In Which We Ride... A Scot and South African go Long Haul

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SuperSonicRocketship, Aug 20, 2016.

  1. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 357

    Medical Attention

    There is no NHS in Russia. No National or Socialised Healthcare as far as I am aware. The reception desk at the Bolnitsa General Hospital in Ulan Ude also serves as the cashiers desk. If you need an X-Ray, like Kyla does, you must pay. Before setting off that morning we wanted to get an idea of what we were walking into. Scare stories of unfortunate travelers medical bills running into the thousands are always circulating online, and I didn't plan to become one of them. Would we need to call the insurance company? How much cash are we talking? Strangely, Kyla had found a FaceBook page for the hospital in question, who were posting up succesful medical prodeures like some kind of business page in order to gain publicity. Kyla sent a message to them in the hopes to get a response. Would you believe it, a doctor responsded on FaceBook Messenger to us within the hour. It translated as follows;

    "Yes we can give you an X-Ray, it will cost 340R for 1 or you get 2 for 500R. We will book you in at 12.30. Please come to room 129."

    Then 5 minutes later a following message;

    "Wait. Can we make it 11.30? As we will be on lunch. Also can we have a small interview with you."

    Surreal.

    Getting an Xray was like booking an appointment at a local garage or a nail salon. The prices seemed reasonable about £7 for 2 Xrays is a bargain, plus we had it in writing incase of any shenanigans. We called a taxi to take us the hospital and limped Kyla inside. Upon arrival nobody was aware of our 11.30 booking. The language barrier was tough as my Russian certainly does not extent into medical talk, but we were able to explain that we had crashed a motorcycle close to Lake Baikal and we wanted an Xray for the left leg. Simple. A nurse appeared with a hilariously shoddy Russian built wheelchair and ushered Kyla away to the Xray room. Just before going inside a faint voice materialised behind us.

    "Excuse me are you from Scotland?" - A tiny young blonde Russian doctor with good English

    "Aha! Yes, I am the FaceBook Xray girl." - Kyla states

    "Ah yes, I got the message. Would it be possible to have a small interview with you and we can take some photos after your Xray. If you do, then you would not need to pay anything for the Xray." - Said the miniature doctor.

    Kyla went inside and they took 2 Xrays of her left knee and upper shin. One from the front, and one from the side. We were taken back to small room to await the results. It was here our interview was to be conducted. It turned out that our tiny helper was not a doctor at all, but a journalist simply wearing a doctors overcoat. Her job was some kind of hospital PR agent, who took photos of patients and told their stories on the FaceBook page and in the local paper, seemingly to boost confidence in the locals to use the hospital services. Well, business is business after all. She asked where we were from and why we visiting Baikal and the surrounding Buryatia region. How we felt about Russian people and what we thought of the doctors and the hospital they have in the city. Kyla gave honest answers, which was fine because she was treated very well. It's very different from home, for example in Scotland we do not have potholes in the hospital corridors, however the service was good. In and out in just 1 hour.

    And the results? Well...

    No break, and no fracture to the fibula, tibula, femur or patella! Which is good. The knee did take a big hit however, she had ruptured the medial meniscus, large amounts of swelling and bruising, and some cuts. Normally the cuts are not worth mentioning, but Kyla, as mentioned before, has a clotting disorder called Von Willebrands Disease - the cuts bled for 72 hours before it bothered to clot itself.

    Overall this was good news. We had a diagnosis and now we needed the aftercare. I worked long enough with sports injuries and rehabilitation to know what to do. Plus the words 'medial meniscus' are a daily word in my family household as my own mother had an operation to fix hers. Kylas knee was bad, but thankfully not bad enough for a surgical procedure. Our little Russian doll took us across the road to a physiotherapy shop where we could shop for what we needed. It's quite strange, back home you would be referred to a clinic and the hospital would give you everythig you needed without cost, all as part of your national insurance contributions. Here you are taken to a local store and told to go shopping, the shop assistants are vaguely medically trained and try to help you. If you can't afford the medical supplies you require then... tough luck - find a cheaper shop or fix it yourself.

