June 08, 2006 GMT

I left Iwataki on June 1st at around nine and rode my motorbike all the way to Takaoka where I arrived seven hours later. I met the representative of FKK who was very helpful. He told me that I could park my motorbike in front of their building for the night.

I came back the next day at around noon and again the guy from FKK helped me by showing me the way to customs and by taking care of the paper work. I then followed him to the ferry at Fushiki and went directly to my cabin. The crossing went fine and on Sunday morning the vessel was in view of Vladivostok. Customs clearance went slowly and before leaving the ferry I decided that I would stay another night on board. At $16, it was much cheaper than anything I could find in town. I tried to call Shustrik, from the Horizons Unlimited Community, but couldn’t get in touch with him before late in the evening. I went back to the ferry to spend the night.

Early on Monday morning I tried to get my motorbike. This is when it started to get a bit complicated. Although I had asked many times on board to have the Bill of lading before reaching Vladivostok, I was told that I could only get it after disembarking. I went from one office to the next before ending at Bisintour Service (BIS) which told me that it would coast me $150 to get my bike with all the documents. It was a take it or leave it offer. I took it.

The Bill of lading, konosignment in Russian, is the document that you absolutely need if you want to save some money and do the processing by yourself. I didn’t have it. I had no choice but pay and hope for the best. I also had to buy for $30 a third party insurance for six months. It was already too late to do anything today regarding the motorbike and I was told to come back the next day.

I also needed to have my visa registered. I tried a few travel agencies but I had to wait one day or two and they weren’t sure if they could do it. Finally I went to the Primorye hotel near the station where I managed to get a room for 1000R half the price of what it was supposed to be. I could also use their business center where Internet was cheaper than any other places I had tried so far.

Tuesday morning at ten I was at BIS. Went to different places until noon and went back at five. More offices, a few more signatures and we ended up at the warehouse where my bike was. It was now past six o’clock. A custom officer checked if all the numbers on the Bill of lading were matching those on the motorbike and… one number didn’t. Back to the main office where nothing can be done. Rules are rules and numbers have to match. Too late to do anything else today. Please, come back tomorrow. Back to Shustrik’s apartment where I spend my first night.

Wednesday morning at nine. Same buildings. Same offices. I now have to produce some pictures of my bike which I fortunately have. More signatures. Pay 3000R for storage. Go back to the warehouse where I can finally take possession of my bike. Get on, start the engine and realize that something is very wrong with the gears.

Posted by Fabrice Blocteur at June 08, 2006 02:27 AM GMT

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