August 07, 2008 GMT
Yo Ho and be merry on the Dong Chun Ferry

24 July to 4 August 2008

We had an easy week in Vladivostok working out our next move, eating well and catching up with other travelers. It didn't take us long to work out that shipping a bike out of Russia was going to be hard work and that our best bet for a successful departure would be for Team Elephant to all go out together. We decided to catch the Dong Chun Ferry from Zarubino to Sokcho, Korea, on Monday 21 Jul.

With a good night's sleep under our belts we started early on the 260 km run to the port. Of course it rained and the road turned to mud but we found the ferry-less port by 1130. It was too early to buy a ticket; come back at three said the lady at the gate. We dripped all over a cafe floor for a few hours and went back at three. The port was still ferry-less and it was still raining. No ferry today, said the lady, come back tomorrow at 1000.

korea 002.jpg

Zarubino, the ferry and the rain.

After a long hard search we found the only hotel in town, hidden at the back of some crusty old apartment buildings up a dirt road turned to a river. By the time we got inside we were wet through and cold and the rain continued to thunder down. As always, some food and a warm bed improved morale.

korea 003.jpg

There is a hotel up here somewhere!

korea 023.jpg

Russian roads were consistent to the last 50 metres.

It would be nice to report that the rain stopped on our last day in Russia; and so it did, but only just. We splashed down to the docks at the appointed 1000 hrs and started the process of figuring how to get ourselves and Elephant out. It became a long day that ended with me sitting on the dock at 1800 hrs on a despondent Elephant while the Russians argued about the correct paperwork to get on the boat. In a way this sums up one element of our Russian experience. There are lots and lots of rules, but no one has the rule book.

korea 008.jpg

Nothing for Elephant to do but wait. There was no way we would have left Elephant in Russia.

korea 015.jpg

Supervised by three Russian Border Police, I loaded Elephant which was the only vehicle on the vehicle deck.

Eventually, at 2230 hr, the ferry slipped her mooring and it was da svi da niya Russia. The next morning we landed in Sockcho, Korea, and started to come to grips with another type of bureaucracy. The Koreans, it seems, also have lots of rules, but everyone has a copy of the same rule book. We were quickly gripped up by Korean Customs and in a few hours we had been separated from about 600 Greenbacks, given an envelope full of paperwork, escorted to the gate and wished welcome to Korea.

With the rain thundering down we spent the first three nights in Korea in the coastal port of Sokcho. This gave us a chance to start to come to grips with this interesting country and to dry out our riding gear. We launched our culinary exploration at once at the "raw fish market" with a great dinner shared with Bjorn Heggelund a Norwegian we had met on the ferry. Over the next few days we ate our fish in a spicy hot pot and on a traditional bar-b-que. All good! After three nights, however, we grew bored with waiting and decided to ride south in the rain. Rigged for wet-running we splashed down the coastal road towards the industrial heartland.

korea 024.jpg

We met Bjorn Hegglund on the ferry. He is a Norwegian who teaches music in Chicago and has some interesting stories to tell.

korea 026.jpg

Jo gets set for the fish hot pot. We wasted no time in getting our bellies around some great Korean tucker.

korea 027.jpg

Elephant didn't do so well on Korean fuel. The "standard" is among the worst we have used.

Over the next week we put up with the summer monsoon and rode around the country on two tanks of fuel. It is not a very big place. In addition, 70% of the land is mountainous and the population of 48 million uses every bit of flat or arable land for productive purposes. This leads to the interesting combination of heavily populated industrial centres distributed around largely unpopulated wilderness areas. Korea is also spotlessly clean, oppressively well organised and, to our New World eyes, extraordinarily homogeneous.

korea 036.jpg

There are lots of picturesque scenes like these rice paddies where every available metre of land is in use.

korea 052.jpg

Despite the high population density, there are plenty of wild mountains, people do lots of walking and there are outdoor stores everywhere.

korea 064.jpg

We were taken by these tiny house boats that were used as a platform for fishing in this lake. Koreans fish everywhere.

All of this, plus great food and reasonable prices, makes Korea a treat to visit. But...those of you who have got to know us a little will recognise that we thrive in places that are a little on the shambolic side. Sometimes, organisation is a pain. Take the road system for example. There is an extensive expressway system in Korea criss-crossing the country, but this is of academic interest only to us. Motorcycles are not allowed on the expressways! In case you think this is because of the blistering speed on the super-highways, the maximum is 100 kph. That leaves the A roads. These are as good as motorways in Australia and most other places and much of their length is divided dual carriageway. The speed limited on these roads is generally 60 kph and 80 for short stretches; frustration central.

korea 053.jpg

The expressways, like this one, are fantastic but are off limits to bikes despite a ludicrous 100 kph speed restriction.

korea 039.jpg

The secondary roads are like motorways elsewhere but are limited to 60 or 80 kph.

We eventually joined a river of traffic flowing north west into the capital Seoul and found our way to the satellite city of Gimpo where we spent a few days cleaning Elephant, repacking and preparing our gear for shipping. There was plenty to do but we also had time to start to become familiar with another huge but amazing city.

No one had much to say on the day we delivered Elephant to the shippers. Not that there was much opportunity to think about events. We still had hours of work to do before we were ready for the farewell. Cleaning off 50,000 km of road grime was the first task. Once that was done, we joined the warehouse staff for lunch before work started on an Elephant crate.

korea 080.jpg

Elephant got as close to a good clean as we could manage without stripping the bike to its component parts.

korea 088.jpg

As the depot is a long way from the nearest village, we shared lunch with the workers. Our verdict was that Korean workers are doing OK, thank you very much.

Eventually, with the paperwork and cleaning done, we were ready to load Elephant onto the crate. Jo was inside the office building sorting papers and most of the staff were off on other tasks. I started the engine and, walking alongside, manouvered Elephant in front of the ramp.

korea 093.jpg

Walking alongside, I drove Elephant the last few metres onto the crate.

I gunned the front wheel up onto the base of the crate. Elephant farted loudly and stalled in disgust. A lone worker stood waiting for the signal to move forward and nail down blocks to stop the wheels moving. The only sound was the faint whine of the fuel pump and the clicking of relays. I reached forward over the dash plate and switched off the ignition. With a final click of relays the panel lights went out and Elephant was silent.

It was 4 August 2008, day 335, and the adventure was over.

korea 095.jpg

Elephant crated up in Gimpo, Korea, 4 Aug 08.

Posted by Mike Hannan at 01:26 AM GMT

This is the travel blog of Mike and Jo Hannan. We are an Australian couple from the Gold Coast which is located 1000 km north of Sydney on Australia's east coast.

In August 2007 we boarded a plane in Brisbane with a one-way ticket to London. A few days later we collected our BMW 1150 GS motorcycle from a depot in Wembley, filled the tank with fuel and started to ride. This blog is our story about what happened next as we journeyed through more than 20 countries in Western Europe, North Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia and Asia.

The blog displays our posts in reverse order with the most recent posting on top. The index bar on the right of the page will allow those with a morbid sense of humour, or too much time on their hands, to see how we got here.

We plan to be back in Australia in late 2008 but, whatever happens next, the act of making this journey has changed us both, as journeys sometimes do.

Romania Hungary 200.jpg

Mike and Jo Hannan with “Elephant”. Taken in Budapest in May 2008 after 9 months on the road.

Posted by Mike Hannan at 01:59 AM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events


HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.

Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!