    We bought a fairly sturdy velcro knee brace, it was an expensive imported one from Germany, as opposed to the dodgy Russian manufactured ones. It costs about £50, a real stinger, but it's sure better than paying thousands for surgeries to fix shattered bones.

    We got off really lucky, and the full version of the story of our Russian hospital experience is one im sure will make a good story in the future.

    We booked into a much cheaper hotel to the East of Ulan Ude and gave Kyla a whole week to laze about and recover. She seems to like her new knee brace and asked for a photo of her wearing it. The girl is easily pleased. The hotel has a good Chinese restaurant downstairs and a mini-market out front, my role has been relegated from wordly adventurer to errand runner. Kyla has mostly been sat about watching Disney movies on my laptop and eating chocolate for 5 days now.

    I am going insane.

    Love,
    Brucie
  2. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Hold up!

    Just before I go and upload everything to a third party hosting site... If facebook archives the photos after 12 weeks then couldn't I simply use archived URL to embed the images here? Would save me alot of hassle indeed.

    I will try tomorrow! Last day of WiFi for a while
  3. Cameleer

    Cameleer Europe, three days at a time.

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    Dubai, UAE and for now, London
    Sorry to hear about the accident, our best wishes for Kyla's prompt recovery. Thankfully it didn't go worse, as it could have easily been. Best of luck!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  4. tcalberta

    tcalberta Adventurer

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    Really glad to hear Kyla's injury is not worse, sad to hear about the accident, but hopefully it does not slow you guys down too much.
  5. jml141

    jml141 Been here awhile

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    Leland, MS
    subscribed!
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  6. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Thanks for Kind Words! She is healing up well and every day a little better. A hell of a lot of swelling. At 22 years old I suspect she is still made of rubber.

    All Aboard!
  7. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire Just this guy...

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    So glad the injury isn't life or trip changing (too much anyway). Get well Kyla!

    Thanks for the great updates Bruce.
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  8. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Thanks Scotsfire! Today she walked for the first time almost fully unhindered.
  9. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Hi everyone, it's Kyla.

    I don't get a chance to do much writing on here, but I just had to pop on and say how much I appreciate everyones concern for me.
    It was one hell of a crash, and I feel I came off extremely lucky.....you should see the other guy!
    The healing process will be slow, but at least I now have an excuse to get Bruce to do everything for me.

    Again, thank you all for your messages and well wishes! We have an amazing bunch of followers!

    The show much go on!

    All my love, Kyla
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  10. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 361

    Aftercare.

    A week has passed since Kyla took a dive on the Baikal trail. Affirming the notion that these things always happen when you least expect them to. The riding we had been doing in Mongolia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and even Eastern Europe were far more technical than here. The rocks were bigger, the banks steeper, and trails much narrower, and aside from a few spills we were never once hurt ourselves. The track Kyla had crashed on was wide, open and generally smooth going. I guess in a way that lulls you into a sense of false security, you unknowingly pick up speed, and make assumptions about the state of the track ahead. Going 35mph over a blind summit on a Russian trail is never a good idea. Kyla said it herself;

    "If we didn't hit that rut, we probably would have hit the next big one."

    She was likely right. A gentle reminder; this is a not a weekend ride 20 miles from home. Keep the pace sensible, as fun as it may be to fly over the lumps and bumps.

    Kylas knee had forced our hand. We now had big decisions to make. The original plan for Siberia was always to make the bikers pilgrimage to Magadan in Russias' extreme far East. We had a few route options to choose from. We could follow the Trans-Siberian Highway for a thousand miles, then take a sharp left turn North to the City of Yakutsk for another thousand, and then a sharp right turn towards Magadan for a final thousand, of which you can choose to dip onto the ultra famous Road of Bones. This is by far the most well travelled option and for the most part you just follow the open road for 80% of the miles until you hit Magadan. It seems a bit pointless.

    A much more exciting option would be to follow the routes that skirt around the Western banks of Lake Baikal and then make your way to the Road of Bones through the back door. One via the BAM Road and it's assortment of rickety wooden bridges and gushing rivers. Another option, by recommendation, was to take a barge up the River Lena to a town called Lensk and from there ride to Yakutsk and then Magadan that way. Exciting stuff (see map for details)

    But it is not to be.

