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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Colebatch, Jul 21, 2010.
Petes not been up there ... yet
You'd need to check with the skipper
I spoke too soon - for reasons I didn't understand, the boat went to Vladivostok direct, rather than to its usual destination Zarubino. So we arrived, in big old Vladivostok - but we hadnt done any miles in Russia. You see, we were in Vladivostok, but our bikes were not. The bikes were still on the ferry boat. We got in too late for Russian customs to be interested in processing them, and so we have been told to leave the boat, check into a hotel and return tomorrow morning after 9am to unload the bikes.
I called a local biker from the Iron Angels bike club, Ilya, and he met us down at the ferry port, introduced us to his club and then took us to a hotel. It was almost midnight but we were hungry after more than 24 hours on the boat in which we ate none of the onboard food. I took Sherri out to the Gutov Beer House, scene of last years Vladivostok headquarters for the initial Sibirsky Extreme Project, and despite the late hour we had a bang up meal. The first western style meal for Sherri since she left Australia several weeks ago.
We went down to the dock the next day and as promised they were unloading our bikes. But it was a Saturday and despite having the bikes now unloaded, they were destined to sit in customs until the vehicle processing guys returned to work on Monday morning. If we had arrived in Zarubino, the bikes would have been ridden off the boat, been processed by customs as part of the normal arrival procedure and we would be all clear by now.
While down at the docks we saw three bikes waiting to go onto the ferry, and sure enough, we soon met the owners. A trio of guys from Montenegro were on their way around the world (www.theridearound2010.me). They had just come down from Magadan and were making their way to Korea and onwards to North America.
They were BIG guys; all about 190cm tall and had big bikes. One on a 1200 GSA and one on an Africa Twin - the other bike was a more sensible F650 Dakar. They asked us what we were riding and we told them we were on a pair of 650s. They nodded - "sensible choices" they said. Even these very big guys said their bikes were too big for the likes of Mongolia and Siberia. We swapped information, part of which was them giving us the address of a nice cheap homestay type place to stay. Then they clicked "Oh so you are the Sibirsky Extreme guy !! - we have visited your site many times. We already have a link to your site on ours".
"Yes, I am back in Siberia" I replied. I wished them well for their travels ahead. They seemed like nice guys.
We found a café with wi-fi internet and camped there for the afternoon, with laptop keyboards clicking away furiously. Sherri Jo reckons she is a long way behind schedule with her blog. I still like to do my blogging on a daily basis … at least I like to update my draft blog daily. By the time we emerged from the café, the Dong Chun ferry had sailed & the 3 Montenegrins were on their way to Korea.
It was a rainy weekend in Vladivostok and the city was fog bound for most of the time. Humidity accordingly was between 95 and 100%. A walk up the street turned into a sweaty, sticky hike. I never liked humidity. I was always more of a dry air kinda guy.
We got a local sim card for Sherri sorted out, so her Australian iPhone is now fully functional here in Russia. I had told her to make sure it was unlocked (in terms of networks) before she got here, so I am pleased to know foreign iPhones can work perfectly well in Russia with a local sim card - if you ensure your home network unlocks it before you arrive here. I, ironically, struck a problem with my new smartphone. Despite making sure Sherri unlocked her phone, I bought a new locked phone in London a month ago, and forgot to get it unlocked. Now I have a wait of 2-3 weeks to get the unlock code, rendering that phone useless here unless I use my UK sim card. The idea of 50 quid a day on phone bills doesn't turn me on, and I have two spare unlocked telephones, so they will have to do for now.
- - -
Monday began well, after a weekend of solid rain, there was sunshine and patches of blue sky. We hoped to get the bikes out of customs today. We went down to the port and the agents who handle the Dong Chun ferry helped us get the paperwork together. By the time we had the paperwork together, and had driven up to the Customs building that handled vehicle imports (not at the port) they had just about closed for lunch.
I wandered around to get some pictures of the location on my phone-camera. By now the cloud had totally cleared and we had a fine hot muggy Vladivostok day. I spotted some customs girls also taking in the view on their lunch break and wandered over for a chat.
They were very friendly and with them onside, the customs documents for the bikes, with as long as we wanted timescale (we kept it at 3 months since that was the limit of Sherri Jo's visa) came soon after lunch. It confirmed my view that it's always good to make friends with the right people.
