Joined: Mar 2009
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
We've made it to Russia! After much drama and BS regarding Dangerous Goods Certificates (used bikes are classified as DG) and our outbound plane being struck by lightning which delayed our departure 4hrs causing us to miss our connector flight in Japan we made it to South Korea. In South Korea for a few days then got screwed by Korean Customs and weren't able to get our bikes on the ferry to Zaribino, Russia (100km South of Vlad). Waited in Sok Cho Korea until tuesday (21st) and were able to board the ferry and we were on our way!
Got to Zaribino at 11am and cleared customs until 4pm. I'll just do a copy paste from our site:
"Once we landed in Zaribino, the fun begins.... Customs in Russia is literally the most complicated series of steps you could design.. if you were trying to make it as hard, long, and frustrating as possible.
1. We get off the boat, and go into a standard customs entryway where Uniformed (female) Russian Soldiers are directing the passengers to the next available customs agent.
2. You go up to the agent in the cubicle, like normal, but there are no smiles. It's all business. They stare at you, look at your passport, stare at you again.. look down at the passport, then, after a not too long period. They stamp your passport.
Done right? Oh, not by a long shot....
3. From there we are off to a room, where we sit with two ladies and fill out two identical customs forms (standard entry Custom forms), but two of them... and they are written in Cryllic. So they have to help you, and their english is slightly better than my Russian, and I know 8 words.
So after about 1 hour of this, we think we are finished when we are told to follow another guy back to the boat to get the bikes. Once back at the boat, we have to show our Passports to two Russian Army guys who are now guarding our bikes. We pass I guess, and get to drive our bikes for about 20 seconds back to customs. YAAH. I drove my bike in Russia!
4. Once back at Customs, we wait, while the kind lady types in our customs forms, and then checks and re-checks our shipping documents against what we hand wrote on the forms. After about another hour, we're done... we think.
5. So now, we're told to follow one of the ladies to Customs.... whaaa? We thought this was customs. Oh no, sorry, this is the customs brokerage area.. they are just preparing our documents FOR customs... that will be $150 U.S. please. Ok, we pay, and they make change out of their purses... hmmmmm?
6. Now it off on the bikes to follow one of the ladies down a winding path to ... Customs! Which is a small brick building with many doors and two floors. So in one door we go, through a one way turnstile, and out the other side of the building... seriously. Then around and to the left, and downstairs.. where we .. you guessed it... wait. For 1/2 hour in a line, to change our US dollars into Rubles.. seems this part of the process doesn't take Dollars.
7. After we get our Rubles, we go back upstairs and around another corner into another room. Two more ladies. Sit we are told. Wait. We wait. They type officious forms. Sign here. We dutifully sign. I ask if I just joined the Russian Army. No smiles. You pay they say... we now pay $2000 rubles, which is either $1000 dollars or 80 cents, I'm not really sure at this point, since by this time were getting Japanese Yen, Korean Won and Russian Rubles exchange rates all mixed up. I thrust a wad of different types of money at one of them until she stops yelling, and we go back to our seats. They make change out of their purses again.... hmmmm.
8. After waiting another 20 minutes or so, the first lady from... lets call it Pre-customs comes and collects us, and off we go back outside, around the corner again, back into the building, and just as we get to the turnstile, we veer off to the right, and up we go to the second floor, where we are put in a hallway, and told to ... you guessed it.... wait.
9. 5 Minutes... they say. 5 regular minutes we ask? Or 5 Russian Minutes? This gets a snicker out of pre-customs lady, who by now we realize, is kind of on our side. 5 minutes she assures us. 30 minutes later, they call us in to the office, one at a time to provide us with the prize we've all been waiting for... the temporary import document for the Motorcycle. It's a very impressive piece of paper, with all kinds of stamps and flourishes. We are admonished, at least 4 times, to NOT LOSE THIS DOCUMENT. If we do, I am sure they will likely make us stay here forever, going round and round through door after door, until we die.
10. We nod gravely, to show them we fully respect their document, and carefully fold it and put it in our passports. We are then escorted downstairs where we are told to... yes... wait. She has to go all the way back in her car to Pre-customs,.. and get some other piece of paper with writing on it, which she hands to us, and we all promptly shove it into some spare spot on our overloaded bikes, which we then start in, anticipatory glee as we prepare to depart customs for the open road for our first day in Russia.. we go 10 feet to the guard at the closed gate, who promptly asks us for the piece of paper the lady just gave us, which I have shoved ... ummm somewhere. So after another 10 minutes of digging, I triumphantly find the paper, thrust it in his hand.. and we are FREE... in Russia!
Total time: About 4 hours.
... so we've been in Russia for 4 hours, we've driven a total of 45 feet, and we were all out of gas. But we were free, so we drove another 300 yards to the Petrol station, where it took at least another 15 minutes, because none of us could figure out how to get the yelling lady behind the bullet proof glass to unlock the pumps long enough to fill the tank. After shoving untold numbers of Rubles into the box that slid back and forth through the bullet proof glass, I managed to get about 1/2 a tank of gas pumped. Cory got a little more, and Petar some as well. Terry, from the UK, another biker we met on the boat, didn't even want to try, so off we went, heading for Vladivostok... then it started raining.
... to be continued on the Vladivostok post."
I just keep telling myself, if it were easy, everyone would do it!
The internet connection is very slow. Will try to get some pics up soon!
Oso Blanco screwed with this post 10-07-2010 at 09:58 PM