    The week recovery had done Kylas knee well, but not well enough to ride these kind of Siberian roads. She can't move freely, and has perhaps 50% use of her left leg. There is still swelling and a touch of bruising, and due to the ridiculous configuration of the human knee, it will heal slowly, perhaps a month until she has full use. She can change gears, use the kickstand, and that's about it for now. Although every day she gets better and more mobile. We faced the reality head on. If the only option to get to Magadan was by the main road, then we'd rather not go. We came here for a sense of adventure and a physical challenge - not to go to places for the sake of it. Plus, there's nothing fun about riding on large arterial roads and sharing it all with smoky trucks and dodging the commuting traffic.

    Unfortunately that leaves us with just one option; another highway. The biggest of all in fact. We must now follow the dreaded Trans-Siberian Highway to our final Russian destination, the South Eastern port city of Vladivostok. The Highway would require us to ride a single stretch of road for 2,300 miles. It's not hat we wanted from Siberia, but needs must. Kyla can ride without fear of injury or physical strain. She can sit on the bike, relax the knee and gobble up the miles for however long it takes to get there.

    Perhaps it has worked out ok in the end. September is right around the bend and weather is deteriorating fast out here. It's grown noticeably colder and wetter in the last 3 weeks. The plan now is to get to Vladivostok, find a place to stay, set up an HQ and form a plan that will get us, and the bikes, accross the Pacific to North America, via South Korea and Japan.

    So to 2,300 miles of Trans Siberian Highway, I simply say... Let's be havin' ya!

    Love,

    Brucie
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  11. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 367

    Trans-Siberian Highway

    2,293 miles... this is what Siberia asks of us. 2,293 miles of open road. It's a massive number. A fraction under 10% of the circumference of the planet. It's a number which very few nations on this earth could even dream to accomodate. The plan was to get from the city of Ulan Ude to the far Eastern port city of Vladivostok. 2,293... I kept staring at the number in perplexion. Even more astounding is the fact that this stretch we were about to undertake was barely a quarter of the Trans-Siberian as whole. The other end of the road was in Moscow, 6 time zones away.

    We had been holed up in our hotel in Ulan Ude for 6 nights allowing Kylas leg to heal up. She is still so young and rubbery that she mends quickly. A blanket of purple and green bruising came and went in 72 hours. The swelling slowly subsided too. Within 5 days she was on her feet. By the end of the week she gave the thumbs up to get back on the bike. Plus, we were both getting cabin fever lounging around our hotel room.

    With knee brace wrapped snug around the offending knee she climbed back onto the bike for the first time since it kicked her off. She looked a little precarious, and it's obvious there is still some pain apparent, but she is so much more mobile with every passing day.

    "Are you nervous?" - I asked.

    "Nah" - She smirks.

    Kyla's bike had incurred surprisingly little damage. A broken hand guard, bent mirror, scratched fender, the 2 homemode wind defletor had shattered, the bracket I had made to hold the tool tubes in place had buckled in the middle, and perhaps worse of all she was missing a tassle from one of her bag zips. I bashed the tool tube strut back into place with a rock and filed down the sharp edges on the other parts. A quick test ride revealed the bars were sitting a touch squint to the wheel by just a few degrees. The forks themselves were thankfully intact. We just needed to loosen off the clamp bolts, straighten everything off, and tighten them up again. Yamaha had made a tough little pony with this one.

    With bikes brushed up, we hit the road.

    We had set off in high spirits, We had no plan of attack for the road ahead, and were in no actual rush to get to Vladivostok at the other side. We knew from speaking to various sources that no matter what we did there was little chance of us leaving Russia before mid-September. Three weeks to cover the distance was plenty time certainly, but we weren't sure if there was much to see or do on the route. We set out a rough schedule that we would do about 150 - 200 miles per day, setting camps along the way, and make it to the other side in 15-20 days.

    That plan turned sour immediately.

