finally we updtae the website in english! We reproduce here the article published by our friend Andrea (from Long Island) in the LIMBO Newsletter. Enjoy it: she’s an excelent writer and the text is probably 10 times better than when we write in english!
Editor’s note: In the last edition, Franck and Iris put their bus on a cargo ship, and were waiting out the weeks in California until their bus arrived in Asia. I asked Franck to write about what was involved in shipping the bus, and about the similarities and differences in the American VW friends and Asian VW friends they have met.
About Shipping the Bus:
It was not so complicated as it was expensive. We started price shopping by making phone calls to all the shipping companies we could find on the internet using key words: "international shipping cars"
We found a big difference in prices ranging from 1700 USD to 4500 USD. Of course we choose the 1700 USD option with an additional 500 USD payable upon receipt of the bus in Japan. We made the booking one month before the day of the shipping and paid a deposit. Then we spent 3 weeks driving around in California, going to VW events, making money to pay for our 2 flights. We went to the Kelley Park event, to the Spring Meet near Merced and to the Bug In (which impressed us by his size). In one of these events we met a wonderful guy, Rex from Merced. This man who saved our bus... And its engine!
We also met people from the clubs, especially in the Bay area. As always, we found very nice and friendly people. So on May 8th we secured a needed Canadian transit visa for Iris and were able to buy the flights, both things in LA. In the elevator of the Canadian consulate we were with... Pamela Anderson!! I (Franck) was close to a heart attack. We then drove back from LA to SF in one night.
On Monday, May 9th we put the bus in a container. It was a very emotional moment. The same day we also paid the last part of the shipping. The boat would take 10 days to reach Japan. It's quite a fast one, as some take 3 or 4 weeks. We could track it on internet. We spent the last days in the house of Mike (Busboss on the Samba), Ann and their daughters Mia and Ava. They have been amazingly nice with us and we stayed one month in their house! They are the best people destiny could have sent us on the road. We felt incredibly comfortable with them. We really think we made friends for life.
On May, the 19th, we boarded a plane for Tokyo and left America– of which we have traveled one year and three months on this continent. We will never forget these months.
Arriving in Japan:
At the airport we were received by Chiaki and his girlfriend Tamiko. Chiaki is a mechanic. He owns a VW
shop and he's a friend of Rex’s, from Merced. Chiaki and Tamiko introduce us to kombi owners Tomokazu and Yumiko, who invited us to stay at their home until we get the bus. We felt very at ease with this couple! We are around the same age and we share a lot in common. Thanks to them, we met a lot of very nice people.
We quickly felt the big differences in the Japanese culture. There is so much respect, yet distance in human relationships. They never touch each other. But, we quickly introduce hugs to Japan ! On the other hand, they are extremely friendly people. For example, we have never received as many presents as we have from people in Japan. We also spent a lot of time with Kaname, a journalist, who invited us to be interviewed for a television news show. He filmed us during our first weeks in Japan. Being invited to a news show an being live on the Japanese tv was a big experience!
VW in Japan:
Getting back the bus was a 4 days process and finally it was more expensive than what we were expecting (about 800 USD). Our friends, especially Chiaki and Kaname helped us a lot. When we got Renatta (our bus) back, she was perfect, exactly as we left her!!! Now there is no doubt that the VW family is worldwide and is GREAT everywhere! We shared some great times with the people of the KDF Owners VW Club of Japan. We went to 3 of their events and each time it was wonderful! Special thanks to the president, Mr.Nobusawa. He has all of his family involved in the VW club. Additional thanks to others we met, such as Kazu, Noboru and Shin... so many great people! Their events are always very well prepared (as everything is in Japan). The caravan we went on was far away the best one we ever saw.
Financially speaking, here in Japan, we have made the most money on our trip so far by selling shirts and merchandise. Thishas been wonderful because we didn't know how we would be paying for the forthcoming boat to Russia. In absolutely ALL the places we go in Japan we can at least meet one person from the VW family. It's just crazy.
Other Interesting Things about the Japanese:
It's the most different country as far as culture that we have seen so far. So different from our original cultures and from this point of view, it's the most interesting. We have learned so much. People don't own half of what people in the US own, even if they have more money. Their houses are 4 times smaller. A lot emptier, more simple. People have less, but we notice them more happy. We're learning a lot from this aspect. We have never seen such a safe and peaceful place before! There is such an elegance to the people: even the taxi drivers are wearing suits. They respect the rules. They follow them so much
that they can be boring sometimes. Come on...go through the red light, it's 3:00 am and its deserted all around you. The people are very shy, respectful and reserved. Come on, let's have a hug. Let's express ourselves! With a Latin American, a North American and a Japanese, we can probably make a perfect human being!
OK friends, we hope you enjoyed it. In this precise moment (we are sunday, the 27th of June) we are in the port of Sakaiminato. The bus is already in the boat and in less than 4 hours we leave Japan. Wre should arrive in Russia on tuesday. We will send news and make all our possible to make it quick!