I took a few fotos of my new customs officer friends, but only on the condition that they must have faces blanked out if used on the internet. So sorry, but thats the deal - i promised:
Armed with our approved Customs declarations we headed back to the port to get our bikes released. But it wasn't so simple. Because it was Vladivostok and not Zarubino, there was also a port charge for handling the vehicular cargo, of 2600 rubles (about 55 quid).
I made a mental note (and now a written note) - when taking the Dong Chun ferry, avoid the runs to Vladivostok like the plague. Going to Vladivostok by the ferry will cost you in port charges and will be a bit of a pain to get the customs stuff done (nice customs girls excluded). Unloading at Zarubino is a "ride the bike off the boat and straight to customs where you will be fully processed in under 2 hours" deal .. So it's got to be Zarubino!
Its the same problems in leaving via vladi instead of zarubino.
last year, heading to japan, it took 3 days & many fees to clear out of vladi.
in 06, when I went out of zarubino, it took an hour.
Im told its because of all the crap that comes from japan to vladi.
I'll also hope to never ship to/from vladi again.
Have you ever met that girl Sasha? I know a guy that rode the trans-sib in 05, he travelled with her some. She went st petersburg-magadan-vladi & back, on an Izh! (If I remember right?)
Yes you remember right. a 2 stroke Izh planeta 5. I've not met her, but she is still about and riding. She sure aint the most feminine girl in the world but she must be one of the toughest.
I have a couple old Planeta 1's here in BG.
Tough bastards, but not sure Id wanna travel on one very far.
At least it was easy for her to find parts, those things are everywhere in RU.
By the time all of this was done, it was almost 4pm. Ilya the biker met us again and led us to the clubhouse and workshop of the Iron Angels. Sherri Jo needed an oil change, and the Iron Angels guys had that rarest of lubes, 10w60. We might as well use the guys to change her tyres, since they have a moto wheel balancer too. Sherri Jo had the finest French shoes fitted a Michelin Desert rear and Michelin T63 front..
As soon as we got to the club, we met a quartet of bikers from Kazakhstan who had just come to Vladivostok and were getting some servicing done.
I chatted to them about where they had been and they had actually ridden part of the BAM road
from Bratsk to Chara. From Chara onwards they had taken the train, but their stretch did include the mighty Vitim River Bridge. Respect. Even more so as they had actually RIDDEN over the bridge.
They told me they had taken the train from Chara as there were no bridges on the road further. I told them it is not quite true. There were some bridges! And the road is rideable to Tynda.
Sherri tried some Kvas, a traditional Russian drink, while I checked out the bikes from Kazakhstan.
Is Sinus still kicking around? He can play a mean didge mate. Put us all to shame. He gave me all his pictures from his Aussie trip. All 15 or so cd's!!!! Awesome photographer.
We returned to the bike club, where the guys were preparing for this weekends big feast and drink-a-thon, the 3rd birthday of the Iron Angels bike club. Sherri spoke to the mechanic who had been working on her bike, trying to communicate how much she owed him for changing and balancing her tyres and changing her oil. He however was having none of it. No charge. Just pay the club boss for the oil we used. That was her introduction to the friendliness of Russian bikers.
While she was sorting out Andrei, the club boss, for the oil, I had a Russian biker-ess trying out my bike. A bit taller than my chopper was all she said. I wondered to myself did she actually ride her bike with the hot pants and high heels?
A call came in, from one of the shipping agents regarding Magadan. One of the ships was in a day early and needed to be loaded tonight for a tomorrow morning departure. This was good news. The bikes would probably be in Magadan on Tuesday, same as us. We threw stuff onto our bikes and rode them down to the port, stopping briefly for the obligatory Vladivostok foto
in front of the submarine.
The young shipping agent met us there in his new Range Rover and told us we had to wait. We couldnt ride the bikes onto the dock because its technically a border zone we needed a Russian citizen
so a biker friend of the agent was coming down to help out. The friend turned up in a souped up Porsche Cayenne. He was about 28. SJ and I looked at each other and raised our eyebrows. Business is booming in Vladivostok I see.
The bikes were ridden away to be loaded on to the boat. We had secured a really good deal. It was unofficial.