    We had left Ulan Ude in favourable weather. The skies a touch overcast, but nothing to worry about. Within our first 50 miles everything had changed - thick clouds, and a fierce cold headwind came seemingly from nowhere. Within 100 miles it was impossibe to continue. Sheets of rain, carried by the strong winds hit us at an almost perpindicular angle. We managed just 128 miles (206km) before bailing into the first town and checking into the crumbling wreckage that is the 'Hotel Sibir'. We put it down to bad luck and thought to start fresh the next day.

    I'm not sure what I was expecting of Siberia. I knew fine well that it has one of the most extreme weather systems on Earth. The coldest tempretures in the habitable world are here in Siberia, and I had read plenty stories of heavy rainfall and flash flooding destroying sections of road - but this was the middle of August, it's still summer... No?

    Highway Day Two: We woke early to an uncomfortably cold air and more thick cloud cover. Rain threated all day from the West and our only option was to keep moving East to stay ahead of it, which we just about managed. We bagged 286 miles (458km). Our main motivation was that it was impossible to camp with waterlogged ground. We made it to the city of Chita. Found a hotel, ordered a pizza, and crashed into the beds from an exhausting day.

    Day Three. 366 miles (586km) of cold, rain and powerful crosswinds. It's a huge distance for us, and again spurred on with nowhere to camp. We made it to the town of Magocha and found an apartment complex that rented dorm space for 750R (9) per bed. We shared the room with a young Korean couple who were travelling the other direction on a pair of 1987 Honda 250's. They were pleasant company, but visibly as tired as we were from the journey.

    Day Four. We both woke up feeling like we were 90 years old. This kind of open highway riding is extremely tough on a motorcycle at the best of times. But riding a 250cc dirt bike through a neverending barrage of wind and rain is extremely physically and mentally taxing. We set off having barely uttered a word over breakfast. We rode 314 miles (503km). This time we had less rain, but the pay off was much colder tempretures and much worse winds. The huge vacuums and blasts of air coming from the endless stream of passing articulated trucks makes your hair stand on edge every time. I was starting to hate every yard of this highway. We made it to the small town of Magdagachi and stayed in yet another hotel. This one was in a bad part of town and we were awoken at 2am to a brawling horde of Russian men wildly swinging glass bottles and fists at each other just 20 feet from where the bikes were parked.

    Day Five. I would have sold my soul to take a days rest from the bike, but the town we were in gave us a strange vibe. The hotel was in a secluded residential area and the bikes were parked by an alleyway that had a frustrating amount of pedestrian traffic. Mostly drunks and party-goers from the neighbouring 'Alkomarket' and bars. We hated the vibe of the town so much that we suited up and headed back out into the cold and wet. We were now at the point where our clothes weren't even drying beofre putting them on again the next morning. We took 251 miles (402km) of extremely tough riding. Once again the crosswinds were agonising and the sheer amount of cargo trucks on this stretch of road is unbearable. We rode to the small city of Uglegorsk, a surprisingly nice place for how uninviting the name sounds. We sought the best hotel in town and booked 2 nights. Luckily Russia is dirt cheap and the 3 star outfit only set us back 24 per night. I'd have gladly paid ten times that for a decent nights sleep and a chance for the clothes to dry.

    Day Six. I literally done nothing all day except eat a chicken shoarma, and vegetated in my immensely comfortable hotel bed. Kyla done much the same.

    Day Seven. After a week of horror we finally had a clear run. We didn't get blue skies, nor were we treated with 30 degrees and gentle summers breeze. No, it was cold and grey, but at least there was no wind and more importantly; no rain. We woke deliberetely early and decided to push out our biggest day in saddle ever. 422 miles (676km) to the regional capital of Khabarovsk. Our motivation? To be done with this highway as soon as possible.

