A Japanese friend, Yuya, planed to cycle to Taupo from Auckland. When I heard about the plan from him, which was merely two days before his departure, I decided to join him.
At that time, he has sorted out all his accommodation along the way - and thus rough route plans too. Due to my joining, he had to re-book all the accommodation, and I had to quickly get my bike fixed (it had a broken front derailleur).
Of course it was quite tiring. But from this trip, I might have learnt - or say, encountered - quite a few new things.
To find accommodation along places for which the maps don't seem to show many things; to rent a bike and gear; to plan routes (and avoid motorways); to find places to stop for a rest; to get wet clothes dry; to sort out lunch before getting to somewhere you'll definitely not be able to find any; to take certain pictures to describe the trip; to find and book entertainment in a tourist city; to transport a bike by bus; to find time to keep a diary; to somehow manage to keep track of how much money a trip costs; ... - are all new things for me to do.
Since the moment I decided to take part in this trip, I've already known that the trip will be physically tiring, but mentally relaxing and free. This is especially true for me, because I don't even have to care about accommodation or routes - it's all already taken care of by Yuya. Maybe the one thing which I was constantly being concerned about, was from where to get food, and how much to get.
Because I've been quite interested with languages, a lot of the chats between me and Yuya along the way have been about the Japanese, Chinese, English, and sometimes other - languages; because of that, from some point on we started to talk more about somewhat-more-cultural topics, like "Tokyo is a 'city' within Tokyo? Wat?" or "What does that phrase that you say before eating a meal mean?". Maybe, in that process, we both have learnt quite a lot about each other's culture, heard a lot of each other's stories, and sort of became friends.
This trip is probably only the second trip I went on which I took part in the planning process in (the first one is the trip around universities in China) - or it might count as only half, since much planning has been done for me. The trip is quite noteworthy for myself - maybe even quite epic. Some things will never be seen the same way again - after the trip compared to before - e.g. Is the road sloping up or down; by how much; "yeah that place is something like a few hundred kilometres, but yeah I can still bike there".
I didn't take a lot of photos along the way - mainly because the changes in what I see are very gradual, hence it's hard for me to perceive the changes; hence I've taken not a lot of photos. Amongst those photos, I picked a few that I think are more pleasing (visually/aesthetically/photographically), and uploaded them onto Flickr. You can go and take a look there: Cycling to Taupo.