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This 56-Year-Old Tour Leader Explores SG By Bike Since Covid & Now Plans Cycling Tours In Japan

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Siti Ayeeshah Zaki  •  Feb 11, 2022

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Covid-19 hit many of us hard, including Khamisah Salamat, a 56-year-old who once spent her days touring Japan. Having been in the industry for 30 years, it was unfortunate when she had to stop working once borders closed. After about a year of baking, hiking, and even gardening, Khamisah now goes on cycling tours around Singapore! The best part? She's putting all her years of experiences and passions together, to draw up unique itineraries and cycling tours in Japan! Read on to catch how her beginnings with the art of Omotenashi has inspired her to plan cycling tours in Japan!  Who knows, perhaps you could be joining her trips when the borders open 🤩

How This 56-Year-Old Singaporean Cyclist Plans Japan Cycling Tours

Exploring Singapore's Off-Beaten Paths

 After Covid-19 hit and the borders closed, Singaporean Khamisah Salamat found herself idle and without a job. In order to keep her health and spirits up, she decided to invest her time in fruitful hobbies like baking, gardening, and eventually, hiking and cycling! Khamisah's love for travel has clearly been channelled into exploring Singapore's off-beaten paths. Spending a lot of her time around Sungei Tengah, Khamisah tells us that this is one of her favourite cycling routes because ''it feels like you're cycling in Cameron Highlands''! 😍 The sights definitely add to the experience, too. The farms in the area, like the Fresh Vegetable Farm, are some of the best places to do your weekend marketing. 
Credit: Salamat Khamisah on Facebook One of her biggest achievements in her years of cycling is finishing the route along Kranji's Neo Tiew Avenue, Lim Chu Kang and Jurong East! For perspective, a quick search on Google maps showed us that this route is about 20km 😨 Definitely a feat! When we asked what her next cycling goal would be Khamisah told us that she wants to curate Brompton cycling experiences in Japan!

The Art Of Omotenashi

But why Japan? Having been in the tourism industry for 30 years, Khamisah started off being curious about her uniquely curated itineraries. Were they helping others get around Japan? Were travellers happy with the itineraries? Wanting to know how her customers were responding, she began to test her itineraries out for herself by personally touring around the country with them!
Credit: Khamisah Salamat
 In fact, according to Khamisah, one of her favourite parts of touring Japan was learning the art of Omotenashi! A Japanese hospitality concept where hosts take pride in anticipating and fulfilling people’s needs in advance. It seems her trips to Japan really helped her hone her craft! Providing her best service to her fellow travellers by travelling around with them, Japan has now become her second home.

Putting Her Customers First

Travelling Japan comes with its challenges, especially when leading Muslim tour groups. In Japan, halal food can be difficult to find, especially if guests are not used to raw food like sashimi. As the tour leader and curator of the itinerary, Khamisah is responsible for looking for the best halal or Muslim-friendly dishes for her guests and catering to their needs.
Credit: Khamisah Salamat Another concern many travellers face is the type of rooms! In Japan, travellers can opt for a Tatami-style room. However, others may choose a regular room due to health and physical issues such as impaired leg function. In order to serve her travellers best, she needs to ensure that each traveller is matched to the right room, depending on their needs and preferences. ''Especially for traditional ryokan,'' Khamisah told us, ''I need to be selective (when it comes to traditional ryokan rooms) for my guests as some traditional ryokan do not have bathrooms in the room!'' 

A Sneak Peek Into Her Future Cycling Tours

Khamisah truly is living life to her fullest! If you're interested in joining her for future cycling trips, this is what you can expect 😍
Mt Fuji Cycling Tour Around Fujinomiya and Yuno Village (Shizuoka Prefecture)
Highlights:
  • View of Mount Fuji
  • Forest Route: Experience cycling among the cedar trees and listen to the natural sounds of the forest
  • Shiraito Fall, one of the greatest waterfalls in Japan
  • Stop for Experiences such as Soba making, Dragonfly making from Bamboo, Wagashi making traditional Japanese confectionery
Credit: Khamisah Salamat
Cycling on Snow - Hirosaki City & Castle (Aomori)
Highlights: Using a FATBIKE and cycling around Hirosaki Castle and Parks
Credit: Khamisah Salamat
Hiroshima Cycling Tour (Hiroshima Prefecture)
Alternative city tour by cycling instead of walking or taking the bus.
Highlights:
  •    Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Park
  •    Many Rivers and bridges
  •    Hiroshima Castle
If you loved those, you have to check out her new cycling route!
NEW CYCLING ROUTE - Experience with Brompton in Ehime (Shikoku Prefecture) Highlights:
  •  Uchiko Town - To see an important and preserved village, and covered wooden Taiko bridge
  •  Coastal Cycling - Spot JR Shimonada Train station facing the sea which is famous for being part of tv dramas 

Japan Travelling Tips!

Being a seasoned traveller of Japan, Khamisah has quite a bit of knowledge to pass on when it comes to exploring Japan! If you're planning to travel to Japan once the borders open, these tips might just be helpful for you. 😊
1. Travel light especially when you are commuting the Bullet train
According to Khamisah, you won't be able to store big luggage in the overhead compartment and keeping it in front of your seat means not having space for your food tray and your legs if the passenger in front of you reclines their seat. So make sure to travel light!
2. Use the Takyubin Service
You can also make use of Japan's Takyubin service (courier service), which sends your luggage from place to place. This might be especially convenient if you've done too much shopping and can't carry them all. We've all been there! 😜 ''Use their courier service to keep in the airport so that you will travel light to the next city until you end your trip at the airport,'' Khamisah told us!
 3. Be Punctual 
Make sure to be punctual while travelling around Japan, especially if you are scheduled to take the bullet train or any transportation. They will leave on time! Make sure to also pre-book all your bullet train rides.
4. Mind your manners
The Japanese have unspoken rules on transportation, such as not speaking too loud on trains, putting your phone on silent and to move to a corner should you really need to speak.  Such as don't speak too loud, on train and off your phone tone and exit to corner if you need to speak.
5. Bring enough cash
There are limited money changers in Japan so make sure to bring enough cash. This is especially so in the rural areas, some rural areas don't accept credit cards.
6. Remember to bring a router
For communication, and of course, Facebook and Instagram.😉
7. Save costs by purchasing a Japan Nationwide Pass or any area passes to save on your itinerary 
Under the Japan Rail pass, this cost-effective pass for Japanese transportation can be used by foreigners and offers unlimited rides on JR trains!
 An inspiring and formidable woman, no doubt, Khamisah hopes to continue travelling and promoting Japan once borders open! 😍