    I have wracked my brains to think of a notable remark to make about the Trans-Siberian Highway. But honestly, it is like being caught in purgatory. An endless backdrop of silver birch trees and grassy swamps flank the road for as far as the eye can see in every direction - apart from straight ahead, in which you can only see road meander off to the horizon. I start to wonder if there is even anything at the other end - or if there even is an end. It truly feels like it goes on into eternity. You can ride for 12 hours and see nothing change. Every hour or so you will pass a small village where you can perhaps buy a bottle of water from a market. Every four hours lies a town large enough to harbour some recognisable life. Petrol stations punctuate the experience at intervals of about 60 miles. If you are extremely lucky you might see somthing interesting; one time we saw a guy with a 50 year old Soviet tank on the back of a recovery vehicle. That was pretty cool.

    There is one thing worth metioning. The Russians have undoubtedly conducted and incredible feat of enginering with this Highway. We have now done 1,770 miles (2,831km) of the journey and barely encountered a single issue. Russian roads are notorious for their holes, cracks and gouges that threaten your suspension at every turn - but not here. It's smooth riding whole way. There is evidence of constant repairs and maintenance everywhere you look. Workmen scurry about the Highway like ants on the trail, patching up the cracks and scars that the road endures from the chaotic expansion and compression of the extreme rainfall, snow, ice and tempretures of the Siberian climate. It can easily reach -45deg C here in winter and often +30deg C in Summer. The road gets flooded, drenched, and drowned routinely every Spring and Autumn. Not to mention the millions of pairs of tyres under the 40 tonne trucks that grind away at it's surface every day.

    Sure this road may be boring and it's not exactly the experience we had hoped from Siberia, but the truth is that this is strip of asphalt is the backbone of modern Russia. These cities and town we have encountered can only survive in their current form because of the road. Before it's existence they relied entirely on the Railway for contact with the outside world.

    And as for the scenery... well... yes, ok, it's mind-numbingly boring, but you know what... it's so refreshing to see such a huge part of the planet untouched by man. Asia is especially bad for human encroachment into every section of the natural world. We pollute rivers, we raze the forests, we mine the rock, and we pull every pound and dollar from the face of the earth, but here in Siberia, man is not yet king. For every tree that hacked out of the ground in India or China, there are a thousand that still stand proud in Siberia. For every acre of rainforest that is bulldozed to make way for a new town in the Amazon, here there is a haven the size of a small country that man has likely never even stepped foot in. Some of it forest, some of it swamp, some of it tundra, whatever it may be - it's not ours to destroy.

    And somewhere; whilst soaked to the bone, shivering in the cold, hungry, tired, and aching from the constant battle with the gales; I was able to break into a smile at that very fact.

    I hope Siberia continues to be cruel to mankind. I hope we never tame it. May every mine flood, and every bridge wash away.

    I for one will definitely be back.

    But I swear I will never be seen on this highway again...

    ...Until tomorrow. We still have 500 miles left.

    Love,
    Brucie
  12. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    AAAAAAGH

    Why wont ADVRider let me login via mobile?! I really want to add images to the blog but i'm thwarted at every turn.

    Does anyone else have issues logging in via mobile? Chrome Browser on Andriod... older version. Maybe 5.0 or something
  13. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
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    Day 370

    Coast to Coast

    We haven't seen the open ocean for a very long time. The last time we spent any time by the coast probably the at the shore of the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka 8 months ago. We have been inland for a very long time, brief flirtations with the Black Sea and the Caspian about 3 months ago was all we had.

    Our final push towards Russia's Pacific Coast is an exciting one. We had been stuck in our pleasant, but soulless hotel in Khabarovsk allowing the bad weather to pass. The gales and endless sheets of rain and sleet had clawed at the hotel balcony window without so much as a brief pause for 3 days. There had been heavy snowfall in the town of Mogocha, where we had been just 2 stops prior. The mid-days temperature on the stretch of road we had just completed had went from 15deg C to just 3deg C in the space of 72 hours. The Siberian climate is no joke, even in August.

    The head receptionist at the hotel was a portly, no-nonsense, lady in her mid 50's called Svetlana. She spoke exceptionally good English due to yearly holidays to America. She told us her story, an interesting one too; Previously working in the admin department for a Siberian gold mining company, she had been posted all about the Russian extreme East over the last 25 years as she was often required to work on-site in temporary built offices to aid the workers with paperwork and pay issues - the miners were often very poorly educated and needed the help. Her long knowledge of the region had led her to notice a few things, but mainly, that in her experience Siberian Summers are getting much wetter and ending sooner with every passing year. She had seen many a drenched traveler squelch up to her desk in need of a warm hotel room in August these last few summers.

