When we packed the bikes in Vancouver we expected to be off the road for a week, ride for a few days in South Korea then ship them to Vladivostok and be riding away again a few days later.
It has now been over a week bikeless, it looks to be another week more.
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate paper work ?
I should have known it was a bad move to publish the last blog entry, it exuded the air that the bike shipping to Seoul was all sorted and we would be riding across the country.
On the Friday night before leaving Vancouver we received an email from our agent in Seoul. She had misunderstood our intentions about how we would get to the ferry in Donghae, on the east coast. When she had OKed the bikes arriving in one name on one set of paper work she thought we wanted to truck then to the ferry. It turns out that to ride the bikes in South Korea then customs required separate paper work for each bike and rider to grant the temporary permits.
It was too late to contact our Vancouver shipper to make changes to the documents (and increase the price), she had left for the weekend. Reluctantly we accepted the bikes needed to be trucked (at cost) across the country to the ferry.
We managed to get a ride with the bikes, the freighter was worried we would not fit in the small cab, so the driver built an extra seat out of cushions
South Koreans are
Our day started early, with both of us awake by 05:30 and off to play on the metro. The day differed from the previous one because no one we met or requested help and directions from were able to speak English. This included our truck driver, but hand signals and a dictionary helped the journey pass. Especially when one of the tyres burst.
For me it was moment of deja-vu, it was only six months ago I was standing on the side of a major foreign highway (in Chile) next to a broken van. At least there was not a dead dog in it this time.
How many Koreans does it take to change a tyre ?
The trip across country allowed us to have a glimpse at what we missed by being unable to ride. We would not have taken the motorway route because bizarrely motorbikes are not allowed to use them here. The roads we would have used crossed frequently with the motorway, dipping in and out of the smoothly rounded hills smothered in green foliage.
At the ferry port we thought we had encountered a "jobs worth", not allowing Mike and I to enter with the van, despite the bikes being ours, yet allowing the driver in. Later it was explained to us that they are still on a high alert state due to the North Korean threats. A consequence of which we may not be able to get into the holding pen to unpack the bikes and refit panniers and other parts we needed to remove back in Vancouver.
This morning we were just getting ready to return to the port and unpack them when the bell rang on our hotel room. A young man form the ferry company was there to give us the bad news. Customs will not allow us to unpack the bikes. They must go to Vladivostok as they are.
I understand "going with the flow" is part and parcel of trips like this, but this is starting to stretch my patience.
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