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JULY 1 Northern Ireland Belfas / Arnie's Backpackers Hostel (8.5)

Room mates Guy and Helen, a couple
from France. We went to the pub
Anyway I have to find today's accommodation.
Looking at Lonely Planet, I headed for a hostel that is on the top of the list.
I  usually go to accommodations directly without calling in advance. They would try finding beds more sincerely when in face to face.
Actually, on the telephone, I have been told to be full many time but they haven't said to be no bed over the counter so far (or it might be just by chance, simplyc).

And I had a bed today, as well as usual. The room has one bunk bed that has three single beds. My bed is the top of three. It almost sticks on the ceiling.  This hostel is quite small. It has only 4 rooms and 19 beds with only one shower. There is no internet facility, which would be available at most hostels in Europe nowadays. Customer management is done by a notebook as well.

But the most different thing (and best thing) is that the owner Arnie himself served me a cop of coffee after check-in. this kind of small thing makes us feel comfortable and at home.



JULY 2 Northern Ireland(UK) Belfas / Arnie's Backpackers Hostel (8.5)

A  tough  battle before the  goal
It is Sunday today. I went to a Gaelic football stadium outside Belfast. An Irish guy told me about this important match in the pub last night.
I had watched a Hurling match last Sunday and this time Gaelic football.
I bought a 7 pounds ticket. When I was looking for a parking space, a guard man came to me and said pointing to a house across the street, "You can park your motorbike in this house. This is my friend's house." I followed him.
 My ticket is for terrace. Most spectators watch the match standing. The stadium almost got full 30 minutes before the match.

Today's match is Derry vs. Antrim. Both belong to Northern Ireland. Today's match seems to be important for their bloc. Northern Ireland belongs UK but Gaelic football league is organised in the whole Ireland. And so is Hurling league. That is why the flag of Republic of Ireland with Green, white, and orange is hoisted at the centre pole.

After an armature hurling match, the both team's player came out onto the field. A terrific hurrah rose in the whole stadium.
Today the president of South Ireland (Republic of Ireland) showed up and made a brief speech. Now the match is startingc.
But just before the kick off, the public announcement gave us a brief but shocking news and the stadium got quiet for an instant.

"Joey Dunlop was killed this morning"

What?? As my English hearing ability is very bad, I asked what he said to a woman next to me. Unfortunately, this time I didnft make a mistake.

I saw him several weeks ago for the first time on TT Road Race in Isle of Man and I became a fun for him. What a terrible thing!!
The Irish national anthem is following and people are singing in feeble voices.
National anthem in UK territory, extraordinary excite before the match, and unexpected sad news. In some peculiar conditions, my reality was getting lostc  

 
  


JULY 3 Northern Ireland Belfas / Arnie's Backpackers Hostel (8.5)

Kids in a protestant area
I forgot to write about football yesterday.
Gaelic football is similar to Aussie Rules (Australian football). Gaelic one is the ancestor of Aussie one.
Each side has 15 players. They move the ball forward by kicking or punching it like valley ball to other players. They can also run with the ball but they have to make it bound on the ground or hit at their legs a little bit every several yards or steps (I don't know exact distance of it).

 The field is the same to hurling one. So is how to get point. They get 3 points within the net (under the bar), and 1 point over the bar.
Defence formation is also the same, fully man-to-man system.
Both sides next to me are Derry's supporters and I followed them. fortunately our team got a big victory. My neighbours looked satisfied very much and explained me the rule all the time during the match.
I think Gaelic foot ball is more speedy and exciting than hurling. They can use hands and it makes the game speedy. 

A wall painting in a Irish redidence

Today I looked around Belfast.
As you know there are mainly two powers, protestant group and catholic group. The former wants to stay in UK and the later wants to unite the whole Ireland. (But in fact things doesn't seems that simplec.) 

The situation has been stable since the peace agreement and cease-fire declaration for IRA in 1998. However, when we walk in the town, we find a lot of evidences easily that show us the problem is not solved yet. 
The first thing I got surprised in Northern Ireland, Union Jack are fluttering everywhere in this region though it is not a national holiday. I had not seen such a scene in England.