    When the weather did pass, it transformed the entire setting. We seen our first blue sky in around 2 weeks and the suns light breathed a new life into the route. It is so very green here. Plant life sprouts from every possible join. In the cities and towns the weeds gush from every crack in the pavements, in the countryside there are blankets of exceptionally dense forest - sometimes too thick to even proceed on foot. Autumns grip was starting to tighten and the leaves were already rusting in the long sunsets.

    It's a beautiful place.

    We made our final push to Vladivostok over two days, splitting the 486 (780km) mile jaunt into two even parts. We stayed in yet another peculiar family run Guesthouse, or 'Gostnits' as they like to call them here. We got a decent piece of lamb Shashlik and a comfortable bed for just 600R a head. Not bad at all.

    This final stretch of road takes a sharp turn South after Khabarovsk, and with every passing mile you move closer to Russias warmer southern waters, which in turn causes the air temperature rise at every turn. Its an entirely different climatic region, similar to that of Northern Japan. In the sunshine, the miles drop like flies, and after near 10,000 miles and 4 months of Central Europe and Asia our senses were blessed by the Pacific. Before we could see it, we could smell it. The scent of salt water in the air, we knew we were close.

    We crested one final hill and there it was; The Sea of Japan- one of the many sprawling arms and legs of the Pacific Ocean. On it's banks sits our evasive goal, the port city of Vladivostok.

    Vladivostok is a refined and clean city. It feels extremely European and you'd never know you were just a stones throw from the North Korean/Chinese border tri-point. It's quite unique in that almost all other Russian large cities are either landlocked, or sit on a port that freezes in Winter. Vladivostok is a working port all year round. The city is awake, and has a buzz and healthy atmosphere to it even at night, when most Russian stops turn into an exclusion zone. Families sunbathe on the beaches and vendors sell ice cream by the harbour. I like it here, but perhaps that's just because it's recognisable to me. The city has a real identifiable history, and old centre with a marina. The city growth was natural and organic. It's a far cry from the Soviet grids of the expansive central regions. Really you could be in Italy or Greece.

    We have a lot to do here in Vladivostok. We have run out of land and so the bikes must be shipped somewhere. Japan and South Korea are next up on the itinerary for sure, but as to how, when and where, we don't know yet.

    We found a friendly hostel and booked a weeks stay to make the plan. My assigned bunkbed has become Trip HQ. I am sharing the dorm with a fairly broad spectrum of global society. A young, moderately pretty girl with, make up, hair straighteners and beauty products strewn all across her bed. A guy in his 40's who stays up til 5am reading what looks to be constant news reports and visiting strange forums - I believe him to be a conspiracy theorist. There is young guy, about 18 years old, who although looks like he would fall through a sieve, proceeds to walk about the hostel with no shirt on, relentlessly puffing his chest out, possibly to impress the aforementioned female - who takes little notice of his efforts. One time, whilst secretly mocking him he a seen me, and has since normalised somewhat. Then there are 2 care-free French travelers, who we earlier had met at Yuri's office. Their bikes will be sharing the container with ours - two enormous BMW R1200GS's, they had ridden the entire Trans-Siberian highway, straight from Moscow. Lastly there is Kyla, sitting in her bed, with her big blue knee brace on eating melon slices and M&Ms watching illegal Russian downloads of Game of Thrones. She is extremely chuffed that the girl who works on the reception also has a knee brace and so does not feel out of place.

    Yes, travelling is really weird.

