October 10, 2009 GMT
I've reached Vladivostock

Which is a milestone destination as it marks the far eastern reach of the Eurasian landmass. I have been dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean and soaking up the sunny weather and unbelievably blue skies above the city.

It took a while for me to realise what warm weather is after crossing Siberia, and I have slowly removed the seven layers of clothing I was wearing under my jacket.

The journey across Siberia and beyond has not been without its problems and mishaps.

The cold was intense, the tent was fine at night as I have a very good RAB sleeping bag (the ones they take on Everest expeditions) - no expense spared where my comfort and warmth are concerned. However the mornings and forcing myself to get out of the tent were hard- there were so many layers of ice on the tent that it was impossible to roll it up, I would just roughly fold it and then stand on it to make it vaguely into a shape to strap onto the seat behind me (no chance of fitting it into the top box where it usually goes).

Then I would find something to scrape the frosty layers off the bike seat and attempt to make my magnetic tank bag attach to the tank through the layers of ice on it before setting off. As the day progressed, the tent would be slowly defrosting on the seat behind me, leading to small pools of icy water under my backside (mmmm, not the most comfortable of sensations).

Meanwhile the pannier racks must have been more seriously damaged than I thought after the accident in Mongolia, or maybe it was more due to my hard riding over the rough road conditions in Siberia. I had to stop and search out welders not just once or twice but four times in seven days - a bit of a record even for me. The hospitality of the welders was overwhelming at times I was given cups of tea and cakes to eat while they got on with the work, and none of them would take any money from me, mainly I suspect, because they felt so sorry for me. I have now determined to learn how to do my own welding as it was ridiculous how much time I spent in the welding yards (and sometimes they were just farmyards).

The guy who robbed me - well, I know his name and where he lives so he had better be scared because I will be back. He only took my solar charger for my MP3 player - I reckon he thought it was a mobile phone and had not believed me when I assured him I don't have a phone. The charger is actually useless to him as he didn't take the connecting cables. I didn't realise until 60kms down the road that it was missing and although the charger had been great in the Gobi, once I reached cloudy and drizzly Siberia its effectiveness was more limited- but hey it's the principle that counts.

And I arrived in Vladivostock on my arse as I had a high speed blow out (my first one) and it is a scary prospect on a motorbike, to suddenly lose all control of the bike whilst on a busy road. All I could see were the cars coming towards me and in desperation I leaned right over and threw myself and Thelma away from them ending up sliding down the road, watching Thelma preceding me, like a sort of dream.

Both OK-ish but the worst part for me was the realisation that no-one was stopping to find out if I was OK- not even those people who had seen the whole thing happen.

Since then I have encountered more nice people including the couple who did help me and took me back to their house, now who would have thought a 250kg bike could fit in the back of a Toyota Lite Ace?

I have also been to the legendary Iron Tigers' clubhouse- they are a Vladivostock institution- the main biker's club in the city. A great clubhouse with lots of workshop space to do work on the bikes and space to stay as well as the party rooms.
I had a look through the guest book - seeing the names of old friends and it also reads like a Who's Who in the bike travel world.
Andrey took us out and about for a tour of the city- unfortunately he didn't get to see Thelma as Customs had grabbed her for inspection almost as soon as I entered the ferry ticket office.
I have once more crossed paths with Kosta, the Bulgarian biker who I first met halfway up a mountain in Kazakhstan. He is also heading to Japan and so we have joined forces to get our bikes through the Customs procedures (more like rigmarole), with the handy help of his fluent Russian.

Posted by tiffanycoates at October 10, 2009 11:08 PM GMT
 


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