A mere 4000 rubles each to ship the bikes to Magadan. Vladivostok to Magadan is a hell of a long way. Its 4 hours in a jet plane. 80 quid to send each bike over 2000 miles (3000km) was a bargain in anyones language. Two days earlier we had purchased our air tickets. And as luck would have it, we got an decent deal there too. Tony had paid 24,000 rubles last year from his Magadan to Vlad flight. Sherri and I scored them this year for 16,000 each.
The only thing left on the agenda for Vladivostok is the 3rd Birthday party for the Iron Angels bike club this weekend. Tony and Terry were at the 2nd Birthday party for the club last year
and we all know how that went!
why do I feel my productivity % dropping off the scale again?
Subscribed and in for the duration (again)
Many thanks for taking the time to put it all together and am looking forward to another Colebatch Classic.
With the bikes gone, and the weather looking good, it was time to take a stroll around Vladivostok, do some sightseeing and see what the locals get up to on a sunny summers day.
But first, we checked the internet. We both have these little USB GPRS modems that work over the mobile phone network here, so as long as we get good mobile coverage, its just plug n play internet whereever we are.
Then it was down to the "Badge Bird", the girl who was making up some Road of Bones badges for me. She had a proof in and wanted me to check it out. I suggested a few small changes and she said she will go away and churn them out over the weekend. Who's business card is that there on the table???
Back in May was the 65th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over the Nazi's ... there are still posters all over town ... and for traditional reasons, they still use the old Soviet Union's symbols:
The Primorye region, of which Vladivostok is the capital, is one of the last areas in the world where wild tigers still roam. The main tiger region is about 4 hours north east of the city, but everywhere you look in Vladivostok are references to tigers. Sherri Jo, who also serves as a director at a tiger refuge in the states, was ecstatic about the extensive tiger-ness of Valdivostok.
It is Navy Day in Russia on Sunday ... and with Vladivostok the home of the Pacific Fleet, there were bound to be celebrations. I decided to stroll down to the embankment and check out what was going on:
Bumped into some Japanese sailors on the way:
Sherri Jo bumped into a bunch of US Naval Officers taking a stroll around Vlad. Naturally enough, with all the paranoia out there, their first question was something like "are there any restaurants here with decent food, and where the locals wont be hostile". Sherri Jo laughed and told them that's what she was expecting too when she arrived in Russia 7 days ago ... but the food is pretty good and the locals friendly. Assorted friends and acquaintances of SJ had told her it was a suicide mission travelling thru Russia - that she would be mugged daily and probably kidnapped and sold into sex-slavery. I told her on the boat over from Korea to ignore everything you have heard about Russia in the past - its pretty much all wives tales. And so far, its been just like a week anywhere else in the world.
The Enlisted men bumped into Shrek:
And I bumped into some fine legs;
A twin rotor Kamov helicopter flew over the Marina:
While these salty old dogs took in the view:
Which naturally enough included a mother in a thong bikini:
As we strolled back into town, a pink stretch Hummer limo caught my eye ... it was a wedding party:
They had stopped off for some pics at a scenic spot, overlooking the bay:
We continued towards the centre of town where the wedding groups were now thick and fast ... saturday afternoon in summer in Russia is wedding time !!! They were everywhere. We must have seen 10 wedding groups at least.
Some wedding guests scrubbed up rather well:
But not all:
A trike was doing great business doing wedding rounds around the block:
By and large, everyone seemed to be having fun:
Tried to email him, but no response ...
He's there, we talk on ICQ pretty regular.
he lives down the road past the fortress, I think I have his address with me if you want it.
Oh, and that yellow trike at the wedding was built by my friend Sergey. He was working on building another last summer
Coat of Arms of Magadan
OK so on to the Iron Angels 3rd birthday party - this is going to take a while. There are so many blog-worthy pictures, I will be working on them for some time. So lets break it down into pieces ...
Fighting over the first beer with Ilya and Vanya
Sherri Jo tries on one of Iron Angels vests:
Russian Biker Dudes:
Vanya and his girl, Anya:
Girls wanted to chop me up for making disparaging comments about their tomato slicing technique:
Myself, in a huddle with Dodz, the mad MC for the evening and Andrei, the head honcho of the Iron Angels.
Dodz - getting himself warmed up:
Sherri Jo having a beer with Vanya:
The flags are out:
And the Shashlik is brewin