    Love,
    Brucie
  14. tcalberta

    tcalberta Adventurer

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    Congrats on getting to Vladivostok, am sure you are quite relieved to be over that last stretch of road
  15. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 372

    Vlad HQ

    Hundreds of overland travelers arrive in Vladivostok each year and every one of them does the same thing; They go and talk to man called Yuri Melnikov. A sharply dressed, modern businessman who sits behind a new Apple Laptop in an office block in the middle of the city. His office is covered in the stickers and well-wishes from the hundreds of travelers he has helped over the years. He comes highly recommended. For good reason too. He is a guy, and possibly the only guy, who can consolidate all of the hassles and drama of Russian paperwork and customs clearing into one easy payment. He can send your bike pretty much anywhere in the world from Vladivostok. His prices are steep, but he takes the reigns allowing you to relax and enjoy your final days in Russia.

    We just had to decide where to go.

    We could take a ferry to Korea, or the same ferry one stop further to Japan. But the prices were high, almost prohibitively so. We were not carrying a vehicle travel document called a 'Carnet de Passage', so it made our entry to Japan a messy affair. Some say that entry to Japan is impossible without a Carnet document, this is not the case, you can go without, but the stinger is that you must leave by the same means you entered. The round trip would involve a frustrating loop of ferries and flights to link Russia to Korea, then to Japan, back to Korea and then out to North America. The bill for this escapade would set us back somewhere around £6,200 ($8,000). That's well earned money that I would rather didn't go into the pockets of various Asian shipping agencies.

    We made a new plan. Yuri will pack the bikes into a container and send directly to Vancouver on Canada's' West Coast by a rusty Chinese freight ship. This way the damage is limited to around £2,500. The ship is due to leave sometime around September 12th. Once boarded it will take around 30 days to arrive at Vancouver port. That leaves us around 45 days before we need to be in Canada, just in time for Halloween.

    We worked fast. In just 6 hours we had the bikes, washed, scrubbed, packed for shipping, and handed the keys over to Yuri. We had signed and stamped the hundreds of copies of paperwork in his office and kissed goodbye to the bikes. We did not need to be present for the loading of the container so we were free to go. The bikes will wait in lockup inside a city warehouse until the ship arrives.

    I must admit, I feel completely naked without the bike again. We stuffed what items we thought we may need into two small duffel bags and walked out of the warehouse like a couple of recently abandoned orphans.

    "So what now?" - Kyla states gazing quite blankly at the Industrial estate.

    "Eeeeeermm." - I hadn't thought this far ahead.

    We had been in such a rush to have our work with Yuri be swiftly completed that we hadn't really thought of what to do for the next 45 days. It took an evening of discussion over a greasy pizza, and the best we could come up was with something like this;

    We will spend a few more days in Vladivostok, keeping an eye on the prices for the next cheap flight to Tokyo. Once there we will rent a pair of motorcycles and travel Japan for a month this way. Once finished with Japan we can sail or fly to Korea, spend a week or so there before catching the long haul flight to Vancouver to be re-united with the bikes. I imagine this date to be somewhere around October 20th.

    But one impoartant question remains; with the sheer magnitude of the choice of bikes on offer for rental in Japan... what should we choose?

    Decisions, decisions

    Love,
    Bruce
    djorzgul and roadcapDen like this.
  16. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    691
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 374

    Japan being an island requires either a ferry or flight to get to, of which we had no preference for either. We had been running almost hourly scans of all the major airline booking sites in hope for a good price from Vladivostok to any major Japanese Airport. It generally ran in region of £160 - £250 per head. After 2 days of waiting we struck it lucky. SkyScanner, probably the most popular booking site these days, flashed green with a £120 deal directly into Tokyo.

    "Book it now before someone else gets it." - I Scream, much like the greedy kid from Willy Wonka.

    "I don't think that's how it wor..." - Kyla tries to remain reasonable.

    "Get It, HURRY." - I Snatch at the laptop away from her.

    I don't know why but booking cheap flights, trying to win eBay auctions, and other such time sensitive activities cause me great stress. In all other facets of life I am fine. We made the booking for the following day; Departure 1.30pm local time. Perfect.

    Following morning we took a rickety express train out to Vladivostok Airport, about 30 miles out of the city itself. After being bound to my motorcycle for so long everything about this journey feels wrong. I found myself constantly padding down my pockets looking for my bike key, and also just having a general sense of unease. Once at the airport it felt like we had already left Russia behind. Vladivostoks International Terminal is like any other in the world; modern, organised, sanitised, convenient - all of the qualities I loved that Russia didn't have.

