17 May 2016
Vladivostok 742 kms travelled = Total 550 kms
After a real long sleep, aided by the rolls of the ship, I have decided to indeed count the kms travelled on this sea-leg. After all, the bike and I are in one space, albeit we are more or less stationary. And since the journey began in South Korea when reunited with the bike, this ought to be part of the count.
Perhaps it is also to make me feel a little better of having started to put a dent into the remaining approx. 25.000 kms to be ridden. Voila – it is counted!
Russian men love their Gold! Doesn’t matter if young or middle-aged, and I haven’t seen any really old Russians yet, they love it and they show it. Golden teeth wherever I look! And not subtle like for one tooth, so you pick it only if the person smiles, no way! Quite the front row, top or bottom or even both. They do glow in the dark! “Gold im Mund – Zahnarzt gesund!” So that feeds my (mis-)conception of baddies fed by especially James Bond movies. I have to be careful not to stare …
Ship docked right on time and the journey into Vladivostok port was a picturesque one, as Vlad. is located at the southern tip of the Murayyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and 12 km wide. I passed under two huge bridges, Vladivostok versions of the Golden Gate, crossing The Golden Horn bay. A local, fellow traveller told me about the US comparison! Indeed the first one, the Russky Bridge from the mainland to Russky Island is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world.
For embarking I was called to the front and got off second, ahead of all Russians. I must have done something right, although unbeknown to me. Felt a little like celebrity. It wouldn’t have to do with a slightly illegal act of passing on one of my meal tickets to a non-ticket holder fellow traveller so he could eat lunch for free. Fortunately the three meal tickets all looked the same 😉 The man later caught up with me and pressed a little present – gift-wrapped – into my hands. I desisted but soon gave up not wanting to insult this presumably Korean national. Whilst we shared no common words with each other, we parted as pals.
I had no expectations of Vladivostok other than it being pretty far away from everywhere. and being the birthplace of Yul Brunner (only few will remember him). Apparently the city furthest away of Moscow and this appears to allow a certain out-of-sight ambiance. Vlad has a great vibe! I can feel it, it’s good and the sun was shining. Should I cause a stir and walk bare-breasted down the Admiral Fokina Ave, a mall running toward Vlad’s beach promenade?
Better not up-set Putin with my biceps, so I stayed clothed – reluctantly.
My accommodation is also a good-vibrations place: Galleria and more is right off Admiral F street. And like all houses in this precinct, it was built around late 19th century with bricks burnt in a nearby factory. I am in the loft, very pleasant.
Today, Tuesday was getting-the-bike-out-of-Customs-Day. I was in really good hands with my widely recommended ‘Fixers’ and have no hesitation to recommend them onwards. Yuri and Svetlana run Links Ltd and do that in a most friendly manner, fair fees, efficient and assisting with other stuff to make travelling easier. Yesterday Yuri helped me to get a Russian SIM card. It took 25 mins and I now have a Russian mobile number +7 914 693 6374 Call me and send money 😉 If I had attempted to do this on my own, with my little hand book of Russian, well it would have taken much more time and I still wouldn’t quite understand what I’ve got. To be honest, that’s the case now. 😉 One learns to live with uncertainty, it doesn’t matter too much.
Then Yuri walked me to my accommodation, about 1km away. These little things make travelling easier. I invited him for coffee & cake (leant that from our Prez John E.) and Yuri had a lemon meringue cake for the first time – he liked it!
Later I had walk along the promenade, watched the fisher men – same Shakespeare-Stickaway-WOG-Poles as in Melbourne, but fish caught are decisively smaller.
My Korean friends and I met for a beer and then I turned into my loft.
But once again: I digress …
Got the bike out just before the one-hour lunch break – nothing goes then! then a complicated ride back to my accommodation. Re-packing all my stuff and almost all fits in! I surprised myself. Only one or three pieces I shall leave here. Now then next worry is to ensure the bike stays safe in Vlad. Hope my sense of vibe won’t betray me …
Finally caught up with another motorcycle traveller, Marco, a German residing in Cairns, Australia. Marco has been waiting for quite a few days to join his bike in Vlad. He shipped from Brisbane, via Singapore, Busan to Vlad. I guess with so many ‘stations’ delays are quite possible. However, he has good news and is likely to see his bike tomorrow or the day after.
We went for a bite to eat in the ‘Paulaner” …..Yes, indeed, the German-Bavarian brewery is strongly represented here in Vlad. Several Paulaner beer-types are brewed on-site and undergo regular quality-assurance testing from a Bavarian brewer. A dark Hefeweizen was exactly what the doctor ordered ;-))
Marco and I thinking of travelling together, or at least try it out and see how we go. In Ulan-Ude I will have to stay back awaiting my Mongolia visa, whilst a German passport doesn’t need one. What is the logic with all that visa-stuff??
Tomorrow a Vlad sight-seeing and the day after, Thursday off on the Ussuri Highway towards Khabarovsk a <800 kms trip, and I shall split it into two days riding. Well, that’s the plan.