And in some areas, each residence are still separated perfectly.  We could recognise it easily with marks at the shoulder of the road. In unionists' residences, the shoulders are painted in Blue, white, and red. In Irish residences, it is in green, white, and orange. Although I know it is peaceful now, I can't help nervous when walking in those areas.   It might still be a long way...



JULY 4 Northern Ireland Belfas / Arnie's Backpackers Hostel (8.5)

I just had new tires today.
I had ordered them yesterday, and when I came this morning, they had already arrived.
I just took wheels off, and they changed the both tires. To be honest, I wanted to change them by myself, but they said they would do it and it would be faster certainly.
I thing I am sorry that the tires are something for off-road. I expected a little bit more on-road one. But my English must have been bad when I explained to them about what I needed.

After the tire change, I cruised along the north coast of Belfast. It was a beautiful view.When I was taking a rest and looking at the map, an idea occurred to me.I had known the hometown for Joey Dunlop, who died for an accident during the road race in Estonia two days before. Looking at the map, his home town was not very far from where I was. I changed my plan and head into the mountains for Ballymoney, his hometown.

Joey's Bar

Going over some hilly mountains (or rather mountainous hill), I got there past 7 o'clock in the evening. I found his place easily. Going down the main street, I saw a crowd of people. It was a pub named "Joey's Bar".  There were a lot of motorbikes and people who lamented the great road racer's death. And countless flowers and messages covered his pubs. I had nothing, and I folded a paper into a small crane with Japanese style (Origami). I put it at the end of the bar.

After that I got a interview from Ulster TV and talked to some people there. Condolence callers were getting more and more even after sunset. Although I knew him only one month ago, I know how he was great with hundreds of people coming to this remote countryside all the way and heartfelt messages.
Of the countless messages, I will introduce you one, which seems to be simplest and express him very well;

- "As a racing genius, as a humble man" -



JULY 5 Northern Ireland Newton Stewart / Youth hostel (9.25)

Kevin's home. With his container
When I was heading back from Joeyfs place to the hostel yesterday, I found a rider hailing me at the shoulder of the road.
It was Kevin, who I had met at Joeyfs bar for the first time.
He said to me gWhat time is your ferry tomorrow?h I answered g20 past 12 h.
gwould you come to my house in tomorrow morning?  I would like you to see some Honda collections.h
I was afraid of my schedule a little but I said, gOk, I will visit your placeh.

And this morning he came near my hostel to meet me with a red Honda Integra.That is what I used to own and parted with just before the travel.
And he said incredible thing, gI owned another one. Exactly the same style and colour. For keep spare partsh.What a terrific Honda crazy!
He has been a keenest Honda crazy since Honda came to TT race in 1950fs for the first time. In 1998 TT race, his exhibition attracted Honda executives, who invited him to the next yearfs (1999) Honda Collection held in Japan.
Actually, he had a vast of items about Honda motorbike. Some classic motorbike, antique advertisements, pictures, you name it. All of them filled his rooms and garages.

And the centre of the garage, there was a picture of Joey, a candle, and a black flag.I found Japanese incense, which seems to have been given to him as a souvenir when he came back from Japan. I said to him, gin Japan, we burn it and pray for dead peopleh. He said, git is a good idea Please do it.h
We put some soil into a wine glass and put up a stick and burn it. I prayed with my hands together and he prayed clasping his hands.
I said, g you could do it once a day for him. It can be a good consolation for him. He said, gOk, I will do. By the way, I have another sort of incense there. How can I use it?h the one he pointed was not incense but Japanese noodle. It was very funny.
Maybe he didnft get enough information about each souvenir when they were given to him.
We talked about motorbike and other things. We had really enjoyable time, which made me miss the ferry to Scotland. Fortunately, my ticket was changed to the next ferry without any extra charge.

Northern Ireland. This is a part of UK and an outward appearance is very British with red brick house and well-kept gardens.
However, when you step into inside, you would find Ireland, where they are excited to Gaelic football, listen to the Celtic music, and drink too much Guinness.
Even if the national border will be changed in any way or not, there is no doubt that this is Irish home gEireh   


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