    Our flight was short, just 2 hours in the air, and not the smoothest cruising either. A few bouts of rumbling turbulence and a fairly awful in-flight sandwich did little to keep me distracted from something very sad; We are leaving Russia. We are leaving Siberia. We are leaving the developing world behind. Crossing Central and North Asia by motorcycle is the most blissful way to spend your Summer. I could likely write a thousand words detailing my new found love for this part of the world. Mother Russia and her straight-talking subjects. The gaping chasms and peaks of the Pamirs. The sheer lawlessness of Mongolia. Or even just riding through the uncomprehensible expanses of Steppe, so vast it's not measured in miles, but rather percentages of the planets land mass. I have loved all of it, and I know I shall return - likely on 2 wheels.

    Heading into Japan means everything changes. It is a fully developed, highly functional and modernised nation. The rules we have played by for the last 11 months in South and Central Asia are no longer in play, and we must adapt to these new surroundings. Things will be more expensive. Infrastructure and the road networks will become more managed and better policed. We won't get away with just riding through acres of land and camping on whichever hillside takes our fancy - which is primarily the means by which we have been living our lives since May 2016.

    I was quite apprehensive if truth be told.

    The Plane touched down in Tokyo at 2:30pm. Strangely, although we had traveled East, we had actually gained an hour by switching from Russian to Japanese time. On first impressions it's clear the Japanese run a well oiled machine. The snaking queue at Passport Control was about 400 faces long, around a 3 day wait if faced with Russian guards - the Japanese had us through in 20 minutes. Unreal.

    With controls and customs cleared we were scooped up by a series of escalators and belts to an underground rail station. Tiny Japanese women in the form of airport assistants and helpers are posted every 50 feet, greeting you with a bow and an ear to ear smile, their job simply to guide and keep the flow of travelers moving from the arrivals terminal to wherever they need to be next. Everything is smooth, fluid and entirely efficient. Usually I hate airports, but this was really entertaining. Plus we felt fresh - the flight was so short it barely felt like we had traveled at all.

    We learned that the airport we had flown into was actually about 50 miles away from Tokyo. In my defence it looked a lot closer on the map. But no worries - in Japan problems are solved quickly, and we were ushered onto the 100mph City Express Railway and treated to yet another exquisite example of Japanese transport proficiency.

    The difference between here and the continent was stark.

    This may still be Asia, but it's not like I have ever known it.

    Love,
    Brucie
    djorzgul, BillUA, Cameleer and 3 others like this.
  17. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire Just this guy...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    406
    Location:
    Spokane WA
    Feel free. Don't let us stop you.
    SuperSonicRocketship likes this.
  18. LightningBoy

    LightningBoy Waiting at the Crossroads

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    Sussex, UK
    Greetings Brucie & Kyla,

    Just wanted to add a quick post to say how much I'm enjoying your ride report. Followed from the beginning but thought it was about time that I put a quick post up to let you know you probably have more followers than you realise.
    Looking forward to you regaling your adventures in Japan and hopefully accompanied by a few pics.

    Stay safe. Have fun.
    SuperSonicRocketship likes this.
  19. pzvt

    pzvt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    67
    Thanks for posting. Glad to hear Kyla has rebounded. I know how an injury screws plans. Enjoy.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    SuperSonicRocketship likes this.
  20. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    691
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Don't encourage me ha!

    Ah thanks for kind words. Since the beginning eh! That's quite an achievement. I sometimes try to read back some of the earlier posts, but I just don't have the time.

    Yes! Pics. It's really frustrating. I have millions of photos from the whole trip but i'm struggling to upload them to ADVRider, the problem is that i'm using an older smartphone (2011, basically first gen tech) as my camera and computer and I can't upgrade to latest browsers versions on it because it's so old and slow. I can't get the upload page to successfully when I try to add a photo to a post - I get stuck at the loading page forever.

    Whilst I am in Japan I might aswell try to pick myself up a new phone and get out of the stoneage. I hear the prices are favourable.