July 1 & 2 Saturday & Sunday, Seoul Korea, speedo reeading 26,668 km
Left Anchorage, finally, thanks be to god ! at 01.00 on Saturday morning. I arrived in Seoul, Korea after flying through seattle and over the international date line to arrive Seoul on Sunday at 17.00 on July 2.
Total culture change obviously. No english spoken. No english signs.
Sign language and smiles gets me great attention and a feed of octopus !
Met 2 great korean guys on the flight who offered to help with english translation the next day... and since GSM doesn't work, sat phone was great !
July 3 - 6 Monday - Thursday, Seoul Korea, Speedo reading 26,668 km
Doesn't look like I'll be doing any mileage in Korea. Round to Fedex to try to clear bike. Finally got Fedex guy to bring me to customs. Short story is no import on a temporary basis is possible, only by paying duties - I push and I'm off over to another office to try there. Yes it is possible but they need 2 days to get approval by department of transport, 1 day to arrange insurance etc. This is the only hope after a day of no food and lots of no's.. My options are :
1. bonded truck freight to Sokcho for a ferry out of Korea past North Korea and into Russia.
2. Other airfreight to Vladivostok
I had hoped to bluff my way through here but no joy. Spent 2 x days with the main man in Korea Fedex transport S. W. Kim who was fantastic. After 2 days he has convinced atrucking company to truck me and the bike to Sokcho the next day and to hold it there for delivery by me to the ferry on Thursday. Off we go so...
Quick lunch stop en route with the drivers...
Beautiful drive across Korea West coast to east to the Port at Sokcho, fantastic very "jungly landscape withdense forests, rivers and small hills rolling into each other... great biking territory. Bikes are illegal on the Expressways here though - funny stuff, so in theory if I had cleared it in Seoul I couln't have driven out of the airport which is only accessible by expressway... I have only seen 2 bikes here in the few days.
Next day I shout at Sokcho customs for 4 hours before giving up... but the pushing forces them to give me access to the bike which will help.
Wednesday I get to visit and prep the bike in the warehouse/ bonded duty free yard for the ro-ro on Thursday. I convince them to let me drop some gas in and to check if it runs ok after the airfreight...
seems to be fine... little light on the front maybe ??
Afterwards into town for a look at the garlic market
- pick out some fish for lunch
and wait until tomorrow for the ferry...
Yeehah !! Ferry arrives on Thursday morning - my ticket back into the saddle !!
Get the bike on and strapped down - I insist on doing it myself with my own ties...
Great cabin and a view onto the North Korean coast and on we go...
7 July Friday, Sarabino, Russia, speedo reading 26,668 KM
We dock at 10.00 at Sarabino after a $2 breakfast of last night's canteen food... but I'm here ! We wait for 2 hours before disembarking...
Into the customs hall and wait -
takes until 15.00 that afternoon to get in to Russia, through customs, through immigration, get insurance, through the police controls (21 over the next 24 hours...)
Most of the ferry guests are Chinese from Hunchun which is ahort drive away. They are on shopping trips to Korea. Sarabino is on afinger of land right beside the North Korean and Russian borders, a real forgotten space.
Finally fueled and off it's 220 km of bad roads to Vladivostok - I hit a patch of axle-deep gravel too fast and lose the bike - can't get it up without unpacking so I wait... finally a local truck driver arrives and I'm off again - forget to get the camera out - will do next time !
Arrived late into Vlad - followed a bus with centre written on the front
and stopped at the train station to find my bearings ... along comes Sasha and Fiodr (hope the spelling's right !!) from the Iron Tiger's bike club
Sasha was dropping the guys off who are heading up for a bike festival in Novosibirsk with their bikes on the Trans- Siberian train ( a 4 day ride !). Sasha drops me up to Hotel Vladivostok (he knows the boss) checks me and the bike in
(good secure parking under the hut)
then takes on a tour... to the train station - it's acool 9,208 km to Moscow by rail on the Trans-Siberian - more by road
on to the submarine from WW2 complete with original torpedoes...
To the harbour church..
and all over town to some of the best views of the city. Vladivostok was a closed military port until Perestroika, so no foreigners could visit until then. Also around that time they began the process of linking it with the rest of Russia by road - a project that is not yet complete.
One thing I have to note for the record - the women here are not pretty, they are not good looking - they are stunning !!! And many, many of them - I've never seen so many beautiful women in one place. A real dudes and babes hangout - men are men and women are babes - very macho society.
Finally we end in in Sasha's favorite restaurant - Studio Coffee - where his friend Evgeniy is the Head Chef - i get to try his halibut with spiced cream and baked banana...
8 July Saturday, Birobidzan, 27879 KM
I set off to hit Birobidzan and succeed - another 1000km day - reasonable road with only 50km dirt. A taxi (biker) offers to drive ahead of me out of town for free !! I head through 3 major cities (which always takes time). In one I am escorted through by a Goldwing who does a U-turn when he sees me, finally a japanese guy living in the next town drives ahead of me.
Hot weather, but lots of friendly faces when you stop... including lots of Ural bikes
Julja on the right insisted on a spin up the road
Lots of accidents on russian roads - here a crane lifting a car fell on it... and got lifted out by another crane...
generally a traffic jam is a crash
Lots of these repair ramps for trucks along the route...
I pace along the Chinese border for the whole day...
past real rural Siberia, this boy is drawing water
I finally arrive at Khabarovsk, a beautiful town where I spot this church while trying to find my way out...
Around 22.00 I pull into Birobidzan and finally track downa hotel where the bike gets the royal treatment again...
Posted by Kevin Maher at July 15, 2006 09:09 AM GMT