Border Crossings - Japan to Russia by boat
Japan to Russia -by Rob and Dafne deJong
June 15, 2001 - Subject: Iron Tigers + Russia info
For updates on the Vladivostok (Vlad) ferry (name of ship is Antonia Nezdanova) from Fushiki Port in Toyama city I think Chris Lockwood will have all the info ready on his website (yes, it's great to have someone like him).
The captain/shipowner or manager of the ship is really nice. Patrick and Lorenz arrived in the port one day before the departure of the ship and were invited to have dinner and spend the night onboard (normally 10 US dollars per person is charged for any extra nights you spend on the ship). The ship departs every Friday from Fushiki port at about 6 PM, to arrive in Vlad about 36 hours later. Departure from Vlad to Fushiki is on Mondays. You are expected in the port before 2 PM for loading, which is done very professionally. Your bike will be on one of the deks and you can reach it any time during the pasage. (The ship hauls over 100 cars and a good amount of scooters, bicycles, tyres, washing machines etc). FKK visited us on the ship to hand over our tickets for the crossing. We never mentioned to FKK that we have a sidecar attached to our motorcycle and paid for one motorcycle only. Nobody had a problem with it. We were never asked to pay the loading fee in Fushiki.
The crossing is more like a mini cruise. Food is quite good, the cheapest cabin has a desk and a chair, an electricity point for European style plugs. The shower is small but hot and good. These cabins are for 4 persons, but when there are not so many passengers on board you will get your own room. In the evenings there is live music (great trumpetist) and when you meet Victor (4th engineer, who works in the engine room), please give him our regards. Lorenz says to watch out for the ships doctor, a flamboyant woman who immediately fell in love with all of us and (after a few wodka's) was patting my arm, dancing cheek to cheek with Rob and hugging Lorenz.
We arrived in Vlad at about 9 in the morning on Sunday. Unloading did not start untill about 2 PM, after the ship was cleared by customs. It is good to keep a survival pack with all necessary things with you, because our bikes were put in a warehouse (restricted area) after they were unloaded and it was not easy to get to them once the door was locked. First you have to go through customs with your hand-luggage. (Be sure that the declaration form that was issued on the ship is stamped on both sides). You can leave stuff in your cabin and you can even spend another night onboard the ship (US$ 10), but you have to turn in your key at the info desk for customs reasons and from the time you go through customs and the time the ship is cleared (about 2 PM) you cannot return to your cabin.
The ship docks right in front of the customs building, in which also a good internetcafe is situated. To clear our bikes we needed to go to room 110 with our passports, the declaration forms which we had to fill in onboard the ship and the bill of lading, which was given to us by the captain. We were warmly welcomed by Sergei and Dimitri from the Iron Tigers, but found out that it is better not to use their translating services when dealing with customs. Reason for this is that if there is a problem, it is better if they cannot explain it to you for the simple reason that they will solve the problem themselves, instead of making you solve it. One of the customs came to the warehouse to check the numbers on the bike and stamped the declaration form. After that everything else was delt with in room 110. You get a pink and green paper and you have to pay something around 50 roebels tax.
It took us 3 days to get our bikes, the main reason being that we arrived during independence day and although everything was open, not a lot was done.
Simon Milward paid 90 US$ to get his invitation through an internet visa service (Visa2Russia.com or something like that). Everyone we asked always came with the same answer: They spent an awfull lot of money on that visa, but are sure there must be a cheaper way. We tried to do it cheaper and have some tips:
The name of the visa bureau we used was Primcore Invest (PCI), situated in the Hyundai Hotel in Vladivostok, Semenovskaya 29, Room 506. Phone (+7) 4232 - 491137, fax (+7) 4232 - 491136. They speak English. You need to send them copies of your passport and they will make the invitation for you, which they will telex straight to the embassy in Tokyo. PCI charges US$ 65 per person for this and in our case it took about one month to get it. If you manage to have all that done before you arrive in Japan (to let PCI know when you want to do your application in Tokyo might work out) and have one full month left for your visa application, your visa will cost you only 1000 yen (USD 8). If you have less than one month you pay 7000 yen (56 USD) and your visa will be ready in 7 days. We had to pay an extra 3500 yen (28 USD) "consular fees".
To register your visa book one night in Hotel Vladivostok (USD 35 for double room) and it will be done. If you do not stay in a Hotel you can visit PCI. They took care of our registration, for which they charged USD 35 (for both).
The Iron Tigers invite all travellers to visit them and if you want (and it is possible), you might be able to spend the night at the box (workshop and meeting place). So get in touch with (president) Mikhail Shluskim (vlad...@mail.primorye.ru) or Igor (Sinus) Sokolov (sin...@farpost.com) through e-mail. If there are any problems they are happy to be of assistance.
That's about it. We hope this may be of help, but every entry into Vlad will be different, depending on the day, the weather, the mood of the people and whatever else. Simon Milwards motorcycle was not unloaded from the ship untill the next day, we heard, but he got his bike out the same day.
Rest me to send a greeting and a smile from all of us here; Rob, Patrick, Lorenz, Mikhail, Sergei, Dimitri... from the Iron Tigers box (meeting place), where we spend the past four days.
Ride-on... Rob and Dafne de Jong
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